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Build & optimize your viral channel: referrals

You already have your most valuable marketing asset at your fingertips: your existing customers.

Online course:
Referral marketing

By Dominic Coryell,

Principal Product Manager @ Instacart

Course length: 3h 30min

Start 7-day trial for $1

Some of the companies that train their teams at CXL:

Learn how to acquire more valuable users and reduce how much you spend to achieve your goals.

Acquiring new users through referrals is the most important marketing activity for your business. You not only acquire more valuable users, but also reduce how much you need to spend in order to acquire them.

What this course will teach you…

  • A step-by-step implementation guide to turn your existing users into new users, indefinitely
  • How companies like TOMS, Bonobos,, Shutterfly and more all leveraged their existing customers to grow their organic customer base using referrals
  • “Sideways” strategies to get referrals that don’t involve you directly asking your users to “refer a friend” again and again.

Dom played an integral part in helping us more than double our supply volume in less than a month. Just in time for the upcoming holiday season!

Karen Horiuchi, CEO @ Glambot

Dom has a tremendous focus on building systems and tuning growth experiments in systematic ways that allows for clear testing and results. His skills double as a Head of growth and growth product lead. We all have a lot to learn from Dom.

Sieva Kozinsky, CEO @ StudySoup

This course is right for you if…

  • You have existing users who like your product (measure with a high NPS)
  • You currently have a referral program you don’t feel like you can manipulate.
  • You don’t yet have a referral program, but have high “direct” traffic ration that must be cause by word-of-mouth-activities (WOMA).
  • You were at one point excelling at referral marketing and have hit a plateau

This course is probably not for you if…

  • You do not yet have Product/Market Fit (PMF)
  • You have a low NPS
  • You have an extremely long sales cycle with high enterprise value that has no mid/top funnel optimization points

Dom is an excellent growth marketing teacher and mentor. He deeply understands and is able to effectively communicate that growth marketing derives first from the mindset then the process. He has the understanding to teach you both.

Philippe LeBlanc, CEO @ Flixel

You’ll walk away with

  • A complete five-step formula squeeze every possible referral out of your existing CRM by optimizing each of the 4 referral levers:
  • Formula to find the right incentive to get users to share
  • Formula to find the most valuable sharing channel
  • Formula to help advocates pick the right people to share with
  • Formula to get referred users to convert
  • Formula to help nurture referrals
  • A model to map out the referral channel and make predictions like other channels
  • A referral roadmap integrated into existing marketing campaigns to maximize touch points and keep your program top of mind
  • A model to measure normally intangible brand mentions

This results in an evergreen channel to reduce CPA and increase CLTV of all your other channels.

Dominic Coryell

Principal Product Manager @ Instacart

Dominic Coryell, (aka DistroDom) is a tech entrepreneur in San Francisco. As a Co-Founder of Talkable, he understands referral intimately since he’s built programs for companies like TOMS, Bonobos,, Shutterfly and so many more. He’s spent ye

Dominic Coryell, (aka DistroDom) is a tech entrepreneur in San Francisco. As a Co-Founder of Talkable, he understands referral intimately since he’s built programs for companies like TOMS, Bonobos,, Shutterfly and so many more. He’s spent years in the weeds optimizing referral programs to make sure that referrals as a channel are valuable and relevant.

Dom has also coached hundreds of startups during his time as a Partner on the 500 Startups Distro Team and educating founders on how to grow faster and secure funding with his online traction program GIMME GROWTH.

Currently, he is the Principal Product Manager at Instacart.

Your full course curriculum

Referral Marketing

Build a Referral Plan and Model

Building a referral program has many moving pieces that should be thought out and planned ahead of time. This class will teach you about all of those pieces, by using current relevant examples, then will give you a framework to build your plan using all those pieces. The plan will be highly dependant on a mathematical model that we build to predict program performance based on the 4 levers of referral marketing (visibility, sharers, new impressions, conversions)

Topics covered:

  • Overview of what makes a successful referral program, the levers and the components
  • Examples of programs in the wild for different types of businesses e-Commerce, Mobile, SaaS, and marketplaces
  • Mapping out the different components such as structure, placements, positioning, and rules
  • Reviewing a mathematical model for referrals with a templated example
  • Ending with a clear plan of action to prep for an implementation

Implement Your Referral Program

There are really two options to launch a referral program: build it yourself or user a 3rd party tool. We’ll go over how to make the decision based on your plans and in-house capabilities as well as all open-source and 3rd party options.

Topics covered:

  • what are the features in your plan and what type of technical functionality is needed to
  • what are the technologies that exist (yesgraph, talkable, friendbuy, extole)
  • fraud detection
  • step by step integration of a program

Promote Your Referral Program

Referral programs will not work unless they are promoted on site in the correct way. In this lesson we will cover how to show off your referral program onsite, in-app, through email and how to constantly keep it top of mind using the campaign methodology.

Topics covered:

  • Where are the most visible places for your referral program to be hosted (onsite and inapp)
  • How can you use email to drive advocates to share
  • How to use campaigns as contests and leaderboards to constantly keep your referral program top of mind.

Optimize Your Referral Program

Referral programs, compared to other acquisition activities, have 4 levers. In this lesson we will go through how to optimize each lever.  We’ll also cover how to use referrals to reach your current objectives, should they be driving revenue, driving valuable customers or reducing CAC while driving up LTV.

Topics covered:

  • TOFO: How to get more people to see your offer
  • TOFU: How to get more people to share you offer
  • TOFU: How to get more shares per person
  • TOFU: How to increase the shares value per advocate
  • MOFU: How to get more engagement per share
  • MOFU: How to increase the likelihood of purchases (or intended action)
  • BOFU: How to get more conversion
  • BOFU: How to use nurture style campaigns to increase conversions

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  • Join our community of marketing experts, ready to support you in getting that promotion or master new strategies, skills, and channels.
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