A few years ago we were looking to start an email referral program for our newsletter at Token Daily. We couldn’t find a suitable solution that would give us a lot of flexibility, so I ended up creating our own custom solution from scratch and integrated it into our website. It was tied to Mailchimp, which was our email provider.
Our minimal requirement for the system was that it should function similar to the ones from Morning Brew or The Hustle:
Every subscriber would receive their own unique URL with our newsletter and visiting it would give them the option to share an invite with their friends to join our newsletter in a seamless way. Invite options included Email, Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook. Every invite that resulted in a unique sign-up would be tracked as referral. The page would also inform them about their referral milestones and how many referrals they had made.
Along with having referrals in place, we also wanted to include rewards to incentivize a subscriber for reaching certain milestones. We decided to give away stickers for 5 referrals, t-shirts for 25 referrals, and so on. We tried different approaches by giving milestones funny or interesting names so that our subscribers would feel more ambitious to reach them. One person was so ambitious, they even placed ads on yahoo mail to invite as many people as possible - resulting in hundreds of signups in one day. It turned out to be an awesome way to grow our email list.
Something we did not anticipate was the following: Our reward system was working out so well that it became very time consuming for our staff to keep up with all the referrals and incentivizing everybody who reached their milestones. Asking for their address, coordinating shipping, sending out gift cards, answering emails like “Where is my reward?”… all through email. Which can already be full on the regular.
This led us into the next problem: We needed a fulfillment system that would help us track their addresses or any information needed to fulfill the incentive, not just email. More importantly, a system that could keep track of questions such as “who is going to send out the t-shirt”, “did the subscriber already receive their stickers”. I also began to get a number of requests from people interested in adding this type of referral option into their email newsletter. From that point, it was clear that I was already working on a product of its own here.
These are just a couple key takeaways from what I’ve learned and why I always wanted to make my learnings and our working processes from running successful referral campaigns available to everybody.
This year, I finally found some time to bring this product to the public.
Say hello to Firewards.