How to Implement an In-App Referral Program for Your App?

Great news! After months of brainstorming, designing, coding, testing, fixing and testing again, your app has launched and is ready to go. You were approved to put your app in the Google Play Store and the App Store, and you have seen a good response to it so far in the first few weeks after its release. 

Over time, unless your app hits it big right from the get-go, you may start to see the download rates of your app start to slow down, sometimes even declining. When this happens, many app owners may decide to try to get creative when it comes to marketing their app, and this is a good idea.

In addition to the traditional marketing methods such as running digital advertising, one viable option to drive more views too, and hopefully downloads of your app would be to use the power of word-of-mouth. Oftentimes, the best piece of marketing any product can receive is a referral from someone who loves your product.

That’s why many app producers have explored the option of an in-app referral program to increase downloads by incentivizing current users to recommend the app to their friends, families and online connections. 

But how do in-app referral programs work?

In-App Referral Programs Rely on Incentives

Unlike a traditional marketing or advertising campaign, an in-app referral program relies on current users recommending your app to other people they think might enjoy your app. This is what makes an in-app referral program so great. You won’t be marketing directly to new people who may be unfamiliar with your app

Instead, you will be marketing your app to your current users and asking them to do the work for you. This is a very simple thing for app owners to do since they very likely have already gathered some information on their current users, in this case, most importantly their email address.

To market the in-app referral program to current users, you can start with an email marketing or push notification campaign to your current users educating them about the program and asking them to participate. The question you might ask is, “Why would my current customers want to participate?” 

The answer is that you will be incentivizing them to do so. Many apps incentivize current users to participate in their in-app referral programs by giving both the current user plus the user they refer a credit to use toward their services. For example, a food delivery app may give a current user $20 for referring a new user to the app, and also give that new user $10 to use on their first order.

Incentives such as these make it a no-brainer for current users to participate in the referral program, and it also provides new users with an attractive incentive to try your app. Even if you don’t operate a food delivery app, for example, you can still provide current and new users with incentives for in-app purchases and other items relevant to your specific app.

The in-app referral program also makes it easy for you to predict what your marketing costs will be – simply the total amount of the incentive on both ends. These costs are also often much lower than other digital marketing options and often result in getting you more highly-engaged and highly-active users than those other marketing options.

When to Market Your In-App Referral Program

With the benefits of an in-app referral program so great, and the cost of running one so affordable, you may be tempted to launch one as soon as possible. This is not always the best idea, though. 

When your app first launches, you may be providing incentives for new users to try your app anyway. Back to the food delivery app example, you may be offering free delivery on the first order to the first 1,000 people who download and use your app. Adding another incentive on top of that to people who may already want to try your app wouldn’t do you much good then. It will only cost you money.

The most successful in-app referral programs rely heavily on the most loyal and engaged customers serving as the champions of your app to other people. Beginning an in-app referral program too early won’t give you time to acquire and turn users into loyal repeat customers. Plus, unless you have a large list of customers and their email addresses already, the impact of the email marketing for your in-app referral program won’t be as good as it can be down the line.

At the same time, you need to make sure that you constantly monitor the download and usage activity on your app. Launching an in-app referral program too late – when a large number of your once loyal customers stop using your app, for example – could be detrimental, too. That’s why timing is so crucial when launching an in-app referral program.

Once you’ve initially launched your in-app referral program, you can remind your users on a semi-regular basis through follow up email marketing or push notifications campaigns to keep them engaged in case you missed them the first time. 

Bottom Line:

In-app referral programs are a great way to drive engagement and acquire new users, but they often require the assistance of an experienced mobile app company to optimize perfectly. Gomeeki is one of the top mobile app companies that can help you design and launch your in-app referral program in just the right way, at just the right time. 

Brands We’ve Worked With

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New South Wales, Sydney 2060
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Email: enquiries@gomeeki.com

“Smartphones and tablets are transforming how and where we consume news and information. The ABC must meet the challenge of delivering content to the audience at a time they want and on the device and format they prefer.”

Mark ScottManaging Director, ABC

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Terry ReaderChief Commercial Officer, Brisbane Broncos NRL

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Colin LangmeadCIO- Health Partners

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