What is a Referral Code and How to Use It in a Referral Campaign?

In a growing and highly demanding industry like iGaming, keeping your online casino, sportsbook or poker room in a privileged position, where players keep choosing it, is a real challenge. The constant increase in competition forces iGaming companies to look for the best strategies to attract and retain new players. 

Although new tools and ways of marketing are constantly emerging, referral campaigns are still considered one of the most effective strategies. In digital marketing, they are now known as referral programs, which rely on a core referral code.

If you are looking for an iGaming marketing strategy that can boost your business effectively, we will explain a referral code, how to use it, and how to apply it to your online business.

What is a Referral Code?

A referral code is basically a unique combination of characters or words that allows the referrer to refer new clients to a company. In the case of iGaming, these clients are players of online casinos, sports betting and poker sites. Referral codes are a mechanic that powers referral programs.

Referral codes serve as a tracking mechanism to identify the source of the referral, allowing the company to reward the referrer accordingly. Think of it as a digital handshake that connects the referrer and the referred, ensuring that the referrer gets recognition for their contribution.

In short, a referral program is a player acquisition technique based on a referral from a trusted site. According to a survey by Semrush, 90% of people are more inclined to trust a brand recommended by others, even by strangers. 

When deciding what Netflix series to watch, which pair of trainers are most comfortable, or where to go for a good pizza, you are most likely to ask someone you know, search for references in Google, look through reviews, etc. Whatever good and trustable result you find, you will likely add it to the top of your list of options. 

The main objectives of a referral program are: 

  • Get more clients 
  • Build trust 
  • Increase revenue

The goal is to attract new players by giving them a gift that motivates them and generates a positive sentiment towards the brand. In a referral program, every party wins, the company gets new clients, the referrer (affiliate in our case) generates more traffic and earns a commission, and players get rewards. 

Types of Referral Program Codes

Referral programs are adapted to the needs of each company, to the means that are most convenient for them, such as the web, software, or social networks. Within different types of referral programs, referral codes can come in various forms, and understanding their differences will help your company tailor a referral program to meet specific objectives.

Referral Links

One of the two most commonly used referral code types is referral links. These are unique URLs generated for referrers to share with prospective clients. They contain a referral URL plus a user’s unique code for tracking purposes. The link can be shared via any channel, such as email, social media, etc. The referrer gets rewarded when a new user clicks on the referral link and performs an action.

The main advantage is that the link, being clickable, simplifies the process; the referrer shares it, and users only need to click on it to activate the referral code.

Bonus Code

On the other hand, bonus codes are alphanumeric or word combinations that users can enter manually during registration or checkout. The code associates them with a specific referrer without clicking on a referral link. Bonus codes are beneficial when a user prefers not to use a link but still wishes to benefit from a referral program.

The fact that it is not clickable is a disadvantage, as it adds an extra step to the process but allows for offline sharing. The codes are usually simple and easy to share at any time. This feature makes them the most widely used in the iGaming industry. Why? iGaming markets in different countries often have specific restrictions regarding advertising to attract new players. 

Bonus codes allow offline sharing because of their simplicity, favouring the famous “word of mouth” and expanding the reach of the referral campaign among people. The situation would be more difficult if it were a referral link.

Bonus codes are shared with affiliates and relate to specific online casinos or sportsbook bonuses. This bonus is the reward a player gets by applying the code while opening an account or placing a bet, depending on the bonus Terms and Conditions (T&Cs). A bonus is usually a cash amount to play or a wager credited to the user’s balance.

What characteristics must a referral bonus code have?

  • Only work once for each player.
  • Be easy to write, remember, or copy.
  • Be unique for each affiliate.
  • Connect to a bonus.

QR Code

QR codes in referral programs are also becoming popular for different businesses. It is a two-dimensional barcode that can store various types of information, such as text, URLs, contact details, or other data. When using QR codes in referral programs, they have a referral code that affiliates share so users can benefit from scanning it.

The QR code has the advantage of being the easiest and fastest to share on mobile devices. 

Referral Code Examples

Since their first appearance in the marketing world, referral programs have been the protagonists of successful referral campaigns in small and large companies. The most resounding and famous cases are those of PayPal, one of the first companies to do so, and Airbnb, one of the most famous.

Here are some examples of companies that have used different referral codes in their referral campaigns to attract new clients and build customer loyalty.

Dropbox, the file-hosting service giant, grew by 3,900% by implementing a simple referral program. While the campaign was simple, the message used to promote it was the key factor in its success.

The company gives each user a certain amount of data storage capacity in the cloud. Still, this referral campaign allows its users to get more space through a referral link. For each referral, Dropbox rewards the user with an extra 500MB of space.

WorldRemit is one of the most important apps for transferring money online. The company has an ongoing referral program for its users. The special thing about WorldRemit’s referral program is that both the users and the referrer are rewarded.

Users who meet the eligibility criteria receive a unique referral code to share with acquaintances. When the referred person opens an account using the shared code and makes the first deposit, both receive a reward.

Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange company, is among the well-known businesses that use referral codes to attract new users daily. Binance offers two types of referral programs: Lite Referral and Standard Referral. 

Both have the same mechanism: the user gets a unique link to share. Then, once the people with whom the link is shared open an account and make a deposit, the referrer receives their reward in the form of money, percentage of trades, or other options.

Online Casinos and Sportsbooks. There are two ways to run referral campaigns in iGaming: with user codes or affiliates.

For example, the referral code rewards players with bonus money. The way it works is similar across all bookmakers and online casinos. Each user has a personal and unique referral code that they can share with friends, family members, acquaintances or anyone else they can think of.

Your betting account will typically have a unique reference number or code you can share with others. When they first register, deposit and place a bet, both you and the new user may receive bonus bets.

The second is using affiliates – partners who register with a partner or referral program with the sole purpose of promotion. This is where software like Affilka steps in.

A specific code linked to a casino or bookmaker bonus is generated for each affiliate. Affiliates share this code with their players, enabling them to claim gifts. This method streamlines the campaign, as Affilka manages tracking through its specialised system.

How Does a Referral Code Work?

As mentioned above, the referral code is part of the referral program. The first step, to begin with, is to create a referral code. The best way to do this, as demonstrated by Affilka, is to generate a unique code per affiliate.

You must have already defined your referral campaign when creating a referral code. By this, we mean the definition of the clients you are looking for, the choice of the reward to be given out to them, the design of the referral process, the message and the communication strategy. 

Affiliates share the code on their sites, on online casino review lists, in online streams, in email blasts, with SMS messages or even offline. Finally, tracking software should be used to track and analyse the efficiency of each referral code and, therefore, each partner.

If you have completed all the above steps and created a referral code, then the way it works is simple:

  1. First, referrers share their unique referral codes, either in the form of a referral link or a referral code, with friends, family or an online audience.
  2. A potential client receives the referral code and decides to take action, such as making a purchase, registering or using a service.
  3. When the referral code is used, it triggers a tracking system that identifies the referrer and the referred client.
  4. The company then rewards the referrer, often with incentives such as discounts, cash rewards or other benefits.

Benefits of Using Referral Codes

Implementing a referral program to grow your business is an idea that will undoubtedly bring benefits. In recent years, referral code campaigns have become so valuable that major companies across industries use them as part of their marketing strategies. If you are still wondering about the benefits of using referral codes for your business, here are some of the most important:

  • Get More Clients. Referral codes are among the best options when considering the cost-benefit equation for player acquisition. They leverage the trust of existing clients and friends, facilitating potential user conversion. 
  • Client Retention. Referral codes bring in new clients and help retain the existing audience. When clients are rewarded for referrals, they are more likely to stay engaged with your brand, evolving into brand ambassadors.
  • Targeted Marketing. Referral codes allow you to target specific client segments. This targeted approach helps you reach potential clients more likely to be interested in your company’s products or services.
  • Measurable Results. Importantly, referral programs provide data and analytics that help you track the success of your campaign. You can monitor how many referrals are generated, conversion rates and rewards given.
  • Build a Positive Image. Referral campaigns are based on recommendations between users. A successful campaign fosters a positive perception, ultimately increasing trust in your products and services.

How to Start Using Referral Codes

If you have reached this section of the article, we can assume that you are interested in implementing your own referral program campaign. If you want to acquire and retain players, here’s how to start.

How to Run a Referral Code Campaign

Referral programs using referral codes cover the entire campaign process, from identifying the targets to utilising performance tracking technologies. Here is a step-by-step guide on implementing a referral code campaign:

  • Identify Your Goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your referral program. Is it client acquisition, increased sales, client loyalty or brand awareness?
  • Establish Rewards: This will be your only investment to run your referral campaign. Decide on the incentives you will offer to referrers and referrals. These may include discounts, cash rewards, free products, or other benefits.
  • Create a Unique Referral Code: Generate unique codes for your customers. These codes can be customised or automatically generated by your system. Remember that you can choose between links, referral codes, or QR codes.
  • Promote Your Referral Programme: The success and virality of a referral program hinge on effective communication. Creativity is key in deciding how to communicate it, through which channels, and what message to convey. This can range from sending newsletters to clients, collaborating with influencers, sending push messages to users, and displaying banners on the website. Even for bonus codes, exploring offline promotional strategies is worth considering.
  • Monitor and Analyse: Tracking the referral codes will show the campaign’s reach and the total number of referrals each referrer has attracted. Tracking and analysis are essential because they will detect if changes need to be made to improve the campaign’s performance. This can be done manually or with software designed for tracking, such as affiliate tracking software. In the case of manual monitoring, tools such as Google Analytics and UTM parameters will help you get a better count of referrals.  

How to Create a Referral Code

Creating a referral code is quite simple. The tool you will use to create a referral code depends on the scale of your referral campaign. If you are a small business, codes can be made manually or with free online tools. In the case of a campaign where thousands of codes will be generated, it is best to rely on software that ensures that they are all unique. Once it is ready, users can share their codes.


Now that you understand what a referral code is, it is worth considering integrating a referral program into your business marketing strategy. It is often a more cost-effective option for attracting and retaining clients compared to paid ads or social media. The best marketing strategies are based on trust, and referrals demonstrate it best.


What is a bonus code in iGaming?

A bonus code is a unique identifier issued by partners to players. When players enter a bonus code during registration at an online casino, sports betting, or poker site, it links them to the specific affiliate. This is particularly useful when affiliates cannot use referral links and instead refer players via these designated codes. In return, players typically receive a sign-up bonus on their iGaming brand, while affiliates earn a commission.

Can I create a free referral code with Affilka?

Referral codes in Affilka are called vouchers. Vouchers are generally created free of charge. It’s up to the iGaming brand’s manager to configure a registration-tied bonus on the site. This bonus can then be tied to a bonus code and issued to a specific affiliate or group of affiliates in Affilka’s back office.

Who earns when a code is activated?

Using Affilka’s tool to run an affiliate campaign benefits all parties involved. The campaign’s success will drive more players to the operator’s site. Affiliate sites will get more traffic and improve their affiliate relationship. For their part, the players who use the code will earn money to bet and play.

What rewards does the referral code usually offer?

In iGaming, online casinos and bookmakers often reward players with sign-up bonuses, first deposit bonuses, and bonus money to incentivise them to play. It is up to the betting site’s operator to decide the bonus amount based on their calculations.