What triggers a referral?

There are two scenarios you can choose from in which to trigger a successful referral. You can configure this in the Installation step of the Campaign Editor.

NOTE: Unless you are using the REST API, in both scenarios, a website visitor will need to visit your site using a participant's referral link (e.g, https://yourwebsite.com?grsf=participant_unique_id -- notice the grsf URL parameter that contains the participant's unique ID).

1. Signup Event

When a person submits their email on your site, a successful referral is triggered. (This is the basic method, that requires no code if you have an existing form on your website. Otherwise, the JavaScript Web API or REST API can be used).

  • Example #1: Website visitor signs up on your website or makes a purchase (i.e, a scenario where it is possible to capture their email).
  • Example #2: Dropbox's referral program ("For every friend you refer, you’ll both receive an extra 250MB in cloud storage.")

2. Custom Event

When a person submits their email on your site, then completes a goal-based action anytime afterwards (can happen in a future session), a successful referral is triggered. (This is an advanced method that requires that you use our JavaScript Web API or REST API. Or for a no-code solution, you can manually trigger referrals from your dashboard).

  • Example #1: Website visitor registers on your site then upgrades to a paid plan later
  • Example #2: Airbnb's referral program ("Send a friend $40 in Airbnb credit. You’ll get $20 when they travel and $75 when they host.")

How a referral credit window affects triggering a referral:

Depending on the referral credit window you set in the Options step of the Campaign Editor, the website visitor can return to your website [without using their referrer's unique link], and once they perform one of the two triggers above, the referrer will still receive referral credit.


NOTE: A referral is not the same as an impression. An impression is a pageview of a participant's unique share link. For example, if a website visitor visits a participant's unique share link, this will count as one impression for the participant. To learn more, see When someone visits their friend's shareable link why doesn't that trigger a referral?

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