What is the quickest way to more traffic and sales? The answer is in referral marketing. This is a form of marketing that encourages customers and website visitors to refer other people to the website. It utilizes the power of networks and close relationships. Instead of promoting a website manually, you set up a referral program that allows other people to promote your website for you. This is a very effective way to get new leads and sales without doing all of the promotion work.
Referral marketing is effective because it is based on the power of trust. When your prospects promote your business through referral marketing, they promote it to people that they have a close relationship with. These are people that already know them and trust them for their recommendations. The result is that they get to influence these people to take action.
Referral vs. Affiliate Marketing
Referral marketing is often confused with affiliate marketing. Maybe this is because both constitute other people promoting the business. The difference between affiliate and referral marketing from each other is the relationship of the referral to the referrer. In referral marketing, the relationship is very close. This means that the chance for conversions is higher. Affiliate marketing doesn’t include close relationships. Instead, it is asking the help of a marketer to promote the business for you for a fixed commission.
How to Create a Referral Program
So you have decided to use referral marketing for your business. That’s great! In this section, you’ll learn how to jump-start your referral program with these marketing strategies.
Use a Trusted Referral Software
It is impossible to create a decent program from scratch. If you have tried that, you’ll find that it is all too time-consuming. It is a far better use of your time to use referral software. This will allow you to have a referral program up and running with a few clicks of a button. The other reason why referral software solutions are great is the sign-up and tracking system. With it, you can have a registration page where you can accept signups and their performance will instantly be tracked in the system. This will allow you to pay your commissions with a click of a button easily.
For referral software, it is important only to use a trusted one. It is a good habit to read reviews before deciding on investing in referral software.
Start With Your Network
One of the hardest things about launching your referral program is getting the first few signups. But you can get the ball rolling if you start with your network. This can be your family and friends. And if you are a business with employees, you can start with that. You don’t need to look outside for the first few sign ups to your page. You can ask your employees to do this. This is great because it instantly promotes your brand to your employees’ inner circle. This will boost your referral program right from the start.
Make It Easy to Share
One of the problems with referral programs is that they have a dedicated page for referrals but it is not easy to share. Because of this, it is very important to create a page that has some social media sharing buttons. This will make it easier for your prospects to share your page and gain referrals.
NOTE: if the sharing buttons are not built within your referral software, you should look for a way to edit the page so that you can include this. As mentioned, opening your page for social media sharing is very important.
Pre-launch Your Referral Program
It is important to treat your referral program as a new product. You’ll want to build excitement before launching it. You can do this by sending a series of emails to your existing customers stating that you’ll be giving away a reward soon. If the reward is enticing, you can expect that your customers will be waiting for your referral program to launch. When you do this, you are building the excitement of your audience. If you do that, you’ll already have people waiting to join your program even before you launch it.
Use the Power of Influencers
Want a quick way to boost your referral program? One of the easiest ways to do this is to enlist the help of influencers. Influencers are called as such because of their impact on their audience. They are more than mere content creators. Instead, their views and opinions can push people to take or not to take action. This power is what you want to utilize in your referral marketing. You’ll need influencers who will back you up as you promote your referral program to your prospects.
PRO TIP: Did you know that you can also enlist an influencer as your referrer? When you do this, you have the option to reward them for their efforts. You can even set up special rewards for influencers who manage to refer new people to your website. It all depends on your negotiation with them.
ANOTHER PRO TIP: You can also sweeten the deal by making your offer unique. You can do this by asking an influencer to collaborate or by hosting a contest. This will make things interesting for the influencer giving you a higher chance to work with them.
Work with Other Businesses
Another way to have instant access to instant referrals is by working with other businesses. I am not saying that you should work with competitors. That is quite hard to do. Instead, it is recommended to work with related businesses instead. What constitutes a ‘related’ business? These are businesses that have the same target market as you but you are not selling similar products. Take wedding invitations for example. They have the same target market as wedding cakes but the product is different. Ideally, you’ll want to work with businesses with the same target market but offer different products or services.
The great thing about this strategy is that you can also enlist them as your referrer. This will allow them to have access to rewards as they refer more people to your website.
PRO TIP: Again, you have the option to give special rewards to other business owners when they promote you. This will encourage them to promote your business to their prospects. You can set up a separate referral program for business owners. This will have a different set of rewards but the form is the same.
Join a Referral Marketing Network
If you are having a hard time to promote your business alone, you can join a referral marketing network. This is where businesses go to promote their referral programs. It is a great place to find people who are looking for rewards-based offers that they can sign up for.
The only downside of this option is the competition. Unless your offer is better than the competition, you’ll have a hard time standing out.
Offer a Variety of Rewards
It is also an excellent habit to offer varied rewards. It is common for referral programs to have one type of reward. While this is okay, it dismisses the fact that every person is different. Every customer has a different set of needs. By having varied rewards, you have more chances of convincing a customer to promote you. This goes to show how being sensitive to the needs of the customers goes a long way. They will pay you tenfold by referring you to their family and friends. These are people who have a higher chance of conversion since they have a close relationship with the customer.
Have a Shareable Product
Some business owners will argue that shareability depends on the product. If you have a product that is useful and unique, it will inevitably get shares. But it is not about having a unique product. It is how you market the product that matters.
You may have a simple product. If you market it in a way that shows how useful it is to the customer and how their lives will become better because of it, then it’s shareable. Of course, it is quicker if you have a unique product, to begin with. But if you are a starting e-commerce website owner. You can always package or market your product in a shareable way.
Improve Your Customer Service
Another area that convinces customers to promote a business is customer service. Sometimes, the product is simple. But if you couple this with customer service that goes another mile, you have a winner. You see, your customers want to be treated well. If you have a customer service system where you not only meet the customer needs but go beyond it, you’ll surely get referrals.
Funnel Your Customers to Your Referral Program
Often, customers don’t know that your referral program exists. Even if you did the basics and put it in your homepage, announcement bar and emails, you’ll still find that customers will still miss it. The workaround is to show the referral program right when the customer is about to check out. This way, the customer will be informed that they can get a reward or discount if they refer to people before they continue their purchase. This works well for discount code rewards because it gives the customer a chance to buy an item at a discounted price before they checkout.
Try Promoting Your Referral Program Offline
Promoting your referral program online has its limits. While it is easy to promote your program online, it is far more effective when you do it offline. Think about it. When you promote your referral program online, you usually inform people about it. From here, they have the option to sign up to your program. However, some people love to procrastinate on this and end up forgetting to sign up because they are distracted.
Promoting your referral program offline is different. When you do this, you talk to the customer and you ask them to refer to other people right in front of you. You can do this by asking them to fill a form or by asking them to sign up to your referral program through your laptop. When you do this, you get them to sign up right away so that they can get a discount.
PRO TIP: Did you know that you can also promote your referral program in events and meetups? By doing this, you can encourage people to sign up to your referral program and refer people face-to-face. It is easier to convince people to sign up when they are right in front of you.
Look at What Successful Brands are Doing
It is very essential to look at what successful brands are doing when it comes to referral marketing. Referral marketing, after all, is the secret to the success of the biggest brands online. Websites like PayPal, Uber and Airbnb have grown because of referral marketing. So it is essential to know what they are doing so that you can do the same.
To do this, you have to take a closer look at their referral program. Take Best Hunting Bow Labs for example. They have a referral marketing strategy that is worth learning. Some brands even go to the extent of providing e-commerce podcasts so they can educate their customers on referral programs.
Another area that is worth examining is the structure of the website. There are Shopify affiliate apps that can help you create your referral program. It is essential to explore these apps so that you can find the one that is right for you and your business.
Time to Start
As you can see, launching a referral program is kind of exciting. It is more than the traditional marketing that you are used to. Instead, you address your customers’ needs by giving them what they want in exchange for a referral. Referral marketing is a powerful method. If done well, it can boost a brand new website to success in a matter of days.