3 Things All Referral Marketing Programs Need

Truman Tang

What is your sales team thankful for? Customer referrals. For sales professionals, a customer referral is the key that can unlock many doors. (And help them hit their quota!)

A referral from a happy customer is more powerful than any cold call, sales materials or data. According to LinkedIn, 84% of B2B decision makers start their buying process with a referral. Referred prospects are also 30% more likely to convert than other generated leads, and have a 16% higher life-time value.

In this post, I’ll take you through three important things referral marketing programs need to be successful.

find1. They find and nurture customer advocates

Most referral marketing programs don’t work because companies haven’t laid the groundwork for meaningful customer relationships. Before you can ask customers for referrals (which is kind of a big deal), you’ll need to consistently engage them, and turn them into brand advocates.

To do this, invite your best customers to join an exclusive online hub—known as an advocate marketing program—where they can get to know your product or service even better, and interact with you directly by sharing feedback and participating in fun or educational challenges.

By communicating regularly with your customers, educating them about your brand and offering them valuable resources (like networking opportunities, exclusive access to new product features, etc.) they’ll be excited to tell friends about their awesome experience.

The Little Black Book of B2B Referrals
Download now!

2. They ask for referrals at the right time

Asking for a referral out of the blue won’t be helpful to your team, or your advocates. Here are five great times to ask customers for referrals:

  1. When they sign and are excited about working with you
  2. Right after they give you a Net Promoter Score® of nine or above
  3. Just after they launch your program or implement your service, as they’re looking forward to seeing results
  4. When you learn that they got amazing results from your product or service
  5. When they say nice things about you

You should also have methods for continuously reminding customers to submit referrals. You can:

  • Include a link to your referral submission page in your email footer, blog posts, newsletters, login pages, etc.
  • Launch a referral contest to fuel their competitive streak, and keep them engaged
  • Integrate your referral process with your advocate marketing program to stay top of mind for your customers, and recognize them for referring their peers

transparent3. They clearly communicate the referral process

Advocates are more likely to give you referrals if they know you will treat their referred friends, family and colleagues like gold. That’s why it’s vital to give advocates transparency into your referral workflow.

We have a challenge in our advocate marketing program, Influitive VIP, that asks advocates to send us referrals. The challenge looks like this:


After an advocate submits a referral, they can log in at any time and see how the referral is progressing through our four-part sales process:

  1. Referral submitted
  2. A sales representative contacts the referred lead to schedule a demo
  3. Demo
  4. The referred lead becomes a customer

Advocates want to know how a referral is going and if they can do anything to help because they want to see the referred lead turn into a customer. Involve them at all stages and close the feedback loop so your advocates feel good about referring again and again.

moneyReferral marketing programs have a huge impact on pipeline

Although referrals represent just a small fraction (3%) of the overall leads generated by our marketing team, their impact on our sales pipeline and revenue is extraordinary.

Nearly one quarter of our opportunities in 2014 were created from referred leads, and 38% of our customers can be sourced from our referral marketing programs.

Furthermore, 42% of Influitive’s monthly recurring revenuealmost half!can be sourced back to referrals.

So, what are you waiting for? You probably have lots of advocates who love your service and are willing to give you referrals. When you put the word out, you may be surprised by how many referrals your advocates send your way.

Influitive Exposed
Learn more!

20 Responses to 3 Things All Referral Marketing Programs Need

  1. […] need to build trust before customers will share contact info with you. That means you need to be transparent with the details of your referral process. You should clearly explain to […]

  2. […] advocates won’t send you the right referrals if they don’t know who you’re looking for. It’s important to put together a description of […]

  3. […] However, a few brands who have mastered the art of incentivizing their customers to refer friends. The secret? They make a recommending their brand a delightful and mutually-beneficial experience. […]

  4. […] could also advocate for Brightpearl in many ways, like sharing content on social media, submitting referrals and writing online […]

  5. […] Michael jumped into his new role. His first order of business: turn a $13,000 a year referral program into $200,000. “We had to sign up for a number, because demand generation was the air that we […]

  6. […] is responsible for engaging customers and motivating them to refer. The sales team has to make sure that the show goes on once the contact information is […]

  7. […] a submission page that outlines the referral process, and the kind of leads you […]

  8. […] relationships where thousands or perhaps even millions of dollars might be at stake. This is why referral marketing programs can be so […]

  9. […] to steal: The referral process doesn’t have to end after your customer submits their friend’s contact info. Giving them […]

  10. […] 3. Keep the lines of communication open between the customer who submitted the referral and your sales team. Collect as much info about the […]

  11. […] Watch Steven’s Advocamp presentation to learn how the company leveraged customer advocacy, referral marketing and technology to acquire new customers and build excitement around the brand on a hyper-local […]

  12. […] page where you can collect pertinent information your team will need. This page should include a clear overview of the referral process so advocates know how you will approach the prospect, when they can expect to receive updates and […]

  13. […] as a way for all of Blackbaud’s customers to work together towards a common goal. He set a transparent objective and made his personal motivations clear. He told them, “It would make me really happy because […]

  14. […] referral submission process is simple and clear. It may even be built into the product, or found on the customer login page. […]

  15. […] a referral submission landing page system is in place, (usually by way  of a simple web form), tracking incoming referrals and standardizing […]

  16. […] CS team can get involved by identifying potential advocates. Work with them to engage your happiest customers who would be willing to refer. You can do this by […]

  17. […] Once you deepen your relationship with your customers, they’ll be happy to refer friends. To consistently remind them to refer—without annoying them—include links to a referral submission page in your email signatures, […]

  18. […] A simple, seamless and enjoyable way for customers to submit referrals. Avoid awkward phone calls and emails by finding another way to consistently remind customers to submit referrals. […]

  19. […] as a way for all of Blackbaud’s customers to work together towards a common goal. He set a transparent objective and made his personal motivations clear. He told them, “It would make me really happy because […]

  20. […] is an evergreen referral system? It’s a referral lead system on autopilot that keeps generating referral leads over and over […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *