Three key components of a successful referral program:
1. You consistently treat your customers well – with or without their referral
The customers who will go to bat for you are the ones you’ve taken care of for the entirety of your relationship. If your marketing and support communications stopped the moment they signed their contract, it’s more than likely that they aren’t going to be willing to pass out referrals. Good will is a two-way street. It’s just plain good business practice to make your customers feel known, valued, and well supported. This kind of communications helps keep customers loyal when your competitors come calling. It reduces churn and encourages upsell; and pays off again when your customers become advocates for your brand and your products.
Three easy ways to help your customers feel good about their purchase:
- Automate the onboarding process so your customers have access to a plethora of tools, resources, and additional help (if necessary).
- Evaluate the health of your customers by scoring each account according to their usage and results. This will help you identify and prioritize when it’s time to get in touch to provide solutions, troubleshooting, or training. Get ahead of problems, so you can solve them before they sour the customer relationship.
- Give public shout-outs to customers who are killing it. They may be using your product, but it’s their hard work that’s driving their success. Acknowledge those who are doing well; they’ll remember it when it comes time to asking for a referral.
2. You make it easy & clear how your customers can refer you
If 83% of satisfied customers are more than willing to refer your company, but only 29% actually do – where’s the disconnect? This could be attributed to many things, but the most obvious is that companies are not asking for that referral, and if they are, they’re not making it easy.
If you want your new advocate to go out of their way to endorse your product or service, the least you could do is give them a simple, clear, easy way to make their referral. Share a well-designed landing page with the customers you are confident would be willing to advocate for you.
Three elements of a successful referral marketing program landing page:
- Clean, simple layout that clearly defines your program and what you are asking them to do.
- An offer for a reward, should the referral they make come to fruition.
- Links to a well-tailored selection of your BEST content for customers to share with those they are referring.
3. You make it worth their while to refer you
While some customers may be so passionate about your product or service that they want to shout it from the rooftops, the majority of customers will need a little bit of motivation to refer your organization. It is, after all, asking your customers to spend precious time, and stick their neck for your benefit. Successful referral programs almost always offer a reward to those willing to give referrals, most often contingent on whether the referral successfully converts into a paying customer.
Offering a cash reward for a B2B referral is tacky, and it can look like you’re paying your customers for positive reviews, which would be unethical. You want to reward organic referrals, not pay people to construct them. It’s also important to remember that there will likely be multiple people at an organization involved in a customer referral, so you want to reward the organization, not the individual. Offers like iPads, gift cards, or golf clubs are great rewards – but they can only be owned by one person.
Four ideas for rewards that are both appropriate, and enticing:
- An annual subscription to a relevant publication
- A discount for your product or service, or an extra layer of something
- A cash donation to charity of their choice
- A gift of food (cookies, perhaps) that can be enjoyed by everyone in the company
Marketing today isn’t just about getting customers in the door, it’s also about increasing customer lifetime value, and turning customers into advocates. The value that marketing is able to offer the business is expanding, as the marketer’s role itself grow to encompass all the lifecycle stages, from branding to demand generation, to retention, expansion, and advocacy.