Getting Started with Referral Programs

This article covers key concepts of Voucherify referral campaigns. You'll see the workflow in both single and double-sided referral programs. 

Referral programs are created in the dashboard using the Campaign Manager. You can't create referral campaigns via API.


  1. Glossary
  2. Referral programs overview
  3. Key concepts:
  4. Referral workflow
    1. Invite referrers
    2. Track conversion events
    3. Track triggered rewards
    4. Monitor program performance


Here are the key definitions you need to grasp to understand how referral campaigns work.


The owner of the referral code. The referrer can't redeem their code and can only share it with others. To assign a referral code to a customer, you need to invoke a publication


The referred customer who performed a conversion event (custom event or referral code redemption) by using a referral code.

Conversion event

The conversion event defines an action that converts a new customer to a referee. It can be a custom event passed using the API or the referral code redemption. Once Voucherify recognizes a new conversion event, the related customer is marked as referred, and the code owner receives another successful referral.

Custom event

Custom events are actions taken by customers that you track in your application or website and pass to Voucherify using our API.


Redemption in referral campaigns involves a single use of a referral code. If referees are rewarded with a discount, it will be added to their order during the referral code redemption.

Campaign Manager

All campaigns and promotions are created in the Campaign Manager. You can open it by clicking Create Campaign in the Campaign Hub > Campaigns section or in the Home > Dashboard section.

Double-sided program

Double-sided referral programs reward both referrers and referred customers.

Single-sided program

Single-sided referral program rewards only referrers. Referees don't receive any reward.

Validation rules

Validation rules in referral campaigns can be assigned to referral codes. They limit referral code redemption to predefined conditions based on customer or order-related attributes. They also enable you to set a campaign budget and additional redemption limits. 

Referee reward

Referee rewards need to be set in a double-sided referral campaign. If you choose to reward referees with a discount, it'll be assigned to a referral code. In addition to discounts, you can reward referees with gift credits or loyalty points. 

Referrer reward

It can be a coupon code, gift credits, or loyalty points. The reward is published to the referral code owner (referrer) once a new customer is referred and the referrer meets all rewarding criteria. Referrers are always rewarded for the same referee's action defined by the conversion event.

Referral notifications

There are two types of built-in notifications you can configure when creating a referral program. The first type sends a message to the new referrer every time you publish (assign) a referral code from the campaign. The second type sends messages to referees every time they perform a conversion event and note a successful referral.


The publication is an action of assigning a unique referral code to a particular customer (referrer).

Join-once campaign 

Optional campaign mode ensuring that each customer can own only one referral code from the campaign.

Auto-update campaign

Optional campaign mode ensuring the app will automatically generate new referral codes when needed and the initial batch runs out.

Referral tier

Tier settings define when and how referrers are rewarded. You can add many tiers to a single program and build a multi-level rewarding schema. The referrer's reward can be triggered by a particular number of conversion events and additional criteria that referrers need to match.

Web widget

Widgets are simple javaScript forms ready to place on your website. Widgets can publish, validate, and redeem promo codes. In a referral campaign, you can use a publish widget to assign and share referral codes with referrers on your website/application.

Distribution Manager

The Distribution Manager enables you to set up a distribution workflow. It involves defining message details such as audience, message trigger, purpose, and channel. To open the Manager, go to the Engagement > Distributions section and click on the plus icon in the upper right corner. 

Referral links

The referral link is a URL address with a referral code that links to a customer touchpoint that converts new customers into referred customers.

Referral programs overview

To create a referral campaign, you need to open the Campaign Manager and configure the referral workflow. It comes down to the following steps:

  1. General program settings:      
    • Campaign timeframe.
    • Type (single or double-sided).
    • Conversion event (redemption or custom event).
    • Notifications for referrers and referees.
    • Metadata (custom attributes attached to a campaign and referral codes).
  2. Referral codes with validation rules
  3. Referrer settings:
    • Referral tiers with rewarding criteria, rewards, and tier-specific notifications.
  4. Referee settings:
    • Referee reward.

After creating a referral campaign in Voucherify, you can publish and share referral codes with referrers. Then, referrers can share the assigned codes with others to invite them to join the program.

Depending on the chosen conversion event, the invited customer becomes a referee after performing a predefined custom event or redeeming a referral code. A conversion event always relates to a customer triggering the conversion (referee) and a referral code (referrer). Based on the data provided with the conversion event, a new customer is marked as referred, and the referrer is rewarded. If there are any additional reward criteria for referrers, they are checked before triggering the reward. 

When it comes to the referee reward (double-sided referral campaign), discounts are attached to referral codes and applied to the order when redeeming the referral code. If referees get gift credits or loyalty points, they are added after a successful conversion event.

Single and double-sided programs

Set in the Campaign Manager > Incentive Workflow

Single-sided referral campaign rewards only referrers. In a double-sided campaign, both referrers and invited customers are rewarded. 

Single-sided program Double-sided program

Rewards for the referrers are triggered when all rewarding conditions defined in the tier are met. When it comes to referees, the moment the reward is triggered depends on the chosen conversion event.

Conversion event

The conversion event defines an action that converts a customer to a referee. Each referral program can have only one conversion event. There are two types to choose between:

  • Referral code redemption – when a customer successfully redeems a referral code, they are marked as refereed. 
  • Custom event – an action that your customers perform on your website/application sent to Voucherify API.

Referral code redemption

In this scenario, a successful redemption of a referral code triggers a reward for the referee (in double-sided campaigns) and notes another successful referral on the referrer's account.

  1. The referrer shares the referral code with a new customer.
  2. The invited customer redeems the referral code on your website or application.
  3. In a double-sided program*, both the referrer and the referee are rewarded:
    1. New loyalty points/gift credits are assigned to the referee's account, or if a discount is a reward, it is applied to the referee's order during the referral code redemption.
    2. Voucherify notes another successful referral and assigns the reward to the referrer (reward redemption).

*In a single-sided campaign, only the referrer is rewarded (3b).

Voucherify ensures the referrer cannot redeem their own code. Using validation rules, you can add more redemption limits to referral codes. We recommend a default redemption limit – each new customer can make only one redemption in a referral campaign. As a result, each redemption of referral codes comes from a different referee. 

Custom event

If you choose a custom event to convert new customers, Voucherify will count successful referrals after receiving an API call with a predefined custom event. In this scenario, redemptions of referral codes enable referees to apply the discount (if assigned) but don't trigger rewards for referrers. 

  1. The referrer shares a referral code with a new customer.
  2. Invited customer performs a custom event with a referral code on your website or application.
  3. After the custom event, the referrer and the referee (in a double-sided program) are rewarded:
    1. New loyalty points or gift credits are assigned to the referee's account after s/he performs a custom event.  
    2. Voucherify notes another successful referral and assigns a reward to the referrer (reward redemption).
  4. If a referee's reward is a discount code, it is applied to the referee's order during the referral code redemption.

*In a single-sided campaign, only the referrer is rewarded (3b).

How to pass custom events to Voucherify?

Each custom event carries information about a customer who performed the action and a referral code. Thanks to the referral code, Voucherify identifies referrers and counts new referrals after the referee triggers the custom event.

Use metadata to add more information about the event. The metadata object stores custom attributes in key/value pairs.

Passing a custom event to Voucherify involves invoking the track custom event endpoint. This API reference provides more information about custom events.

Referee reward

If you choose a double-sided campaign, you need to define the referee reward. It can be:

  • A discount (amount, percent, new price, free products, free shipping).
  • Gift card credits.
  • Loyalty points.

Discount coupon

If you choose to reward referees with a discount, it will be assigned to the referral code and applied to the referee's order when the referral code is redeemed. 

Credits and points

When you reward new customers with points or credits, they will be added to the referee account after a successful conversion event.  

First, choose a gift card campaign or a loyalty program from existing campaigns. Next, you can define the number of credits/points added to the customer's gift/loyalty card.

If a customer doesn't have a loyalty card or gift card from a chosen campaign assigned to their profile yet, it will be published to them before adding new points/credits. If a referee already has a gift card or loyalty card from the chosen campaign, credits/points will be added to the already published card. 

Validation rules

Below the referee reward, you can add validation rules. These rules will limit referral code redemptions. By default, the Campaign Manager adds a validation rule that limits referral code redemptions to once per customer per campaign. You can edit default rules to model more advanced scenarios with customer and order-related attributes. For example, you can set a minimum order amount to redeem the referral code or define what items are required in the cart to redeem the code.

Referral tiers

A tier is a level of a referral campaign that has its own criteria for rewarding referrers, rewards for referrers, and notifications. Tier settings relate to the referrers. Creating tiers lets you build a multi-level rewarding schema where the number of referred customers and additional rewarding criteria (advanced filters) decide which reward is made available to the referrer. 

For example, you can reward a referrer for each successful referral with a 10% discount, and by using the second tier, you can trigger an extra reward for every 5th, 10th, and 15th referred customer.

Creating a tier is a three-step process:

Step 1: Define when referrers are rewarded

You have two options:

  • Reward the referrer every time Voucherify notes a new successful referral with his/her referral code (custom event or referral code redemption).
  • Reward referrer when Voucherify notes a particular number of successful referrals with his/her referral code.

    This mode can be extended with  Advanced Filters that define additional criteria for referrers. Added filters create a customer segment that the referrer needs to enter to note a successful referral. 

Step 2: Add reward(s)

In the second step, you need to build a list of rewards assigned to the referrer when all conditions defined in the first step are met. You can search for existing rewards in the rewards catalog using the magnifying glass. If you didn't prepare referrer rewards beforehand, you can click on the plus and add them on the spot. Learn how to create a rewards catalog

Before going to the third step, make sure the reward(s) are confirmed and listed in the Tier Rewards Catalog.

Step 3: Compose notifications (optional)

When all rewarding criteria are met, and a reward is assigned to the referrer, Voucherify triggers a message composed in tier notifications. Depending on the chosen channel, messages can get to referrers, external applications, or be delivered via webhooks. 

Creating tier notification is a two-step process:

  1. Select required marketing consents or disable consent verification.
  2. Choose a channel(s) and design a message template.


Besides tier notifications, you can schedule program notifications sent to referrers and referees. You can create the following types of notifications:

  • A message with a referral code to a referrer.
  • A message to a referee triggered after a successful referral.

Referrer notifications

The aim of built-in notifications to referrers is to deliver their referral codes.

To send a message, you need to set up notifications in the Campaign Manager and publish the code to the referrer. Code publication is a trigger that pushes notifications outside Voucherify. 

Notifications configured in the Campaign Manager are noted in the Engagement Distributions tab in your dashboard. This guide explains more about available channels and notifications.

Referee notifications

The aim of built-in notifications to referees is to notify them about a successful referral. 

Using a built-in editor or connected applications, you can welcome new customers with a personalized message. 

Note that all variables related to vouchers will be populated only in referrer notifications.


Metadata in the Campaign Manager is a space for custom attributes you'd like to attach to the referral campaign and referral codes. Later on, you can use these attributes for reporting and tracking purposes. 

For example, you can filter out campaigns with the given metadata when listing campaigns using the  Qualification API.

Read more about metadata.

Referral links can be managed in the following way: You can direct customers to an external URL (to a custom signup form on your website/application). To do that, you need to develop a referral link structure that combines your URL with a referral code variable. With this approach, you need to ensure that the referral code from the link will land in your signup form. 

Referral workflow

Referral workflow summary:

Once you created rewards and a referral campaign, you need to invite referrers by publishing and sending them their referral codes. 

How to invite referrers?

Voucherify offers you many ways to reach your referral audience:

Regardless of the chosen channel, inviting referrers is a two-step process:

  1. Publishing referral codes to referrers.
  2. Sending published codes to referrers.

The Distribution Manager lets you publish and deliver codes at the same time. 

Referral codes publication

Before referees can join the workflow, referral codes need to be assigned to referrers via publication. Thanks to the publications, Voucherify recognizes who noted successful referrals and protects codes from fraud. When a referral code is published to a customer, they are listed in the Referrers tab in the referral program dashboard. 

There are many ways of publishing codes to customers. All the methods are listed in this short guide.


Let's go through all the channels you can use to deliver referral codes to your customers (referrers).

Distribution Manager

Distributions publish codes and push messages with codes outside Voucherify.

If you want to engage only a particular part of your audience, you can use multi-channel delivery based on customer segments or changes in order status. The Distribution Manager allows you to send referral codes in response to predefined actions like joining a segment, order paid, and many more. As a result, a message with a referral code is triggered automatically by a client-side action. The code is published and sent using channels defined in the distribution setup. The Distribution Manager supports emails, SMS, webhooks, and many built-in integrations. 

While designing an email or SMS template, you can use variables populated with customer data to deliver personalized messages alongside referral codes and referral links.

Read more about the Distribution Manager.

Referral notifications

You need to publish a referral code to trigger a notification.

Notifications are publication-based distribution triggered by assigning a referral code to a customer.

Codes are sent in a predefined message in response to their publication. It means that when you publish a referral code using the API or a different method, Voucherify will send a message with a published code. Likewise, you can use various channels like email, SMS, webhooks, and more.

Custom integration with Voucherify API

There is a dedicated endpoint in Voucherify API that publishes codes from a campaign. You can integrate your customer touch points with the publication API and perform publications on your website/application. This way, Voucherify provides a backend for publishing referral codes to referrers, leaving the frontend part on your side. It's up to you how your system will store or display the code to a referrer. Nevertheless, the integration ensures that the details of each publication will be noted in your Voucherify dashboard. 

You can read more about the integration overview in this guide

For example, the Distribution Manager lets you deliver webhooks with referral codes to external tools. Once the webhook with the referral code is sent, you can use the attached details to deliver referral codes via external APIs.

Web widgets

Widgets are simple JavaScript forms that you can place on your website. Voucherify offers a variety of customizable widgets for different purposes, including publishing and redeeming codes. If you use a publish widget, your customers may receive a referral code and join the program straight from your application/website. 

Read more about web widgets in our Developer Hub.

Track conversion events

When your campaign is live, and referral codes are already assigned to referrers, you can track conversions in real time. Click on the campaign name and scroll down to the Top 5 referrers. The list shows the most active customers and the number of referred clients. 

For more details, go to the Customers view and click Find and apply filters.


Using built-in filters, you can list and export customers with a particular number of referred customers. Moreover, filters can be used as criteria for grouping customers into segments. 

When exporting customers to a CSV file, you can add a column with the number of referred customers.


You can list referees by going to the campaign dashboard > Referees tab. 

If a conversion event is a dedicated custom event, you can export referees using filters in the Customers view.

Voucherify also lets you track each customer individually. Click on a customer's name and go to the Activity tab. Using filters, you can list customer's activities performed within a particular campaign.

Track triggered rewards

When the referrer meets the rewarding criteria, Voucherify triggers the reward redemption. As a result, depending on the scheduled rewards: 

  • New gift credits or loyalty points are assigned to the referrer's account.
  • Or a new discount code is published to a referrer. 

To get an overview of all triggered rewards, click on the campaign name and go to the Rewards redemptions tab. The reward state shows if the process of redeeming the reward and assigning it to the referrer is completed.

When it comes to  material rewards, you need to manually confirm when you assign a reward and complete rewarding the referrer.

Monitor program performance

Voucherify tracks and updates your campaign metrics in real time. You can monitor results on many levels, including the overall campaign performance and individual customer activity. 

Each published code is automatically assigned to a customer's profile in the Voucherify dashboard. Ultimately, when customers use their codes, redemptions are attached to the unique ID, particular customer, and channel. The Redemptions history in the referral program dashboard lists every redemption attempt. You can also list all activities of a customer within your referral campaign by using the dashboard or API. Go here to learn more about tracking your referral campaign.

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