Increase user acquisition through viral loops and social incentives

Dropbox Dropbox refer


Dropbox incentivizes users to refer friends and colleagues by offering additional storage space or other rewards, creating a viral loop that drives new sign-ups and expands the user base.
a screenshot of the refer flow explaining how to Increase user acquisition through viral loops and social incentives

Business Outcome

Lower Customer Acquistion Cost

By leveraging viral loops and social incentives, Dropbox can acquire new users at a lower cost compared to traditional marketing methods. The referral program also helps retain existing users by providing them with additional value for their referrals.

Behavioral Outcome

Feeling of Reciprocity

Users feel they recevied something of value in exchange for spreading the word about Dropbox.

The Behavioral Science


People feel obligated to reciprocate when they receive something of value. By offering rewards to both the referrer and the new user, Dropbox creates a sense of obligation that encourages users to refer others.

Social Proof

People are more likely to adopt a behavior if they see others doing it. By seeing friends or colleagues using Dropbox, potential users perceive the platform as more trustworthy and valuable.

Network Effect

The value of a product or service increases as more people use it. As Dropbox's user base grows through referrals, the platform becomes more valuable for all users, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of growth.

How It Works

Dropbox's referral program, as shown in the screenshot, offers users the opportunity to earn additional storage space by referring friends.

When a user submits their email address, they receive a unique referral link. If a friend signs up using that link, both the referrer and the new user receive extra storage space.

This incentive structure leverages the principles of social proof, reciprocity, and network effects to drive viral growth. Furthermore, the process of sharing with friends is frictionless.

How It Might Backfire

User Experience Degradation

If the referral prompts become too intrusive or disruptive, users may become frustrated, leading to disengagement or abandonment of the platform.

Incentive Abuse

Some users may exploit the referral program solely for the rewards, resulting in low-quality sign-ups or users who quickly churn after receiving their incentives.

How To Test

A/B Testing

Implement different variations of the referral program, such as varying incentive structures or messaging, and measure their impact on referral conversion rates and user engagement.

User Feedback Surveys

Gather qualitative feedback from users to understand their perceptions of the referral program and identify areas for improvement.

Cohort Analysis

Analyze the behavior and retention of users acquired through referrals compared to those acquired through other channels to assess the long-term value of the referral program

Frequently Asked Questions

To enhance a product-led growth (PLG) model using Dropbox's referral tactic, implement a viral loop that incentivizes users to refer friends and colleagues. Offer rewards such as additional storage space or premium features for successful referrals.

This approach leverages the principles of reciprocity and social proof, encouraging existing users to become advocates for your product. By creating a self-reinforcing cycle of growth, you can lower customer acquisition costs and expand your user base organically. Ensure the referral process is frictionless and clearly communicates the benefits to both the referrer and the new user to maximize its effectiveness in your PLG strategy.

To improve conversion rates using Dropbox's referral tactic, implement a social incentive program that encourages users to refer others during key moments in their customer journey. This could include offering rewards for referrals during the onboarding process or after users have experienced significant value from your product.

Focus on creating a sense of reciprocity by offering valuable incentives to both the referrer and the new user. This approach can increase the likelihood of conversions by leveraging social proof and personal recommendations. Additionally, ensure that the referral process is seamless and easy to understand, reducing friction in the conversion funnel. Test different incentive structures and messaging to optimize the program's effectiveness in driving conversions.

To optimize your website using Dropbox's referral tactic, integrate referral prompts and incentives throughout the user journey. Place prominent referral calls-to-action on key pages such as the user dashboard, account settings, or after completing important actions.

Ensure that the referral process is simple and clearly explained, with easy-to-share links or social media integrations. Highlight the benefits of referring friends, such as additional features or storage space, to motivate users to participate. Consider using pop-ups or notification bars to promote the referral program at strategic moments. By incorporating these elements, you can increase user engagement, drive organic growth, and improve overall website performance.

To A/B test Dropbox's referral tactic, create two or more variations of your referral program and compare their performance. For example, test different incentive structures, such as varying amounts of storage space or alternative rewards like premium features.

Implement these variations and randomly assign users to each group. Measure key metrics such as referral conversion rates, the number of successful referrals per user, and the long-term value of referred users. Additionally, analyze user engagement and retention rates for each variation. Complement this quantitative data with user feedback surveys to understand the perceived value and ease of use for each version of the referral program. Use the insights gained from this A/B test to optimize your referral strategy for maximum effectiveness.

Dropbox's referral tactic improves the user experience by creating a sense of reciprocity and providing additional value to users. By offering rewards such as extra storage space for successful referrals, users feel they are receiving something of value in exchange for sharing the product with others.

This approach also leverages the principle of social proof, making users feel more connected to the product as they see friends and colleagues joining. The referral process itself is designed to be frictionless, enhancing the overall user experience. By encouraging users to become advocates for the product, Dropbox creates a more engaged and satisfied user base, leading to improved retention and a more positive perception of the platform.