The Beginner’s Referral Marketing Handbook

Getting referrals is one of the best ways to generate high-quality leads. Companies spend thousands, and even millions of dollars to find new customers. They’re looking at different KPIs like the cost of customer acquisition, conversion rates, retargeting, etc. to find out the best ways to grow their audience says Ross Kernez of Marble. Most marketing experts know, though, that customer referral is the ace in the hole when it comes to customer acquisition.

The average consumer spends all day looking at ads. So many, that it becomes almost background noise. The number of ads online and in the physical world is so large that it makes standing out harder than ever. After all, how do you get someone to notice your advertising when you’re the 500th ad they’ve seen that day? It’s certainly a challenge.

Conversion rates with referral marketing much higher. Why? Because referrals have an existing customer who shepherds them through the first stages of the sales process. They help them overcome any fear of the unknown and the information is coming from a trusted source.

Harnessing the power of referral marketing can help your organization succeed. Here’s how you can start getting more referrals starting today.

Focus on the Customer Experience

First and foremost, your customer experience needs to be on point. When was the last time you rushed to tell your friends about the “OK” purchase experience you had? There is something to be said about competing on price to the point where the experience doesn’t matter as much, but, in general, things like speed, quality, and customer service matter.

Delighting your customers will make them more inclined to share their experiences and want their friends and family to have the same experience. Make your processes as close to perfect as possible before you start worrying about referrals.

A delightful customer experience isn’t only about the purchase. Did you send a thank you email after the purchase? Are you continuing to engage with them in the months after they’ve purchased your products?

Incentivize Your Customers

People love doing things or making referrals when something’s in it for them. That’s why you see so many companies that offer discounts or bonuses for people who bring in a certain number of referrals. Take a look at what motivates your most prolific customers to buy. Is there a way you can reward them in that same vein so they’re more likely to refer friends and family?

Build a Brand Community

People everywhere are looking for a community, and it’s easier for your customers to recommend your company when there’s something more than just a product on a sales page. Building a community can even strengthen your customers’ relationships with the people they refer to.

Depending on what industry you’re in, there are some easy things you can do to create a community. Here are some ideas:

  • Host in-person and virtual events
  • Create a forum on your site where people can participate
  • Maintain active social media profiles
  • Publish high-quality video content

These make referring friends, colleagues, and families easier for your customers. They have things on hand to share that they can be proud of.

Make Referral Marketing Easy

Making an actual referral should be quick and easy for your customers. Don’t ask them to fill out lengthy forms just to get 10% off their next purchase. Make your forms short, and as informal as possible.

If you’re selling something that requires more a personal sales relationship, don’t overlook simply asking for an introduction. Hopefully, by that point, you’ll have some sort of relationship with your customer. That will make them feel comfortable giving you someone’s information or hosting a quick meet and greet. Make it easy on them by doing the work to look through their LinkedIn network or on Facebook to find specific people you want to meet.

The Post-Referral Plan

The most effective marketers have a concrete plan in place for what to do once they’ve received a referral. How are you going to engage with them and move them further along the sales cycle? It’s crucial to recognize that referrals are not the same as a run of the mill inbound lead. These need to be treated with extra care because if you screw things up there’s a chance, you’ll ruin the relationship you have with your existing customer. At the very least you can kiss any future referrals from them goodbye.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming referrals are easy sales. If anything, you should put in extra work to show appreciation for the faith your customer has placed in you. Delight your referrals with the same dedication you show to your oldest clients.

One of the best ways to handle referrals is by engaging the person referring to the sales process as much as they feel comfortable. That shows how much you value them as a client and makes things easier on the person you’re now marketing to.

Track Your Results

You should be hitting your referral conversion rates out of the park. If not, then you need to analyze what’s going on. If you’re struggling, consider asking for outside help to look at your sales process and where you can make improvements to improve referral rates. Getting referrals right often makes the difference for small and medium-sized businesses. Track your performance and continually refine how you handle referrals for the best possible results. Small changes can trigger a big swing in how your referrals perform.

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