This FriendBuy review is meant to help you choose the right customer referral program technology for your business. We have no affiliation with FriendBuy.
We recently implemented FriendBuy into a client’s marketing workflow to create a new referral sales channel. FriendBuy is a third-party referral platform that’s used by prominent online businesses such as Dollar Shave Club and BirchBox.
FriendBuy Review: Stripe Integration
One of the things we love about FriendBuy’s Stripe integration is the ability to reduce a product or service price for a referral partner who is also a customer, based on the quantity of referrals the partner sends your way.
When you attract referral partners to your program, most of them will come from your pool of current customers. One of the rules of successful viral marketing is to “give them more of what you offer” in exchange for referrals.
In the case of a subscription, however, this often isn’t possible — a single user of your video course series, for example, doesn’t have a need for a second free login to that course. So you’re left with offering them money or some other benefit.
FriendBuy allows you to discount the Stripe charge on your customer’s subscription each time they give you a referral or hit a referral threshold. This gives them financial value with a behind-the-scenes referral credit arrangement. If you set it up right FriendBuy will tally up the referrals you get from a current customer, then credit their virtual account and tell Stripe to temporarily hold off billing them for another month (or any time period you set up).
FriendBuy Review: Referral Rewards
With referral programs one of the biggest challenges is what referral rewards work best for your customers.
The problem with offering your current subscribers money in exchange for referrals is that a certain percentage of these folks will find it distasteful. The dynamics of referrals are more personal than financial in many cases. This means you need to highlight the personal benefits and minimize talking about the financial benefits for your referral program to gather steam.
It may also be difficult to offer referral fees significant enough to be meaningful. If you give me a one-time $19 referral fee (100% of a monthly $19 subscription) that’s less meaningful than the personal value I get introducing my friend to a product or service I like. If you gave me a 3-month credit for 3 referrals, or a free concert ticket plus 1 month discount, those rewards could be meaningful. You need a system that can vary rewards seamlessly.
With FriendBuy you can offer referral dollars (commissions), points, gift cards, coupons, Amazon rewards and mix & match packages. You create referral programs and track points when the person referred takes a required action like buying or signing up. You can then automate what you want to do with the points. For example:
- Take a discount off a recurring subscription (with Stripe integration)
- Give a gift card
- Send a coupon code
- Give access to an online course
- Give Amazon rewards
- Integrate to other reward platforms (hotel, golf, health rewards…)
- Send them to Infusionsoft and setup a call campaign targeting VIPs
- Whatever else you can dream up…
FriendBuy lets you change the reward variables in really cool ways, too. Let’s say you want to give a 50% credit (1/2 month) for 3 months. Or you want to give 1 referral credit at increments of 3 referrals. You can reduce the price of an existing subscription temporarily when a referral reward threshold is reached. You can also tell Stripe to take off a set amount ($5 or $150 or whatever) for a set time period.
Using these approaches allows you to build a group of referral partners who are incentivized with a socially acceptable program that is adjustable and reflects your unique business and customer needs (i.e. fits your brand).
FriendBuy Review: Referral Partners Don’t Have to Create an Account Before Sending Referrals
One of the major complaints we hear from clients that want to implement seamless referral programs is this: With most 3rd-party referral management systems the partner must first set up an account, then they are able to refer you to potential customers. This two-step process creates a major barrier to on-boarding referral partners.
FriendBuy’s system is widget-based so referral partners don’t have to create an account before sharing, and can still get credit based only on their email. This means the referrer does not have to set up an account first, then refer, then get credit. They just enter their email and the referral’s info into the FriendBuy widget and they get credit (assuming the referral buys or signs up).
This is 100% better than a typical old-school affiliate program, because you can insert a “share with a friend” step right in the middle of the buying process before or after payment. We estimate this one capability can increase the number of referral partners (and hence referrals) by 5-10X.
You still need to match the referrer’s email with a customer, but that happens in the back end. This is called “open access sharing” and it uses a smart pixel + widget + conversion tracker.
FriendBuy Review: Reward Multiple Actions at Different Steps in the Sales and Referral Process
Let’s say you have a sales process that requires some engagement and indoctrination before most buyers are willing to take the jump. This is common with expensive online professional education programs, for example.
With FriendBuy, you can reward the referral partner whenever one of the prospects they refer signs up to see an introductory video or webinar. Then you can reward the partner again if the prospect buys the complete course.
Or you can award your referral partners with an uber-VIP flight to the Bahamas if they attract 10 new customers that subsequently become new referral partners.
Implementing these things gets pretty techie fast, but for the right marketing automation team with the right skills, FriendBuy is an extremely powerful toolkit that can transform your businesses success.
FriendBuy Review: Installation Directly on Your Website
You install FriendBuy natively on your own website. So your URL will be www.mysite.com NOT mysite.friendbuy.com. There are no “pages” for FriendBuy — it’s just a widget on your site. Google loves this so your SEO doesn’t get crushed by having lots of links to a third-party affiliate management system.
FriendBuy Review: Referral Rewards are Based on Defined Actions
All referrals are based on “closed deals” like buying, making an appointment, etc. FriendBuy recommends a 1-to-1 relationship for rewards (1 person-1 point per action). Their experts don’t advise giving rewards for just referring people because you can end up with an army of spammers sending out referrals to unlikely buyers and getting paid. The person referred should be required to take a defined action for the referrer to get points.
FriendBuy Review: Reports, API, Installation, Account Management, etc.
You can setup a password-protected My Account area with referral reports for your referral partners. This does not come out of the box — it’s a widget you plug into a password-protected area you create on your site for your referral partners (e.g. with WPMember, WishList Member, etc.)
FriendBuy has a pretty “open API” so it can be connected to different systems. We set it up with Stripe, Infusionsoft and Zapier. MailChimp, Salesforce, Gravity Forms and other marketing tools should be no problem to integrate.
Enterprise clients with >$50k per month in revenue get a dedicated account manager, installation and A/B testing.
Installation can take 5-10 days for larger enterprise clients. Shorter for DIY packages.
We hope this Friendbuy review provides some value for your referral platform technology decision.
If you’re interested in implementing FriendBuy or other marketing automation platform check out our Marketing Automation Services here >