More than 2.4 million brand-related conversations happen in the United States daily.
On other hand, human nature is to share their positive experiences with people.
Whenever they experience something extraordinary or impressive, they tend to talk about it with others.
Well, both statistics and psychology support the fact that people never really shy away from talking about their experiences, in this case, with brands.
Also, 83% of people rely on their family and friends for suggestions to make purchasing decisions.
Word-of-mouth has also proven to be one of the most powerful and organic ways to spread the word about your brand in a positive light.
All this very well reflect how you can leverage referral marketing to :
- Increase your brand awareness
- Generate leads
- Build brand reputation
- Increase sale conversion rates
- Boost engagement
And much more.
All you need to learn is how to get referrals from your existing customers. Because that is indeed a challenge for small business owners.
Whether you want to spend a dollar on this or not, there are numerous ways to get potential customers from your existing customers.
Following are some strategies to get referrals from your customers.
1. Deliver More Than Expected
You need to deliver more than a customer expects from you. They will be overwhelmed with your services or their optimum buying experience if you just do that.
Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful ways to make people refer your products or services to others.
If you exceed your promises, happy customers will promote your brand amongst their friends and families.
Make sure you delight them, so they feel encouraged to talk about your product, services, or your customer assistance.
Humans are naturally bound to share their positive experiences with people, so if they had a blast with your brand, they would definitely talk about it.
This is the most natural and yet powerful way to get general referrals from your customers.
You can even go beyond and share their experience or content on social media or cite them in your blog.
2. Keep Looking for Opportunities Where You Can give a Positive Response
As you know, the best referrals come from a customer who really had a great experience with your brand or they really loved your product or services.
So now, it’s your job to leverage that to find referrals through them.
Because it’s not every time, a customer really goes out to say positive things about a product.
So look for opportunities when you see a customer getting happy with your product or satisfied with the services.
Then you can ask them to spread the word about you. You can request them to refer your products or services to their friends and family.
And remember, you can only ask when you are sure the customer is happy with you. So why not utilize this opportunity?
Here are a few things you should do to lead your customers :
- Start keeping tabs on your customers from the very beginning.
- Don’t shy away from promises and give certain expectations but make sure you over-deliver.
- If you just get their feedback that your product or tool helped them or did something wonderful for them, ask immediately.
- You can also ask for referrals just after the transaction as well but more casually.
3. Don’t hesitate to Ask Directly
People always wonder what’s the best way to ask for referrals from your customers.
Well, you might think you have to subtly slide it away in a conversation or send an email or just add it at the bottom of your invoice.
Sometimes you feel it is pushy or awkward to ask.
Well, first of all, you must understand if your product or services are really helpful or if you have the confidence or even you can see your customer reciprocating; that’s the sign.
Just directly ask. Be confident and polite. You can ask in-person or even by email or by any means – just be upfront about it.
Remember to ask them at the right time or when you are on a good note with your customer.
4. Focus On Making Customers’ Experience Shareable
If you are delivering more than you promised and exceeding the expectation of your customers, that’s a great start!
But to really make your customer go out of their way to talk about your brand, you need to give them something worth that.
Any consumer buys or consumes products and services daily. They come across numerous brands and services, so why do they remember you?
So focus on providing an experience that is something unique and outstanding. People only share extraordinary experiences, so if you succeed in that, you win.
Customers always remember extraordinary service, customer assistance, or something they haven’t ever received.
They are more than happy to propagate those experiences with your brand wherever they go or talk to you.
Tips for Creating shareable customer experiences for your customers
- Understand who the customer is, where he/she comes from and what their problems are. Tap on what they really want or need.
- Figure out what success means to them.
- First, try to fill the gaps so they can really communicate with you well on their preferences, requirements, and expectations.
- Always emphasize the solutions you are offering vs. what they have been investing for it so far and how “not” they are working out for them.
- Don’t be “sale-sy” with your customers.
- Be consistent in your efforts and keep them in tabs, even after the transaction is over. Because remember, that’s the best time to ask for referrals.
- Understand what they expect and then deliver something out of scope or unexpected, something better for sure.
5. Recognize And Show Gratitude To Your Referral Sources
Whether you are getting a lot of referrals or few, don’t forget to recognize and show your gratitude to them.
You might get some now, but if you do not react to the referral sources, it might look bad or ungrateful.
And it will definitely not encourage more people to do it, including those who did in the first place. So make sure you highlight those customers who are bringing referrals to you.
You can make a phone call, send an email or even send them a handwritten note. Just show your appreciation, encouraging them to remain connected with you.
They even further do business with you or bring business for you. At least they spread good words about you through reviews, word-of-mouth, etc.
6. Don’t Just Rely On Accidental or Organic Referrals
There are basically two routes to get referrals from your customers –
- Without Reward
- With Reward
So you can do plenty to make sure your customer gets great referrals for your business based on your merit.
In this case, you expect your happy customers to hunt out potential customers for your company without getting any direct benefit.
And that works well but only to some limitations.
Below are some reasons why clients might not recommend you:
- People sometimes forget to get referrals from their friends or family because they are just too busy to do it.
- Sometimes it’s just too much to ask, according to them.
- Customers also tend not to feel comfortable or encouraged enough to push the envelope here.
- Some customers are just too skeptical about doing this.
So there are indeed plenty of reasons why even the happiest of customers might not really push to get your potential customers for you.
And that’s why your business needs a reward program in place.
What is a Referral Reward Program?
A referral or reward program is a systematic, deliberate approach to reward the customers or people who bring referrals for your business.
The aim is to incentivize your customers in exchange for the referrals or potential business they are bringing to you.
These rewards are in the form of referral incentives such as free coupons, major discounts, free access to membership, ticket passes, free access to a paid tool or program, free cash, and others.
Surely there is an upfront cost required to cover the expenses of rewards, but it dramatically increases the revenue of your business in the long-term.
7. Act Instantly On The Positive Feedback
To really get your referrals from customers, you surely need to understand where they stand regarding their experience with you.
You must ensure that you meet or exceed your customers’ requirements and expectations.
But to do that, you need to keep in touch with them. Otherwise, you will miss that.
So make sure you are interacting, collecting, and acting on their feedback regularly.
You can even utilize surveys to get more intricate feedback from your customers. Just try to offer these surveys initially to selective happy customers.
You can go ahead offering the survey to fill out for all of your customers.
You have to position yourself here in a way that customers help you surface the most honest and accurate feedback.
Here you get an opportunity to hear your customers and really improve.
8. Utilize multiple Channels To Get Your Customers Onboard
Often, customers are not comfortable, encouraged, or allowed to refer others to you. There can be numerous reasons.
So, you need to be out of the box to get them at least onboard with you. So you don’t have to be direct all the time.
Use multiple channels or ways to get customers to continue to be part of your company post-transaction.
You can ask them to leave a review or testimonial for your website. Or you can involve them in case studies, research, or in a survey.
So here, they might not be directly referring to or endorsing your brand, but indirectly, they are participating in bringing your business in a positive light.
Not just that, it also somehow keeps connected to you even after the transaction.
9. Put a “Recommend-a-friend” Option on Your Website
The easier you will make your customers refer to someone, the better chances there will be to get potential referrals.
But more than that, you need to make things “cool” for people to be interested in doing that.
To start with, you can at least create a system or functionality where customers, right after purchasing, get to recommend your product/service to their friend(s).
To make it quick, you can use a web page, link, box, or form. It should be easiest and fast to fill.
Many brands pre-fill their form wherever possible, including text like “ Hey [Friend’s name] check out this product I came across..” or something like that.
You can also allow your customers to get their contact list using their email addresses and send personalized referrals to all of them at once.
Don’t worry! There are so many tools, such as InviteBox, ReferralCandy, and so many more, to get you started with this.
The next level will be to develop some unique ideas tagged along with this.
Something so unique and shareable that it makes people recommend your product or serve to their friend(s).
10. Leverage Customer Loyalty Program To Generate Referrals
Whether you have a customer loyalty program already in place or haven’t yet, you need to utilize or leverage it to get referrals from your loyal customers.
But before that, let’s dig in; what is a customer loyalty program?
Customer loyalty programs leverage customers’ loyalty toward brands to generate recurring sales with them in exchange for rewards.
Again, a customer loyalty program is basically a reward program where you offer rewards to your most-frequent customers so they can keep coming back and remain loyal to you.
Now, utilizing customer loyalty programs, you can expect these loyal customers to bring you more business apart from their own allegiance towards you.
You can even further introduce a referral reward program exclusive to your customer loyalty program members.
11. Avoid Accepting Just Any Referral That Comes To You
Not all referral is valuable; only the ones that hold quality and utmost relevance. So it is necessary to examine the merit of the referral.
So do not just ask your customers to refer your products or company to just anyone.
It is essential that the customers referring their friends or people to your company must hold similar interests as your customers.
They will be the ones who will be genuinely interested in your business and will be quality referrals irrespective of whether they convert or not later.
So you must communicate with your customer community that they need to refer based on some common grounds, not randomly.
12. Be Specific While Requesting For Referrals
Many opportunities or possibilities often get lost in inaccurate communication and wrong interpretations.
That also happens when you ask for referrals from your customers, especially on a personal note.
Either they don’t get who they can refer, or they don’t get rough confidence to bring people in due to a lack of information.
Image Source: Austin L. Church
So it is crucial you must be very specific when you request referrals to your customers.
Whether you are in-person, on a phone call, or through email, you need to elaborate on your requirement for this referral.
Tell them who will be an ideal person for this referral but also tell them a spectrum to whom your customer can consider or ask around.
13. Optimize The Framework For Your Customer Referrals
Ideal Framework For To Manage Your Customer Referrals
It is essential you have a strong framework in place not just to get the referrals but also to accommodate it for the best results.
It is machinery you need to develop whether you have a reward program or not.
Either way, customer referrals need an ecosystem to exist first, starting from how you even get them.
Here are some specific strategies and steps to create and customize your custom referral to attain better business.
You need to create this framework right from the bottom to the top. As per requirement, you can decide which areas to be focussed on more than others.
Developing Your Brand Story
It is necessary for people to acknowledge you as a brand more than a business. And brands emit some kind of value and impression to their customers.
So your brand should reflect something, your primary objective, or something interesting and beyond just about business.
Image Source: Pinterest
On top of that, you need to establish your brand story that people can talk about, relate to, and further share.
This brand story must resonate with people who emotionally invest in your products or services.
On the ground level, it impacts how a customer would tell a potential referral about your brand and how influential it is.
Create Extraordinary Products
Another area you should work on is the products or services you offer. After all, that’s what your customers are paying for.
Your product is what gives benefit your customer for being connected to your business.
Image Source: ReferralRock
So you need to focus more on providing products or services better than they expect or your promises. It should be exceptional.
So better your product or services impress your customers, the more conviction they will put in finding referrals for you.
For Example, Zoom Video Conferencing fulfilled all the customer’s requirements, demands, and wants and yet exceeded their expectations to deliver.
Ensuring value is different than extraordinary products. Value is what benefits and how much beneficial the product is to the customers vs. how much it costs them.
So, don’t overlook the value aspect of your products or services, and price isn’t just one metric you should concern about here but more than that.
How much time it consumes is also a valuable commodity to consider here.
Ensure you provide great value to your customer through your products or services.
Image Source: Southwest
For Example, Southwest customers boast about the value they are getting from the brand. They aren’t a luxury airline, and yet customers at such price points get an extremely great experience.
Build and Manage Reputation
Customers refer brands to people due to their positive experience with the brand. And it builds a reputation for the brand.
But it also happens another way around as well. People choose a brand based on the company’s reputation out there.
So even if you get a few happy customers, referrals won’t work if your overall reputation in the market is not good.
But consistent happy customers spreading the word count do build your reputation over time.
Image Source: ReferralRock
More than that, you need to manage it. Make sure you cater to the negative reviews and resolve their issue so they change their stand.
You need to make sure that every word that gets out regarding your business must be positive.
Expanding Your Reach and Network
Keep making friends in your niche and industry. Show support and companionship to other fellow businesses.
The more you give out in the community, you resonate with more and more people, and they will reciprocate as well.
Image Source: Referralrock
Expanding your network and stretch your horizons is essential so you can tap into different sets of people around the world.
For example, Spela Mlekuz from Databox often shares roundup articles on her twitter. She tags all the contributors. So she gets more shares on this as many people are mentioned.
Exceptional Customer Service & Experience
One of the factors crucial for providing a memorable and extremely impressive buying experience is customer service.
Brands that fail to provide efficient customer assistance and experience to their customers are not well-accepted among customers.
It plays a crucial role in the success of your referral marketing as well.
Exceptional customer assistance or experience leads customers to recommend your brand to others.
It is one of the primary reasons for word-of-mouth marketing most of the time.
If you have provided great customer service and customer experience along with extraordinary products, you are more likely to get referrals.
So Focus on offering customer assistance through multiple channels such as :
- Phone support
- Email Support
- In-app chat
- Solution-oriented Articles
- Video explainers
- Video meetings
The second-last part of this framework is how you utilize your existing customers to bring referrals.
Asking for referrals is the most forward aspect of this framework.
But Do remember, for this to work effectively, you must develop previous aspects of this framework.
So if you have done everything right so far, you won’t have to be pushy or edgy when asking for referrals from your customers.
All the previous steps will lead you to ask your customers for referrals in the most organic and natural way.
Initiate a Reward Referral program
The last and the best thing you can do to get the maximum referrals from your customers is to initiate a reward program.
Referral reward programs offer rewards to your customers in exchange for the referral they will bring.
Even for the referral reward program to work effectively, every other aspect of this frame must be in place.
Ensure you provide good incentives to your customers to get you the potential customers.
It is basically an additional layer or cherry on the cake for all other efforts you make to get referrals.
14. Make It Easy for Your Customers To Refer
The easier it will be for your customers to refer, the better your chance of getting that referral from the customer.
You have to respect the time of your customer or clients who even gave the thought to refer to your brand.
Image Source: Practical Ecommerce
The process for referral must be easy for the customers to initiate. Digitally, you know there must be multiple channels to share the links or info.
Have various options like social media channels, emails, text, or links so your customer can share and use it to refer to their friends or family.
Image Source: Campaign Monitor
But more importantly, making them easy to refer to also means communicating well-versed information and brand story with them.
Also, sharing who to consider and how to approach depending upon the product or services.
15. Give Your Customer A Template For Quick Referral
Whenever you ask your customers or clients to refer your company to your friends and family, you also need to understand how busy they could be.
You need to value their time as well. So, offer them a template to make them get you referrals easily and quickly.
Just remove all the heavy-lifting they have to do or think of while they consider getting you some referrals.
You can send them various referral templates. The best might be an email referral template.
They just have to fill in the required details of the person, like Name and all, and send them in no time.
- An Ultimate Guide on Referral Marketing For Small Businesses
- 21 Referral Program Examples: How To Design and Implement!
- Loyalty Marketing 101: How to Create a Strong Customer Base
- How to Create Customer Loyalty: 23 Tips for Retaining Customers
- An Ultimate Guide For Deals & Discount Marketing For Small Businesses
“Business, marketing, and Branding – these three words describe me the best. I am the founder of Burban Branding and Media, and a self-taught marketer with 10 years of experience. My passion lies in helping startups enhance their business through marketing, Branding, leadership, and finance. I am on a mission to assist businesses in achieving their goals.”