Driving sign-ups for your referral marketing program is the first step to building a referral marketing program that will deliver sky-high ROI, far surpassing what you might spend on traditional flat-fee influencer marketing or digital advertising campaigns. The more crucial next step is engaging your referral marketing ambassadors and reminding them that they are part of a community of people with shared interests and a shared passion for a meaningful product or service.
1) Create an internal communications strategy
Communication with your internal marketing ambassadors is critical. Create a monthly internal newsletter campaign to communicate with your referral marketing ambassadors as a group. You should also create a channel for referral marketing ambassadors to contact your marketing team directly; we recommend establishing a human connection between someone on your marketing team and your referral marketing ambassadors.
2) Build a referral marketing community
People who thrive have support networks. The pandemic has primed us to look for community online. If you can create a sense of community among your referral marketing ambassadors, they will feel motivated by the human connection... and by observing one another's results.
One way to increase buy-in for your referral marketing initiatives is to create an opportunity for your referral marketing ambassadors to meet one another, share best practices, root one another on, and observe one another's progress. You could do this through a private Twitter or Instagram account that only accepts follow requests from your ambassadors, through a community management platform like Circle or Mighty Networks, or through a listserv. You will want to create a community management guide, setting some ground rules and expectations for how you expect ambassadors to communicate with one another without you moderating each and every conversation. (After all, your referral marketing ambassadors are inveterate hustlers!)
3) Create a mindset for your ambassadors: they are micro-micro influencers
Remind the members of your referral marketing community: referral marketing is a side hustle. People generally know that word-of-mouth marketing is powerful for brands... but how many people think about the side income opportunity inherent in recommending worthwhile products to friends? Encourage your referral marketing ambassadors to see themselves as micro-micro influencers. They can introduce their friends to a worthwhile product or service and monetize their own ability to influence others.
4) Publish a monthly leaderboard in your internal newsletter
Who are your top-performing referral marketing ambassadors? Publish a list of your top 20 highest-performing referral marketing ambassadors in your monthly internal ambassador newsletter. Sometimes a healthy sense of competition can be motivating.
5) Use your internal newsletter to share timely marketing collateral
Use your internal ambassadors newsletter to share information and marketing copy around any milestone marketing events or seasonal pushes for your product. You can equip your ambassadors with the tools to build sales month-over-month and make progress as a team toward coordinated sales pushes.
6) Create a sense of celebration around your CEO
The rule is the same for referral marketing ambassadors as it is for employees: people want to work harder for leaders they like. In the startup world, there's a reason why leaders ranging from the late Steve Jobs to Sara Blakely to Whitney Wolfe Herd have a following (or, in Jobs' case, a once-rabid fanbase). Make your founder or CEO's origin story part of what motivates your referral marketing community to feel like they're part of something bigger.
Allow your referral marketing community members to hear your company's leadership talk about why they feel personally invested in your product or service or what calls them to do the work they do. Your CEO could author a section of the monthly ambassador's newsletter or send periodic tweets denoting authorship with their initials. If they speak from the heart and meaningfully communicate a passion for the product, that will have a contagious effect on your ambassadors.
7) Plan a fireside chat with your CEO or CMO
Plan a "fireside chat" with your CEO. Give your referral marketing ambassadors an opportunity to put a face to the name.
Announce that a virtual event is scheduled and let your ambassadors know they can submit a question for the CEO or CMO to answer in advance. Give the people who have submitted on-brand questions the opportunity to ask their questions, with their audio and video on, in real-time during the fireside chat. The positive feelings created in that hour alone could deliver serious ROI for your referral marketing program.
8) Celebrate your top referrers
Plan a quarterly virtual lunch with the CEO or CMO to celebrate your top 10 referral marketing ambassadors. Send everyone $30 gift cards to GrubHub or Seamless; on the morning of the lunch, send everyone a reminder email to place their lunch orders at 12pm so everyone can join the meeting and eat together at 1pm. Once everyone has dabbed their face with a napkin, take a group screenshot so you can share the photo of your CEO with your victorious referral marketing ambassadors on whatever internal communications platforms you use.
9) Cultivate unexpected delight
Earmark a small budget for perks or company swag and try an experiment. Surprise a few referral marketing ambassadors at random with an unexpected gift. Give it a year, and see if the people who received unexpected surprise gifts started making more referrals. If so, this is called "the power of moments."
10) Develop referral marketing mentors
Look for power users in your referral marketing community. Who has the strongest referral marketing numbers? Consider creating a program where top-performing referral marketing ambassadors mentor folks who are new to your referral marketing community. It could be as simple as allowing new sign-ups to book an introductory phone call with a seasoned referral marketing ambassador. Alternatively, you could invest time and resources in a thoughtful mentorship program, where your referral marketing power users receive training to mentor a cluster of promising new referral marketing ambassadors who make "x" number of sales in their first quarter.
Given the sky-high ROI on Ambassador referral marketing software, any investment of time from your marketing team in building the success of your referral marketing program will yield lasting, measurable dividends.