American entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn once famously said “One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising”.

Why? Because word of mouth marketing works better than any other form of advertising. Simply put, consumers trust the opinions of other regular people more. So building trust with your potential and existing customers is essential if you want to grow your business. The best way to do that? Social proof in the form of referrals.

Referral marketing works – but you need to implement it properly. Let’s take a look at some of the best apps and platforms on the market that you can use to set up a solid referral strategy for your ecommerce business in 2018.

If you run a Shopify store, and you haven’t yet started with any of these (or similar) tools, you’re going to want to read on.   

ReferralCandy

ReferralCandy is perhaps the most well known referral marketing platform currently. With 3,000+ brands using their software, ReferralCandy have made themselves a big player in the ecommerce world.

The app hooks directly into your Shopify store to help you create beautiful referral landing pages, send emails, and give out discount rewards and incentives to your referrers and referees.

The concept goes like this. ReferralCandy boost ‘word-of-mouth’ sales by providing each customer with a unique referral URL that they can share with their friends. When a friend of your customer makes a purchase through the link, you’ll know you have made a referral sale! ReferralCandy automatically rewards the customer who has been advocating for your brand with whatever discount coupon or incentive you’ve chosen.

A few standout features:

  • They have a highly customisable referral flow creator. It’s your online store, so ReferralCandy let you create your flows how you like – with fine grain control over how you’ll reward customers and, what you’ll offer their referred friends.
  • Easily customisable landing page and email templates, as well as the ability to get deep into the knitty-gritty with custom HTML and CSS.
  • A great integration with Shopify, and a clear, no-nonsense dashboard to help you track your success and optimise your referral campaigns and flows.

Pricing:

ReferralCandy is a paid platform. Though at just $49 per month, plus a monthly ReferralCandy commission, it’s probably not going to break the bank.

Commission starts at 5% for your first $1,000 in referral sales – but it quickly drops as you grow.

  • 5% for your first $1,000 referral sales.
  • 3.5% for the next $10,000 in sales.
  • 1.5% commission for the next $100,000 in referral sales.

Once you’ve broken $100K in referral sales, the commission fee drops to just 0.25% for all future ReferralCandy sales.

Smile.io

Perhaps our favourite referral marketing platform at the moment is Smile.io.   

Why? Because Smile.io have extremely customisable and powerful email marketing capabilities built right into their referral platform. And, like us, they have a real focus on Lifecycle Marketing principles. Smile.io don’t just hand out rewards to referrers. Their platform allows you to do much, much more to boost Lifetime Value and create brand advocacy.

A few standout features:

  • Smile.io has an incredible capacity for integration. It can be controlled from directly within your Shopify store, which makes it easy to create your own referral email automations to encourage and reward your customers. Plus, it can be integrated with email marketing platforms (like Klaviyo) to make your customer experiences even more consistent, and your referral marketing even more clever.
  • Smile.io are all about the experience. For both you, and your customers. They put a huge amount of effort into both the usability of their platform, and ensuring your customers can engage fully with your brand and referral marketing programs.
  • As well as referral rewards, you can gamify your customers shopping experience by creating a points based rewards system – rewarding customers for every profitable action with an amount of ‘points’ that you deem appropriate. Points can then be exchanged for real dollar value incentives, or in-store credit. This means you can encourage repeat purchases, referrals, social likes or shares, and more from the one platform.
  • Smile.io lets you create ‘VIP programs’ to truly boost customer retention and brand advocacy. You can reward your most loyal customers in much more refined ways – in turn, boosting their brand advocacy and turning them into your own army of sales representatives!

Pricing:

Smile.io is an incredibly powerful platform, so their pricing is a little bit more than other referral marketing applications. However, you do not have to pay any commission.

Plans range from 2,000 members at $59 a month to 25,000 members at $599 a month.

Vwala

Perhaps we’re biased, but we love Brisbane-based companies like ourselves. A local start-up in the area, Vwala, has an incredible platform that’s making some serious waves in the ecommerce referral marketing space. 

Rather than focusing solely on referrals from customers, Vwala take great interest in increasing your sales through partnerships with influencers (i.e. YouTubers, Bloggers, popular Instagram personalities, etc). If you have a large social following, or are looking to get into influencer marketing, this is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

Vwala is an easy-to-use, beautiful, and powerful referral platform that plugs seamlessly into your Shopify store to deliver incredible results to your bottom line.

A few standout features:

  • Unlike other referral platforms, Vwala has a focus on leveraging social media influencers to help grow your brand. Their payment schemes create a fair and transparent way for you and your influencer marketers to agree on commissions and rates.
  • Vwala automatically installs a widget to your ecommerce website show off the benefits of your referral program, then sign them up as referral marketers for your store if they choose. This is a great way to put referrals at the centre of your marketing efforts – a great strategy for a huge number of ecommerce brands.
  • A fully-automated referrer URL, and discount code management system. This helps you track each referrer’s performance, and even offer product specific promotions – making your influencers and referral marketers an even more powerful sales force.

Pricing:

Vwala has even cheaper plans than ReferralCandy, making it perfect for businesses who want to trial referral marketing before diving straight into the deep end.

Companies on their starting plans pay just 4.95% commission, with no monthly fee. Larger sized stores can instead opt to pay the $59.99 (USD) monthly fee, or 1.95% commission (whichever is higher).   

There are many different referral platforms on the market – but out of all that we have worked with, we’d consider these the best choices for ecommerce brands in 2018. If you want to chat about the best solution for your business, get in touch! We’d be more than happy to give you a personal recommendation.

Matt Smith

About Matt Smith

Hi, I'm one of the two Matts here at Andzen. As an Ecommerce Strategy Consultant, I help spread the gospel of marketing automation to the online retail world. I work closely with merchants to identify opportunities to improve customer lifetime value and generate more revenue.