Referrals are an important part of your marketing strategy. They build customer relationships, lower your customer acquisition costs, and it's a great way to get new customers.
But is there a way to get customers or clients to consistently refer your business to friends and family? Simple. You just ask for them. So why don't more businesses do that?
Most companies don't ask for referrals because it looks like they're asking for a favor. But think about the last time you referred a business to a friend or connection.
You didn't do it for the business. You did it because you had a great experience. Maybe the product changed your life, or the service was top class. You know it'll benefit your friend or network connection so you refer them.
Referring elevates your status. But you're also risking your good standing with someone. Especially, if the company you're referring do under delivers.
But there's an art to asking for a referral without sounding desperate or pushy.
In this blog, I’m going to cover the right way to ask for a referral through different mediums. Follow these top tips and my email template and you'll consistently attract new business.
A referral is the act of actively sending someone to a business or expert you believe can solve their problem.
For example, a doctor might refer you to a specialist, an architect might refer you to an interior designer, a friend might recommend a movie or restaurant, and a colleague might refer you for a job.
Referrals work because they're coming from a trusted source. This is most likely someone who has experienced your product or service. They've engaged with your business, they know you, like you, and trust you to deliver results.
Most people won't question the referral. They just accept it as a given fact. If you can leverage someone else's relationship, that's powerful.
In the event that people don't have a trusted source, most consumers will research a product or service online before purchasing it. They might read customer reviews, or product reviews by industry publications. They'll probably contact a salesperson to explain the benefits.
It's a far lengthier process and there is no guarantee they will buy.
Customer referral programs are a systematic approach to generating referrals. Unlike word-of-mouth marketing, you're using referrals as an active part of your marketing strategy.
The truth is, a word of mouth referral is a lot like getting invited to dinner. Sure, that’s one night you don’t have to worry about cooking but it’s not going to pay your bills or keep your lights on.
You need to systemize your referral process. If you don't, you may ask for a referral from two or three customers, but there's no guarantee that they'll do it for you and no guarantee that you’ll consistently keep asking.
So to be guaranteed a pool of new clients, you'll need to build a referral program.
Unlike other ways to ask for a referral where you only send a thank-you note or whatever, a referral program is built with rewards and incentives.
Here's the step-by-step process for building your own referral marketing program.
Think about it. What's that one thing that your customers want? What referral reward would entice to talk about your business to friends, family, colleagues and clients?
It might be a discount on their next purchase, a gift voucher, a freebie, or other rewards that buyers don't typically get.
It doesn't have to be an expensive offer, but it should be something that your customers will find useful and valuable.
If you want your existing customers to participate in your referral marketing campaign, they’ll need to know how it works.
Focus on the what, why, and how of the referral program. Lay out all the information clearly on a landing page, or on whatever platform you'll use to promote it. This clears up any confusion customers may have.
Of course, people need to know that you're launching a referral program, so you need to promote and advertise it.
Think about all the channels your customer base and target market use. Are they on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? Or do they typically use LinkedIn and other B2B platforms?
You need to make sure that you're reaching as many customers as possible.
As you launch your referral program, make sure that you've set up your analytics. You need to know how many people are aware of the referral program, where they've seen your campaign, and how many are participating.
Most importantly, track how many referrals you're getting regularly. This will tell you if the campaign is effective, or if there are some areas that can be further improved or optimized.
As I said, your referral program is an active part of your strategy. Be consistent with it. Instead of acquiring new customers through other forms of marketing tactics, this is a much more cost-effective route.
Hi (FIRST NAME),
I'm X, just emailing because (personalize to why you like what they do).
I'm (designation) for (company name with hyperlink), and this is exactly the kind of thing/product our members read/use and love too.
So, I just wanted to see if there's any chance for us to work with you?
I'm not 100% what that would look like yet (sponsorship/partnership type stuff), but keen to see what's possible.
Would you have time to chat at some point? (email, dm's, zoom, phone - whatever works for you)
There's a misconception that you have to finish a transaction before you ask for a referral. This isn't true at all. It's acceptable to ask for a referral even before a project starts or a customer buys from you.
You can even use this email referral template as a reference. This is something you can send along with your quote or it’s a card you can give in person to the client.
I’m going to do a fantastic job for you, but I do need your help. Much of our new business comes from customers who refer us. This means we don’t need to pay for expensive advertising and can, as a result, keep our service costs down. Typically, we get about three referrals from new customers.
When we complete the job, and you’re 100% satisfied with the work we’ve done, I’d really appreciate it if you could keep in mind three or more other people whom we could also help.
Now why does this referral template work?
First, you're direct about how you're striving to provide awesome results so you can get great feedback and referrals in return.
Second, this kind of communication builds trust. It puts your customer in power when they think a referral is only given once you've done a great job.
And lastly, you're creating an expectation of the number of referrals you'd like without being pushy. Simply put, it creates a win-win culture.
Referral marketing doesn't happen on its own. It needs to be promoted and showcased in different marketing channels—and mainly, I'm talking about social media.
There’s a huge chance your customer base can't live without social media. And they retweet, share, and save all sorts of info on social media, so use this to your advantage.
So here's how to ask for referrals through social media.
Podcasts might be an underrated way to ask for a referral for your business, but trust me, it works. There are over 2 million podcasts out there, and any podcast with an active audience can help you get maximum exposure.
They also tend to be highly engaging mediums for spreading the good word about your business. Since podcasts are audio programs, listeners hang on to every word, making it effective for delivering messages.
If you're interested in asking for a referral through podcasts, think about the shows you want to be part of. And as you create a list of potential podcasts, consider these two things:
So now, what are the next steps when asking for a referral on a podcast?
1. Personalize your pitch: People know if your pitch is pre-templated or personalized. And, more likely, you'll get a response if you choose the latter.
2. Choose a topic you'd like to cover: Podcasts cover different topics per episode. So think about a topic you'd like to cover which is complementary to your referral program.
3. Set your offer: Podcasts also need more coverage, so offer to feature their episode, or better yet, incentivize them.
There are two different categories of referral channels: public and private.
Email is private; and people like it because it offers a personal experience. So now, how can you use emails to ask for a referral?
So as you can see, there are many ways to ask for a referral without sounding desperate. You can use your website, a direct mail, email, social media, whatever.
Building an effective referral program will massively benefit your company.
But it's vital you choose and apply tried and trusted methods when asking for a referral. Review the above referral options, choose the best solution for your business, work on maintaining your referral program, tracking progress, and making improvements along the way.
It might take some time, but as long as you're constantly asking for referrals through the right channels, you’ll continuously be connected with potential customers.
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