Making it Rain with Millennial Referrals

Each year, over 80 million Millennial shoppers spend more than $600 billion in the United States alone, a tab that is projected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020.

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Case Study
How to Target Millennials via
Referral Marketing Strategies

Say what you want about Millennials, but they’re a marketer’s dream. Since the dawn of digital, CMOs have leveraged Millennials as brand ambassadors in an effort to cultivate credibility and build cachet with young consumers. But gaining exposure on the backs of Millennial endorsements has evolved into somewhat of an obsession, and it's paying massive dividends for creative businesses.

The sheer volume of annual revenue fueled exclusively by Gen-X/Y has entire industries doubling down on mega-marketing initiatives. However, the one surefire strategy that has consistently achieved net-positive results has always been referral marketing, which doesn’t actually market to Millennials at all.

Instead, it markets through them.

Gifts that keep on giving.

Extole has a reputation for generating high-quality leads for its clients, converting 41% via Millennial referrals. High-value conversions have become its industry calling card.

A winning formula.

Minimal friction yields high engagement when meeting the delicate demands of Millennials. This winning formula guarantees brand advocacy without mortgaging authenticity.

By the numbers.

Let's look at five referral marketing campaigns powered by Extole that showcase how custom referral marketing programs can create greater intrinsic value for your brand.


Scottsdale, Arizona

Call-to-action: Get $75, give an extra $50

Amerisleep is a direct-to-consumer mattress retailer, an industry fraught with stout startup competition. But their eco-friendly manufacturing entices Millennials. Utilizing the Extole platform, Amerisleep successfully A/B tested its referral marketing program internally before rolling the campaign out to the public via a call-to-action on its homepage. Amerisleep rewarded advocates $75 for each referral, which gifted friends $50 towards the purchase of a new mattress.

Extole helped Amerisleep identify high-value advocates who demonstrated a strong response to the referral program and customized a unique rewards program tailored exclusively for those customers. This created a deeper connection to the brand which drove more meaningful engagement and generated more conversions.

Results: Amerisleep’s referral program, powered by Extole, generated a click-through rate (CTR) of 150%, which means that each referral link successfully generated at least one impression.

Outlook: On the heels of high consumer demand, Amerisleep aimed to scale its referral marketing to accommodate expansion to Australia and South Korea. The company continued to use Extole to bring its referral program to committed brand ambassadors around the world.

Key Takeaway for Marketers: Testing your program pre-launch ensures that your message is on point and resonates with Millennials, and it can prove whether or not your rewards are worthy of referrals, to begin with. Another crucial measure is to segment your audience accordingly so that you’re targeting the right Millennials for the job in order to reach your target ROI.


Seattle, Washington

Call-to-action: Get $15 for Each New Friend

Julep is a burgeoning beauty brand that brings new products to market each year based on stellar customer feedback and social engagement. Their subscription-based model offers an affordable way for Millennials to stay up to date with the latest beauty products and trends. Julep’s referral marketing program rewards advocates with a $15 credit and a free beauty box whenever a new referral registers.

Once a month, Julep nudges advocates via email to personalize their beauty boxes before they ship. Once items are added, a pop-up display suggests they share their curated items with friends: “Your box is saved! Now spread the word and get $15 for every friend who joins.” This timely call-to-action presents a prime opportunity for advocates to take advantage
of the promo.

Results: The popup referral generated 5x the number of shares than any other day during the month.

Outlook: Like Amerisleep, Julep’s referral marketing strategy mutually rewards its most loyal customers while acquiring new ones. Julep continues to leverage the power of the Extole platform to court its VIP advocates with personalized incentives to help connect fresh faces to its brand.

Key Takeaway for Marketers: One of the best times to target Millennials is after a purchase. Make it as easy as possible for purchasing customers to take full advantage of a reward without having to leave the page. The timely deployment of your messaging is vital to driving referrals and customer acquisition.


San Francisco, Calif.

Call-to-action: Get $20; Give One Month Free % 10% Off

DocuSign’s cloud-based technology serves more than 85 million users and 225,000 companies worldwide, helping to manage contracts and legal documents securely and privately. It has become an indispensable service for Millennials operating startups and small businesses or who work in regulated industries that require the utmost trust and confidentiality.

DocuSign averages about 85,000 new users daily, funneled through a labyrinth of complicated, high-maintenance acquisition channels. But for a company growing at such a torrid pace, implementing a more simplified framework that streamlines the user experience and workflow—for both administrators and end-users—had become imperative.

Extole created an “out-of-the-box” solution that leveraged existing user data to better automate and track the progress of referrals, enabling campaign managers to analyze share metrics and customer feedback all under one roof, directly from the dashboard.

Results: DocuSign’s freshly overhauled referral marketing program enabled them to effortlessly convert new trial users through existing customers, saving time and money while achieving better ROI compared to more costly and convoluted channels.

Outlook: DocuSign’s well-documented (pun intended) data-driven approach to referral marketing calls for frequent testing to optimize the program’s performance. Its partnership with Extole ensures continued growth in the U.S. and abroad, converting high-level leads into long-term, loyal ambassadors that consistently refer new Millennial clients and colleagues.

Key Takeaway for Marketers: If your business is experiencing rapid growth, managing multiple marketing channels can become unwieldy—fast. Your best bet is to focus on converting existing customers before attempting to scale through new leads. This way you’re able to get the most out of your highest performing advocates and fully optimize your current strategy while keeping costs down.

American Giant

San Francisco, Calif.

Call-to-action: Get $15, Give 15% Off

Making America great starts with great American-made products. American Giant, like many U.S. apparel companies, faces stiff competition from overseas. It relies heavily on its brand transparency with Millennials, to whom sustainability and fair trade are hot-button topics. Its vow to revitalize manufacturing across the country exhumes an already passionate consumer base that believes strongly in its mission.

In order to sustain an honest price point while making good on its promise, American Giant used Extole to develop a social-centric strategy focused on data-driven engagement. It analyzed consumer purchase patterns from top to bottom, drawing on deeper insights into specific product preferences that had helped forge a strong brand allegiance over the years. Gauging this new data, American Giant discovered that Facebook and Facebook Messenger users, along with email subscribers, were a natural fit for the $15/15% referral split.

Results: Email referrals had a 21% conversion rate with customers sharing the referral an average of 3x.

Outlook: American Giant’s referral widget lives in the menu bar atop its homepage where it remains top-of-mind for consumers, keeping participation high. We continue to help American Giant honor its commitment to igniting manufacturing across America, ensuring that “Made in the USA” remains the lifeblood of its DNA.

Key Takeaway for Marketers: Email or direct message? That is the question. Gaining key insights into how your top advocates will respond to your offers is critical to understanding how to approach them. Doing a deep data dive helps you better identify the platforms your advocates use to share referrals. This will ultimately drive your conversion rates and overall acquisition results.

Intuit Quickbooks

Mountain View, Calif.

Call-to-action: Get $100, Give 50% Off

Businesses rely on Intuit QuickBooks for its full-scope financial management system acclaimed for its robust suite of essential accounting tools and premium tax-prep software. Its revered reputation in the industry seduces Millennials seeking an end-to-end solution to professional bookkeeping.

Quickbooks initially set out to better demonstrate the value of brand advocacy to existing high-level NPS responders, targeting them with in-app refer-a-friend promotions. This immediately prompted a spike in referrals. Quickbooks then turned to its referral marketing program to launch a timely two-week burst campaign that doubled rewards from $50 to $100 for top responders. In unison with its outbound marketing strategy, the in-app referrals amplified awareness and generated engagement with remarkable conversion rates.

Results: The burst tripled sales revenues compared to the previous campaign with a 600% increase in the number of advocates. Referrals from in-app placements converted the highest, while email referrals encouraged the most sharing.

Outlook: QuickBooks continues to reap the benefits from advantageous burst campaigns. It runs periodic bursts throughout the year to percolate engagement and drive advocacy, especially during tax season and ahead of fiscal filing deadlines.

Key Takeaway for Marketers: Leveraging multiple data points to target premium advocates is a smart way to boost acquisition opportunities. This will better position your brand to execute timely promos, like burst campaigns, that discount specific products or services for a limited time. It can have a huge impact on sales and help rejuvenate lagging engagement.