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If you're looking for a cost-effective marketing strategy that drives word-of-mouth recommendations, then referral marketing is the way to go. By creating a formalized referral program, you can turn your existing customers into advocates and bring in a steady stream of new customers. In this ultimate guide to referral marketing, we'll explore everything you need to know to get started with a referral program that works.What is Referral Marketing?
Referral marketing is a word-of-mouth marketing strategy that motivates your existing customers to share your brand, products, or services with their friends, family, and colleagues. Within a referral program, the existing customer earns a reward whenever someone they refer makes their first
To encourage customers to refer their peers, a brand will prominently promote the referral incentives on offer. These incentives could include gift cards, discounts, store credits, free products, or swag. Customers who use the referral program receive referral links to share with their network, so the business can easily track referral sharing.
Why Do You Need a Referral Program?
Referral programs generate leads and sales through the power of trust. When a potential customer is in need of a product or service, they're most likely going to ask a friend or family member for a recommendation first. According to Nielsen, 84% of consumers trust referrals from friends and family more than any other source of information about a brand.
Referral programs also track the referrals that customers make. Without a tracking element, it's hard to know the impact of word-of-mouth recommendations. But thanks to a referral program, word-of-mouth marketing becomes measurable.
Top Benefits of Referral Programs
A customer referral program can benefit businesses of any size, in any industry. Here are some of the main benefits that come from starting your own referral program:
1. Standardizes the Sharing Process
If your business offers exceptional products and services, customers will be happy to refer you to others. However, even your happiest customers may not always remember to spread the word about your business. Unless they see a friend or family member in need of your product or service, they might never think of referring others.
This is where a referral program software can help. A referral program standardizes the way you invite and reward customers for sharing your brand with others. By offering a formal referral program - with clear and attractive rewards - you can increase the odds of your business getting word of mouth.
2. Attracts New Customers at a Very Low Cost
Referral programs encourage your current customers to spread the word about your business with the promise of a reward. The cost of referral rewards is fixed (per referral), and these incentives are only paid for performance. The result is a much lower customer acquisition cost compared to most types of advertising.
3. Brings in High-Quality Customers
Referred customers have a higher retention rate than other customers and are proven to bring more value to your business. They are proven to spend more, and are more likely to make a repeat purchase. They also have a higher customer lifetime value than customers who were not referred.
4. Has a Proven Track Record of Success
Some of the most popular businesses have seen success thanks to a strong customer referral program.
- PayPal's famous referral program literally gave away money. The company started out by offering $20 to start an account, and another $20 to refer their friends. As one of the first notable referral programs, it helped PayPal achieve 7-10% daily growth and a user base of over 100 million.
- Dropbox also offered a referral program that was greatly inspired by PayPal. It led to a 60% increase in user signups, with over 2.8 million referrals taking place in the first 18 months. Even today, 35% of all signups come from the company's referral program.
- A leading German bank offered €25 ($28) for every successful referral. The results? Its referred customers generated 16% greater profits and were 18% more likely to stay with the bank.
Unfortunately, even with all of these benefits, not enough companies are taking advantage of referral programs. A study shows 71% of startups don't have a referral marketing program in place.
How to Start a Referral Program
Now that you know the benefits of a referral program, let's explore how to start one for your business.
1. Set Clear Goals
Before starting a referral program, it's important to set clear goals. What do you want to achieve with your referral program? Do you want to increase your customer base, boost sales, or improve customer loyalty? Setting clear goals will help you measure the success of your referral program and make any necessary adjustments.
2. Identify Your Ideal Customer Profile
To make the most out of your referral program, you need to identify your ideal customer profile. Who is your target audience? What are their needs and pain points? By understanding your ideal customer profile, you can tailor your referral program incentives to attract the right kind of customers.
3. Choose Your Referral Program Incentives
The incentives you offer are critical to the success of your referral program. Choose incentives that are attractive to your customers and align with your business goals. Some popular incentives include discounts, free products or services, gift cards, and cash rewards.
4. Create a Dedicated Referral Page
To make it easy for customers to share your brand, create a dedicated referral page on your website. This page should include information on your referral program, instructions on how to share referrals, and clear incentives for both the referrer and the referred.
5. Promote Your Referral Program
Promote your referral program across all of your marketing channels, including social media, email, and your website. Make sure to highlight your incentives and explain how your referral program works.
6. Track and Measure Your Results
Finally, track and measure the results of your referral program to ensure its success. Use tracking software to keep track of referrals and measure the ROI of your program. Make any necessary adjustments to increase the program's effectiveness.
Referral Program Best Practices
To make the most of your referral program, here are some best practices to keep in mind:
1. Make It Easy to Share
Make it as easy as possible for customers to share your brand. Provide clear instructions on how to share referrals, and create shareable content that customers can easily post on social media.
2. Offer Attractive Incentives
Choose incentives that will motivate customers to refer their friends and family. Make sure the incentives are valuable enough to encourage action.
3. Keep It Simple
Don't overcomplicate your referral program. Keep it simple and easy to understand, with clear instructions and incentives.
4. Follow Up with Referrals
When a referral makes a purchase, make sure to follow up with them to thank them for their business. This will help build customer loyalty and encourage future referrals.
5. Monitor and Adjust
Regularly monitor the results of your referral program and make necessary adjustments to increase its effectiveness.
Referral Program Examples
Here are some examples of successful referral programs:
Dropbox's referral program offers both the referrer and the referred 500MB of extra storage space for free. This incentive helped Dropbox achieve a 60% increase in user signups.
Uber's referral program offers both the referrer and the referred a free ride. This incentive helped Uber grow rapidly and become one of the most successful startups in recent years.
Airbnb's referral program offers both the referrer and the referred $20 off their next booking. This incentive helped Airbnb grow its user base and become one of the most popular travel websites in the world.
Referral marketing is a powerful tool for growing your business. By creating a formalized referral program, you can turn your existing customers into advocates and bring in a steady stream of new customers. Follow the steps outlined in this ultimate guide to start your own referral program and reap the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing.