Refer-a-Friend (RAF) Pilot Program

2014 - Hailo (ridesharing app)

Goal: Hailo North America needed to acquire users--specifically "new active users" who had completed a ride.

Hypothesis, problem: Allowing enthusiastic users to invite friends (and earn free rides) would bring in new, high-quality users. 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 and tested a one-month RAF program for a segment of customers. After seeing some success, I 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 engage with the promotion.

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

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

  • Used CRM programs to send personalized announcement emails, A/B testing subject lines, preheaders and promo code amount.


  • Pulled a weekly SQL report to see how many new users had taken a ride using the personal codes, ran another script to reward referrers.

  • Added referrers to a list to receive a weekly drip email letting them know how much credit they earned each week.

  • Used the same report to create a mini-dashboard so that the rest of the marketing team could easily monitor 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 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 of findings to members of other teams.

Result: Thousands of new customers at a predictable cost per new active user.

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