A Guide to the Best Small Business Referral Program

Referral program ideas

There are many things to consider when selecting the most efficient incentives for your referral program. Besides raising brand awareness, referral programs can also generate leads and increase brand recognition.

These pointers will help you determine the best referral program incentive to maximize your return on investment, whether you want to acquire more clients with cash rewards or free trial offers.

What is Referral Program Marketing?

Referral marketing ideas

The process of a business getting new customers by word-of-mouth is known as referral marketing. A customer who knows the business can recommend their products and services to someone who needs them. Referral programs are common in many companies. They generally offer incentives to the referrer, to the referee, or both of them. It’s easy to evaluate referral marketing programs when you keep track of your referees and their incentives by using referral marketing software

Referral Marketing Benefits for Business Owners and Businesses

Referral program marketing is not only for major corporations. Small businesses can also gain more exposure and customers in their local communities. 

Increase Revenue by Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Referral program small business

As a business owner, you can earn money and generate leads passively by using referral marketing. This method of customer acquisition is a low-cost strategy and eliminates the need to actively sell yourself. 

Additionally, personal referrals are most powerful compared to any form of self-promotion. 92% of consumers trust referrals from friends and family, according to a Nielsen report. It is also easier to close deals with leads from referrals than with leads acquired through other channels. They are more likely to be qualified and require less time to “warm up” before closing.

Local Brand Awareness

For small businesses trying to reach out to local communities, referral programs are even more beneficial. Small businesses benefit more from referral programs since a positive testimonial from a trusted friend in the local community is much more likely to create trust than a cold call and advertising. Additionally, an existing customer who is converted in this way is more likely to make repeat purchases and refer a friend, resulting in a 16% higher customer lifetime value.

Cost-Effective Strategy to Win More Customers

For newer businesses, referral marketing programs are cost-effective strategies for establishing a client base at an early stage. For example, you can set up your referral program on referral software. Referral programs, especially those powered by referral software, make it so easy to share, they work like mini-advertisements for your business. 

Customers will see a short message from you along with your business logo. Having 30 people share your referral program automatically places you in front of new customers and saves you money on advertising.

What Makes a Successful Referral Program

Referral program guide

Referral programs that work depend on personal referrals, customer loyalty, and reliable two-way incentives to increase revenue and promote your business. 

Consistent Personal Referrals

A referred lead has a better chance of converting than a cold call because this individual already trusts you after hearing about your work from a trusted friend. After all, you’ve been offering high-quality products and services for someone they know and trust. 

When people find out about your brand from word-of-mouth referrals, you have an opportunity to grow your client base without incurring expenses for advertising. Whether you are brand new to your industry or a smaller business, you will appreciate the opportunity to expand your customer base.

Loyal Customers

Customer loyalty means your customers will spread the word about you. You will continue to gain and keep loyal customers by providing them with the best possible service. Positive customer experiences will lead to repeat business. Your company also provides a service that people require and represents a set of ideals that are aligned with what your customers value. Do not forget to thank a customer who referred you to a new lead by offering an incentive.

Two-Sided Referral Program

Customers usually enjoy incentives for referrals, and the same goes for their referees, so having a two-sided referral program can help you get more customers. This incentive is typically what keeps them referring over time. An example of a two-sided incentive would be a $75 gift card for the referrer and a discount of 20% for the customer.

How to Create a Referral Program: Start with Referral Program Offers

Before you focus on your referral marketing strategy, you need to ensure your customers enjoy your products and services and address any problems with your customer service. A superior product or service and exceptional customer service are essential. You can influence your customers’ experiences both positively and negatively, so consider the products and services you offer and the type of customer service. 

To gain more traction with your customers, you may want to consider implementing one of these referral program ideas as you retool your products and services if needed. 

Cash or Credit Rewards

If your customers do not make regular purchases, cash rewards are a good referral incentive. On the other hand, the excitement of cash incentives may motivate customers to refer your company to their friends. Make sure that your products are memorable enough that people will gladly refer your company to others even without incentives. 

Cash incentives can be used for anything your referrer wants, so these incentives can be useful for short-term growth, particularly if you’re in a new or up-and-coming market.

Gift Cards

Referral program gift cards are very popular incentives. By offering customers the option to choose their preferred rewards for referrals, gift cards give them a great deal of freedom. Don’t limit gift cards to products you sell. 

You can also offer gift cards from third-party companies such as Starbucks, Visa, and so forth. Gift cards are an excellent alternative to cash rewards, particularly if you are not expecting customers to make another purchase. 


You may also want to consider offering a discount through your referral program. Discounts offer value to returning customers, especially if your company sells a wide range of products.

Depending on the level of referrals, customers who return can receive a specific amount of discount, such as $20 off on their next purchase, or a percentage of discount, such as 25% off. You build client loyalty and increase sales with this incentive.

Subscriber Credits or Points as Incentives for Regulars

Keep the company’s value by only allowing your customers to buy with the credit you give them. Subscription credits and points can be useful for products and services that are “pay-per-use” or usually paid for on a regular basis. With this method, you will incur little to no cost, although the customer will think they’re saving a lot of money.

Company Merch for Every Referral Program Tier

Your consumers will truly feel like brand ambassadors when you give them company merchandise. You could structure the incentive progressively, offering more exclusive merchandise for more referrals.

Use websites that offer print-on-demand services for all-in-one graphic design and fulfillment services. If your budget permits, you can hire a graphic designer to come up with unique t-shirts, hats, and sweatshirts that will set your company apart from the competition. 

Having a tangible reward system means your customers will be able to see it every day, giving them a sense of attachment to the brand and helping you attain new customers.

What You Need To Do To Promote Your Referral Program

Referral program marketing guide

After you decide on a referral incentive, you must find a way to promote it. You could ask your staff for help in promoting it in person, but you also have other ways to do so.

Social Media

When you have a referral program, word of mouth can spread as quickly as a click of a button. A customer posts your referral program on their social media feeds to share with their followers. Imagine a few of those followers clicking on the link and becoming customers. You can see how the cycle can last for a while once you have these new customers letting their friends know about your referral program.

In-Store Shopping

When you sell a lot of products online, you can provide free in-store services for your referrers such as free in-store pickup and personalization of your products to encourage more online customers to come into your brick-and-mortar store if you have one.

You can make a positive first impression by creating a welcoming atmosphere that will build customer loyalty. In turn, these customers will remember your business, take part in your referral program, and refer others to your store, generating more customers.

Company Website

Make sure you have a section or menu item on your website with information about your referral program. This will help pique visitors’ interest, and greatly increase your chances of turning them into brand ambassadors.

The top of the site can include information about your program, and you can test and update the copy every two weeks to see what works best.

Use a Small Business Referral Program to Grow Your Business

When you invest in referral programs, your small business is more likely to be marketable. Referral programs are relatively affordable and a worthwhile alternative.

It is not always necessary to ask someone to refer you. Providing quality products and services along with excellent customer service will boost your business. If you have not yet made the most of customer service and your products, use referral programs to grow.

How to Start a Gym Referral Program

How to Start a Gym Referral Program

You may have spent a lot of money on Facebook and Instagram ads, PPC (pay-per-click) ads, or printed flyers to get new members to your gym. However, you’re missing out on a tremendous chance to attract new members if your fitness studio doesn’t have a referral program. Using a referral program can save a lot of money, because it requires very little advertising, or none at all.

Starting a gym membership referral program means you are effectively asking your members to do all of your marketing for you. Your gym members are your best advocates, and referral marketing continues to be one of the best ways to increase membership.

What is a Gym Referral Program?

Gym referral program

Gym referral marketing is a marketing technique that uses word of mouth and recommendations to increase the number of customers through the network of existing customers of your gym. 

Referring new gym members is cost-effective. The member would serve as a channel to promote and talk about your gym without having to use extra marketing dollars. Members would only suggest your gym to other friends and family in the local area, giving you more potential members.

Research has shown again and again that people still trust the recommendations of people they know. Although many brands compete in the same marketing arenas such as social media and Google ads, people are still inclined to trust recommendations from their friends and family. In fact, potential gym members are four times more likely to sign up for a gym membership if their friends or family recommend it to them.

Why a Referral Program Works for Gyms

Gym referral program examples

A gym member may influence their immediate family and friends to come to the gym just by sharing their physical results. A potential member may experience an internal response when they come to see these results firsthand. They may feel motivated to achieve the same results and feel good about themselves.

Not all gym members like to work out by themselves. Over 44% of gymgoers prefer to exercise accompanied by at least one friend. Friends and family can also be great motivators for gym members to maintain their fitness goals, so they are more likely to stay motivated and to keep exercising as long as they can. 

Maintaining a friendly and welcoming atmosphere in your gym is critical to keeping members happy and encouraging them to refer to their family and friends. Your gym members can show your classes and programs to friends and family when they bring them over, taking all the work off your shoulders and seeing your gym membership numbers grow. 

What are the Best Referral Programs for Gyms

Before you create a referral program, your current gym members need to have some incentive to spread the word and refer your gym to friends and family. Incentives that appeal to your gym members are critical to the success of your program. 

The incentives don’t have to just be cash incentives. According to University of Chicago researchers, non-cash incentives helped boost performance significantly more than cash ones. You need to identify what incentives would appeal to your gym members and what incentives fit your budget so that your gym can offer the best referral rewards.

There are a number of ways you could reward them:

Buddy Passes

When they are referred by a friend, new  members usually feel excited and possibly embarrassed at first when they join a new gym or program. Their embarrassment might be a result of seeing different machines, learning new exercise techniques, and passing by physically fit gym members. If new gym members are offered a buddy pass for a referral, they may be more motivated and excited to start their fitness journey with a trusted friend or family member.

Gift Cards

Gym referral ideas

Each referral your gym members provide will help them to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Give your gym members gift certificates for supplements, nutrition bars, and athletic apparel. You can network with local restaurants and stores to offer gift cards for gym members.

Discounted Membership

You can never go wrong with offering a discounted gym membership when they refer friends and family. For every referring gym member who refers to someone, take out a small dollar amount or percentage from their monthly membership dues.

Free Gym Merchandise

If you’d like to add a competitive element to the referral program, you can give members free gym merchandise in the form of exclusively branded gym t-shirts. Your referral program may attract other members who want to win the t-shirts, so you have more members joining in the fun of referring to their friends and family. 

Referral Challenge

Challenges might be a fantastic way to engage gym members and motivate them to work hard for a prize such as a free week of personal training with their favorite instructor or a spa treatment package in partnership with a local spa. For every successful referral, they earn a number of points. The member with the most points at the end of the referral challenge will win the prize.

How to Create My Own Referral Program

Although selecting an incentive may seem easy, you should consider which steps your gym members have to take to refer others as well as how you plan to track referrals at your gym. You can consider these referral program ideas. 

Referral Forms

Providing a referral form that can be found at the front desk of the gym will allow members to fill out their own name and the contact information of the person they are referring to. It would require training for your gym staff members to have members fill out the hardcopy referral form. You can also put a referral page on your gym’s website for members to fill out, but this would take commitment on the part of your members.

Referral Cards

Members can receive referral cards to present to friends and family so that they can tell them about the gym. As a result, if the referral comes back to redeem it, you’ll know whom to thank. However, this can be expensive since printing cards is an additional expense.

Referral Program Software

Gym referral marketing

Rather than using paper forms or cards, a referral program is your best bet to a well-run referral program. Creating a referral program isn’t complicated at all when you use referral program software that allows you to track your gym members’ referrals and analyze your numbers. You can organize all your referrals and gym members’ information so you know whom to reward and who became loyal gym members.

Working with the Best Referral Software

Referrizer Referral marketing tool allows you to track rewards and points to find out who to refer to, since you also do not want to give away more freebies than you planned. You can reach out to the referring member to give them the rewards they deserve after referring to their friends and family.

Schedule a demo now to see why more than 350 gyms love our referral marketing tool. 

Lots of software programs can overwhelm anyone, especially those who want software made for local gym owners. The referral program software can take the key learnings from each gym’s membership retention rates and the local market and create regular and successful referral marketing campaigns which align with your business goals.

Create a Great First Experience for Your Referral Marketing

The frequency with which you run a referral marketing program is determined by the size of your gym, your membership, and your needs for new members. Experiment with a few different referral marketing campaigns to see what works best for your gym. If you have chosen an incentive that will greatly appeal to your gym members, it’s time to put your gym referral program to work to motivate more new members to join your gym.

How to Increase Online Yoga Class Attendance

Yoga Class Attendance

As a yoga teacher or studio owner in the pandemic era, you surely understand the importance of numbers and technology to your business. You must have enough members to earn a living, and without members, your studio will fail.

Yoga studios that offer members the choice of attending live classes or watching recorded videos are more likely to be successful. Even as the pandemic winds down, online yoga classes will likely stay. Increase the attendance rate to your online yoga classes with the help of several tools and technologies. 

7 Ideas for Increasing Online Yoga Class Attendance in 2021

To increase class size and attract members, these basic strategies can be useful as you grow your yoga studio.

1. Set Up Your Studio’s Social Media Accounts

You can promote your business on social media for free or through paid advertising, depending on how you leverage it. Your social media accounts should contain basic information on your classes, a short bio, and a call-to-action to encourage members to register for your classes.

Develop a social media plan for posting photos and information on online classes, retreats, studio news, as well as inspirational quotes and videos. Whenever possible, reply to comments and messages. Promote your class on social media by asking your friends and followers to share your posts. Your responsiveness quickly shows them that your site is well-managed.

2. Sort Your Email and Text Lists Into Groups

Yoga Class Attendance Online

In addition to social media accounts and your studio website, you can set up email and text marketing programs to let people know about upcoming classes and events. Segment your contacts into groups, such as those who have previously registered vs. those who haven’t, and then create email and text campaigns that target these smaller groups.

Remember to ask if they agree to receive email or text notifications from you. Do not ignore any emails and texts with “unsubscribe” requests.

3. Be Strategic with Online Advertising

Using advertising solutions like Google Ads, you can target the right audience. Some programs use algorithms and A/B testing to make sure you’re only reaching those who are interested in your class.

The closer the registration deadline gets, the more you will need to retarget your ads. When you use this approach, you can remind prospective members to sign up before a class sells out if they didn’t the first time around.

4. Organize a Free Online Class

Hold a free online event to get more members to sign up for your studio. For example, before starting a series of beginner vinyasa yoga classes, host a free online yoga class. Use social media and your email and text marketing campaigns to advertise the class. A free online class can provide more information and get people excited about taking more of your online yoga classes. 

You finish the class by explaining the advantages of your studio, answering questions, and giving potential members a sense of who you are. Then, you can offer a discount for registration. Make sure you are prepared, enthusiastic, and ready to shine for your free online class. 

5. Bring in Well-Known Instructors

Increasing the online yoga class attendance rate might be as straightforward as providing more online yoga classes with a specific instructor. Create more online yoga classes where members can practice with their favorite instructor if that instructor’s classes have consistently been well attended.

You can also team up with well-known local yoga instructors and studios for online lessons and events. Their members may sign up for your online classes as they become familiar with your name, studio, and teaching style.

6. Use Coupons and Deals to Boost Attendance During Slow Periods

In many yoga studios, participation is lower in off-peak hours. Take advantage of slow hours to increase online yoga class attendance by offering deals and coupons.

When you send a text or email to potential members about your four classes for a $40 offer if they sign up within the next 48 hours on Thursday afternoon, they may sign up for a class they would not have otherwise taken. Any discount is not going to hurt the overall online yoga class attendance.

7. Create Incentives for Members

As a business, it is important to maintain consistent levels of member attendance. A referral program, for example, can motivate members to invite friends and family. 

If your members are new to yoga, inviting their friends and family to your lessons can ease them into practice. You can invite members to bring a friend for one online yoga class a week, and you can set up special online partner yoga classes for members to bring their friends.

Using referral software will help you encourage your members to spread the word about your classes. Additionally, you can create a loyalty program that includes birthday gifts and early bird registration for yoga retreats. All these programs can be used to increase the online yoga class attendance rate without having to spend more time on it.

Increasing Online Yoga Attendance Will Take Time

If your online yoga class attendance rate fluctuates, don’t be disappointed. There are several factors that affect class attendance, from the holidays to tax season to school vacations. As you plan your marketing strategy, keep in mind the same principles you teach your yoga classes – patience, compassion, and steadiness – and you will reap the rewards.

4th of July marketing ideas for your local business

4th of July marketing

Summer is here and while everyone is planning their bbq menus, deciding how much to spend on fireworks, and debating whether or not to call their neighbor over, you should use this holiday to bring additional revenue to your business. The question is: How?

While most people are planning their 4th of July celebrations this is the perfect time for you to promote your business in new, creative ways as well.

To help you create the perfect Independence Day campaign, here are a few effective 4th of July marketing ideas you can use for your business.

1. Reach out to former customers

4th of July marketing

As the holiday approaches, reaching out to your old clients must be on your to-do list. Not only does it help rebuild lost connections, but at the same time, you can create extra revenue.

Use the upcoming holiday to send your customers an early “Happy 4th of July” message, and while you’re at it inform them about a special offer you have for a limited period. On average, 26% of customers return with win-back campaigns. 

Even if you are not providing a special offer, you should wish a happy Independence Day to your clients. It’s important to always stay in touch with your clients and to keep your business in front of them and this is the perfect opportunity to do so – it’s also simply a nice thing to do and your clients will appreciate that as well.

There are two ways to reach out to your former clients: SMS text and email campaigns.

If you don’t have an opt-in database, no problem, you can read here how to collect customer phone numbers using Referrizer. Below you will also see ideas that don’t require an opt-in database. 


SMS campaign

This type of approach is ideal for the upcoming holiday, and it is a lot more efficient than trying to reach out to customers via email. Statistics show that SMS has a 45% response rate while emails received a 6% response rate. 

Now, because text messages are usually short, some craftsmanship is required. You have to deliver an easy-to-read and straightforward message, within the maximum character count.

Here is of what a straightforward text message should look like:

text marketing for businesses

Email campaign

In case you don’t have your customers’ phone numbers, you can use their email addresses instead. The principle is basically the same as with SMS campaigns, but the advantage here is that you can exceed 160 characters.

And while an email campaign is less effective than an SMS campaign, it is a much less expensive method.

In order to stand out in your customer’s inbox, you must choose a subject line that is as equally interesting as it is patriotic.


Here are a few examples of a good subject line for Independence Day:

  • Independence Day – exclusive offers
  • John, Happy Independence Day! 
  • Celebrate freedom with special 4th of July prices
  • Enjoy Independence Day with special offers inside
  • This is a loud BANG! 💣💥 Limited 4th of July offers
  • Don’t miss out – Independence Day exclusive offers
  • Don’t miss these Independence Day discounts 🧨🧨🧨
  • Day of savings – Special 4th of July offer 🔥
  • Limited time only! (Business Name) 4th of July sales 
  • Check out your special Independence Day savings! 🗽

2. Attract new customers

4th of July marketing

Special offers and discounts don’t have to be reserved only for past customers. You should equally focus your time and resources on acquiring new customers. And since the 4th of July wakes up the holiday spirit in every American, this is the ideal time to create a special offer for them.

Here is a simple walkthrough:

  • Create a special for Independence Day – Keep in mind to aim for people who already have some interest in your business – so you don’t need to offer anything expensive. A simple discount from 20% – 50% works great in these scenarios.
  • Promote the offer – As mentioned in the first step, you want to target people who are almost ready to buy. And the best way to find them is on your website. Use our high converting Website Widget to make your 4th of July offer live on your website quickly and easily. 
  • Make your offer limited – Nothing gets people to pull out their wallets more than a limited time offer. Highlight that your offer is for a limited time only, for example, you can limit your offer from 3 – 7 days. The shorter the time period the bigger urgency you create (but also remember that the shorter time period you use, the fewer people get to see your offer).
  • Keep your word – If you say it’s for a limited time only, don’t forget to turn off your special offer after it ends. No matter how good it’s doing. If not, people will assume that you’re creating false urgency, and you can say goodbye to using this method for the next holiday.  

3. Social media campaign

We cannot stress enough how important social media is nowadays. Its cost-effectiveness is proven in a Quicksprout statistic that states that 63% of companies using social media saw an increase in marketing effectiveness.

Try to post more often as the holiday approaches, with an emphasis on 4th of July related posts. Show your audience you are celebrating as well, and to demonstrate the patriotic spirit you want to offer a special discount in honor of Independence Day.

Here’s are a few examples of a eye-catching posts for Instagram.

4th of July marketing

4. Team up with other businesses

4th of July marketing

Independence Day is a day for big celebrations and people want to get ready for their bbq’s and parties by buying food, drinks, fireworks, etc. This means that for a certain period before July 4th, firework stores, supermarkets and liquor stores will have more traffic than usual. That makes those stores an ideal place to promote your business. 

How can you successfully achieve this? 

Team up with local stores by asking them to promote your business with flyers and billboards in exchange for a group discount for their employees. Or perhaps you can offer a mutual promotion: They promote your business in their place, and you promote their business in your place.

This 4th of July is going to be an amazing celebration and by implementing just some of the tips above you can increase your revenue this summer and have another reason to celebrate!