Referrals are one of the best ways to get more business, as a whopping 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know.
But, many marketers forgo referral programs altogether, and those who have referral programs often struggle to get them off the ground.
Whether you have a formal referral program in place or not, your business probably already has new customers coming in via word of mouth marketing. By exploring these opportunities, you’ll find yourself in a gold mine.
After all, when someone comes in as a referral, much of the hard work has already been done. Someone else, probably a happy customer, already provided you with credibility and a sense of trust, both of which are needed for creating a sale.
It’s clear that referrals should be a huge focus for your brand. So, how can you get more of them? Here are 7 marketing strategies to increase referrals for your business.
1. Go the extra mile for subscribers, prospects, and customers
Any time someone interacts with your business, they should have a good experience. When you provide exceptional experiences, people take notice. When people take notice, they tend to talk. This talk causes referrals.
So, if you’re able to fulfill a client’s needs, that’s great. If you’re able to go above and beyond, that’s even better. By going above and beyond, you set yourself apart from all the noise that surrounds you.
Going the extra mile doesn’t have to break the bank either. Here are a few ways to go the extra mile:
- Offer some extras, such as time with a staff member, or a freebie like a t-shirt or a magnet.
- Sending friendly reminders via automated emails to help them stay on top of their obligations.
- Just be nice! You can’t go the extra mile if your customer interactions aren’t sincere.
For example, Lyft, a ride-sharing service, goes the extra mile by providing customers with an incentive. Then to top it off, they reiterate why their service is great. Riding costs less for customers than a typical taxi = cost-savvy. Drivers are always nearby = convenient.
2. Improve your customer support experience
Obviously, customer service plays a major role in every business. People like to be heard, and they like their problems to be solved. One of the best ways you can encourage referrals is to provide top-notch customer support.
Here are some easy ways to make sure your customer service is in tip-top shape:
- Be responsive – Make sure you’re staying on top of things. Don’t let customers’ comments and questions go unanswered for too long. Stay aware of what’s coming in, and what’s going out in response. As long as you show a little flexibility and sympathy, customers will be more understanding when there are issues.
- Be sincere – The more sincere you are, the better chance you have to make a customer happy. The tone you use, and the way you act towards a customer, can either make or break their experience. If you’re too pushy, you may come off as being insincere. Find the balance, be respectful, and be helpful.
- Be consistent – Create repeatable processes so that all customers are getting equal attention. Set some standards for customer interactions. Make sure you have customer ticketing software in place that helps make things easier.
For example, Zappos has a customer service department that goes above and beyond. One customer bought shoes for her father, but he had passed away before the shoes arrived. The customer called in to see if she could return the shoes and get refunded. A Zappos call center employee told her not to worry about sending them back, and that she would be refunded. The employee then went above and beyond and sent her flowers as well.
3. Build relationships, as people refer to others
Undoubtedly, people refer to other people and not necessarily the business. That’s why it’s essential to build relationships with your customers.
This is especially important if you’re dealing with customers on a one-on-one basis. You need to make sure you’re doing a good job of listening to the customer and making them feel comfortable.
Even if you work for a large brand and aren’t able to interact with customers one-on-one, you can still build relationships through your digital marketing initiatives. For example, you can send personalized emails that highlight a customer’s individual interests, reminding them that you know them and care about who they are. You can also share be transparent. Showing what goes on behind the scenes helps customers see who you really are.
4. Personalize your interactions as much as you can
The more you can personalize the experience for the customer, the happier they’ll be. Whether that’s remembering information about them, reminding them of something important, or sending them a well-timed promotion, personalization shows customers that you care.
For example, if a customer purchases a new snowboard from your sporting goods website, it makes sense to send out material that’s relevant to that subscriber. You might send information on snow conditions, recommendations for more gear, or a promo code for a lift ticket at a local mountain. Alternatively, if someone purchases a basketball, they might receive different recommendations.
Personalization results in a more engaged customer-base, one that is likely to refer to your friends, family, and colleagues.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask
Even though referrals often happen naturally, it can be difficult to get people to think about you after they leave. That’s why you should always ask for a referral.
In general, customers are usually happiest post-purchase, so this is a good time to ask for referrals. For example, an e-commerce store typically asks for referrals on their thank you or receipt pages. This process can be automated, making it easy for you.
You can also offer incentives to make referring even sweeter. For example, Booking.com sends an email after a customer has made a booking, encouraging the customer to share with a friend to receive $25 off.
6. Show appreciation to those that refer you
Obviously, everyone wants to be appreciated. But, it is particularly important to show appreciation to those who send more customers your way. If someone refers you, not only are they giving you a compliment, but they are going out of their way to help you.
If you are able to find out who referred you, be sure to thank them. You don’t necessarily have to do some big or grand gesture, but acknowledging their effort is important. Plus, it will further reiterate why they helped you in the first place.
It’s building these types of deep connections that will keep you connected with your target market. This keeps referrals coming in.
7. Start or improve your formal referral program
Having a referral program makes it easy for people to make referrals. Thankfully, there are many solutions out there that can help you track and manage your program. These solutions can also help you in distributing rewards.
Whether you choose to incentivize your program or not, formalizing it will ensure that you’re taking as much advantage of word-of-mouth marketing as you can.
For example, Dropbox started a referral program and offered extra storage space as their incentive. They took a product that people want and need and increased users quickly by offering them a little extra space, for both parties (the referrer and referral). Since customers had nothing to lose, sharing ensued. After their program was implemented they saw a huge jump in membership sign-ups with an increase of about 60%.
No matter where you are in building your brand, referrals should be an essential part of your marketing program. Ultimately, recommendations are what propel businesses forward. With these tips, you should be able to create a more referable business that delights current customers and keeps new ones coming in.