Dropbox- Master of Referral Marketing

The Dropbox Growth Hack 

Today, when we look at Dropbox it’s difficult to remember that the cloud file sharing and storage giant was once a startup. Present-day the business has 500million users and a valuation of $10billion. Up against Google drive during its launch phase back in 2007, how did Dropbox establish themselves and gain an astounding 3.9 million users in 15 months? 

 The Dropbox user base grew by 3900% in 15 months

Referral Marketing

Dropbox implement a simple and incredibly effective referral marketing strategy. Referral marketing is defined as a “word-of-mouth initiative that entices existing customers to attract friends, family members, and business contacts to become new customers.” This strategy incentivises users to spread word about the service and for Dropbox, it proved to be much more effective than traditional ads. 35% of Dropbox’s sign ups come from their referral program. The program is one of the prime examples of referral marketing done right but what is so right about it?

Double Sided Offer

Dropbox Logo SmallDropbox employ a double- sided referral offer which incentivizes and rewards both parties involved. 500MB of free space is awarded to the refereer and the referee, once the latter have signed up. The referees can then send invites and receive even more free space by repeating the process. The reward provided makes it worthwhile and therefore, users are much more likely to pass on the referrals. This recurring process allows the business to continue to grow their user base. Clearly the scheme was well received as a single month in 2010 saw Dropbox users send 2.8million direct referral invites.

Users can repeat the referral process 32 times and earn up to 16GB of free space

Using Dropbox Resources

Using resources already acquired is one of the brilliant things about this referral marketing strategy. The company provide these incentives and valuable rewards simply using their resources. Thus, there is no need to pay out cash rewards or coupons. Providing free space is making use of the system they already have. The importance of using your own resources is evident in the fact that this referral program is still in operation 10 years on. Offering cash is not a sustainable option and can leave the company in question out of pocket.

Easy and Convenient

The Dropbox referral process is easy and convenient. Users have 7 simple sign up tasks to complete before they are onboard and, the referral program is embedded into this process as the final step. Users are able start sending referrals and receiving rewards immediately. In addition, the company also incorporates social sharing options. Dropbox will send referral invites to your Facebook friends once you log in with your account details. Similarly, signing into your Gmail also gives you quick and easy access to your contacts allowing you to pass on referral invites effortlessly.

Dropbox- More ways to invite your friends

More Free Space? 

If you’re reading this and thinking about creating fake email accounts and using them to cheat the referral system, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Dropbox avoids any ghost users by only releasing the rewards if the Dropbox client has been installed on a unique computer. And nope, your mobile or tablet won’t work either since the device must be a computer.  The good news is they do provide some other ways to grab yourself some free space. Completing tasks from the “get started” page, such as taking the tour and sharing a folder with friends and colleagues can earn you up to 250MB of free space. Furthermore, contributing to the Dropbox community by helping others to resolve problems can score you an additional 500MB. Of course, if you really want space you can always just buy it but then again “FREE ” just sounds oh, so good!


Barry Berman, Referral marketing: “Harnessing the power of your customers.”