Refer-a-Friend Pilot Program

2014 - Hailo (ridesharing app)

Goal: Hailo North America needed to acquire users and bring them all the way through the funnel to “active user” status (1 completed ride).

Hypothesis: Allowing enthusiastic customers to invite friends (and earn free rides) would bring in new, high-quality users at a predictable cost.

Complication: Unlike our competitors, the Hailo app lacked a built-in refer-a-friend (RAF) feature, and our dev team didn’t have the bandwidth to build such a feature just for the sake of testing it.

Workaround: I designed and tested a one-month RAF program, targeting a segment of existing active customers in NYC. The program led Hailo NYC to acquire hundreds of new active users. Building on that success, I repeated the program for three months in eight cities and three languages, adapting based on performance data and feedback from local teams.

Outcome: Thousands of new customers at a stable cost per active user; initial evidence that a full RAF feature could be a good investment.

Image gallery

Process breakdown


  • Used SQL to identify and pull segments of a city's customer base that might be likely to engage with the promotion.

  • Tweaked a script written by a dev team member to mass-generate personalized promo codes for each recipient.

  • Worked with my team and a freelance designer to create a fun visual identity for the campaign (summer popsicles).

  • Designed, tested, and sent announcement emails. A/B tested subject lines, preheaders and credit amount.


  • Pulled a weekly SQL report to measure redemption of promo codes; ran a second script to credit successful referrers’ accounts.

  • Successful referrers received a weekly personalized drip email letting them know how much credit they’d earned that week.

  • Created and updated a dashboard so that the other teams could easily check in on campaign progress.


  • Analyzed data: Were people actually inviting friends? (Yes.) Were the friends taking rides? (Yes.) What was the effect of offering $10 vs. $15 credits? (In most cities, the effect was small, which meant we could significantly lower our cost per active user in round two of the campaign without a major drop in referrals. Pricier cities like NYC, however, did benefit from higher credit amounts.)

  • Presented a summary of findings to other teams.

Skills: project management, collaboration across teams, HTML/CSS, SQL, Excel, copywriting, marketing automation, email marketing.