Referral Marketing Part III: How Tech Helps with the When & Where

Thanks for coming back for Part III of our Referral Marketing talks. In Part I we looked at what referral marketing is and why it is important. In Part II we went through content and incentive ideas to get your customers talking. Now we’re going to look at how to run your program with technology that lets you give your customers referral options at all stages.

When and Where Do You Use Referral Marketing

There are so many possibilities for getting your first-time and repeat customers to tell their friends about how much they need and want your products. A quick tip for thinking about when to ask for referrals: think about when your customer is happy or excited about your brand and products.

Think about giving your customer a nudge at some of these points:

·  On a purchase confirmation page. Give your customer options to like and share the product that they obviously liked enough to buy.

·  When they get the product. Did the customer just get the product and is excited that it came in the mail? Making your product or packaging instantly shareable by being picture or video-worthy can capture that energy; include a postcard or thank-you note that reminds your customers to share.

·  After they’ve used the product. Try sending a follow-up email that offers a referral incentive after the customer has had time to test the product and feels more strongly about recommending it.

·  When it’s time to reorder the product or get a new version. Give the customer who has already purchased an added incentive to make their next purchase by offering a referral bonus in a follow-up email.

·  At loyalty anniversary dates. Show your long-term customers some appreciation and build on that goodwill by sending them special referral incentives along with other loyalty programs.

Tech that Makes the When and Where Doable

So you’ve created your plan—you know the style you want to use, your incentives, who you want to reach and when. Now you’ve got to find the right tech that lets you follow through. Where can software help and what do you need?

·  Widgets to make social media sharing easy. You need to make it easy for customers to push out your images and video, and maybe pre-populated taglines. So you need to attach one-click sharing options in a lot of places—images, offers, emails. When thinking about the widgets that are best for you, think about whether your needs are simple or if you want more customization options with more control over design and placement.

·  Automation and personalization controls. If you’re hoping to send targeted referral offers at different times for different customers, triggered by the customer’s actions, you can’t do this manually. You’ll need software that places the right offers with the right purchase confirmation screen or email. There are many options to automate your referral offers, so think about the size of your program and how easily you need to make changes when choosing.

·  Influencer marketing tools. If you are running referral programs along with your influencer marketing programs, make sure your referral tools work with your influencer marketing tools.

·  Analytics tools. Making the most of any marketing plan means looking at what works and reorganizing. With referral programs, you need to track where referrals are coming from—for example, are certain review sites linking to your products? Find a way to make a stronger connection there by creating a special referral program. Which customers are following through when sent a referral? Figure that out to help you decide whether your discount or video-sharing program is strongest.

The right referral marketing software will depend on the kind of program you want to run. Get in touch and we can help you find the right features for your plan.

Referral Marketing Part II: Choosing Your Incentives & Content

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.

Elements of E-Commerce | Referral Marketing: Part 1


Welcome to Thanx Media’s “Elements of E-Commerce” blog series. Follow along as we wade through the nuts and bolts of e-commerce technologies that you need to know.


What is Referral Marketing?

Friends don’t let friends buy junk. Referral marketing looks to that trust—it asks your customers to spread the word about your company and products. Referrals put information and offers in front of new customers with an inherent personal recommendation.

A referral through a marketing program is an email or link sent by-a-friend-to-a-friend telling them to sign up for offers or buy products. The original customer might be given something in return for engaging other people. These incentive arrangements can also be part of influencer or affiliate marketing campaigns.

Word-of-Mouth and Recommendations are the Strongest Advertising

Does referring really work? There’s no question, it does.

An almost hard to believe example is Airbnb’s test referral program. The company offered existing customers cash to use toward future travel if they referred a friend. Almost every one of the referrals sent out actually led to a new Airbnb user! (2,161 existing Airbnb-ers referred 2,107 new users.)

You might question if that was a fluke, but there are so many reasons that referral marketing is one of the strongest ways to advertise:

1.  It’s the thing people trust the most:

⋅  83% of buyers say they trust recommendations by people they know. And 66% trust consumer and editorial opinions. (Nielson.)

⋅  84% of B2B buyers begin their decisionmaking with a referral. (LinkedIn.)

2.  Recommendations lead to high value customers:

⋅  The Harvard Business Review reports that in one case study, referrals led to new customers who were 18% more loyal and had 16% higher sales value.

3.  Referral marketing can have effects beyond the single referral:

⋅  Visibility. Even when referrals don’t lead to new buyers, the very fact of information sharing increases a company’s visibility. Asking a customer to send five referrals will promote your brand awareness, even if only one of those referrals leads to a sale.

⋅  Existing Customer Loyalty. Referral bonuses give your existing customers a reason to stay connected to your brand and products. You can add these incentives to other loyalty programs, doubling up on your customer care and giving you more chances to encourage your existing customers to make referrals.

4.  Most consumers are happy to make recommendations:

(But marketers need to make it happen!)

⋅  83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer a product or service but only 29% actually do. (Texas Tech.)

With all this evidence that it works, it only makes sense that we’re going to help you sort out how to run a strong program. Join us in Part II of our Referral Marketing discussion for ideas on incentives and referral media that will get attention, and Part III for a breakdown of resources and technology that will support a long-running program.