Productized Services July 27, 2020

Custom referral system for a productised service

Dan Rowden @dr

I just added referrals to my productised service, Gloat.

One of my customers asked immediately after I set up his Ghost site if I had a referral programme.

I said no, but I could instantly see the benefits of adding one. If this customer was already willing to tell others about my service, I need to capture that and make it easy for anyone else to do the same.

Since then, I've had another customer refer someone (their site is already online 👍)

Gloat Referrals

The tech

I looked at some of the referral/affiliate products (eg getrewardful.com) but my small, young service doesn't need anything that detailed or costly.

So I threw something together.

Gloat payments are (very simple) PayPal Buttons. After paying, people are sent to a hidden page on the Gloat site with an embedded Airtable form.

To set up a referral programme I didn't want to also have to make a totally new billing process, so I kept this system in place and built around it:

  • I create a 6-character referral code for every customer (or any non-customers who want to make money by sharing Gloat!)
  • I send the code to the customer and explain how they make money from referrals
  • referred customers pay (via the PayPal Buttons), then input the referral code into a new field in the Airtable field
  • I can see all the used codes in the Airtable document
  • at the beginning of each month, I'll make manual payouts to every referrer

The programme

I want customers to a) be rewarded for sending new people to Gloat, and b) feel like they're part of the Gloat family. Referral programmes are amazing at doing both.

For Gloat, I decided I would be OK giving up 15% commission for each referral. For a $59 Ghost install, you earn $8.85. For a $89 Ghost+Members install, you earn $13.35. Not bad for just sharing a link with someone.

Obviously the hope of a referral system is that it snowballs and referred customers end up becoming referrers themselves, creating a chain or network of new customers. A passive revenue driver with a predictable, in-built cost.

Next steps

Most referral systems also reward the incoming customer, prompting them to use the code.

My plan is to add a field pre-purchase that—when a valid code is inputted—takes X% off the price for the new customer. This should work with PayPal Buttons just fine.


What are you using for referrals?

  1. 1

    Hey, congrats on the referral addition. One question, doesn't this mean your user has to trust you to inform how many leads converted? How can the referrer track the number of users he sent to you who converted.

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