Getting the word out through referral marketing is a must, as we saw in Part I of our Referral Marketing discussion. But what is the best way to get customers talking? Choose two things wisely: 1) the incentives for referring a product and 2) the way you grab the attention of the person receiving a referral.

Choosing the Right Referral Marketing Incentive

First, let’s think about the options for asking someone to share products and offers:

⋅  Ask for a referral without any incentive. This is an option that can work at the right moment. Maybe your customers will want to share pictures of your beautiful product and all you have to do is provide a fun hashtag. Maybe on a purchase confirmation screen you can ask the customer to share product images with a quick click.

⋅  Offer the referring customer an incentive to send out referrals (1-sided incentives).

⋅  Discounts or immediate rewards. Think a “Get 10% off your next purchase”-with-five-referral-emails scheme. Offer rewards points in customer loyalty programs, or maybe send out free gifts.

⋅  Contests & Prizes. Instead of giving something that the sender will definitely get (e.g. a savings code), think about offering entry into a contest or sweepstakes for a bigger prize.

⋅  Offer the referring customer something and the receiving customer something (2-sided incentives).

⋅  Discounts or immediate rewards. Think a give-ten-get-ten arrangement; one customer sends out an offer for someone to save 10% and the sending customer gets to save 10% too.

⋅  Stackable rewards. You can offer a sender something for just sending out referrals, and then add an extra incentive if their friend actually buys the product. (This might be a 1-sided or a 2-sided stacked incentive.)

Thinking About the Content You Want to Share

The second piece to plan is what you will ask your customer to share in order to get a new customer’s attention. The key: be creative! Think about your audience and plan around their connection to your company—do you give them something they need or love, and why do they want it? For a ton of inspiration, check out this “Epic List of 74 Referral Programs.” Here are some ideas to get you started:

⋅  Discounts & Offers—This is the 2-sided incentive program idea. Are new customers likely to need a break on price to try your product? If price is important, make sure you are making it easier for new customers get that first taste.

⋅  Don’t forget to think about content within the discount or offer. Make sure that the link or email that you ask your customer to share will make someone want to look at it. That might mean including images or catchy headlines, but whatever you use make sure you’re getting your message across clearly.

⋅  Images or Videos—Is there a funny way to let people know about your brand? Or can you make an informational video that everyone will need to see? Make it, and make it easy to share; then see if people don’t just spread the word.

⋅  Easy to share? If you want people to share links, give them pre-populated taglines that make it easy for them to hit one button to Tweet or Pin.

⋅  Product Design—When you plan your packaging think about whether you can prepare it for easy sharing. Can you make the packaging Insta-worthy? Can you put it in a box that’s begging for an unboxing video?

⋅  Customer Reviews—Are there better ways that you can ask and remind customers to review your products? A review is another way to get that sense of personal recommendation, so don’t overlook this when planning your referral program.

A Few Reminders for Planning

⋅  A referral program shouldn’t be one thing. You should use a mix of these options to target different parts of a customer journey and for different target demographics.

⋅  Think about the likely return and find an incentive that is right for your program and budget. Make your program dynamic, so that different referrals are part of different marketing campaigns.

So how do you manage a referral marketing program, with its different offers, at different times, for different customers? Join us for Part III of our Referral Marketing discussion to dive into some of the technology and automation that help.

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