Referral marketing is a new twist on word of mouth marketing – one of the oldest and most effective means of promoting practically any type of product or service. According to a recent study of small business owners conducted by Verizon and Small Business Trends, 85 percent of small businesses credit word of mouth as the number one method of attracting new customers.
With a well-crafted referral strategy, you can dramatically increase the volume and quality of referral leads for your business – usually with no more than a modest out-of-pocket expense. Here are seven practical tactics that can help get your own referral campaign started on the right foot.
Provide a Truly Superior Buying Experience for Your Customers
Every member of your organization needs to embrace the idea that total customer satisfaction is the number one goal. A great product or service offering, exceptional customer service, and an overall “warm and fuzzy” buying experience are absolutely essential to the best referral campaigns. Start by evaluating the buying experience from your customer’s point of view. Huddle with your staff to identify problem areas, brainstorm solutions, and decide which aspects of your company’s buying experience are worth sharing with friends and family.
Don’t Ignore Your Analytics
You should already have Google Analytics set up on your website. This is a free service that provides a wealth of information about how your site is performing, including data on third-party sites that are already linking and referring traffic to your site. Focus your referral-strengthening efforts on those sites providing you with the highest quality traffic. Consider adding more links and mentions in future posts, exploring guest blog posting opportunities, and creating a commissioned affiliate program.
Add a Wow Factor to Make Your Customer’s Product Experience More Shareable
Examine your product offering for a unique attribute that is highly shareable through your customer’s social channels. A creative packaging experience is one way to stand out from your competitors and gain those all-important social signals. Trunk Club and Everlane offer two highly creative examples of using product packaging to encourage customer sharing of their purchases through social media.
Make Referring Your Brand As Easy As Possible
The easier you make it for customers to share and refer your products, the more referrals you’ll get. Consider adding a referral link on your website’s navigation bar, and offer an incentive for future purchases for both your customer and for each friend referred. Add a social sharing badge to each of your product pages.
Create a Customer Loyalty Program
Reward your loyal customers with an incentive program for each visit to your site, each purchase made, and every friend referred. These actions will earn your customers points redeemable for vouchers that can be applied to future purchases.
Reach Out to Your Influencers
Practically every niche has its influencers – people who have a feeling for a certain product niche and a following of consumers who rely on their reviews and recommendations. Influencers range from popular celebrities to niche bloggers and YouTubers. Search Google for your niche category and compile a list of influencers who are writing about the products or services that your company markets. Contact the most popular influencers for a possible sponsored posting or a review of your product.
Encourage Customers to Review Your Products
Positive reviews about your company and products are another form of referral, and should be collected from as many satisfied customers as possible. Positive reviews should be marketed aggressively by posting to your website, adding to your outbound emails, and submitted to appropriate review sites. Any negative reviews should be followed up on, and every effort made to resolve the situation to the customer’s satisfaction.