Know Your VIPs

Investigating The Secret Life of Referrals

Know thy VIP

An ecommerce manager was struggling to build traction with her recently launched referral programme.

She’d sold the idea internally based on the expectations set by the software provider. An uplift of 20% in sales they’d confidently been informed. All for a fee of just £129 a month? No contact?! SOLD!

So, now emblazoned on their Shopify store navigation was a ‘Get £10 Off’ link. The catch? You get a £10 voucher when you spend £100 or more … when you refer a new customer that, also, spends £100. Their AOV was around £80, so the expectation, again, was to drive growth, this time through an uplift in AOV.

It never materialised.

Why? That entry message ‘GET £10!’? It set a high level of expectancy. The offering itself disappointed. Few people registered, let alone shared their unique link.

It was just another way to reframe a discount code.

So, we set about figuring out a new way to make more effective (profitable!) use of the referral programme.

We made it hard to get. Almost exclusive. We took it off the website and made it invite only.

It worked a charm. Now, rather than offering something to everybody, we offered something to a particular somebody.

Customers that left a 5* review AND shared content were invited in. Proper red carpet VIP style. Personal message from the CEO and all the bells and whistles.

As we’d already worked on the review platform, they were seeing 3-5 reviews per day. Nothing too substantial, but a certain increase on prior results. So, up to 150 customers were given access to a locked offer.

And, we were rewarding their most valuable customers. Primed advocates. 

Customer Loyalty 101.

It worked a charm. Taking something away from the masses and reframing it as an exclusive ‘club’. The referral programme quickly began paying for itself. Plus, it created conversation. Loyal advocates, 5* reviewers, were now part of an exclusive sales team. They were provided a monthly update newsletter with ‘insider’ information and a direct line to the founder.

The lesson learned? How you frame an offering is a crucial element to how that offering is received. Simply making something exclusive and earned (and keeping it that way!) presents an identity. A club. It works in the offline world. Remember when used to travel from country to country and collect airmiles (yes, those days)? You were rewarded.

Now consider how you reward your true VIPs (and I don’t mean just referring to your newsletter recipients as VIPs. Seriously, don’t ever do that Ian….)

Find your VIPs...


p.s. ReferralCandy is a great entry level platform for building your referral platform. I've used it on many occasions without fail. Same with LoyaltyLion. It takes time to onboard customers in terms of value, but it's worth the effort.

Join the conversation

or to participate.