Referral success can lead to tremendous growth for your business. Studies show that referrals are one of the most effective and cost-effective methods in getting new customers or leads.
The power of referrals lies in the power of trust. When your friends or family recommend you to try a particular product or service, you are more likely to try it because you trust them. As a result, referral success can really lead to business success.
According to Nielsen, 92% of customers trust recommendations coming from friends and family.
Think of your business as a web of connections. Each person your business interacts with has a network of people that your business can give value to.
This article will show you 18 strategies that you can leverage to boost your referral success.
Direct request for referral
If you have an established relationship with someone already, e.g, friends, colleagues, family, you can approach them and ask them nicely if you could refer them to others. You may even give them a little incentive like a referral deal to sweeten the request.
Always be in the mindset that you’re offering something valuable to the world and as such, it would be a crime not to promote your business to have more people benefit. Asking for referrals shows confidence in your business. Always show confidence (but not arrogance) when you ask people for referrals. Be proud but be focused on delivering value to other people.
Tap your best clients or customers
Your happiest and most satisfied clients or customers can be leveraged to spread the word for you. It will be easy for you to ask them for referrals because they trust you and they can personally vouch for their recommendation. This will certainly lead to referral success.
One of the difficulties with getting referrals is when people don’t trust the brand. Your goal as a business is to really delight your customers so that they can become super fans of your business and help you spread the good word.
Figure out among your existing pool of clients who are the most influential and most outspoken. Focus your referral efforts on them first. They will boost your referral success tremendously if you unleash them right off the bat.
Go beyond the extra mile to boost referral success
It’s important to continue maintaining good relationships with previous customers so that they can be great ambassadors of your brand. If you find something that can be valuable to them, e.g. a product (even if by a competitor) or you found something online that can be useful to them, you should be sending them those.
Exceed expectations, dazzle your customers and they’ll be your lifetime brand ambassadors. As Seth Godin says, be a purple cow. Make sure you stand out from others through your product and customer service.
Make your story sticky and they’ll be compelled to talk about you to others.
Over deliver and surprise them with a bonus after you have delivered the product or service to them.
This will strengthen your relationship with them and they will be more inclined to refer your business to others. It doesn’t take much to pop them a message or email them.
Always be thankful and appreciate your referral sources
Get as personal as possible when thanking your referral sources. It could be a handwritten note, a holiday card, or a simple phone call. This action tells them that you value their help and they will be motivated to continue helping promote your business to their network.
Make it a practice to ask new customers how they heard about you. Then give a little treat to the one that referred the new customer to you.
Tap your current clients to ensure referral success
If you’re a service provider and you’re currently working with them, it’s good to ask for referrals from them especially if they’re satisfied with how the project is going. Their positive emotions about your business will be high and they will be glad to find someone in their network to promote your business. Offer some incentives to sweeten your request. Incentives can tremendously boost your referral success.
Always remember that the best referrals come after your client has had the opportunity to witness and experience the tremendous value that your business is delivering.
But of course, don’t ask for the referral at the cash register or when you’re presenting their invoice. Time it nicely earlier in the buying process when they will be more receptive.
When they give you a compliment, thank them and ask for a referral. Who might be interested in getting your product or service? They know that if they recommend well, their influence in their social circle will grow.
Make sure your contact information is easily accessible and make it easy for them to refer
One thing that will determine your referral success is to make it easy for your network to promote you. This means your contact information like email address and phone number are everywhere, e.g. in your marketing materials, email signatures, invoices, and social media.
You can even make unique business cards and give them to your employees, key customers, and friends so that when they’re on the go, they can easily get your business card and give them to the right market.
Finally, make sure that your contact details in your customer’s mobile phone so that they can easily share your details with the right people.
Make it easy for them by providing your brochures, latest newsletter or any of your marketing materials that they can easily distribute that will describe what you offer to the market.
Optimize your website so that there are plenty of call to actions there that will influence your website visitors to share or refer the site or content to others.
If you have an online store, make a request for referral at the end of the successful transaction. They just had a positive experience with you and they’ll be more receptive to a request to refer your product or service to their network.
Be creative on how they can refer you to other potential customers
People can refer customers to you in other ways aside from direct referrals. You can ask for a testimonial or even have your clients as part of a case study. At the end of the day, these things show that they are endorsing and recommending your business to others. Research shows that customer testimonials are highly trusted by people.
Get specific when requesting for referrals
Who are you really targeting with your new product? Are they women? What age are they? Knowing the nature of your ideal customers helps people you ask for referrals to spot quickly in their network the ones who might be interested in your product or service.
How will be the process of referral? Tell them explicitly how they can help promote your business.
Know where your target customers hang out so you can strategically target referrals in those places.
Boost your referral success by creating marketing materials that make it easy for referrals
For each of your marketing materials, insert there a part where people who will prefer you can write their names there and hand them out to their network. It gives also a sense of seriousness to your goal of getting referral success.
You can also craft templates that make it easy for them to just copy and paste and distribute immediately to a potential client.
In fact, you should combine bits and pieces of your marketing materials and turn them into a referral kit for others.
Refer others to products and services you believe in
If you truly believe in the product or service your clients provide, promote them as well. They will be grateful for your trust and will gladly reciprocate it by promoting your business too.
Being helpful is the right thing to do and the reciprocal referral is just a bonus. By focusing on helping others authentically, you can bet that the universe will help you back in return.
In fact, the products and services that you refer need not necessarily be your clients. It could be other businesses that you have tapped for their services. For example, you might have hired a freelance graphic designer before to make the logo for your website. So if someone asks you for a recommendation for a graphic designer, recommend him or her. They will likely return the favor at the correct time. The idea is that you’re always in their minds.
The golden rule must always be followed: Give and you shall receive
Never ever promote something that you do not believe it. If the thing you promoted is a poor product or service, you will lose influence and respect in your social network.
Always stay in touch and follow up with your previous clients
This will boost your referral success because they know that you really care about them even if you’re not earning anything from them. So a regular email or chat with your previous clients can go a long way and will help you be always at the top of their minds and when the right moment comes, you’ll be their first choice for a recommendation.
Engage them online by commenting on their social media platforms and current projects.
Leverage the power of Linkedin
When used strategically, Linkedin is a great platform to get referrals and get introduced to new clients. Linkedin allows you to be able to reach out to the connections of your connection. There is likely to be a similarity in between them and the chances of them needing your product or service is high. You can use Linkedin’s Advance People Search feature to help you find second-degree connections that your current contact can help initiate the contact.
One important thing to do on Linkedin is to optimize your profile. Make sure it is updated. Secondly, participate in Linkedin. Reach out to others, be a valuable presence by sharing relevant content and engage others in a conversation. Seek to deliver value at all times.
Turn your clients into VIPs to boost referral success
Referral success can happen when you make your clients feel highly valued. So if you have a new product underway, e.g. an app, or ebook, give them the opportunity to preview it, beta test it or to give feedback.
By doing so, they will feel valued and will return the favor by referring you to their network. You should also give your clients discounts to events and early access to upcoming sales. The idea is that by making your customers the priority, they will also make you their priority.
Engage your current clients online by commenting on their social media platforms and current projects. It’s natural we grow to like people who like us. Engaging them in various platforms show them that we like and care about them.
Treat each customer contact as a stepping stone to your next referral. For each interaction with them, you are building a layer of trust that will one day provide you the valuable referral that you seek. Soon, you will boost your referral success tremendously. Just keep at it.
Optimize your email marketing
Make sure that the regular emails that you send out to your clients are easy to be shared. Make it easy for them to share it. Always put a call to action at the end of your emails encouraging them to share or forward them to their colleagues or other people they think will benefit from your email.
To make them compelled to share your email newsletters, always make sure you craft valuable content for them. Deliver good value that they can’t help but share them.
You should also craft the referral email for your clients and they just have to write their name in and forward to their network.
Treat new customers like magic
Blow the minds of your first-time customers. Treat them like VIPs and give them an incredible experience that will compel them to tell others of their experience. Always remember that you only get one chance to meet every new customer. Make sure that it is amazing.
Experiment with different incentives to boost referral success
This is to find out which incentive would be the most valued by your advocates. Is it pure cold cash or discounts? Do they prefer a service credit, an upgrade or a free item? Once you find the one that motivates them the most, do more of those incentives.
Go to networking events
This will help you expand your social circle and allow you to get referrals especially if the people you meet enjoyed the conversation and interaction with you. Bring your business cards to make it easy for them to spread the word about your business.
Make it a habit of asking for referrals
It might be awkward and challenging at the start to ask for referrals. However, once it becomes a habit, referral success will become reality as you gain momentum and expertise in asking for a referral.
Asking for a referral is not a one-time thing. You have to do it regularly, e.g. every four months. This is because your network would have had met new people that they possibly can refer to your business.
Final thoughts on referrals: Never be spammy and annoying. Make the whole referral process as humanly and natural as possible. Always focus on the value you’re giving.
Also, thank in advance your clients and network for referring you. This gives them the responsibility on acting on your request. Build your network but most importantly, nurture them so that you can refer them to the good businesses and they will gladly do the same for your business.
May the strategies outlined in this piece help you boost your referral success.