Running a 'refer a friend' competition


Regular Member
Mar 24, 2014
I want to give my email list a shot in the arm by running a referral competition.

The idea is that I'll send an email to my list and ask them to refer X number of friends by filling in their mate's email addresses on a form on my site. Everyone they refer then gets an email inviting them to subscribe to my list. I'll then choose someone at random to win a prize.

I've had a look are ounce and haven't found any plugins for running this sort of referral system. Am I overthinking it?

i use Aweber for managing my list.
You might run into legal problems in your country, depending on you phrase it.

It also depends where you send them, I would choose to put up a webpage to link them to and then use a tool like rafflecopter to help you with the collecting.
To get around these kind of things rather direct your mailing list to do something different for you like "do me a favor and tweet about it, recommend it on your facebook page, share this image on pinterest ..." Tools like thunderclap can be an option, though spread out links over time from a variety of sources have better chances. this is normal marketing. not "tell everybody about me!!!!" but rather "let me show you something which will make you look good when you share it"

This is also a good indicator of how well your product / offer is perceived. As long as people will go "and why should I do that" you do not have an interactive email list.
Thanks. Yeah I am in the UK, I run very low value competitions to encourage subscribers but I guess that's coming from a slightly different angle.

If I were to run a referrer competition anyone who was referred would be required to opt in, I wouldn't dream of just adding someone to any of my lists.

I hadnt thought of the Facebook angle. I'll have a look at thunderclap too.

While the Can-Spam Act of North America and Europe doesn't specifically say it, I believe only the recipient (not his "mate") can legally opt-in to a mailing list.
The rules for individual subscribers

Individuals who specifically consent (‘opt-in') to receiving emails

You can send direct marketing emails to individual subscribers if they have ‘previously notified the sender' of their specific consent (ie they have ‘opted in') to receiving such emails from you.

Specific consent requires some positive action by the subscriber. If an individual omits to deselect an opt-in box you have pre-ticked on (eg an order or enquiry form), that is not a specific consent. If they specifically tick the opt-in box or you make it clear that by entering his email address in a field they are opting in, these are positive acts for this purpose.

The opt-in must be ‘clear and distinct' so individuals can see that they are opting in and see what they are opting into when they tick a box or provide their email address.

How about instead of having their friends opt-in for them, you run the contest by having the people tell their friends that they should sign up for your e-mail list?

You can also read Taktical's thread about referrals and download legal documents pertaining to referral marketing on the same thread.
This is a good idea, but the problem is the people that will be referred is unaware that their friend included their email addresses on your list. So, without their consent I think those people who are referred wouldn't like that. Quality wise, I think it's not good. If you really want to give your email list a lift, you can continue the idea, but with a different approach.

Just like the other foe here says, use rafflecopter instead or run Facebook ads promoting that idea.
As others have said ... Rafflecopter is probably the best solution in this case.
Aye, I'll have a look at rafflecopter again. I was hoping to find a way of subscribers telling their friends to sign up, rather than signing up their friends.

I have just though of a stupidly simple way of doing this. I could just send my subscribers an email and ask them to forward said email to their friends. Tracking is still going to be tricky though.
Could all this legal trouble be avoided if the person in question does send the email by themselves? Then you would only have to create a form by means of which your members can send their friends an email.
Could all this legal trouble be avoided if the person in question does send the email by themselves? Then you would only have to create a form by means of which your members can send their friends an email.

Ive just looked at the rafflecopter refer a friend option and it does just as you suggest. Not sure I need to pay rafflecopter $89.95 a month to do that. I just need to get my head around referral codes in aweber (if they exist!) so I can track who is sending an email to their friends to encourage them to sign up. I think I've seen a guide to aweber referral codes somewhere, I'll post it back in this read if I find it so future readers can benefit.

Hell, if it works really well I'll write a tutorial :)
It's already been said but Rafflecopter is probably your best bet to do this. Works like a charm and very easy to setup.
I've decided to massively simplify this. I'll create a signup page on my site then send an email to my subscribers asking them to forward an email containing the link to the new signup page. After a set amount of time I'll randomly choose a winner from the sign ups that came via the new page.

I'll then simply ask the winner who referred them.

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