Refer-a-Friend (RAF) Pilot Program

2014 - Hailo (ridesharing app)

Goal: Hailo North America needed to acquire users--or, even better, "new active users" who had completed a ride, our gold standard KPI.

Hypothesis, problem: If existing users could invite friends by sharing Hailo credit (and earn credits as a reward), new signups would grow. BUT, unlike our competitors, our app lacked a RAF feature, and our dev team was busy with other projects.

Workaround: Using minimal dev resources, I designed, ran and evaluated a one-month RAF program for a subset of customers; repeated the program for three months in more cities (adjusting based on lessons learned); and made a case for an in-app RAF feature to the product team.



  • Used SQL to pull segments of a city's customer base that might be likely to use RAF (recently active users).
  • Tweaked and ran a script (written by a dev team member for an earlier project) to mass-generate personal promo codes for everyone in the segment.
  • Managed a freelance graphic designer (and worked with my bosses on the marketing team!) to create a fun visual identity for the promotion.
  • Worked with city operations teams to write copy and define promo amount.
  • Used CRM programs to send personalized announcement emails (A/B testing subject lines, preheaders and promo code amount)

During (once a week)

  • Pulled a SQL report to see how many new users had taken a first ride using the personal codes, run another script to mass-apply rewards to referrers.
  • Added referrers to a list to receive a weekly drip email letting them know how much credit they had earned so far.
  • Used the same report to create a mini-dashboard so that the rest of the marketing team could easily monitor the campaign's progress.


  • Analyzed data: Were people actually inviting friends? (yes) Were the friends taking rides? (yes) What was the effect of offering $10 vs. $15 promo codes? (small; in most cities, the smaller amount didn't cause much of a drop in sharing) Did that effect vary by city? (yes; pricier cities like NYC benefitted more from higher promo amounts)
  • Presented a summary to high-level Product team members.

Result: Thousands of new customers, at a predictable cost per new active user (as opposed to, say, display ads, which might cost much less--or much more--per user).

Conclusion: If a janky email-based program worked, imagine how well a REAL in-app feature could work!

Skills: project management, coordination across teams, HTML/CSS, SQL, Excel, CRM (ExactTarget, Sendhub), copywriting.