Implementing a referral program is essential for every company; it turns happy customers into brand advocates and encourages any business. With 74% of consumers recognizing word-of-mouth as a key influencer in buying decisions and 92% of people ages 18 to 34 saying that they seek suggestions from friends and family before making a purchase, referral marketing is an integral part of today’s marketplace – and one that can generate impressive results if the right tactics are utilized.
What is Referral Marketing?
Referral marketing involves referring a product or service they like to their friends and family. It functions because customers trust the recommendations of real people far more than they do those of the brands themselves. The most typical type of referral marketing is when a business’s existing customers spread the word about a favored product or service.
Word of mouth marketing, where individuals share the news about a business, for instance, on their social sites, is also deemed part of referral marketing. The main distinction between referral and word-of-mouth marketing is that referral marketing is more “planned.” A business intentionally initiates a referral marketing campaign. Companies engaging in referral marketing purposefully encourage their customers to inform their friends about the company. Word of mouth marketing can be more intuitive, usually being started by happy customers rather than any conscious attempt by the brand.
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Let’s move forward and look at referral program best practices and understand them.
9 referral program best practices you should implement.
There are a few practices that every business owner or marketer should apply to run a successful referral program. Here are the top 9 referral program best practices to consider:
1. Remember Anyone Can Be an Advocate
We usually believe that only happy customers can be advocates, but that’s not true. An advocate can be anyone who refers your brand: a potential customer who had a favorable experience can also refer it to a friend, even if he is not an ideal fit for your product. Another instance is your family and friends, they may not require your product, but they know your brand and can think about somebody who requires it and get a reward. If you don’t know how to do that, you can learn how to ask for referrals.
2. Make sharing easy
Make sure that your referral program is easy to share as it will allow people to share it with their friends. Since every referral can turn out to be a new customer, it’s important to make the referral process as straightforward as possible. Here are some ways to ensure that your referral program is effortless for your customers:
- Offer them multiple options to share on the platforms they use most, like Facebook, Instagram, SMS, and email.
- Design easy-to-share referral links that customers can instantly copy and paste.
- Optimize your referral program for mobile so people can quickly share it.
3. Use Push Notifications Strategically
Push Notifications are a powerful marketing tool. According to experts, people read push notifications 97% of the time, that too within four minutes. When you own a mobile app that lets you send push notifications, you can make a unique communication channel to boost your brand, thus making it one of the referral marketing best practices.
4. Be Creative With Your Rewards
You can be innovative and creative if you offer various rewards such as bank transfers, PayPal, virtual debit cards, and Gift Card. The more options you present, the more chances you have to please your customers and get more referrals!
Presenting rewards for different stages of the sales funnel has demonstrated to be effective, so think about rewarding various amounts for qualified leads, deals, and additional efforts (get a bonus reward while referring 3 or more friends, or connect bonus with a time appeal: refer 3 friends today to earn more).
5. Don’t forget to show gratitude to your customers.
While giving referral rewards, it’s important to allow your customers to know you appreciate them. If someone sends you a new referral, make sure to say thank you. After all, they’re supporting you to grow your customer base and contributing to your business success!
Referral programs are a wonderful way to find your most loyal customers – those who value your brand — so leverage this opportunity to build a long-term relationship with these customers. Even a small message of thanks goes a long way in staying connected with your customers. Plus, it may encourage them to refer again.
6. Act quickly to engage customers
With the average person’s attention span being a scant eight seconds, it’s best to show engaged customers an incentive for referring a friend as fast as possible. Look for times when advertising your referral program will make the impact most.
For instance, you can send an email right after someone buys something(when they’re highly engaged), asking them to refer a friend in exchange for an appealing reward. Or, even faster, you can launch a referral program pop-up instantly after the customer checks out.
Suppose you share surveys or questionnaires with your customers and recognize some critical customers as prime promoters. In that case, you can also instantly invite them to participate in your refer-a-friend program.
7. Don’t be shy to follow up.
We always get reminders for appointments, meetings, scheduled deliveries, and more. So, following up with customers who are interested in the referral program is not a bad idea. Some may have already signed up for the referral program, but they might forget about it. So, send them a quick reminder and remind them about the program and its rewards.
Moreover, your follow-up message should be simple; for instance, “Hope you’re enjoying our referral program” or “We’re keen to meet your friends” can be sufficient to remind them to refer their friends. And if a customer has referred a friend, but the friend still appears on the fence about buying from you, you could follow up with the friend and remind them of any reward their peers sent through the referral program.
8. Check out what your competition is doing.
It never hurts to be a bit competitive and do some research. You may have to look at your competitor’s strategy to see how their products and services fare against yours. Once you are done doing that, try to apply the same with your referral program.
In addition, check out some of the most popular referral programs in your niche, note what you like and don’t like, and use this information to prepare your refer-a-friend program. If a specific program or reward structure functions for them, it may work for you. On the other hand, if you see any loopholes in their program, you can also utilize them. Looking at the existing programs being presented is a good way to get an edge in creating the most effective referral program for your business.
9. Use customer referral program software.
It is one of the referral program best practices as software’s are developed to make your life easier. The right software tools can make word-of-mouth marketing more effortless, too!
Referral marketing software enables you to track the number of referrals coming in, track who these referrals are coming from, and help you disperse rewards.
The software can automatically generate referral links that make it simpler for customers to share your program across email and social media and send automated reminders to their friends if and when required. The automation makes sharing just a click away, while tracking permits you to refine your referral program.
Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tactic. Customers are probably already talking about you if you offer a great product, stellar service, and excellent support. Building a referral program will allow you to harness this word of mouth to efficiently generate new customers. Consider your customers, the reward, and how you advertise. These are your pivotal players while designing a top-notch referral program.
Following the referral program best practices we summarized above will make it effortless for your customers to refer and set your program up for success. Ensure you reward your customers for referring their friends, upgrade your program, and make it efficient for customers to refer their friends.