How to Get Referrals Like Intercom

December 6, 2017

Intercom is no doubt one of the fastest growing startups in the world.
Born 6 years ago with the goal of helping companies build “personal relationships with their customers”, today it has over 17,000 paying customers and it keeps adding
600 paying customers every 10 days.

But how did they get started and what sparked their initial growth?
In this blog post, we will analyze how Intercom has managed to build an efficient and low-cost acquisition model using e-books and how you can do the same.

When in doubt, start writing

If you don’t have a big budget, content marketing can be your best option to acquire users cheaply and at scale. Yes, you need to write great content — something people will be willing to read and share — but it doesn’t really require many resources except for your time and creativity.

One of the most effective ways to generate leads with content marketing is to create a very specific e-book about something your target audience cares a lot about and give it away for free, in exchange for their email address.

When Intercom published its first e-book, it did all that… with a twist.
Giving your email address wasn’t enough; you also had to refer a friend.
Only when you entered a friend’s email address did you get the e-book in your inbox.

You can easily see how ingenious this strategy is: Intercom doesn’t just get your email address; it also “hires” you (though without paying you) to refer people to them. You become their unpaid sales force.

Intercom hasn’t disclosed numbers about how many leads they got with this strategy, but we can easily assume it’s been very successful. Indeed, it’s been so successful that it has become their default strategy for all their e-books*.

The good news is that you don’t need to be Intercom to use this strategy. The even better news is that you can use a tool like Maître to automate everything from start to end, and get the same results.

Ready to generate tons of leads? Let’s get started!

How to generate leads like a PRO

Let’s assume you have already written a great e-book (whilst writing an e-book is by no mean a simple task, we are not going into the details of that. Pro hint: if your e-book sucks this strategy won’t work). All we need to do now is to design a landing page, embed a referral widget, drive some initial traffic and sit back while leads roll in.

1. The landing page

The first thing we need to do is to create a good looking landing page.
At the very least, your page will need to explain, as concisely as possible, what the e-book is about, who is it for and how it helps them. Bonus points if you can also add one or two positive testimonials from people who have read the e-book.  Once again, Intercom nails this part. Their landing pages are just beautiful.

PS: If you are not a designer and/or a developer, worry not. You can easily find your perfect design from thousands of ready-made landing pages on ThemeForest or create it yourself using Carrd or Instapage.

For the purpose of this blog post, we have created a fake landing page using Carrd. You can see the result here.

2. Embed a referral widget

There are many ways in which you can embed a referral mechanism. You can build it yourself (if you have the knowledge, resources and bandwidth to do it) or you can use a plug-and-play solution like Maître.

Maître is a powerful referral tool that allows you to create any referral program in minutes. It’s easy-to-use, highly customizable and designed for non-developers.

Let’s see how you can embed a refer-a-friend mechanism, using Maître, in less than 30 minutes.

Choose the right tool

Maître currently offers 3 types of referral tool: a waiting list, a sweepstake and a lead magnet.
For our purposes, we will choose the Viral Lead Magnet.

Viral Lead Magnets are great if you want to incentivize people to refer their friends in exchange for specific bonuses. You can choose how many bonuses people can unlock and how many friends they need to refer to unlock each bonus. In our example, we will only have 1 bonus that is unlocked when they invite 1 friend.

Add your bonus

After you choose the Viral Lead Magnet, you will be asked to enter your bonus(es). For now, simply add 1 bonus.

In a second we will create the email and attach the e-book.

Finish the campaign

Complete the wizard to finish setting up your campaign. At the end of the setup process, you will be given a snippet of code. Simply copy and paste that code onto your landing page exactly where you want your sign-up form to appear and you are ready to go.

Send the e-book

So far so good. Now we need to make sure that those who refer a friend will receive an email with a link to the e-book. Setting this up with Maître it’s super simple and will allow you to make sure everyone will receive the email automatically upon successfully referring a friend.

  1. In your campaign dashboard go to Settings > Bonuses.
  2. In there you should see the bonus we have created earlier. Click on “Edit”.
  3. In this page, simply switch on the “Send email when bonus is unlocked” toggle.
  4. Write the email and don’t forget to include the link to the e-book!

3. Drive some traffic

Now your page is complete. You have tested everything and you are ready to launch. What now?

Truth is: your campaign is likely to fail if you don’t send some initial traffic to it. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how visually appealing your landing page is or how beautifully written your e-book is if nobody sees it.

We have written extensively about how to drive traffic to your page.

4. Sit back and watch the leads rolling in

Surely you can (and should) always tweak and optimize your campaign. However, if you have done your homework you can now relax. The first wave of traffic will be brought by you but then these people will refer their friends, who will refer their friends, who will refer their friends, in an almost unlimited referral loop.

One of the most powerful features of Maître is its advanced analytics.
Everything is tracked and you always know what is working and what isn’t, how many people are referring their friends, and what percentage of your mailing list has referred at least 1 friend.

Going beyond simple refer-a-friend

What if you want to create a more sophisticated referral campaign? Some examples:

  1. Subscriber gets the first chapter upon signing up and rest of the book when refers a friend
  2. Subscriber gets free e-book when refers 1 friend and 50% discount for the hard copy when refers 10 friends
  3. Subscriber gets free e-book only when refers 5 friends

All these options are possible with Maître.
If you are interested in creating something even more complex, shoot us an email.

* Intercom now offers the possibility to pay $5 to get the e-book immediately. All money goes to Code2040.

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