Referral Marketing for Your Large-scale Online Business

A guest article by RewardStream team. They operate referral marketing solutions for enterprises like Boost Mobile and FirstWest Credit UnionBook a demo with them to talk to a live person.

When it comes to automating marketing functions, today's marketers and customer acquisition leaders have countless web-based SaaS solutions to choose from. For businesses operating at scale, this means finding solutions that offer them enterprise-grade solutions that can scale with their business, and won't crack under pressure. 

Is referral marketing right for my enterprise business?

Marketers tend to think of referral marketing as a startup's viral growth engine, attributing to the massive success of companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, etc. The truth of the matter is, enterprises are uniquely positioned to find success with a referral program. Large-scale businesses often have a significant following of engaged, loyal customers, 83% of whom are statistically willing to refer. They also tend to use multiple channels and touchpoints to connect with their audiences, giving them a number of opportunities to promote their program. A referral marketing program, when executed correctly, has the potential to cut through the clutter of paid media and advertising by leveraging consumers' natural tendency to share their experiences through word-of-mouth. Automating a referral marketing solution for enterprises requires that vendors take into consideration the needs of large-scale businesses.

3 things I need to consider:

Many Shopify plugins offer good feature sets but struggle to support the sheer capacity needs of larger businesses. Such applications can fail under the pressure brought on by huge spikes in traffic from periodic promotions and marketing activity. Referral programs grow over time with your business and having to switch out applications at a later time because they can't handle your volume means business disruption that you don't need. In addition to growth, your promotional activities can deliver an unanticipated load, and you shouldn't have to be concerned about your merchant infrastructure's ability to handle it when traffic spikes unexpectedly.

Source: A key RewardStream Referrals customer ran a 1-day promotion that resulted in an 11x increase in traffic load on their referral program. Server performance and program performance wasn't impacted at all.

Enterprise-grade solutions will have proven themselves under load, processing millions of dollars in new business through their customer's referral programs each month. Selecting a hosted solution ensures that all the "heavy lifting" is done on the provider's servers, not on your Shopify store or your web servers. 

Account Support

Simple referral programs are easy to configure and launch. Building long term success for a highly scalable program will benefit from ongoing strategic advice and guidance from seasoned professionals. Enterprise-class support means that there are people dedicated to your account, who will engage with you at the outset and take a vested interest both in your business and your referral program's performance. This includes assistance in executing best practices and monitoring program performance to ensure the program is delivering high ROI for your marketing team. Beyond that, providing self-service help tools like training videos and live chat helps to deliver online support and troubleshooting when needed.


Start up businesses and sole proprietorships selling on Shopify tend not to make security one of their top priorities at launch. However, as your business matures, there is an increased need to ensure that customer data remains protected, and referral programs are shielded from malicious attack. Enterprise-grade referral solutions offer safeguards to ensure that referral programs data is secured:

  • Ensure your referral program provides encryption of data both in transit and at rest: encryption ensures that your customer's sensitive data is protected from prying eyes;
  • ISO-driven (International Standards Organization) processes and documentation practices: Seek vendors who apply international information security management standards;
  • Ongoing 3rd-party vulnerability scanning makes certain that your referral program is independently verified to be secure, beyond the claims of your vendor;
  • Seek solution providers who leverage industry-standard software tools for scanning, hardening, and monitoring of their security footprint;
  • and ensure that you can access your referral program via SSO (single sign on) from your existing administrative tools.

Find a vendor who understands what it takes to operate referral programs for large scale businesses like yours. Referral programs help your business acquire new customers at the lowest possible cost of acquisition. Referral programs for high-volume online retailers must overcome the challenges presented by businesses who add thousands or tens-of-thousands of new customers each month from referrals. 


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