What are referrals?

Referrals come in all shapes and sizes.

But what are they exactly? And are sure we know that’s how to spell it?

Referrals have been around forever. They are perhaps best thought of as ‘word of mouth’. Easy to say, less easy to spell! “Referrals” has 2 Rs in the middle, so be careful. We have mis-typed it a thousand times. Not “Referals”. Or “Referralls”… as tempting as it is to type that quickly. Anyhow, we digress. So, word of mouth: You buy a cool product, eat a terrific pizza, have a great massage, go on a great holiday, use top value sports supplements, get your lip-stick delivered on a monthly basis… and you can’t wait to tell everyone. That’s word of mouth.


Referral schemes empower word-of-mouth. In short, they are “weaponised word of mouth” (yes you heard that first here!). They give you an incentive to shout a little louder about the product or service. Even with a good incentive, we don’t think people will refer something they hate. They just don’t want to be associated with a duff product, or a poor service. We still believe in the integrity of the modern online shopper! But they might be tempted to tell a few more people if there is a little kicker for them. And why not?


So a referral is a recommendation when linked to a purchase. Not to be confused with a medical referral to a doctor or specialist. That’s completely different. The best way to think about it, therefore, is as word-of-mouth.

These referrals are therefore everywhere. If you recommend a plumber to fix a leaking tap, that’s a referral. If you introduce someone to your boss at work, that’s a referral. If you share a great product online with someone, that is a referral. They are the more social version of their cousin the review. With a referral you are effective giving a positive review and executing upon it in a timely manner. Referrals are effectively personalised just-in-time reviews. And no wonder they are so powerful and sought after by companies. They are extremely effective in getting a person to buy a product or service.

With the advent of online shopping, referrals have morphed into ‘referral codes’ and ‘referral links’. These are little identifiers that identify who is doing the referring. Take Booking.com for example. They have a terrific referral link that gives either % off a future booking, and a fixed amount of money off.


What is the referral link? It’s a short link with an encrypted code in it that shows who is sharing it. In other words, it’s your name, but masked. When someone clicks on that link, Booking.com know who originated the referral… and then give that person a little reward thank you.


So that’s what referrals are and how they are now active in the online world. As soon as you start looking for them you’ll see them everywhere. And that’s one of the big reasons we set up ReferralCodes.com – so you can store all your codes in one place, look for new codes, and share your codes in an easy way with others.

Referrals come in all types


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