Go to market strategy · Customer Acquisition

Have you launched/observed a successful B2B referral program?

Srinivas Penumaka Seasoned marketing executive (product, leadgen, digital, channel, social)

January 27th, 2016

I am doing a compilation of B2B referral programs that work. I heard about Dropbox referral program where you would send referral links to your friends and if they join you are rewarded with extra file storage space. 

Does anyone in the community have experience in designing and executing such referral programs? Also any suggestions on software that can be used to launch and manage?

I would like to have three types of audience and three types of actions:

Referrer types - Not a customer, trial customer, and paid customer.
Actions taken - 
1) Referrers sent referral emails, shared on social
2) friends of referrers (referrees) have started a trial subscription
3) friends of referrers (referrees) have bought a paid subscription

I would love to know your thoughts on rewards/incentives that work to make a B2B user refer their professional acquaintances.

Rodrigo Vaca Product & Marketing

January 27th, 2016

Srinivas -

We designed/implemented a very successful one for Zoho Mail.
Here's some advice based on my experience:

- Simplify. You have 3 referrer types and 3 kids of actions. I think that's too complex, at least to start with. Define a single action that you track.
- Reward both sides of the transaction.
- Do not worry too much about abuse. Every referral program is subject to abuse. Every system will be gamed. Don't worry too much about this initially.
- Do not spend time/money/effort on the back-end software.

On the last point - unless you're Google and are expecting a referral volume on the hundreds of thousands of people, do not spend any significant effort/time/money on automation. Focus first on getting people to refer your product, then when you start getting traction, focus on automating that process.

There is a place and time for fancy schmancy tools for referrals, etc. I argue that a start-up doesn't fit that criteria.

best of luck!


Karen Leventhal

January 27th, 2016

We researched these but haven't implemented anything yet. For API's investigate  -- Refersion, Referral Candy, and Get Ambassador. Hope that helps. 

Shaker Rawan Chief Problem Solver & Strategist

January 28th, 2016

Hi Sri, one of my companies is prospecx.com and we are running a B2B and B2C referral program. It is in beta and we've learned a lot from our initial experience. Happy to get on a call and share what we've learned. 

Rodirgo is right, establish key metrics that you can track. Then create an incentive program that is easy to use and easy to implement. We did analysis on the fraud, gaming of referrals and compliance issues. Ultimately you want to have the ability to use "network market" effect to help your referrals grow. 

Ping me and we can schedule a call. 

Philip Wilkins

January 27th, 2016

Check out Influitive. Really cool company that's built technology based on exactly this. Cheers, Philip Wilkins 415.722.3442

Srinivas Penumaka Seasoned marketing executive (product, leadgen, digital, channel, social)

January 28th, 2016

Hi Rodrigo - thank you for your insights. I really liked the whole flow and the UX. Great job on it. https://www.zoho.com/mail/referrals.html.

Hi shaker - thank you for your offer to give me more info. I will connect.