Almost every business uses referrals and swears by their effectiveness in driving more traffic, generating more leads, and increasing sales. And with good reason – 84% of consumers trust referrals.

However, not all referral programs are successful. The key is to develop referral campaigns that are easy to use and track. And that’s what referral codes are for. 

Referral codes are easy to create, share, and customize for every campaign. 

An easy-to-use referral marketing program leverages the power of word of mouth to win more clients and grow your business. Moreover, it’s incredibly effective for bringing in new clients.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the big brands’ most successful referral code examples for inspiration.

What is a referral code? 

There are referral coupons, referral discounts, and referral cards. But you might wonder, what is a referral code? 

A referral code is a unique combination of numbers and letters. The code becomes a unique ID for anyone participating in your referral program. Some referral codes may also contain complete words, like the name of a campaign or a client’s name.

Every client joining the program (referrer) gets a referral code to share with others to earn rewards. Customers can copy and send the code via text or email to friends and family. 

Referral codes help companies track a referral’s origin and automatically credit the referrer with a reward. 

Here’s one of the referral code examples that Ibotta uses to incentivize users on its app.

Ibotta referral code example

Why do you need a referral code? 

Referral codes provide convenience to both businesses and customers:

  • A referral code helps you manage your referral program and track where your referrals originate. 
  • Referral codes also help you distribute rewards to the correct referrer. And they’re great for avoiding issues with unpaid referrals. 
  • Referral codes are easy methods for enhancing client satisfaction and fostering loyalty since it ensures customers receive their promised rewards.
  • It is easy to streamline the process with referral codes and measure the effectiveness of your referral efforts.

Did you know that even though referral codes and referral links are often used together, they are quite different from each other?

A referral code is a unique identifier that clients can use to refer and redeem awards. However, a referral link refers to an entire link that the referrer shares with friends when participating in the referral program. 

A referral code links each customer to the referrals they bring. The code also distributes the rewards they earn from the program. Giving customers access to a referral code makes sharing it with friends and family easier across all devices. Customers can invite their networks quickly and frequently, increasing the program’s success.

A referral link can also help connect the referral code to the customer and the referral. But with referral links, sharing is limited to be on digital platforms, reducing its impact. 

Businesses may find that customers need help sharing links during informal conversations with friends and family. They can choose to just build the program around referral codes.

Difference between a referral code and a referral link

The customer’s referral link is shown in the red box. The text highlighted in yellow  is their actual referral code.

7 referral code examples 

Wondering what successful referral code examples look like for inspiration? It looks simple, but it has taken major brands a lot of time and resources to determine what works best. So let’s examine how many brands leverage referral codes for their business. 


This brand has enjoyed staggering growth in just a few short years, thanks to the power of referrals. In this referral code example, the company used a simple referral strategy that incentivized customers in credits for each referral. Referrers would receive a $40 travel credit when new members sign up on Airbnb. Then, they would receive an additional $20 credit when the referral took their first trip.

In the example below, Airbnb combines the user’s name with a series of numbers to create a unique referral code embedded inside a referral link. Customers can just share the unique code with their friends and family to enjoy the benefits of Airbnb.

Airbnb referral page


Gymshark is one of the world’s most recognized fitness apparel and accessories brands. It has earned a significant following among fitness enthusiasts and athletes due to its fashionable fitness apparel. Gymshark also uses referrals to raise awareness of its products and reward its participants for bringing in new clients.

Gymshark referral code page

Their referral code is a simple promotional code that the referred client types in at checkout to receive a discount on their purchase. Conversely, the referrer gets a small commission whenever anyone purchases a Gymshark product using their referral code.


Dropbox is another classic example of a brand that grew remarkably by starting a referral program. The brand launched its double-sided referral program, where the referrer and the referred client received free storage space. The program boosted signups by a whopping  60% in just 15 months.

After clients sign up for a Dropbox account, they’re automatically assigned a unique referral link to share among friends. And the incentives vary by value. A Dropbox Basic account gets 500 MB per referral, while a Plus account gets 1 GB for every referral.

Dropbox referral code page

The Dropbox referral code (highlighted in yellow) is a combination of lower and uppercase letters and random numbers. It is inside a link to make it easier to share. 

Wine Insiders

Wine Insiders is a discount wine delivery service that offers a curated wine selection to its customers. Customers get to sample reds, whites, sparkling wine, and rosés at a discounted price of $20. 

The company uses a subscription-based referral program to grow its client base. The program incentivizes advocates to share their personalized URLs (PURLs.) PURLs are essentially custom referral codes that have the customer’s name or their social media handle in them. This makes it easier for them to remember. 

Wine Insiders referral program image

In one of its referral code examples (above,) Wine Insiders executed a highly successful personalized referral program to celebrate its 39th anniversary. Customers get a link with a personalized code to share with friends and family. 

The referrer would get a $39 coupon if someone purchases using their code. The referred client also enjoys a $39 discount off their first purchase totaling $100 or more.


This brand is a whiskey experience subscription service for customers who want to explore whiskey, vodka, tequila, and personalized spirits. Members pay a $349/year or $109/quarter subscription fee to join the spirit-sampling club.

What makes Flaviar unique, however, is its referral marketing strategy. They incentivize subscribers to become advocates for the brand and refer their friends. Their goal is to build an online community of whiskey lovers. 

Flaviar referral page

As you can see, the referral link contains a personalized referral code, showing the person’s name, making it quite easy to share with friends and family.

Free Agent 

FreeAgent is a cloud-based accounting software businesses use to send invoices and gentle payment reminders to clients and record expenses. It is specifically aimed at small business owners, contractors, and freelancers. 

Currently, businesses pay $20 a month to use the platform. However, with their innovative referral program, business owners can get 10% off their bill for every successful referral. That means if you bring ten users to FreeAgent and each referral pays for a subscription, you get 100% off.

FreeAgent referral code page

Each FreeAgent gets a unique referral code made up of letters and numbers. 

Dollar Shave Club 

Dollar Shave Club is a monthly shaving subscription service. When someone joins Dollar Shave Club and creates an account, they’re given a unique referral code to copy to share with friends.  

Their referral program offers members a $5 bonus credit for each friend they refer successfully.

Dollar Shave Club referral email

Dollar Shave Club’s referral program is one-sided, meaning only the referrer receives a reward for using the program. So, only existing DSC members receive the $5 credit for every successful referral. 

The Dollar Shave Club referral code example demonstrates how you can customize your referral codes and incentives within your business model.

FAQs about referral code examples

How do I create a referral code? 

You can manually create a referral code for each campaign or use referral program software to automatically generate and track those referrals.

What are the 4 types of referrals?

The four types of referrals include direct, email, incentive-based, and referrals from online reviews. Referral codes can help with all of them.

How do I give a friend a referral code?

Share your referral code by simply sending them a link with your referral code. Copy and paste the link directly into an email, text, or social media message.

Where is my referral code visible?

Your referral code is visible inside or embedded within your referral link. Usually, the referral code shows up at the end of the referral link string of characters.

What is a referral code link?

A referral code link is a referral code (a unique identifier) that is part of a referral link. The code allows businesses to track the referral to know the actual referrer. The link allows customers easy access to participate and share.


Referral marketing is definitely a good idea if you want to boost your sales. As we’ve seen with these referral code examples, a referral program creates a win-win outcome for you and your clients. They earn rewards for sharing their referral codes while you get new clients and sales.

Use Birdeye referrals to automate and simplify your referral marketing campaigns.

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