Standalone email blasts are one of the best ways to promote your referral program and generate more referral revenue immediately. Your email list represents a big batch of folks who are the most likely to refer their friends to your business. And because they’re all in one place, they’re the easiest to reach. Help them help you by sending tightly focused and regularly scheduled solo email blast to remind them of how, where and why they should refer. We've compiled some great email blast examples below.
There are several best practices around the individual components of an effective standalone email campaign. Doesn’t matter if you’re running or regular promotion or boosting your referral program as we're primarily focussed on in this post. A good dedicated email is a good dedicated email, period. The same rules apply to both.
So here’s how to get the most out of promoting your referral program with email – and promoting anything for that matter…
1. Finding the Right Email Subject Line Can Make or Break Your Success. Take the Time to Get it Right.
Enticing subject lines are necessary for ensuring your email is opened and not deleted on first sight. According to Return Path, the average email user receives 416 commercial emails per month. That’s a lot of noise to cut through!
Make sure your email stands out from the rest with a subject line that reflects the referral benefit contained in the email. Keep it short and sweet but descriptive and attractive. A good subject line can mean the difference between a 4% open rate and a 60% open rate.
Say you’re an ecommerce brand that sells toasters. Subject lines like “Give Your Friends a Toasty Day!” or “Share Your Way to More Toasters” might sound light-hearted and inviting, but they’re not actually telling people what they can get from opening your email. If they don’t understand what’s behind door #1, they're much less likely to bother looking.
Subject lines that clearly and succinctly state the referral offer are better. “Refer Friends, Get Free Toasters” or “Give $20, Get $20” are likely to be opened. Present a benefit people will want to know more about and they’ll open the email to learn more.
Make your subject lines irresistible to increase your email open rates. Depending on the service provider you use, you may want to A/B test your subject lines so you can to find the formula that works for you going forward.
2. Your Email Pre-Header is More Important Than You Think.
The pre-header is the quick preview of the email as seen by the recipient. This is the copy people see along with your subject line. A killer combination of the two will boost your open rates.
This especially important for mobile email – 65% of all email gets opened first on a mobile device and the pre-header is your opportunity to capture their attention before they swipe and delete.
Use this text area to call out the referral offer, letting users know what’s inside for them if they open the email. If your toaster company has decided your subject line will be “Give $20, Get $20,” a good pre-header might be a further explanation like “Share our toasters with friends & earn $20 free credit.”
Here are some examples of general (not referral campaign) pre-headers and some quick comments below.
- Super intriguing pre-header and super complementary to the subject line.
- Pre-header is complementary to the subject line, includes the offer, using all caps is eye grabbing.
- Not sure how the pre-header relates to the offer in the subject line.
- Subject line is vague, pre-header does little to clear anything up.
- Subject line is intriguing but first line of sub-header is a technical matter (second line gets back to the marketing message).
3. A Solid Call to Action Inspires an Immediate Response. Yes, Immediate.
A clear call to action is worth its weight in gold. The best performing standalone emails do not leave any doubt what the recipient should do (the desired action they should take) nor what’s in it for them if they take the action.
This is one of those moments where less is definitely more. Highlight your referral program in the simplest, most straightforward way. This has practical benefits too – consider what the largest sized text in your email blast will say. The shorter and more succinct the call to action, the larger you can make that headline.
Great referral program calls to action can sound as simple as “Share & Get $20” or “Earn Free Toasters.”
4. The Referral Incentive Offer Should Be Clear as Day. It Should Also Be Irresistible.
So you’ve made your call to action clear – people know what you want them to do. Now why should they do it? Why should they take the time to share? The answer to those questions should be obvious from your email blast content. Tell them immediately about the benefit they can receive for sharing and send them to your standalone referral page to get the rest of the details.
If you don’t think your referral offer stands on its own, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what you’re offering. People like to share, they want to get – get store credit, get free stuff, get an extra month. They’ll happily share in order to get a benefit they perceive as valuable. Give some extra thought (and even research) as to the best referral incentive for your brand.
5. Don’t Compete With Yourself. Eliminate Distractions So Your Call to Action Stands Out.
Standalone emails in general should have one and only one call to action, which in most cases is one and only clickable element (link or image). If one adds several other snippets of content and distracting links, these elements crowd out your the message and materially reduce campaign performance. And for what it’s worth, if one goes about adding a bunch of additional content, it’s no longer a dedicated email it’s a newsletter…
Especially in the case of referral promotion emails, social media icons that are often at the bottom of your email template can be confusing because users might click on them to start sharing, not realizing they need to first click thru to the referral widget you’ve set up on your site. If your email template normally includes social media icons and header links, we highly recommend making a new template that’s clean of those elements.
HOT TIP: We prefer images in the body of our standalone emails. Many of the examples below take advantage of images that contain a product shot + a terse call to action.
6. Seal the Deal by Sending Referred Visitors to a Stellar Referral Page.
You’ve spent the time and energy to craft a killer call to action. Don’t send people who click through to your homepage where they have to start hunting for a referral widget. Create a standalone referral page and send users there directly.
The same marketing guidelines apply when they arrive at the referral page. Users should see a strong call to action and understand the referral offer if they share. This serves as reinforcement. Here are some referral widget examples you’d likely see embedded on a referral page.
HOT TIP: You can also drive traffic from Facebook and Twitter to this referral page, too!
7. Schedule and Send Email Blasts Regularly. Quarterly is Ideal. Monthly is Best.
Sending one email blast will give you a good revenue pop. In fact it’s good to send to your whole list on Day 1 of your referral program!!! Spikes like this are great, but spikes are also temporary. Schedule email blasts as part of your regular marketing communication cycle to give your referral program repeated booster shots over time.
Let's compare two referral promotion strategies.
The first representational graph below is how a normal referral program accelerates over time. Revenue grows organically as more and more users become aware it and share with friends.
The second graph shows what happens if a marketer starts a referral program with a standalone email blast, notifying everyone within reach that it exists. Scheduled follow up blasts over time (one per quarter perhaps) produce additional spikes.
Compare the two promotion strategies over time. You can see the two trajectories overlapped below. The marketer who announces the referral program in the beginning starts higher (referral revenue) and through periodic reminder emails, stays higher.
8. Infographic: Stand Alone Email Blast Design!
Make sure you've thought-through each element of your stand alone email. We've created a visual check list for you in the infographic below.
Click to enlarge. And check out the instructions at the bottom if you’d like to embed this graphic on your website.
Click to Tweet this Infographic | Copy & Embed Infographic On Your Site
<a href='http://friendbuy.com/blog/email-blast-examples/' target='_blank'><img src='http://friendbuy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Standalone-Email-Blast-Infographic.png' alt='Standalone Email Template Design [Infographic]' width='792px' border='0' /></a>
<strong><a href='http://friendbuy.com/blog/email-blast-examples/' target='_blank'> Infographic by Friendbuy</a></strong>
9. Email Blast Examples!
Here are some email samples from Friendbuy clients who generously volunteered to share them with us for this post. We’ve commented on each and just to get everyone on the same page.
Bay Alarm Medical
Bay Alarm Medical provides advanced 24/7 personal emergency response systems (medical alert, life alert, medical alarm systems).
What we like – Their email blast uses the same cartoon characters featured on their site to draw attention to their referral program. The description is text-heavy, but a thorough explanation works for their audience. It even shows the widget so users know what to expect when they click through.
Things we’d try – The additional content blocks at the bottom means this isn’t quite a standalone email, so we’d eliminate those for future blasts.
Brickell Men's Products
Brickell Men's Products makes high performing natural skincare & grooming products for men.
What we like – What’s not to like? This is probably our favorite of all the examples. The call to action is bold and enticing, and the email’s pre-header reflects the offer – “Earn $10 credit when you refer a friend.” That’s an email blast worth opening.
What we'd try – Those social media icons right under the “Share With Friends Now” button could cause confusion, so we’d take those out of the email template next time.
Coveroo sells custom and pre-designed phone, tablet, and laptop covers.
What we like – The heart of this email blast is a triple whammy of awesome. The image of friends sharing while holding their product combines with the strong, simple call to action and large “Refer a Friend” button to make a very engaging message.
What we’d try – The strong message could be stronger without the surrounding links. There's both a header navigation and footer navigation - a kind of mini-website layout. Every link added to an email template reduces the probability of the recipient clicking on the offer. The “Forward to a Friend” link causes the most concern; we’d hate for someone to share using that link and not get his or her $10 credit!
Filter Easy delivers top quality, residential home air filters right to your doorstep.
What we like – This is a very clean-looking email. There are no distracting links competing with the central message and the graphic is well-designed.
Things we’d try – The largest text snippets – “Be the Hero of the Day” and “Today is the Day for Free Filters” – don't mention referral program. Recipients need to read the smaller text to figure out what this email is about. Try making the biggest elements contain the offer. Also, a pre-header like “Refer friends & get free air filters” could help improve opens.
Loom Décor is a chic design-it-yourself home decor shopping experience.
What we like – This email blast is pretty stellar. The CTA is huge and couldn’t be clearer. The copy plays off the image well and the orange referral button stands out against the white background.
Things we’d try – There are a few distracting links around, but luckily none are as big as that central call to action. Plus, the CTA is red which also boosts its visibility.
MeUndies delivers The World’s Most Comfortable Basics – underwear, loungewear, and socks – with a relentless emphasis on quality and service.
What we like – The graphic behind the giant CTA is memorable and reflects the idea of sharing. The call to action is prominent and clear (and the email pre-header also restates the offer), “Get $20 When You Refer a Friend!”
Things we’d try – Social icons can be confusing as they are not connected to sharing the referral offer, but in this case they’re not as bad because they’re only at the bottom.
Prize Candle sells eco-conscious soy candles with gemstone rings hidden inside, valued anywhere from $10 to $5,000.
What we like – The email pre-header is simple and clear – Give $10, Get $10. The email is cleanly designed and succinctly states the referral offer. The bright pink “Start Earning” button is clearly the best place to click.
Things we’d try – Normally we’d call out “Everybody Wins” as a weak CTA, but in this case, it plays off their brand, since everyone who buys a candle wins a ring. The relevancy to their product makes this a fun play on words. Recipients are primed for this message.
SmartThings offers devices that allow users to instantly connect to different sensors, locks, light switches, outlets, thermostats, and other smart devices in their home through their free app. They sent this email blast as part of a special Share the Love promotion they ran to promote their referral program through Facebook, Twitter, their blog, and special placements throughout their sites.
What we like – This email features a great custom image and no other distractions from the central message. This email blast and the other placements help them more than double their shares over the course of the promotion.
Things we’d try – This email is solid. Perhaps make the referral offer the largest text in the email. Or use the button to reiterate the offer – “Share & Get $20.”
Spartan Race organizes obstacle course races around the world. People who sign up for races can invite their friends to sign up too and receive $10 merchandise credit for their online store of apparel and fitness gear.
What we like – Spartan Race has always been great at showcasing striking, inspiring images. We’re not sure we could cross a river on ropes, but looking at the image sure makes us want to try!
Things we’d try – The attention-grabbing images make no mention of the refer a friend program – that has been sequestered to the small text in between the images. We’d highlight the referral program in the large clickable image and get rid of the three buttons at the bottom. Alternatively, we’d make the incentive – “receive $10 in merchandise credit” – the clickable part of the text. Because people don’t naturally want to refer as much as they want to earn free credit.
The Tie Bar
The Tie Bar offers stylish men’s accessories including neckties, bow ties, tie bars, pocket squares, socks and a host of other products. They sent this blast as part of an email series about style resolutions for the new year.
What we like – We love that they incorporated this blast into an email series campaign (the topics were style resolutions). Aligning the referral reminder with their editorial content is a great way to invite more people to share.
Things we’d try – Ditch all those links at the top and the social media icons at the bottom, though we understand the template was probably uniform to match the rest of the email series.
Xtreme Xperience travels across the U.S. offering thrill seekers the opportunity to drive their fleet of exotic cars from manufactures including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Audi, McLaren and Mercedes-Benz on world-class racetracks.
What we like – Love how the cars are arrangement in the image - a V shape that naturally leads the eye to the “Invite a Friend” button – clever! The call to action at the top is strong and the pre-header clearly describes the referral offer within.
Things we’d try – We’d cut down on the text – the offer is already clear and doesn’t need that much more explanation. And since there are two referral buttons and the top one already says “Invite a Friend,” we’d make the second button say something like “Get Free Gear” to differentiate it.