Imagine that you run a coffee shop and you know how your regular customers take their coffee, but you still ask them for their order every morning. Your customer will A) be annoyed with having to repeat their order and B) feel that they don’t matter to you because they have to repeat their order and C) take their business elsewhere.

This scenario is entirely applicable to today’s retail environment.

Shoppers do not appreciate being anonymous to companies they frequent, and don’t like being lumped into broad demographic segments. They want personalized service. Retailers know this. And yet, many fail to personalize their online referral campaigns.

A CMO Council report found that while more than 88% of marketers believe that personalization positively impacts ROI and engagement, only 6% actually personalize their campaigns.

Personalization is changing the face of referral marketing (in fact it’s changing the face of retail altogether), enabling retailers to leverage new customer acquisition on a whole new level, and stand out from competitors. 

One example: Airbnb is recognized as one of the most successful app growth stories of our time. Why? Partly through personalization of their referral marketing program.

According to Airbnb, their initial program was under-performing and underutilized. However, once Airbnb realized the value of personalization and how to implement it, the company boosted sign-ups and bookings by over 300%.

How to Personalize Your Referral Campaign

1)  Personalize your referral codes

You get no points for surmising that humans recall and relate more to names than to some random promotion code. When recipients see a familiar name in a referral code (“Your friend Bob Jones thinks you would love this service”) it makes them feel more connected to the program, consequently increasing sign-ups and app downloads.

Example: Uber realized that users are more responsive to personalized referral links. When a new user signs up to Uber, she receives a referral code, which can then be personalized with her name. When she shares this personalized code with her connections it has a greater chance of follow through, further secured by the dual reward offered: e.g. a free ride or $20 off their next trip for both parties.

2)  Personalize referral landing pages

Imagine a promotion saying ABC company has offered you a $25 discount as referred by your Facebook friend, vs. a one where you are addressed by your first name and you see your friend’s name and picture, who wants you to try a new service which he loved, and also gifted you a $25 to get started. Obviously, the second is more appealing, right?

Shyp thinks so. The logistics company took its referral marketing campaign to the next level by customizing their referral landing page. Users who were referred to get free shipment by Shyp are in turn greeted by the familiar face and name of a friend or a family member, further boosting the success of its app referral program.

3)  Personalize your emails

Personalization must be consistent across all channels of engagement, including email. According to, personalized emails boost transaction rates by up to six times, yet 70% of brands are still not personalizing their emails!

Personalization provides an opportunity to connect with your customers. With the help of modern referral marketing platforms such as ShopSocially, you can not only personalize referral communication but also target your campaigns based on user demographics, social profile data, location, access device, past website interactions and more.

Ensure your referral program is geared to give your customers the personal touch they demand. It makes all the difference to the success of your campaign.

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