Best Referral Program Software Apps for Your Small Business [How-To Guide]

Danielle Antosz
Last Updated on October 22, 2020
Disclosure: Your support helps keep the site running! We earn a referral fee for some of the services we recommend on this page. Learn more

ou’re on a mission to grow business with word-of-mouth marketing.

And it’s easy to see why: 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other source according to Nielsen research.

Referral program software simplifies referral marketing for businesses of all sizes. These applications let you run campaigns, track affiliates, and reward brand ambassadors.

However, as a small business you have specific needs when it comes to referral programs. You don’t need the same features (or price tag) as companies like Tesla or AirBnB.

You want something that is easy to set up and will grow with you, not a complicated, costly tool.

We’ve got you covered.

Below we present the best referral program software for small businesses, plus a rundown of the top platforms on the market.

Compare Referral Program Software

Before we unpack each application, here’s a glance at the most popular options on the market. Referral program software pricing starts from just a few dollars a month. The pricier options are best suited for enterprise clients.

If you’re after a basic referral platform, you can even use free referral program software like GrowSurf.

Company Plans start at:Customer support Business match
PayKickstart$29/moEmail and chatSolopreneurs to medium-sized
businesses
InviteBox$29/moForum Small to medium-sized
businesses
ReferralCandy$49/mo24/7 live chat e-commerce
Genius Referrals $49/moEmailSmall to medium-sized
businesses
Referral Hero$49/moContact form,
knowledgebase
All sizes
Post Affiliate Pro$97/moTicket, knowledgebase,
forum
Small to medium-sized
business, e-commerce
Growsurf$66/moEmail and chatSaaS and software startups
Invite Referrals$79/moEmail and Skype
(Enterprise plans only)
Medium to large-sized
businesses and e-commerce
Refersion $89/moEmailMedium to large-sized
businesses and e-commerce
Referral Rock$200/moDedicated account
manager
Large businesses in retail
and e-commerce
Friendbuy$249/moEmail and
knowledgebase
Medium-sized businesses
to enterprise
Influitive Custom pricingDocumentation, emailEnterprise
ExtoleCustom pricingEmailLarge businesses in retail,
B2B, and finance

How to Choose Referral Program Software

The right referral program platform will help you win new customers and increased sales. But the wrong one can create more work and hold your business back.

What do you need to consider when choosing a referral program?

Although making a decision based on cost may seem to be the simplest method, the truth is that there are a variety of needs — both present and future — to keep in mind when comparing referral program software options.

A few key considerations:

  • Integrations: Does the platform make it easy to share to social media? Does it work with your e-commerce platforms, CMS, and email provider? Without integrations, you may be stuck doing things manually, which can be time-consuming.
  • Ease of Use: Can you create referral campaigns easily? What’s the dashboard like? Is it user-friendly?
  • Reporting and Analytics: How detailed is the referral tracking? Do they offer other reports? (These reports help ensure your referral program is effective, so it’s critical to have access to this information.)
  • Industry: Do you need an industry-specific platform? For example, B2B, SaaS, or MLM.
  • Pricing: Is there a freemium plan? Does the platform charge commission? Are their limits to your plan? If so what happens if you exceed your plan?
  • Scalablity: Will the plan grow with you as your business evolves? Are the higher-level plans affordable and do they offer the features you need?
  • Additional Features: Does the platform support contests, email, loyalty programs/rewards, and unique codes?
  • Customer Support: What time is customer support available in your time zone? What languages do support teams speak? Does their support have good reviews?

The Best Referral Program Software

We’ve dug into the top 14 referral programs and reviewed them based on the needs of small businesses.

Key factors were free trials, core features, and integrations. Finally, we investigated if the platform was built to grow with your business.

Post Affiliate Pro

Post Affiliate Pro is a full-fledged affiliate software designed to run all types of affiliate programs, large and small.

post affiliate pro

It is cloud-based and offers a range of useful features, including email communication, fraud detection, affiliate tracking, contest management, coupon management, and social sharing tools.

  • Best for small to medium-size businesses, including MLMs
  • Integrates with 170 CMS and gateways, including MailChimp, Stripe, and Shopify
  • Scalable plans
  • Free trial

ReferralCandy

ReferralCandy is more than just a referral platform; it can also help your business grow with a range of marketing tools.

referralcandy homepage

Popular features include a 10-minute setup, beautiful template pages, email support, automatic reward distribution, detailed revenue and engagement tracking, and automated tools.

  • Scales to fit all businesses large and small
  • Integrates well with Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento, and a range of other tools and platforms
  • Affordable plans start at $50 a month; enterprise plans support large referral programs
  • Free 30-day trial

Refersion

Refersion comes with several of the basics: tracking, automation, and personalized affiliate portals.

Features include email newsletters, social sharing, contest management, affiliate management, and coupon management.

refersion homepage

The affiliate portal makes it easy for affiliates and businesses alike to track top-performing affiliates. However, set up is more complex than other platforms.

  • Good for medium to large businesses; does not support MLMs
  • Integrate with Shopify, WooCommerce, ChargeBee, and more
  • 14-day free trial
  • Cons: Set up is cumbersome and the pricing is slightly higher at $89 per month for 130 affiliate orders per month

InviteReferrals

InviteReferrals is a web-based marketing software application that makes it easier than ever to launch and track your customer referral program.

invite referrals

Features include contest support, in-depth analytics, fully customizable widgets, email design, tracking for a range of events, including sharing, registrations, and sales, and social sharing.

  • Best for medium to large businesses, including enterprise
  • Integrates with WooCommerce, Shopify, PrestaShop, WordPress, Zapier, and others
  • Used by American Express, Microsoft, Motorola, and Foursquare
  • Free trial

Influitive

Geared towards enterprise customers, Influitive offers several engagement products, including AdvocateHub.

advocate hub homepage

Features include customized challenges for advocates: that’s a social media element that allows advocates to compare their performance to other brand ambassadors.

A personalized feed provides suggestions for next steps.

Companies can also create a variety of referral campaigns.

  • Best for large to enterprise companies
  • Integrates with Salesforce, Marketo, HubSpot, and more
  • Used by Cisco, DocuSign, Staples, and Rosetta Stone
  • Pricing is not listed on their site, call for a quote

ReferralHero (formerly Maitre)

Consider ReferralHero if you’re looking for easy setup and detailed reports.

referralhero homepage

You’ll get a widget for easy installation, social sharing, ability to use any language you choose, email automation, and leader board for referrers to track their progress.

For analytics, ReferralHero provides detailed data including attribution channels and even device use.

Everything is white-labeled, which means customers only see your branding, not Referral Hero’s.

  • Good for small to large businesses
  • 99.99% uptime guarantee
  • Integrates with WordPress, MailChimp, Slack, Zapier, and more
  • Scaleable up to 50,000 subscribers (customized solutions available)
  • Free 14-day trial
  • Plans start at $49 per month

PayKickStart

If you are looking for a shopping cart and referral program all in one, PayKickStart may be right for you.

paykickstart homepage

The platform is designed to help busy entrepreneurs increase conversions with a variety of features, including the ability to sell services and digital or physical goods, affiliate partner management, automated conversion-boosting features, at a variety of metrics.

  • Good for small/medium and growing businesses
  • Integrates with Zapier, Stripe, EverWebinar, PayPal, AWeber, and more
  • Scaleable up to a point, aimed at entrepreneurs
  • Free 14-day trial
  • Plans start at $29 a month

Extole

Extole is one of the leading referal software programs for large companies. Features include stress-free setup, A/B testing, integrated sharing features, plus membership and loyalty program management.

extole homepagePlans come with lead generation, language localization, and detailed targeting features. They offer specific packages for businesses in B2B, financial services, and retail.

  • Best for large to enterprise companies
  • Integrates Adobe, Branch Metrics, Bounce Exchange, Salesforce, and API or webhooks
  • Used by Intuit, bareMinerals, Timberland and Spot Hero
  • Contact for a quote/pricing

Referral Rock

Popular with e-commerce businesses, ReferralRock is a referral management platform designed to increase qualified leads.

referralrock homepage

Features include fully customizable design, sharing via text and social, targeted email campaigns, and a drag-and-drop referral page builder.

You’ll get detailed marketing analytics, workflow automation, and personalized onboarding.

  • Good for large businesses, including e-commerce and retail
  • Integrates with Salesforce, HubSpot, Active Campaign, Mail Chimp, and others
  • Used by  TripAdvisor, Random House, YMCA, and At&T
  • Free trial; plans start at $200 a month

Ambassador

Ambassador is an all-in-one platform that allows large businesses to run referral affiliate, partner, and influencer programs.

ambassador homepage

Features include customer and affiliate portals, multiple languages, a personalized, branded experience, and the ability to create multiple programs and campaigns and automate workflows.

  • Large and enterprise businesses
  • Integrates with major email, CRM, and e-commerce platforms including Stripe, Salesforce, MailChimp, and Optimizely
  • Used by Logitech, Zilllow, Chive, and Panasonic
  • No free trial listed; schedule a demo for pricing

GrowSurf

SaaS and software startups should give GrowSurf a try.

growsurf homepage

It easily scales as your business grows, with its largest plan allowing up to 75,000 participants. (Enterprise plans are available if you grow beyond those numbers.)

Features include multiple campaigns, customizable design, offline referral tracking,  automated email and reward fulfillment, analytics, and integration via REST API.

  • Integrates with Zapier, Tango card, MailChimp, and Hubspot
  • Free 14-day trial; freemium model for up to 500 participants (with limited features)
  • Plans start at $66 per month for up to 5,000 participants

InviteBox

If you’re after a no-fuss option, consider InviteBox, an easy-to-use referral widget.

invitebox homepage

They offer three different referral programs for e-commerce stores, SaaS, and content creators such as bloggers or musicians.

With InviteBox, you can set up instant rewards and goal-based rewards.

Plans come with contest support, social media integrations, and analytics.

While the platform is pretty basic, it is also affordable; unlimited plans costs just $199 a month.

  • Small to medium digital businesses
  • Integrates with MailChimp, WordPress, and Active Campaign (much more limited than other platforms)
  • Simple to set up and use;  not ideal for large or enterprise companies
  • Free 2-week trial

Friendbuy

Designed for growth marketers, Friendbuy is used by some of the most popular online brands including Disney, me Undies, Nestle, and Spanx.

friendbuy homepage

Their marketing pitch is that they offer “unsurpassed ROI” to expand your company’s reach.

Friendbuy’s suite of features includes branded templates for referral pages, plus segmentation options, and personalized referral links.

Save time with automatic reward fulfillment, email templates, and event-based triggers. You can also use A/B testing to iterate your campaigns.

  • Good for medium to enterprise brands
  • Integrates via API and with BigCommerce, Shopify, Woocommerce, and others
  • Easily scales, even for enterprise brands
  • 30-day free trial; plans start at $249 a month

Genius Referrals

Genius Referrals is an easy to set up referral and affiliate program. Their promise? Help you launch a referral program in less than 10 minutes.

genius referrals homepage

A major plus is pricing is based on the integration method you use and the number of campaigns you run, not the number of referrals your company earns.

Features of their Silver Plan ($129 a month) include two referral programs, an advanced design center, customizable templates, support response within 24 hours, and integration consultations.

All plans offer the ability to track referrals, send reminder notifications, track in real-time, create widgets, and automatically create bonuses.

  • Good for small to large businesses
  • Integrates with MailChimp, Prestashop, and Paypal
  • Not ideal for enterprise, but simple to use
  • Free 30-day trial; plans start at $49 a month

How to Guide: Make a Referral Program for Your Business

Once you’ve chosen the right referral platform, it is time to put your program in motion! So, how do you get started?

Here are the steps to build a successful referral program for your small business.

  1. Choose a reward: How are you going to reward your customers? For example, a discount code, free prize, cash, gift card, or something else? For example, Dropbox offers referrers additional storage space.
  2. Create a landing page: The process will vary based on the platform you use, but be sure to include how to earn a prize, how to share, and a few suggestions for how or where to share. Rothy’s, a sustainable shoe company, offers a simple landing page that outlines how their referral program works.
  3. Place the tracking pixel on your website: Not all programs use this, but if your software does not use a unique sharing code, you will need to complete this step so you can tell who is sending you referrals!
  4. Write emails as needed for your program: Emails may include an invitation for new referrals, a sharing email for referrers, and a reward email for referrers. For example, check out Outdoorsy’s email to encourage referrals.
  5. Track your results: Pay attention to who brings in the most referrals, test your landing pages, and try segmentation to see what drives more referrals.

Conclusion

When done well, referral programs are a win-win-win. Your company gets more leads, your best customers get cool prizes, and new customers get to try a new product (and sometimes get a reward themselves)!

As a small business, a referral program can be an incredibly powerful growth tool. However, like all marketing strategies, be sure to test and keep testing. You may find that it all takes to increase referrals is a different reward or a streamlined sharing process.

Read previous post:
fulfillment services
The Best Fulfillment Services of 2021

Our fulfillment service reviews are the result of over 40 hours of research on 50+ fulfillment service companies from across...

Close