Referral programs managed in 5 short years to become THE thing for healthy customer acquisition. This article’s purpose is not to convince you to build a referral program (I guess you’re not here for that).
This piece of content is about what comes after your decision to invest in referral marketing. It’s about the ways and means you can use in order to make your referral campaign a meaningful channel for your company’s growth.
Since we kicked off Viral Loops last year, we’ve help people to implement and promote some amazing referral programs and that’s the primary reason I decided to write down the things you’re going to read further in the article.
Without further ado, here are the 7 Things You Can Do To Promote Your Referral Program
Promote Your Referral Program By Leveraging existing customers
It’s only natural for happy customers to have a higher probability of referring your product or service to a friend.
Buying from you in the first place is a sign that what you offer made them stick. I don’t know how many times I’ve said this in the past, but customer loyalty and retention are two of the essential elements of growth.
“83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience—yet only 29% actually do.”
There are 2 things you can do right now, in order to get your customers in your referral program:
Set up an automated email
Add them in a retargeting flow
In both occasions, relevancy is the key! You can bombard people with messages full with tuxedo pictures, while these beauties bought spring dresses from you.
If you run an eCommerce store, chances are that you use a marketing automation tool. This allows you to build automated flows that include dynamic content, according to your customer’s purchase history.
A nice trick would be to add in the email a product that the customer visited in the past but never bought, as an incentive to sign up for your referral program.
A nicely designed email including the picture of an amazing pair of sandals with the message: “Refer your friends and get 20% off for everything you crave!”
If there’s a thing we’ve learned about emails (apart from the fact that subject lines are 80% of the work), is that they are time sensitive.
You have to understand when is the right moment to trigger your campaign. The best time is when customers experience their “WOW moment”, which usually is:
Apart from you existing customers, you can use retargeting as a method to capture the email addresses of people that visited your store and left without making a purchase.
For this instance you have to keep in mind the same principles that apply to automated email campaigns:
Let’s say you have a vaping store. People will definitely have to make a recurring purchase (vaping liquids etc.). You can use data from other people as for how often people tend to buy their vaping liquids, to trigger retargeting campaigns for these products, incentivising people to get in your referral program in exchange for discounts on their liquids.
You can also try to create a retargeting flow for those that you failed to onboard to your referral program, post purchase. Try to mixing things in order to serve magic!
Stepping up your paid advertising game
Yes, being discovered organically is better; but those who say that paid advertising doesn’t have a good ROI should probably change their advertising game.
Picture this: Putting an ad, instantly gets you in the first page of search engines (which means instant traffic). If you treat your message and targeting with care, chances are that the right people will land on your landing page.
What is best than paying for one user and bring 2 or 3? It’s called Viral co-efficiency and it’s the one and only way to lower your CPA via paid ads.
Try to keep your message as consistent as possible with the content of the landing page that you’ll send visitors to. That way you increase your chances for greater conversion rates, as people will get what they expected when they clicked the ad.
Facebook, due to being a personal data monster, gives us the ability of amazing targeting for paid campaigns.
Since I already talked about utilizing your existing customers with retargeting, now we have to get one step forward by creating ads and audiences that will help you acquire new users.
A cool trick is to insert in facebook the email addresses of your existing customers and create a lookalike audience. That way you ensure that your ad will be served to people that share the same interests with your customers, resonating that way to their buying habits.
As Facebook advertising mastermind, Jon Loomer says:
“People are more likely to perform an action — like a page, click a link, comment on a post, buy a product, etc. — if a friend did, too. That’s social proof in action”
That means that an opportunity lies for you with the friends of your Facebook fans. Although that audience has an intention to engage with your posts, it’s highly advised to use some extra layering to that audience in order to ensure that your ads resonate to their taste.
Tip:Create a mind-blowing creative (something that can catch the user’s eye while the scroll their feed endlessly). Keep your message clear as possible and use some cool emojis (grab more eyeballs). A video ad is also cool, but since most people will probably watch it on “mute”, add some subtitles!
Exploiting all available channels
You have to think your marketing channels not as individual units of a production line, but rather as a full ecosystem with an end to end communication.
That means that even if you can’t leverage a certain traction channel to drive direct actions, you can surely use it as a booster for another channel.
Let’s see some channels you can also use to attract more users to your referral program.
You can use these acquired email addresses to distribute content related to your business. But just blasting generic newsletters to all your subscribers won’t do the job for you.
You have to invest some time to segment your lists properly (based on previous actions- like downloading an eBook or engagement with previous newsletters.) and create something special for each segment.
Having the right message should turn into a habit considering the content you’re trying to promote!
Achieving high engagement on organic posts that promote your referral program directly, is nearly impossible. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use social media to make people get involved.
You should probably take a step back and brainstorm about post types that are highly engaging, aiming to add another step at the top of your referral program’s funnel.
The secret lies in capturing their email addresses. You can run a facebook giveaway campaign, asking people to like and comment and then lead them into a landing page for the giveaway.
That’s two birds with one stone; You fulfill people’s desire to engage and you also grab their email address (plus, a post with higher engagement will make it to more people’s feeds).
From there you can use your other marketing channels to stream those people to your referral program.
Same as social media, content marketing is not probably way of direct promotion of your referral -it’s kinda lame and desperate if you ask me. Yes, you can write a press release but this isn’t content marketing.
A nice approach, instead of trying to promote your referral through your content, would be to approach other content creators that resemble your audience and ask them to promote your referral program (yes, “ask” means you’ll have to pay them to do so).
On the other hand, if you’re using your content to drive people to your website, you can make use of widgets set to work when people get in from your content, along with a special message.
Offline referrals still work!
Even though digital is dominating, people still exist in the material world. They still like to touch things and read books. Using offline practices to boost your referral program is something that only a few people do.
If you run a B2B business, there’s a high probability of attending events. Instead of just giving a business card, you can give prospects a scannable card that drives them directly to your referral campaign.
The same mindset applies for stickers, flyers or brochures!
If you want your referral to work you have to make sure that everybody is aware of it! Referral became so popular the last 5 years, that people not only know about their usage but also search for them when they enter a website.
It’s a really a shame not having a menu item or a dedicated section on your website. This can spark the curiosity of the visitor increasing your chances of turning them into ambassadors.
On top of the above, you can also put a top bar on the site containing information about your program and change the copy every two weeks in order to A/B test what works better.
Testing your message
If you read the entire post you’ve probably noticed that I wrote numerous times about the importance of having a clear message.
When it comes to copywriting that converts, there are two things you must keep in mind:
You must make it easy for people to understand what they have to gain from entering your referral program. You have to use terms they understand.
Everybody understands money value, so you could test changing your discount claim from percentage to actual money value; and vice versa.
I’m not in the position to tell you exactly what kind of copy will move your audience – it all comes down to testing constantly.
Once your program is live it’s sure that you’ll have to deal with 3 types of referrers:
Ambassadors are considered people that completed the referral goal at least once or more(if they had to bring one purchase using their referral code, they already made it).
Plain referrers are people that even though they shared their referral code, haven’t completed the referral goal yet.
Last, neutrals are people that entered your program but never took the initiative to share it with their friends.
Your goal is to turn neutrals and plain referrers to ambassadors, and those who are already ambassadors to continue spreading the word.
Since neutrals are a long shot, a simple email has very low probability of changing anything. So, apart from emailing them, you can add them in your retargeting flow giving them a reminder that they should share in order to get the reward.
For plain referrers, you can use automated emails that encourage them to keep sharing. You can share with them some data, like how many invited other people sent on average before they got their first referral reward.
Now considering ambassadors, email is your weapon of choice once again. As those people are your top referrers you should communicate this sense of exclusivity to them. Give them more as a sign of gratitude for the effort they put for you!
You can create banners that people can put on their websites in order to drive traffic to your referral program
Just putting up a referral program doesn’t mean that it will act as a magic hat that spits dollars. You have to be constantly on the edge about it.
Be ready to optimize, test copies, rewards and chat with people. Without this kind of work results will be mediocre at best; and who likes mediocre things?
What other referral program promotion tactics you know?
Theodore has a 15-year experience in running successful and profitable software products. During his free time, he coaches and consults startups. His career includes managerial posts for companies both in Greece and abroad and he has significant skills on intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship.