Not Boring In-App Referrals

Dear Readers,

I’m a senior growth designer with a B2C case study about in-app referrals that I hope inspires you to go beyond the boring. Referral programs are pretty same-same — “share your link with a friend and we each get $10”… or something. Yeah, we get it.

Last year, a creative referrals design concept that I led helped Sweatcoin become the world's most downloaded Health & Fitness App in Apple’s App Store.

~ Kristina


Sweatcoin, a fitness app that rewards users for walking, wanted to boost viral growth but its current referral strategy wasn't cutting it. Paid ads were too expensive and user retention was low. They needed a way to get users excited about inviting their friends.


Enter the "Scratch The Prize" referral feature. The concept was simple: users shared their unique link with friends and each friend registration gave them a chance to scratch the card and reveal their prize. This in-app mechanic was not only was it more fun than just sending a plain invite, but it also helped Sweatcoin control its customer acquisition costs (CAC). Plus, influencers loved promoting it to their followers.

So, how'd we make it happen? We:

  • Researched other apps and their referral features
  • Created wireframes for the "Scratch The Prize" feature
  • Got feedback from users and made changes based on that feedback
  • Designed the final version of the feature
  • Tested it and released it to the public


This referral feature was a game-changer. Users loved scratching off the virtual tickets and the rewards motivated them to invite their friends. Plus, Sweatcoin was able to keep its CAC low (more accurate, 200x cheaper and 50% higher retention than ads).

Influencers loved promoting it to their followers. They finally had something to offer to their followers.

In 2022, we saw 20 million new users join the party thanks to our referral features, the "Scratch The Prize" one being a major player. That's a solid 30% of our total new registrations.

Concluding thoughts

Referral programs are worthy of redesign. Referrals don’t deliver B2C growth in isolation and work in coordination with paid advertising and influencer marketing.

About the author

Kristina Volchek is a senior growth designer and UX/UI design mentor with a marketing background. She teaches and coaches others on product design. Checkout her newsletter Designers Coffee.