11 Ways to Convert Referral Leads

Everyone knows that referral leads are gold. You don’t have to take our word on that, check out these statistics:


  • 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know – Nielsen
  • Consumers rely on word-of-mouth 2x to 10x more than they do on paid media – BCG
  • Word of mouth referral programs increase effectiveness of marketing by up to 54% – MarketShare


Powerful, right?

Anything you do in your business can become more effective by 50% if you use referral marketing. Setting up a referral program is just the first step in the process. The next thing you need to do is to convert those referral leads into happy customers.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to wreck your brain and try to figure out what to do. We’ve compiled the most comprehensive list of all the different ways to convert referral leads.

1. Call them

Let’s start with the obvious. If you have phone numbers then you need to pick up the phone and call them all. This is the best chance for you to spark a conversation, talk about your business, and make a good first impression.

This is probably the most overlooked step, this is why we started with it. So many business owners get busy or overwhelmed with their day-to-day duties that they don’t find the time to call these golden referral opportunities.

People also think that if I just send them a text or email or hit them up on social with some auto-DM then I won’t even have to talk to them and they will just come and sign up.

If Gary Vaynerchuk can do it, so can you.



2. Create an Outbound Email Campaign

Depending on how you get referral leads you might or might not get their email addresses. It totally depends, but in case you do, there are a variety of ways you can target those people and convert them into customers.

One of my favorite ways is to create a drip campaign that automatically sends an email every few days. As soon as the person replies than the drip campaign stops. This is a super effective way to get someone’s attention without annoying them afterward. I like to use MailShake for this one, It’s a super simple tool developed by Sujan Patel, a master marketer and growth hacker.


mailshake cold emails outbound home page


3. Automatically send a text message to every single referral

Another great way to get your referral lead’s attention is by sending them a text. You can actually send a large number of texts at once. You can use things like Texedly or Eztexting to send mass messages to your referral leads.


textedly mass text messages


You can actually send texts to all of your referrals through the ShareSomeFriends app, but you have to make sure that you are in the same country as your referral (so this is less effective for international campaigns) and it will look like it’s coming from your ambassador.

4. Send a WhatsApp Broadcast

The more advanced method of text messaging is through WhatsApp.

What’s the difference? 

You can create a list of “subscribers” and send out a Whatsapp broadcast that includes text, images, and videos. It also feels more exclusive than a text message.

This will be more effective in an international campaign, where you can send WhatsApp messages to the whole world. If you don’t know how to do this here is a list of instructions.


how to send a broadcast message on whatsapp


Ok, I get it. I can send them a text message.

What if I want to hit them up on social media? How do I find their account?

5. Find the social media accounts of your referrals

There is no tool that can help you automate this process yet but you can still do this manually. Use a tool like TruthFinder to put in a number and see all the social media accounts that your lead is using. Then you can manually friend them or DM them.


truthfinder - find social media account with phone number


Ok, let’s say you don’t want to stalk your referrals on social.

Is there a more legit way to do this?

6. Plug-in your referral phone numbers into Facebook Custom Audiences

Here is something more automated and effective that you can do with your referrals’ phone numbers.

Copy past all of the numbers into Facebook Ads and you will be able to retarget them. All you need to do is to go to Create Audience > Customer Audience > Customer File. There you can paste the numbers.

This creates a custom audience for you to work with and target in your ad campaigns. Want to learn more? Check out this article for more info.

7. Match your referral emails to social media accounts with AdRoll

If you have the email addresses of your referrals then you can target them much more effectively on social media. There are a number of great platforms that let you plug in your email addresses and create audiences for specific ads.

I like using AdRoll because it connects with a bunch of different advertising networks and can advertise for you on mobile as well as social media.


AdRoll advertising retargeting on social media

8. Send updates to all your ambassadors using push notifications

That’s all fine and good, but what about my ambassadors ie loyal customers? They are the ones that referred all these people, shouldn’t they get some love, care, and attention?


Using ShareSomeFriends you can send push notifications to all of your ambassadors to notify them of a new deal, to congratulate their progress, or to invite them to an exclusive hangout.


push notification


9. Content Retargeting

I added this point for all you content marketers out there. You need to make content that your referral leads and ambassadors will connect with.

No, don’t just talk about your referral program over and over again. 

You can announce new referral rewards, new ambassador rewards, new success stories. Most importantly, think of articles that will grab your referral’s attention.

If you are a gym then write an article about how to stay fit with a busy schedule. If you are marketing conference write an article about marketing. Treat your referrals as new visitors to your site and write articles that will apply to them.

Then you can text, email or send a message to them with a link to the article.

10. Posters and Banners

So old school… I know.

Posters and banners are never going away unless the whole world goes into a permanent coma. This strategy is specifically powerful for geolocalized referral campaigns. If you are targeting a specific city or neighborhood, or if you started a business and have leads from one geographical location, you should post posters and banners where those people live.

The more “impressions” your referrals get of your business the more successful you will be.

11. Offer prizes, awards, and swag

Last but not least, swag.

Every business needs some swag. You need to reward your referrals and your ambassadors with items that they would enjoy. Besides, every time they wear that sweater with your logo on it it’s free advertising.

(EXTRA) Pro Tip: Use gamification.

Gamification is making something into a game. Every time your ambassador refers a friend they should get points, and every few points they get to level up. The higher level they are the better rewards they get, the more exclusive events they could go to, you get the point. Levels are powerful because they help you translate your goals into actionable user behavior.

If your goal is to get 5 referrals for each ambassador then you can set the next level to start at 5 referrals.

Simple but powerful.

Here is a great gamification platform called Queue that you can use to gamify your referral community.


queue gamification platform



These are some of the best ways to retarget and convert your referral leads. Which ones have you already tried? And what successes have you seen? Let us know in the comments below.

Ben Kazinik is a marketing manager for ShareSomeFriends, a referral app and lead management platform. He enjoys hiking, cooking, soccer, and visiting his family around the world. Email me at – ben@sharesomefriends.com or connect on my LinkedIn.