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A 3-Step Guide to Launching a Referral Program that Actually Works

A 3-Step Guide to Launching a Referral Program that Actually Works

Friday, June 17, 2016/Categories: business-tips

A referral program can be a huge driver of new clients and customers. Even better, referral marketing tends to yield more loyal and longer-lasting clients than other marketing efforts. That means more revenue to your business for less effort on your end.

What is a referral marketing program?

  • When an existing client refers your business to someone else who might use your services, that’s a referral.
  • A referral program seeks to incentivize these referrals by offering rewards to get your clients spreading the good word about your business.

“Honestly, every company can benefit from referral marketing,” says Jeff Epstein (@jeff_epstein), CEO and founder of referral software company (@Ambassador). “They just need to make it easy for their biggest fans to share.”

Here’s how to do that, in three simple steps:

Step 1: Provide a Clear Incentive

People are much more likely to remember your business and actively refer you when they know they’ll get a reward for it.

Epstein notes that the best incentive is usually a “dual-incentive” where both parties – the referrer and referred parties – receive something. “A great example of this is a ‘Give $10, Get $10’, etc.,” he says.

Think about ways you can easily provide an incentive that makes sense for your business. You may offer the referrer a gift card, for instance, and offer a discounted service to the person they referred. Just remember that sometimes it takes more than an incentive to convert a referral, which is why you’ll want to know how to impress potential clients once they’re interested in you.

What you shouldn’t do is use over-complicated or crazy point schemes in your incentive, warns Epstein. The incentive should be…

  • Clear.
  • Understandable.
  • Immediate.

Step 2: Let Clients Know about the Referral Program

Highlight the referral program everywhere, including on your website. It’s no use to you if people aren’t aware of it.

Explicitly ask clients to refer you if they’re happy with your work. Many probably love what you do, but they may not realize there are people in their network who could use your services as well.

As for how to ask, use the same tone you communicate with your clients currently, Epstein says, whether that’s via email, social media, or in person.

Step 3: Make it Easy for Clients to Refer and Be Rewarded

It’s important that making a referral in your program is as easy as possible.

“Embed the referral experience in a frictionless way to their user experience,” Epstein says. “The most successful companies have created a really seamless way for users [and] customers to share without seemingly exerting a lot of additional effort.”

For example, if you have an app, build a function within it for users to refer their friends. A button press, a text, or an email is all it should take for your client to get in the program and start referring.

Lastly, don’t forget to thank them when a referral comes through. Send them a thank-you email or shout out on social media in addition to the incentive. It’s another personal touch that strengthens the relationship you have with your clients. After all, good marketing is simply relationship building.

Looking for more ways to expand your business? Consider these professional development tips that can help you land more clients.

About Jeff Epstein: Jeff Epstein is founder and CEO of Ambassador, a SaaS referral marketing platform for B2B and B2C businesses.

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