The following post was written by a Birdeye customer.
Remember, the story of Jack and the Beanstalk? It ends with Jack getting a goose that laid golden eggs. As a marketer who uses a great referrals program, I have one thing to say: Referrals are your golden goose. If you want the golden eggs, you need to be intentional in the development, execution and follow-up of your referral program. Let me talk about how the company I work for, Emerald Lawns, got started with a referral program and how you can get started too.
Why we prioritized referral marketing
Here are a few stats which made us see the importance of referral marketing.
- People are 4X more likely to buy when referred by a friend
- 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know
- One word-of-mouth referral drives 5X more sales than one paid online advertisement
Our referral story
In my first weeks as CMO for Emerald Lawns, I found that only 38% of our sales were generated from customer referrals. For a services operation, I realized we need to be achieving at least 65% of our new business from referrals. Prior to our on-boarding of Birdeye’s Referral platform, we were like the other 77% of mid-size businesses that did not prioritize or initiate an intentional referral marketing program.
Prior to starting with Birdeye Referrals, we did not know who or how many loyal customers were making referrals and to whom. Now that we’ve implemented the Birdeye Referral platform, we have all of the information we need to reward our existing customers and welcome our new ones.
I appreciate the simplicity and integration of Birdeye for one reason. Between Reviews, Chatbot, Livechat, FAQs and Referrals, we now have a way to identify and engage with our “brand ambassadors” aka our happiest customers. Birdeye does all the heavy lifting. The platform automatically sends referral requests and track which one of our customers are actually sending these referrals to friends and family. That enables us to focus on campaign development and optimization.
5 Tips to Start Generating Referrals
Want to start your own referral program? Here are 5 lessons that we learned from sending customer referrals.
Have a Target – Know What Your Aiming For
You must have a goal to measure your progress. State exactly what you’d like to accomplish with your program – say, “motivate 50 current customers to refer friends to purchase thereby, generating 35 new customers over the next 6 weeks”. This way you have a clear picture of what you’re trying to accomplish and can determine if your plan is really achieving the results you’re after.
It’s All About Timing
Your ideal “brand ambassador” is very familiar with your product or service. Review your customer lists and identify those who have:
- Been loyal for the longest period of time
- Generate higher than average revenue
- Early adopters of any new products or services you offer
- Purchase more frequently than average
Asking for a referral during your first interaction with a customer probably won’t net you the results you’re looking for. Reach out to your customer base at the right time – when they’ve had a good experience with you or recently made a purchase are good times. The key – develop a relationship first, and the rest will fall into place.
What’s in it for Them – Make it Worthwhile
For customers to sing praises about you, make it worth their time. Offer incentives your advocates will enjoy and, more importantly, show them that they are valued. Many customers might be motivated more by altruistic reasons than self-interested ones, so keep that in mind. An incentive can be something as simple as a shout-out on social or a simple “Thank you”. The more your customers feel appreciated, the more likely they’ll be to spread the word about your brand to their own networks.
Put Your Program on Center Stage
If happy customers don’t know about your referral program, then how can they take advantage of it?
Too many businesses have referral programs in place, but they’re so hidden on the website that customers don’t know about it. To effectively promote a referral program, strategically place it on your Home page, Contact Us page and if you have an e-commerce site the Checkout page. So, when a customer visits your website, they’ll see the program front and center in all key locations.
Nothing is More Powerful Than “Thank You”
Finally, don’t forget to thank your “ambassadors” after every successful referral. It could be as simple as an email, or as elaborate as sending a gift – the key – don’t cut corners in this step, be deliberate. It must communicate a genuine message that you appreciate their support and value them. This will, in turn, further nurture those important relationships and encourage future referrals.
An intentionally developed referral program makes your business more profitable. Still, it’s only as good as the work you put into it. Start with these 5 simple tips. It’s the first step to developing “raving fans” who will bring other revenue-generating advocates for your brand.
Check out the Birdeye referral marketing eBook
If you want to learn more about referral marketing, check out this Birdeye eBook. It includes some tips and tricks that aren’t in this article.
Originally published Aug 21, 2020, updated