How this brand makes $4.8m from referral rewards ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ’ฉ

A few months ago I reviewed Trends, a digital subscription service that provides business related articles. Trendsโ€™ main USP is providing entrepreneurs with new business or product ideas based on data, which in my review I concluded that it did rather poorly.

I concluded that the $300 annual price of Trends was absolutely insane, especially when you compare it to a magazine like Courier which costs only ยฃ36 and features much better industry analysis.

Okay… So how has Trends got 16,000 subscribers? ๐Ÿค”

The first time I heard about Trends was because its Facebook ads harassed me for months on end. The second way (and ultimately why I gave the platform a go) was through their affiliate programme, which recruits some relatively big influencers within the business and finance YouTube niche.

I don’t have their customer acquisition breakdown, but I would take an educated guess and say a key part of their growth came when they began the affiliate programme, as it does provide decent social proof for the subscription service.

Trends pays $100 per referral. That’s the big bucks in terms of affiliate opportunities.

By making the reward so great, Trends is able to recruit serious players such as influencers, whose advice is trusted by thousands of individuals. It’s a short sighted play by the influencers – as their audience will probably be very disappointed by the quality of Trends – but 1,000 signups could result in a $100k payday.

What kind of brands could also utilise this affiliate reward concept? ๐Ÿ’ธ

Trends isn’t a bad concept, but the execution is awful. It’s subscription service has two components; the articles/content, the community. You could build a community around any business niche or topic, and then introduce a “pay to join” element later on (allowing original members to stay for free). Then you just make the referral reward very high (let’s say $100), but get people to pay the annual fee upon joining which pays the referrer.

A good community to apply this model to would be credit cards or “credit card hacks”, as there’s genuine financial benefits to the knowledge and the community aspect could be good for networking. Hopefully friend-of-the-blog Brian Jung is cooking something up along these lines.

Here’s some other businesses that could utilise this growth strategy:

  • Digital products:
    • Paid newsletters
    • Software
    • Dating sites
    • Movie/TV streaming sites
  • Labour services:
    • Tradesmen (builders, plumbers, landscapers, etc)
    • Interior designers & architects
    • Mechanics & valeters
    • Dog walkers

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