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When brands approach us to increase their social reach and brand advocacy, the first social tool we suggest is a referral program. Refer a Friend is one of the easiest ways to get your shoppers to share your products with their friends, increasing your social reach, driving new traffic and helping your current traffic convert.

Referral marketing programs are structured to complement your business plan and are customized to attract your unique customer base. At Social Annex, we’ve come up with 6 best practices for developing your referral marketing program.

1. Think of your customers, employees and partners as brand advocates from the get-go.
Many brands are too narrowly focused on turning their customers into brand advocates. Instead, businesses should expand their vision to realize their best brand advocates are their employees and partners. No one has more product knowledge than employees. Make sure each employee is helpful, online and in store and can make relevant and thoughtful suggestions to customers.

2. Take advantage of every available touchpoint.
Today, customers can be reached at multiple touchpoints, from in store to online to mobile. Make sure it is easy for your customers to share and refer friends every step of the way. Online referrals work like word-of-mouth and can have the same viral effect. Enable shoppers to refer friends through their preferred social networks, through email or even in store with written referrals.

3. Send reminders to keep your referral program robust.
Referral programs need a little bit of nurturing, you can’t simply just launch a referral campaign and expect your shoppers to adopt it without a little push. After launching, send reminders to customers with your email newsletters and social blasts. Keep referrals top of mind by making sure the Refer a Friend widget is easily visible on every page of your site.

4. Motivate your shoppers with incentives.
To achieve constant high quality referrals, we recommend incentivizing your shoppers and their friends to convert with either a discount or perk, like free shipping. This helps get customers excited about referrals and new customers coming back.

5. It should be easy for them and for you.
Enable shoppers to easily share with just one click using Social Login. The less fields they need to fill out, the more likely they will share. Keep it easy for them to track and for you as well by integrating referral programs into your existing POS and ESP, then displaying progress in your My Account experience. Customers may be referred online, but could choose to redeem it in store. Referral programs should be seamless and flexible to make the experience easy for everyone involved.

6. Empower your advocates.
Give each brand advocate an up to date dashboard so they can track their referrals and reward statuses. Enabling them to see their statuses keeps them happy and motivated to refer more friends.

Referral programs must be thought of as a long term sales and marketing channel. It is always on. Keep tracking, testing and optimizing for continuously improving results. People trust recommendations from people they know. Fast track this word-of-mouth strategy with easy to share referrals.


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  1. avatar
    Alinn Louv
    on April 1, 2014 at 2:13 am

    Hi Bill,
    Thanks for your comment! Referral marketing is just as effective for B2B as well as B2C companies. The idea is essentially the same, turning your clients and partners into high quality lead generators, deepening your relationship with your current clients, while helping you build new ones. Instead of sharing on Facebook or Twitter, your partner would receive a unique link to use in emails or on business cards.
    If you would like more information specifically on B2B referral marketing, we’d love to set up a demo call with you, please contact us here.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  2. avatar
    Bill Winans
    on March 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    What are your thoughts about B2B marketing and referral markeitng?

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