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    3 Dog-Training Tips That Can Help a Referral Program

    3 minute read

    It’s widely accepted among dog trainers that the most effective and humane way to train a dog is through positive reinforcement. Basically, it means you reward the animal’s behavior that you want to see repeated and ignore the behavior you don’t.

    If you think about it, people and dogs aren’t so different when it comes to their behavioral responses to incentives. With that in mind, there’s a lot we can take from the process of training a dog, and then apply it to starting a successful customer referral program.

    Here are three dog-training tips that can also be helpful when you’re incentivizing referrals from your most passionate brand ambassadors: 

    Brown Lab Trust 

    1. Find Out What Motivates Your Dog

    All dogs are different; therefore, they probably require different reinforcements to promote good behavior. While some dogs may respond best to praise and petting, others may respond to food treats. A first step in any training program must be determining what type of reward will most effectively elicit the behaviors you desire.

    Similarly, different customers will be more inclined to refer friends if they’re offered a particular reward. A B2B SaaS customer, for example, may be looking for a discount on software or access to more features. But obviously an eCommerce customer isn’t operating in that same mindset and may be more incentivized by cash rewards or swag.

    Whether canine or human, the most important aspect to keep in mind is that your reward should be enticing and irresistible. And it never hurts to experiment with different types of incentives to see what works best for your brand (or pet).

    2. Keep It Simple

    Unfortunately (or fortunately), dogs cannot understand sentences in a meaningful way. Saying, “Dog, I would appreciate it if you took a seat right now,” will probably get you a blank stare. This is why your commands should be short. You don’t need to get complicated; a simple “Sit!” should be more than enough to prompt the proper response from your dog.

    A customer looking into referral rewards operates the same way. Your incentives should be clear, offer a concise value proposition, and effectively convey the utility of referring your brand. Something simple like, “Refer a Friend—Get $5!” is much easier to understand than a complicated rewards structure with a high barrier to entry.

    As we said earlier, though, the type of incentive you offer is always dependent on the profile of your customer base.

    3. Get Your Timing Down

    For dog owners, a major challenge with using positive reinforcement is the timing of the reward. Oftentimes, a reward comes too soon or too late. This confuses dogs as to what action they’re being rewarded for doing. In order to leave an impact, the reward must come immediately after a dog performs a good behavior.

    In a referral program, ensuring the timely delivery of rewards is also critical. When a referred customer makes a purchase, your ambassador should be rewarded within a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, you’ll risk your regular customers becoming disengaged with your brand. Automating your rewards program with referral software can help you dish out rewards at the right time, allowing you to dedicate your time to other aspects of your marketing program.

    As the success of referral programs shows, positive reinforcement works just as well for people as it does for dogs. After all, if you think back to the last time you were rewarded for good behavior, it felt pretty good, right?

    So if you understand the tricks to getting a well-trained dog, then you’re well on your way to understanding the best practices behind referral rewards. That’s a good boy!

    What do you think? Is dog training like referral rewards?

    Posted in Customer Loyalty, Referral Marketing

    Jeff Epstein

    Written by Jeff Epstein

    Jeff Epstein is the founder and CEO of Ambassador Software, the World’s #1 Relationship Marketing Platform which enables brands like Hewlett-Packard, HubSpot and Madison Reed to build & scale referral, affiliate, partner and influencer programs.

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