Building a Successful User Referral Experience

Q&A with Hamid Schricker

Max Mautner
Aug 27, 2018 · 3 min read

We sat down with Hamid Schricker who heads up mobile product management here at Personal Capital.

He shared a bit about a project he’s recently spearheaded: enabling users to refer friends more easily.

What motivated your focus on a user referral program?

Like many companies, growth is a priority of ours! Referral programs, i.e., getting users who love our product to tell other people about our product, are a highly effective way of doing so for many reasons.

Primarily, referral programs have a compounding viral effect as existing users will invite new users, and those new users will hopefully become advocates themselves.

Secondly, we have measured that users that come to us from referrals are often happier and more engaged than users coming to us from other channels. This can be measured by overall engagement with our product and also by how likely they are to convert from a user of our free app to becoming a customer of our wealth management offering.

What were the key design considerations to Personal Capital’s referral program?

Three things are critical to a successful referral program:

  1. Structured “conversion” framework
  2. Ability to measure
  3. A good product!

I’ll break these down a bit more:

A conversion framework is the typical journey a user takes to adopt your product. The key part is having a solid understanding of what your product’s respective user journey is, and understanding when the referring person is sufficiently invested in the product.

Ability to measure refers to counting the actions, conversions, successes, and failures that a user undertakes in adopting your product. We use a combination of analytics tools to accomplish this — including Mixpanel, internal reporting dashboards, Firebase, Talkable, a|b testing infrastructure, and more. You need to know the numbers.

A good product. No one wants to refer a lousy product!

Any interesting learnings from implementing Personal Capital’s referral program?

Great question — here are just some of the things we learned in rolling out our referral program that I can share:

* Awareness. We learned that we were not promoting the program enough because most users were not even aware of its existence!

* It is a lot of hard work. Not only in terms of continuing to improve and optimize the program, but also in building the overall system for doing inventory management, referral tracking and attribution, preventing abuse, and tailoring unique experiences for each different channel (e.g. SMS, iOS vs Android, Web, Email, social media, and more), from an end-to-end experience for both the advocate and recipient. It’s a cross-functional effort across product management, engineering, design, marketing, customer support, finance, and legal. People typically think “it’s only a marketing program.”

* Reduce the number of “taps” on mobile. Your conversion rate will go down with every friction point you insert into a flow. This is not only product user experience 101, but also you owe it to your advocates because they’re out there selling on behalf of your company. Incentivize and make it easy for them.

* Regularly review which of your user segments are performing and focus your efforts accordingly.

* Unsurprisingly, our most active users are the most active advocates of our product.

Thanks for joining us Hamid!

Personal Capital Tech Blog

Max Mautner

Written by

Personal Capital Tech Blog

We are Personal Capital's Engineering team. We apply fresh ideas in tech to solve some of the oldest problems in financial services.

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