How to Improve Email Open Rate Using Referral Marketing

20 Apr- 10 min read

Do you spend hours crafting the perfect email campaign but still struggle to get your subscribers to open your emails? One way to boost your email open rate is through referral marketing. In this article, we’ll explore how referral marketing can help improve your email open rates, and provide you with strategies and tools to create an effective referral email campaign.

Understanding Email Open Rates and Referral Marketing

Before diving into referral marketing, it’s important to understand what email open rates are. Email open rates measure the number of subscribers who actually opened the emails you sent to them. Typically, open rates range from 15 – 25%, and they can vary depending on the industry you’re in and the quality of your email list.

It’s important to note that email open rates shouldn’t be the only metric you use to measure the success of your email campaigns. While a high open rate is a good indication that your email subject line and preheader text are effective, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your subscribers are engaging with your content or taking the desired action.

What is Email Open Rate?

Email open rate refers to the percentage of email recipients who opened a specific email. Calculated by dividing the number of unique email opens by the number of emails delivered, email open rate is a key metric for understanding the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Email open rate can give you an idea of how engaged your audience is with your content and can help you identify areas for improvement.

One thing to keep in mind is that email open rates can be affected by a variety of factors, including the time of day you send your emails, the day of the week, and even the sender name and email address. It’s important to test different variables to see what works best for your audience.

The Importance of a High Email Open Rate

A high email open rate is crucial for the success of your email campaigns. When people open your emails, you have an opportunity to engage with them and direct them to take a specific action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a webinar.

In addition, a high email open rate can help improve your email deliverability. Email service providers use engagement metrics, such as open rates, to determine whether or not to deliver your emails to the inbox or the spam folder. If your subscribers consistently open and engage with your emails, your email deliverability will likely improve.

What is Referral Marketing?

Referral marketing is a way to stimulate word-of-mouth advertising by incentivizing your existing customers to invite their friends, family, or colleagues to use your products or services. Referral marketing can be a powerful tool for boosting your email open rates by leveraging the trust and relationship your existing customers have built with potential new customers.

Referral marketing campaigns can take many forms, such as offering a discount or free product to both the referrer and the referred customer, or entering both parties into a sweepstakes or giveaway. The key is to make the referral process as easy and seamless as possible for your customers.

How Referral Marketing Can Boost Email Open Rates

Referral marketing can improve your email open rates in several ways. First, people are more likely to open emails that come from someone they know than emails from a business or brand they are unfamiliar with. By incentivizing your customers to refer their friends, you can increase the chances of those new recipients opening and engaging with your emails.

Second, referral marketing campaigns can help you grow your email list by encouraging people to sign up for your emails to redeem a referral reward. This means that the people who sign up through referral marketing are already interested in what you have to offer, and are more likely to engage with your emails.

Finally, referral marketing can help you build stronger relationships with your existing customers. By rewarding them for referring their friends, you’re showing them that you value their business and appreciate their loyalty. This can lead to increased customer retention and higher lifetime value.

Strategies for Implementing Referral Marketing in Your Emails

Referral marketing is a powerful tool for businesses looking to grow their customer base and increase brand awareness. By leveraging your existing customer relationships, you can encourage your customers to refer their friends and family to your products or services. Here are some strategies for implementing referral marketing in your emails:

Personalize Your Email Subject Lines and Content

The first step to creating a successful referral campaign is to personalize your email subject lines and content. Personalized emails have higher open rates than generic emails, so make sure you’re using your recipient’s name, location, and other relevant information in your subject lines and email copies. Personalization can help build trust and increase the chances of your emails being opened and read.

But personalization doesn’t stop at just using the recipient’s name. You can also personalize your content by tailoring it to their interests and preferences. Use data and analytics to understand what your customers are interested in and what motivates them. Then, use this information to create targeted content that speaks directly to their needs and desires.

Offer Incentives for Referrals

Offering incentives for referrals is a great way to motivate your customers to refer their friends. Rewards can range from discounts, free products, or access to exclusive content. Whatever rewards you choose, make sure they are relevant to your target audience and are valuable enough to motivate them to take action.

But incentives don’t have to be purely monetary or material. You can also offer incentives that tap into your customers’ emotional needs and desires. For example, you could offer a “thank you” note or a public shoutout to customers who refer their friends. These types of incentives can help build a sense of community and belonging among your customers, which can be just as valuable as a discount or free product.

Use Social Proof to Encourage Referrals

Social proof refers to the psychological phenomenon where people are more likely to take action when they see others are also taking that action. You can use social proof in your referral marketing campaign by showcasing positive reviews, testimonials, or case studies from your existing customers. By highlighting the successes others have had with your products or services, you can encourage new customers to sign up and engage with your emails.

But social proof doesn’t have to be limited to just customer testimonials. You can also use social proof to showcase industry awards or recognition your business has received, or to highlight partnerships with other reputable brands or organizations. By associating your brand with other successful and respected entities, you can increase your own credibility and authority in the eyes of your customers.

Leverage Existing Customer Relationships

Your existing customers are your most valuable asset when it comes to referral marketing. Your customers are already familiar with your products or services and have built a relationship with your brand. To leverage existing customer relationships, consider creating a dedicated referral program that rewards customers for referring their friends. This can help increase brand loyalty and encourage long-term engagement with your customers.

But don’t just rely on a rewards program to drive referrals. You can also encourage referrals by fostering a sense of community among your customers. Create social media groups or forums where customers can connect with each other and share their experiences with your brand. By facilitating these connections, you can help build a loyal and engaged customer base that is more likely to refer their friends and family to your business.

Implementing referral marketing in your emails can be a powerful way to grow your customer base and increase brand awareness. By personalizing your content, offering incentives, using social proof, and leveraging existing customer relationships, you can create a successful referral campaign that drives results for your business.

Optimizing Your Referral Email Campaigns

Referral email campaigns can be an effective way to increase your customer base and grow your business. However, to make the most of your referral campaigns, you need to optimize them for maximum impact. Here are some tips to help you optimize your referral email campaigns:

A/B Testing Your Referral Emails

A/B testing involves creating two versions of an email, sending them to a small portion of your email list, and testing which version performs better. A/B testing can be helpful for optimizing your referral emails by testing different subject lines, email copies, or rewards. By finding the most effective version of your referral emails, you can improve your email open rates and increase engagement with your audience.

For example, you can test different subject lines to see which one generates more interest and results in higher open rates. You can also test different rewards to see which one incentivizes more people to refer their friends and family to your business.

Analyzing and Tracking Referral Metrics

To measure the effectiveness of your referral marketing campaign, it’s essential to track and analyze key metrics. Metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and referral sign-ups can help you understand how well your campaign is performing and identify areas for improvement. By tracking these metrics, you can adjust your campaign to optimize your results and increase your email open rates.

For example, if you notice that your referral sign-ups are low, you can adjust your rewards or email copy to make them more enticing. If your click-through rates are low, you can adjust your email design or layout to make it more visually appealing.

Segmenting Your Email List for Better Referral Results

Segmenting your email list involves dividing your audience into different groups based on demographics, interests, or behaviors. By segmenting your email list, you can create more targeted referral campaigns that are tailored to specific groups of people. This can help improve the relevance and effectiveness of your referral campaigns and increase your email open rates.

For example, if you have a product that appeals to both men and women, you can segment your email list by gender and create referral campaigns that are tailored to each group. You can also segment your email list by geographic location, age, or interests to create more targeted campaigns.

Timing Your Referral Emails for Maximum Impact

Timing is crucial when it comes to email marketing. The timing of your referral emails can impact whether your subscribers open your emails or not. Consider sending your emails during weekdays and avoiding sending emails during holidays or weekends when people may be less likely to engage with their emails. By timing your referral emails strategically, you can increase your chances of getting your emails opened and engaged with.

For example, if you have a product that is related to fitness, you can send your referral emails on Monday mornings when people are more likely to be thinking about their health and fitness goals for the week.

By following these tips, you can optimize your referral email campaigns and increase your chances of success. Remember to track your metrics and adjust your campaigns as needed to ensure that you are getting the best results possible.


Referral marketing can be a powerful tool for improving your email open rates and increasing engagement with your audience. By personalizing your email subject lines and content, offering incentives for referrals, leveraging social proof, and segmenting your email list, you can create an effective referral marketing campaign that drives results. By analyzing and adjusting your referral campaigns over time, you can optimize your email open rates and take your email marketing to the next level.

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