“If you build it, they will come.”
That old adage doesn’t exactly fit when it comes to launching your referral program. In fact, in this case, the saying should be: “Just because you built it, doesn’t mean they will come.”
In order to get customers to join your referral program, you need to get strategic about how you’ll promote it — and then commit to promoting it time and time again.
Unfortunately, just shooting an announcement email out to your customers and waiting for subscribers to roll in won’t be enough. In fact, research shows that customers need to be exposed to something 7 times before they consider acting on it!
In this chapter, we’re going to walk through how you can promote your newly designed and ready-to-be-joined referral marketing program — not only to get the word out to your customers, but to motivate them to act.
The first step, of course, is announcing your referral program to your customers.
Announce your program via email
While email alone isn’t going to drum up engagement, it’s a good place to start.
Sending a dedicated email to your mailing list is one of the best (and simplest) ways to announce that your referral program is live. Make sure the email is full of fanfare — you want your customer to feel as excited as you are about this new opportunity, so if you don’t have experience writing these types of emails, consider hiring a specialized copywriter who can help.
This announcement email is intended to:
- Make people aware of your referral program (and explain how it works!)
Explain very concisely how your new referral program works, and what customers have to do to be a part of it. Remember: some recipients may have never even heard of a referral program before, so don’t assume they know what you’re talking about!
Keep your description to the point and easy to follow. Break your email down into steps, and/or use bullet points and images. Don’t tease the information, leaving too much up to interpretation. Outline the reward, and the action required to ‘win’ it.
- Nudge them to take action now
Of those people who do open and read your email, many of them will still think: “Meh, this isn’t for me.” So anticipate and address their objections in your email. Counter any arguments you think they may have and continue stressing the benefits of getting involved.
(Again, this is where expert copywriting comes in super handy.)
But it’s not enough to ask them to take part, you need to make it easy for them as well. Build share links straight into your email, so they can act as your ambassador with just a few clicks.
Humans like shortcuts: the fewer steps required, the more likely we are to take part. For example, you could include 1-click link sharing options like “Share this on Twitter”.
- Tap into their wants and needs
Everyone likes to feel like a leader or influencer. There’s a certain buzz we get from introducing our friends, family and colleagues to a product or service that saves money, and/or makes life easier or more enjoyable.
But you can step things up a notch, too, if you want.
If you know what the recipient likes (if you have access to their ‘wishlist’ or they have items sitting in their shopping cart, for example) then you’re sat on a gold mine of motivation. With a little strategic personalization, you can tap into their wants and needs. E.g. “Refer your friends and get 20% off PRODUCT X!”, where “PRODUCT X” is something they have shown interest in. Now that’ll get their attention!
Post-purchase pages or pop-ups
Ideally you want to "pitch" your referral program when your customers are the height of happiness with your product. You can use different "signals" to determine happiness, such as a positive review or a high NPS score, but the strongest signal is probably a purchase. When people buy from you they are saying "I like what you do so much that I'm giving you my hard earned money for it".
A post-purchase page or pop-up is one of the best places to tell your customers about your referral program, but there are two caveats:
- Don't show the post-purchase page or popup too often. 2-3 times a month is about right for most businesses.
- Show this post-purchase page or popup from the second purchase onwards. This gives first-time customers time to use your product and service and be more genuine when they recommend it to their friends.
If you have a social media presence, now’s the time to use it. Social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram are really effective mediums for promoting a referral program. Here’s why:
- Some of your customers will be followers, and some of your followers will be customers. While not every follower will have bought from you before, many of them will have (or will be thinking about it, at least). If you promote your referral program across your social channels, you’ll reach more potential ambassadors than you would by email alone.
- Social proof is a force to be reckoned with. If followers of your followers see them posting about your program, there’s a good chance they’ll check you out. After all, people are likely to mimic the actions of those around them. If they see people they admire sharing your information, they’ll feel compelled to get involved — bringing you organic growth.
- Social makes sharing incredibly simple. Social media is built for sharing — so make the most of it! It couldn’t be easier for social media users to spread your message and, who knows, you could go viral! Through social sharing, you’re basically outsourcing your referral program promotion.
- Social media connects people with similar interests. If your ambassadors share your content via their social channels, you’ll have a good chance of reaching other ideal customers through them. Birds of a feather flock together, and that goes for social media, too.
Use content to cut through the noise
The internet is a busy place.
But content is a great way to draw attention to your business — and specifically, your referral program. If you have a blog, it’s certainly not a bad idea to write about your new referral program there. A blog post can provide more context and detail than a social post or email could, incentivizing readers to take part.
Then you could use that blog to share on social, that way all the details are in one (easy to share) location.
Create a dedicated web page for your referral program
Remember those dedicated landing pages we talked about in Part 2? They play a big part in the promotion of your referral program, too.
After all, a referral program landing page is the most logical place to direct traffic to, whether you’ve used email, social media or blog content to spread the word.
Then, once your customer has joined the referral program, this page can also act as a shortcut to their unique referral link, while showing them how many people they’ve referred, how close they are to a reward, and troubleshooting any FAQs.
Most importantly you should make this page highly visible, by linking to it in your website’s navigation bar. Not only does that make it easy for referees to find, it may just attract new ambassadors into your network.
And you don’t need the help of a coder to get this done. You can build a simple, but effective, referral page using ReferralHero’s widgets.
Follow-up, follow-up and follow-up again
Okay, so the word is out.
Now’s the time to sit back and let word-of-mouth look after itself, right?
Not quite yet! Sending your mailing list one or two emails is not going to be enough to get buy-in from everyone — following up is key. If you send a weekly or monthly newsletter as part of your inbound strategy, save a section in each edition for your referral program. Share updates and success stories; make other subscribers want to get involved and, again, make it easy for everyone to share their link.
Make the most of positive interactions
We’ve talked a lot about email in this chapter, but you can use any positive interaction with your brand to remind customers about your referral program.
Capitalize on the moments people are most pleased with you — they are much more inclined to refer a friend after a positive experience with your brand. The trick is pinpointing when all of these moments usually happen.
Purchases are, of course, a good indicator. But, repeat purchases are even better. So, remind buyers about your amazing refer-a-friend program after they make their second or third purchase, or once they’ve been using your service for 3-4 months, if you're a SaaS or subscription company.
Another good moment is when they leave a positive review or a high net promoter score.
Get comfortable with acknowledging your wins, and seek to drive even more value in those moments.
Final tips and tricks for promoting your referral program
Once you’ve tackled the promotional basics, you may want to take things to the next level.
Automated emails, sent in line with certain triggers, pack a real punch when it comes to timely awareness. Say an ambassador’s engagement drops, or a customer hasn’t purchased for a while. Bring them back into the fold with an offer “they can’t refuse”.
And while we call this the ‘next level’, you don’t need to be a whizz to set it up.
If you’re using ReferralHero, you can simply roll out the “reminder email” function and we’ll take care of the rest.
What about promoting your referral program to new customers?
In this chapter, we’ve discussed in detail how to introduce your referral program to all of your current customers. And, you’ll be pleased to know that all of the same tips can be applied to new customers as well.
However, you don’t want to tell them about your referral program right away.
After all, your new customers don’t know you yet. They are still to experience the true value of your product or service.
Give them time to get familiar with your brand. Build their trust and, ideally, wait for a sign that shows their support (like a positive review, a high Net Promoter Score, a positive interaction with customer service, etc) before you ask them to recommend you.
Then, crack on!