Marketing & Growth

5 Ways to Improve Your Referral Marketing

By Rieva Lesonsky

How did your most recent new customers learn about your business? Most likely from a referral marketing channel such as a recommendation either via word-of-mouth or an online rating. In fact, in a 2016 Harris Poll, 82 percent of Americans reported seeking recommendations from family and friends before making a purchase decision. Plus, 67 percent revealed they are more likely to purchase a product after a friend or family member recommends it on social media or by email.

The Harris poll also reveals these interesting findings about referral marketing:

  • Word-of-mouth isn’t limited to specific industries (i.e., it’s not just for e-commerce businesses or restaurants) or demographics.
  • Certain age groups and income levels do rely more on referrals (specifically, 92 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds and households with incomes over $100K.
  • Incentive structure plays a big role in increasing and scaling referral activity.

With that overwhelming case for making referral marketing a major part of your strategy, here are 5 tips to improve your odds if making it work:

5 Ways to Improve Referral Marketing

  1. Always ask

    Most customers are happy to refer your business to others, but they might not think to do it if you don’t ask. Online customers should be reminded at the end of each transaction with easy links to your Yelp listing, Facebook page, or other review site where your business is listed. It’s also a good idea to send out a follow-up email to thank them for their business and politely request referrals. If the customer meets with you face-to-face, such as in a consultation or sales meeting, make sure you add a note on any invoices to politely ask your customer to make a recommendation.

  2. Pass out extra business cards

    Always offer extra business cards to satisfied customers and ask them to pass the cards along to anyone looking for your services or products.

  3. Refer your customers’ businesses

    If your customers are other business owners, let them know you’re more than willing to recommend their businesses ,and they’ll be more likely to refer your business as a thank-you. You can also leave positive online reviews and share information about your clients’ businesses on social media to help them get referrals.

  4. Incentives work wonders

    According to the Harris Poll, 88 percent of Americans want some sort of incentive to refer your business. Top choices are money (as in discounts on products and services), swag, or something free. Online, you can ask your customers to give you 10 email addresses of potential referrals clients to receive a discount on a future purchase.

  5. Keep trying

    Even if you only see some clients face-to-face a few times a year, you can remind them about your referral program by sending weekly or monthly newsletters and reaching out on social media. Twitter makes it easy for customers to retweet about your business. You can also create some buzz by employing a hashtag contest to get opinions on new products or services. On Facebook, make sure you like all your customers’ Pages and repost their business information. Post when you get a new client and make sure to tweet when anyone pays your business a compliment or gives your business a great review.

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