According to a 2012 report by Nielson, over 92% of customers trust referrals from friends and family over any other form of advertising.
While most B2B marketers are aware of this statistic, most don’t know how to create a formalized referral program that will help their business grow through word of mouth.
However, a few brands have mastered the art of incentivizing their customers to refer friends. The secret? They make recommending their brand a delightful and mutually-beneficial experience.
Here are three referral program ideas from multi-billion dollar companies that you can steal to consistently generate more customer referrals.
Amazon has a referral program for its Amazon Prime plan, which gives customers free shipping, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video, and other perks for $99 a year. Customers can get a $5 Amazon credit when they refer a friend by sending an invite through various social networks or email. The referrer receives the credit once the person they referred joins the program and makes their first purchase.
Key takeaways: Amazon incentivizes customers to provide referrals by giving them a reward (a credit for future services).
However, they also offer multiple ways for their users to invite friends to the program. This gives customers power over the referral process by letting them recruit new members using the method they’re most comfortable with. For instance, some people may like to send a personalized email to a friend while others may think that’s too spammy. Some may want to share a sign-up link with their personal network on one social media channel but not with their professional contacts on another platform.
Bottom line: Give them options and rewards, and the referrals will come.
2. World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft (WoW) is a subscription-based online fantasy adventure game where players create heroes to join quests or duel with other players. WoW’s referral program is called ‘Recruit-a-Friend’. If players want to ask friends to join a quest with them, all they have to do is click on the ‘Recruit-a-Friend’ button and enter their friend’s email.
For doing this, the referrer gets in-game perks and free playing time if their friend signs up for a paid account. The referred friend receives an email offer to join for free (for a limited time), and gets access to bonuses like special items and faster level increases.
Key takeaways: WoW made the referral process as simple as possible. The “Recruit-a-Friend” theme was also a fun way for players to introduce their friends to the game.
A program like this also makes giving a referral valuable to both parties. Not only does it incentivize the referee to sign-up, but the referrer will also be happier to invite a friend since their contact will be receiving perks, too.
Bottom line: Make giving referrals fun, simple and beneficial to everyone involved.
Cloud-based file storage system Dropbox is another prime example of a dual-sided-incentive referral program. However, while other brands reward users and their friends with cash or credits, Dropbox gives both parties extra storage space. In 2010, Dropbox attributed 35% of new daily sign-ups to this method.
Dropbox also has an easy referral mechanism built into their product. Every time users share a folder with someone not using Dropbox, the non-user is given the option to sign-up for a free account on the same page they can open the files. Dropbox received 20% of their new daily signs-ups via this functionality in 2010.
Key takeaways: Giving away product-based perks helps Dropbox’s users become more invested in their service—and therefore more likely to recommend the tool to others.
By giving referees an easy way to try out their product for free, Dropbox reduces the barriers for adoption and gives itself the chance to convert free customers into paying ones over time.
Bottom line: Build referral submission tools into your product that make it easy for customers to submit referrals and for referees to see value right away. If you can make the experience rewarding for all users, they will become more loyal to your brand, and more likely to advocate for your product in the future.
Your customer-base is a potential goldmine—if you know how to tap into it. Use these referral program ideas to encourage your customers to invite their friends and peers to your platform, and you could see your brand grow exponentially.
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