How to Ask for a Referral from Customers + (Free Template)

I speak to business owners from all over the world every day. Most have grown their companies through referrals. Do a good job, and you'll get more business, right? But what happens when things stagnate?

Referrals are a vital part of your marketing strategy. They build customer relationships, lower your customer acquisition costs, and it's a great way to get new customers. But they're random at best.

Not necessarily. There a way to get customers or clients to consistently refer your business to friends and family? You just have to ask. So why don't more businesses do that?

Why businesses don't ask for referrals

Most companies don't ask for referrals because it looks like they're asking for a favor. But think about the last time you referred a business to a friend or connection.

You didn't do it for the business. You did it because you had a great experience. Maybe the product changed your life, or the service was top class. You know it'll benefit your friend or network connection so you refer them.

Referring elevates your status. But you're also risking your good standing with someone. Especially, if the company you're referring do under delivers.

But there's an art to asking for a referral without sounding desperate or pushy.

In this blog, I’m going to cover the right way to ask for a referral through different mediums. Follow these top tips and my email template and you'll consistently attract new business.

What is a referral?

A referral is the act of actively sending someone to a business or expert you believe can solve their problem.

For example, a doctor might refer you to a specialist, an architect might refer you to  an interior designer, a friend might recommend a movie or restaurant, and a colleague might refer you for a job.

Why do Referrals work?

Referrals work because they're coming from a trusted source. This is most likely someone who has experienced your product or service. They've engaged with your business, they know you, like you, and trust you to deliver results.

Most people won't question the referral. They just accept it as a given fact. If you can leverage someone else's relationship, that's powerful.

In the event that people don't have a trusted source, most consumers will research a product or service online before purchasing it. They might read customer reviews, or product reviews by industry publications. They'll probably contact a salesperson to explain the benefits.

It's a far lengthier process and there is no guarantee they will buy.

Friend excited at having got a deal through referrals
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Implement a Referral Program

Customer referral programs are a systematic approach to generating referrals. Unlike word-of-mouth marketing, you're using referrals as an active part of your marketing strategy.

The truth is, a word of mouth referral is a lot like getting invited to dinner. Sure, that’s one night you don’t have to worry about cooking but it’s not going to pay your bills or keep your lights on.

You need to systemize your referral process. If you don't, you may ask for a referral from two or three customers, but there's no guarantee that they'll do it for you and no guarantee that you’ll consistently keep asking.

So to be guaranteed a pool of new clients, you'll need to build a referral program.

Unlike other ways to ask for a referral where you only send a thank-you note or whatever, a referral program is built with rewards and incentives.

Here's the step-by-step process for building your own referral marketing program.


Step 1: Offer a referral reward that your customers want.

Think about it. What's that one thing that your customers want? What referral reward would entice to talk about your business to friends, family, colleagues and clients?

It might be a discount on their next purchase, a gift voucher, a freebie, or other rewards that buyers don't typically get.

It doesn't have to be an expensive offer, but it should be something that your customers will find useful and valuable.

Step 2: Clearly explain everything about the referral program.

If you want your existing customers to participate in your referral marketing campaign, they’ll need to know how it works.

  • What are the terms and conditions of the referral program?
  • What do they get out of it? People won't refer you because you ask nicely. Their reputation is on the line. So make sure you deliver a stellar experience.
  • How many referrals do they need to give in order to get an incentive?

Focus on the what, why, and how of the referral program. Lay out all the information clearly on a landing page, or on whatever platform you'll use to promote it. This clears up any confusion customers may have.

Step 3: Promote the referral program to your network.

Of course, people need to know that you're launching a referral program, so you need to promote and advertise it.

Think about all the channels your customer base and target market use. Are they on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? Or do they typically use LinkedIn and other B2B platforms?

You need to make sure that you're reaching as many customers as possible.

Earn money for referring a business

Step 4: Track referring results

As you launch your referral program, make sure that you've set up your analytics. You need to know how many people are aware of the referral program, where they've seen your campaign, and how many are participating.

Most importantly, track how many referrals you're getting regularly. This will tell you if the campaign is effective, or if there are some areas that can be further improved or optimized.

Step 5: Be consistent

As I said, your referral program is an active part of your strategy. Be consistent with it. Instead of acquiring new customers through other forms of marketing tactics, this is a much more cost-effective route.

Sample email referral request:


I'm X, just emailing because (personalize to why you like what they do).

I'm (designation) for (company name with hyperlink), and this is exactly the kind of thing/product our members read/use and love too.

So, I just wanted to see if there's any chance for us to work with you?

I'm not 100% what that would look like yet (sponsorship/partnership type stuff), but keen to see what's possible.

Would you have time to chat at some point? (email, dm's, zoom, phone - whatever works for you)


(Your name)

Follow Along With Our Free Referral Marketing Worksheet

Just tell us where to send it...

We respect your email inbox and will never spam.

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Send an referral email request when onboarding new clients or Customers

There's a misconception that you have to finish a transaction before you ask for a referral. This isn't true at all. It's acceptable to ask for a referral even before a project starts or a customer buys from you.

You can even use this email referral template as a reference. This is something you can send along with your quote or it’s a card you can give in person to the client.

How to ask for a business customer referral:

Mr./Mrs. Customer,

I’m going to do a fantastic job for you, but I do need your help. Much of our new business comes from customers who refer us. This means we don’t need to pay for expensive advertising and can, as a result, keep our service costs down. Typically, we get about three referrals from new customers.

When we complete the job, and you’re 100% satisfied with the work we’ve done, I’d really appreciate it if you could keep in mind three or more other people whom we could also help.

Now why does this referral template work?

First, you're direct about how you're striving to provide awesome results so you can get great feedback and referrals in return.

Second, this kind of communication builds trust. It puts your customer in power when they think a referral is only given once you've done a great job.

And lastly, you're creating an expectation of the number of referrals you'd like without being pushy. Simply put, it creates a win-win culture.

Use Social Media to ask for referrals

Referral marketing doesn't happen on its own. It needs to be promoted and showcased in different marketing channels—and mainly, I'm talking about social media.

There’s a huge chance your customer base can't live without social media. And they retweet, share, and save all sorts of info on social media, so use this to your advantage.

So here's how to ask for referrals through social media.

  1. Use the right social media channels: There's a bunch of platforms to consider before embarking on a referral strategy. Chances are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great places to start. But don't underestimate the power of platforms like LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok. You want high-quality referrals. So think about where your customers hang out and are most active. Set up profiles on these platforms and start engaging with your audience. The bottom line is, use platforms that work best for your business.
  2. Promote the referral program: If you're not sharing your referral program, how do you expect your customers to know about it? Use your website, social media and email to post about your referral program and promote its benefits to your followers. Or at the very least, put the link to the program in places where they can easily find it. For example, you can add it to your Twitter bio or IG story highlights.
  3. Engage with your customers: Since social media is all about engagement, use the referral program to thank or reward customers. These work because people love to be socially validated and they love a good deal. If you give a public shout-out or show your appreciation to customers that refer you, more will be inclined to give a referral. And posting a TikTok video, IG reel, or a LinkedIn post about your referral program and sharing its perks will entice followers to get onboard.

Manage podcast relationships to get referrals

Podcasts might be an underrated way to ask for a referral for your business, but trust me, it works. There are over 2 million podcasts out there, and any podcast with an active audience can help you get maximum exposure.

They also tend to be highly engaging mediums for spreading the good word about your business. Since podcasts are audio programs, listeners hang on to every word, making it effective for delivering messages.

If you're interested in asking for a referral through podcasts, think about the shows you want to be part of. And as you create a list of potential podcasts, consider these two things:

  • Reputation: People listen to podcasts because they love the host, and the nature of the program. So you need to think about reputable podcasts that can spread the word about your brand.
  • Target audience: Work with podcasts that have the same target audience as yours. This way you can reach more potential customers without all the leg work.

So now, what are the next steps when asking for a referral on a podcast?

1. Personalize your pitch: People know if your pitch is pre-templated or personalized. And, more likely, you'll get a response if you choose the latter.

2. Choose a topic you'd like to cover: Podcasts cover different topics per episode. So think about a topic you'd like to cover which is complementary to your referral program.

3. Set your offer: Podcasts also need more coverage, so offer to feature their episode, or better yet, incentivize them.

Ask for a referral using email

There are two different categories of referral channels: public and private.

Email is private; and people like it because it offers a personal experience. So now, how can you use emails to ask for a referral?

  • Send emails to the right people: Referral emails don't get sent to your entire list. It doesn't work that way. Instead, you send them to your best customers—the raving fans—who already love your products and services.
  • Send emails at the right time: Timing is crucial. Wait to long to send a referral email and you risk surprising your customer, and not in a good way. Make your customers aware in the onboarding phase that giving referrals form part of doing business with you. Then send a friendly reminder once they've made a purchase.
  • Write your referral email: Use this framework. An enticing and attention-grabbing subject line. An offer or incentive that's too good to ignore. A clear call-to-action (CTA) that redirects them to join the referral marketing program or contact you
Example of an email referral

Asking for referrals - make it easy

So as you can see, there are many ways to ask for a referral without sounding desperate. You can use your website, a direct mail, email, social media, whatever.

Building an effective referral program will massively benefit your company.

But it's vital you choose and apply tried and trusted methods when asking for a referral. Review the above referral options, choose the best solution for your business, work on maintaining your referral program, tracking progress, and making improvements along the way.

It might take some time, but as long as you're constantly asking for referrals through the right channels, you’ll continuously be connected with potential customers.

Do You Want to Grow Your Business Rapidly?

Then you need to market it. But not just any marketing will do. In The 1-Page Marketing Plan Course I show you the exact techniques I've used to start, grow, and exit several multi-million dollar businesses, so you can too.

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