Finding the referral marketing software of your dreams is no different than finding the relationship of your dreams: both require a lot of time, research and commitment—but the end result is always worth it.
A recent research survey found that 86% of companies with formalized referral programs experienced growth over the last two years, and were three times more likely to accelerate referral generation and conversions.
But before you can build your ideal referral program, you’ll need to find the right referral technology to support your goals.
Here’s a list of questions you should ask yourself to ensure the referral marketing software you choose will help you generate the referrals you deserve.
In this free eBook, you’ll learn the referral technology features you should be looking for to consistently generate high-quality referral leads from your customer base.
1. Your ‘ideal’ type of referral
No, we don’t mean “tall, dark and handsome.” Some referral tools allow your customers to share links or tracking codes to invite friends to sign up for your service. But with this method, you end up waiting in the dark, unsure if their friend will get in touch with you.
If you want something more meaningful than unqualified leads, you need your customers to share their friend’s contact information so your sales team can reach out directly. This type of endorsement is more personal and can be considered equivalent to a Marketing Qualified Lead (or MQL). It gives you the opportunity to drive sales action—not just web traffic that may (or may not) convert into leads.
Ask yourself: do you want secret admirers or real connections?
2. Your courtship style
Some of your customers will want to know you really well before they refer their friends to you, while others will be happy to make introductions based on their initial impression of your brand. Each kind needs special nurturing so they will continuously to refer more:
- Shy folks need to be educated on the kind of referrals you’re looking for and how you’ll approach their friends before they hand over any information. Make your referral process transparent so they’ll feel comfortable making an introduction. They likely won’t refer until they know your product and brand really well.
- Extroverts who refer others to you at the start of your relationship could become some of your best (and most frequent) referrers. The key is giving them special recognition and rewards afterwards so you can get to know each other better. As your relationship deepens, find ways to stay top of mind so they remember to mention you to all of their new connections.
Ask yourself: do you want to court customers early on so they refer quality matches? Or make them feel special after they give a referral so they keep introducing you to new people?
3. What you have to offer
You’ll attract more referrals if you thank and reward your customers for setting you up with their friends. However, the thrill of monetary rewards (like product discounts and gift cards) will fade over time for those who submitadvocate marketing program. They’ll prefer things money can’t buy, like:
- VIP treatment at your next event
- Special access to your executives
- Private beta testing opportunities
- Points they can use to choose their own rewards
Ask yourself: how much are you willing to give for the types of referrals you desire?
4. How you’ll pop the question
There are two ways to request referrals that won’t burn out your customers with constant requests:
- Timely referral requests when customers express happiness with your brand—like when they write a positive online review, give you a high NPS score or experience success with your product.
- Consistent, subtle referral reminders (like a link to your referral submission page) in your email signatures, weekly newsletter, customer login page, or in your customer community or advocate marketing program.
Ask yourself: do you want to make your intentions clear from the start, or feel out your customers first?
5. Who’s taking the lead
Sales and marketing must come together to set up the processes and prospect outreach that will happen after a referral is given. They’ll need to:
- Make a simple submission method for customers
- Establish a method for tracking referrals and providing updates to customers
- Develop an outreach plan for communicating with referred prospects
While sales should be heavily involved in the referral process, marketing should be the ultimate matchmaker.
Referral benchmarking research by Heinz Marketing and Influitive found that referral programs lead by marketing are 3X more likely to achieve their EOY revenue goals. This is because marketing teams have the insights and resources to create a seamless referral experience—from the way a referral is requested to how customers are rewarded.
Ask yourself: how does your company plan to court your customers and prospects?