July 14, 2017 - 1 comment.

How the Hustle’s milestone referral program earned them 300k fanatics6 min read

I love the Hustle. I mean, I had years to read news that look so slick.

In the beginning, there was a link that a friend sent me. I clicked; ‘that’s some good copywriting right there’, I said.

‘I  dig the branding, also’, was my next thought.

Then I received an email from Sam Parr, giving a warm (and rather funny) welcome to their ‘crib’. As far as I remember, after 1 week, and pardon me if I’m wrong, I receive another email.

This time, it was an invitation for The Hustle’s milestone referral program. I followed the link (of course I did) and got my mind blown away from the awesome swag they offer in exchange for referrals.

I started a referral spree.

One of the friends to whom I sent my link was like dude, I’m already on board. Did you know these guys got 300K subscribers in just a few months?’

Come again?

My eyeballs turned into dollar signs. I had to know how they did it. I googled every relative term, just to find that there’s no secret to their success. It’s all there.

How a milestone referral program turned happy readers to fanatic ambassadors.

It’s pretty obvious that the folks at The Hustle take their content seriously. They serve emails that you can’t afford not opening, and their articles are informative with a very specific tone of voice.

These facts alone are enough to keep people coming back, but what do you do when you want to acquire more readers at a fast rate?

How about asking your happy readers to talk about you to their friends, in exchange of exclusive swag?

Harry’s used the exact same approach some years prior, resulting in a huge success.

But none of these aspects could play by their own. It’s the killer combination of 3:

  1. Great copywriting
  2. Focusing on email (it’s an owned medium, and you don’t have to play Facebook’s algorithm game)
  3. A milestone referral program that kicks a$$.

As the importance of copywriting and email marketing have already been covered in hundreds of thousands of articles, I thought that it would be wise to focus on the milestone referral on this article.

How does the Hustle’s milestone referral work

In order to make such a system to work, you have first to make it accessible to people. In the Hustle’s case, people can discover their ambassador program in two ways:

  1. Their dedicated landing page.
  2. An email from Sam Parr.

The landing page for their milestone referral program has a rather plain outfit. You can access it anytime from a link to their website’s footer.

The landing page includes some text that explains how the Hustle’s readers sculpt the face of the company, and a single Call-To-Action asking you to join their ambassador program so you can help them become even better.

I didn’t become an ambassador from this page.

An email (as I explained in the beginning), was the reason.  In fact, this is the email that I got:

As you can see, I was given a unique URL to share with my friends. Every new email address the Hustle obtained thanks to my sharing, added to my referral count.

Since building a community is obviously important to the Hustle, the first tier was to bring 4 friends in order to get access to a private Facebook group. That way you get the opportunity to introduce yourself and engage with the other people of the tribe.

You can always use your unique URL to track the number of your referrals. And that’s where the magic happens.

You see on this page, there’s a showcase of all the prizes you can unlock depending on the number of referrals you have.

I can’t describe how much I wanted these socks:

I think that just by looking on this page with the number of referrals and the gifts acts a superbly strong call-to-action for sharing more and more. This is the greatest trick of all.

The Hustle is very much aware of it. That’s why every now and then, their emails aim to lure you back to that page.

People are full of doubts. We’re constantly afraid that we’ll fail (which, btw, is very natural and you should probably get used to it). Fear could discourage people from sharing, due to their low expectations for the outcome.

That’s why the page also includes tips on how to share for more referrals, along with some stories of how some top ambassadors made it. You can find more stories like that in the Hustle’s FAQ page.

Winning a prize

Let’s say you unlocked the prize you wanted; what happens next?

First, after you reach each milestone you get an email (of course) informing you about your moment of glory. You are given the option to cash out or keep your referrals for a bigger prize.

If your choice is to cash out, you’ll have the postman knocking on your door after a few days. Your prize will be enclosed in a branded package, along with some extra goodies and a handwritten card.

This alone is worth sharing, and that’s exactly what someone did:

Are you thinking of building a milestone referral like the Hustle did?

I know that stories like the Hustle’s fascinate you- that’s why you read everything so far. I also know that you consider building your own milestone referral program.

That’s great!

You don’t need any coding skills or to hire a developer. We got your back.

Recently, we created a tool, to help you build a milestone referral in 20 seconds. Seriously; 20 seconds.

But before you start building it, let’s recap the things that will help you nail it:

  1. Use extraordinary copywriting. It’s your chance to shine like a diamond among coals.
  2. Build a community for your ‘tribe’. An engaged community is priceless. It might take a lot of time, engaging, posting and approving people, but it’s totally worth it.
  3. Offer prizes that align with your company’s brand identity. The Hustle is all about having swag; that’s why they offer swag.
  4. Incentivize people to come back to their referral page.
  5. Help people to get more referrals. I told you, people are full of doubts.

Now, you are truly ready to build your own milestone referral program. Give it your best, and who knows?

Maybe my next story will be about how your ambassador program knocked my socks off.

Cheers 🙂

Published by: George Vasiliadis in Growth, Startups, Viral Marketing