When you have a problem that needs solving, where do you look? Most people turn to their network. Whether you are looking for a new healthcare practice, a new car, or a realtor, you typically reach out to the people you trust – your friends, relatives, or people you know who will guide you without bias. These people, whose opinion you trust, act as promoters of the business they recommend. The impact and importance of customer referrals are undeniable. It is a powerful tool to acquire new customers without actually making a big dent in your marketing budget.

With referrals, businesses can enable the most powerful marketing engine that they have: their own customers. 

Impact of referrals 

Not sold on the importance of referrals? Here are a few numbers that might change your mind. 

  • Customers are 4x more likely to buy when they have a recommendation from a friend (Nielsen)
  • You can expect 16% more profits from customers who have been referred to a business. (Harvard Business Review
  • 64% of marketing executives said that word-of-mouth recommendations were the most effective form of marketing. However, only 6% of executives say that they’ve mastered it. (Forbes

Meanwhile, trust in traditional forms of marketing is low. 

These stats tell the story: customers trust their friends and people they trust to help guide their purchase decisions significantly more than they trust typical marketing. 

Before we talk about how you can create a successful customer referral marketing program, let’s talk about what makes referrals work. 

3 reasons why referrals work 

Here are 3 reasons why referrals work so well in helping businesses attract new customers. 

1. Customer referrals are low-cost

Unlike Google ads or Facebook ads, customer referrals, when done correctly, are inexpensive. 

2. Customer referrals lead to more trust

When potential customers come to your business, they’ll be more likely to trust you. After all, they know their friend or family member had a positive experience. 

3. Customer referrals create a virtuous cycle

Once your business’s referral engine is working smoothly, it can lead to more and more growth. Customers who come in through referrals can, in turn, give you more referrals. 

Creating an effective referral marketing process

Now that you know more about the importance of referrals, here’s how you can get started with referral marketing. Here are a few steps that you can take to make sure that your referral marketing process is working effectively and attracting new customers.

Deliver fantastic customer experiences 

Customers don’t want to recommend businesses they just feel “okay” about. In order to make sure that your customers want to rave about your business, take time to improve your overall operations and ensure that you’re delivering a world-class customer experience

Reach out to your customers at the right time 

Strike when the ‘iron is hot.’ If you are confident that you have provided an excellent experience to your customers (eg: feedback in the form of reviews and survey responses), the time is right to ask them to refer your business.  

Offer an incentive to your customers to refer your business 

Chances are that you have tons of happy customers. The problem is that not all of them will go out of their way to refer your business within their network proactively. To help give your customers an extra push, offer an incentive in the form of a discount or a gift card (or any other item of value to the customer) for every recommendation. 

Make the process easy 

If the process of giving a recommendation is too lengthy and complicated, even your most motivated customers aren’t going to go through with it. Make sure you’re making it easy for customers to share a referral. Give them something that they can easily share through text or email.

FAQs about the importance of referrals

What is the importance of the referral process?

The referral process is important to every business because it brings high-quality leads at a comparatively low cost and creates a virtuous cycle of customers trusting you and bringing more people in for your business.

Why are client referrals so important?

Client referrals are important because it shows your business is doing something right and that your customers are willing to trust you. Referral leads also close faster as they come from a place of trust.

What is the importance of referrals in healthcare?

Leads in healthcare can be harder to close as it takes a lot of trust-building for a customer to choose a hospital, clinic, or physician. When customers reach out to you via referrals, they already trust you, which makes lead closure much easier.

What is the importance of documentation during referrals?

Referrals are an exercise in trust building. Having the right documentation during referrals makes tracing them easier, rewarding customers who referred leads, and building a stronger referral process.

Why is it important to build a database of clients/referral sources?

When you have a database of clients/referral sources, you can run many successful referral campaigns and attribute revenue to the correct source for your business.

Get your customers to do your marketing

Customer referrals are a great way to get more customers at a low cost. So what are you waiting for? Get started asking your customers for referrals.