The Referral Program That Grew Dropbox's User Base By 3,900%
Back in 2008, Dropbox was still a new startup with 100K users. Less than 1.5 years later, their user base grew to over 4 million. Here’s how they did it.
Before we get to the referral program, you might be wondering, how did they even get to the first 100k?
Before online file sharing was a thing, files were transferred from one device to another using thumb drives. While this wasn’t an issue for most people, it definitely was annoying for programmers who had to share files with each other all the time. This drove Drew Houston to start DropBox.
Since he knew that file sharing was a pain point for developers, he focused on attracting users through tech forums like Hacker News and Digg. The private beta launch video got over 12,000 diggs(upvotes) bringing in over 75,000 users!
Ok, now back to why Dropbox’s referral campaign worked:
Clear messaging and 2-sided rewards: many referral programs don’t pan out because they only incentivize the referrer, others have complicated reward schemes. Dropbox had a straightforward message: refer a friend and you both get an extra 500 MB of storage(up to 16 GB).
The invitation process was as easy as they come: Whether you believe the three-click rule or not, you have to agree that the fewer the clicks the better. Dropbox made the invitation process part of the onboarding and assigned each user a unique link to share. To make it even more convenient, they allowed users to sync their email contacts and invite them all at once.
Users could track their referral status: Dropbox included a dashboard that allowed users to check how many friends successfully registered and the total space they earned.
The team built an impeccable product: to quote Drew: “Fortunately, we spent all our effort on making an elegant, simple product that “just works” and making users happy.“
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