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    Vetting Referral Software Vendors

    8 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Referral Software

    3 minute read

    If you’re shopping for referral software and are a bit lost on how to vet a vendor, you’re in luck, we can help! I know that adding new technologies to your marketing stack can be an overwhelming process, even for a seasoned marketer. With the evolution of the digital landscape changing and new marketing technologies constantly emerging, it's important to consider which questions to ask when it comes to referral marketing. 

    We’ve put together a list of key questions to ask during the vetting process because asking the right questions helps you select the best software for your brand’s needs.

    1. How do I run multiple programs (with unique messaging and rewards) at one time?

    You want to ensure that an important feature of the software, like the ability to run simultaneous programs, is included. But you also want to ask how this is done via the technology to ensure that automating a program is a relatively simple and smooth user experience. Since scaling referrals efficiently is a primary benefit of referral software, this is a key question to ask.  

    2. How do I make changes to my programs? Who is involved?

    So you know the software can run multiple programs. Great! But what happens when you need to make changes to these programs? Is it a drawn-out process within the system? Can only certain users do this? Does a system administrator have to do it? Can an end-user do it? What about making changes to programs that are currently running? These are all valid questions that should be asked. Vetting vendors by asking for the specifics of program automation will help you hone in on what software best delivers in speed, usability, and features.

    3. How do I manage the customer journey and sharing experiences for users?

    Similar to making changes to programs, you want to ask vendors how you’re able to change sharing experiences. A critical component of programs, this should be a no-brainer feature included in a software’s feature set. From mobile to social, it should also be user-friendly and simple.

    4. Is there complete white-labeling? What do your share links look like?

    A seamless referral program should not disrupt your current customer journey. Be sure to discuss white-labiling, and ensure the software provides it. Specifically, study their share links (and APIs) to determine if the software they're selling you in fully white-labeled. 

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    5. What does the API documentation look like?

    For interoperability with your other systems, it’s critical that the software you are vetting is accompanied by clean, easy to ingest, and API documentation. It’s also helpful for any future accompanying systems that you may have.

    6. For attribution: What happens when someone clears the cookies on their device or cookies aren't allowed? What happens when someone clicks a link in one browser but converts in another?

    Okay this is technically two questions, but it’s critical to ask your potential vendors with questions that address common and unique user scenarios. It’s important to know how the software handles these scenarios, especially ones that may present an “alternative path” to a planned automated program, such as when a user disables cookies or converts in a non-referred browser. You want to make sure that users are still being captured and their referrals are being served regardless of common actions that they might take.  

    7. Can I manage & segment the contacts in our system?

    You certainly should! Optimizing your program will require communication management, workflows, and segmentation based on criteria most important to your business. Additionally, look for ample metrics and, strong reporting and filtering capabilties. These features go a long way in both saving you time and increasing your ability to optimize quickly, driving better results!  

    8. Is there someone I can lean on for coaching or assistance? How do they help us?

    When leveraging technology in an emerging category it's imperative to lean on the software provider to assist with account management and share best practices. You'll likely want to find a provider who has experts (or coaches) assigned to your account with the experience of scaling referral, partner & affiliate programs in similar industries.

    Vetting Referral Software Vendors Is A Must!

    Asking the right questions can help you make the right choices. Vet your vendors properly, and soon your brand will be on its way to referral marketing success! To learn everything you need to remove the uncertainty of referrals and create a fully scalable referral marketing program that significantly increases your bottom line, download our eBook, “The Definitive Guide to Building a World-Class Referral Program” by clicking the button below.

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    Posted in Referral Software

    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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