5 minute read
Today's circumstances and rapid digital advancements have changed the landscape for most marketing teams, especially when it comes to driving business growth. But one thing is for sure - online or offline - relationships matter.
Relationship marketing refers to everything your brand does to develop strong, lifelong relationships with your customers. From influencer programs to referral campaigns to affiliate marketing, relationship marketing builds brand awareness and positions your brand as your customers best option. The most important part of relationship marketing is facilitating two-way conversations with your customers.
Now, let’s focus the spotlight on referral marketing.
Research has consistently shown that customers — in both B2B and consumer markets — are not only willing to refer businesses to their network, they’re looking for new ways to do it. In fact, 82% of consumers seek recommendations from their networks before making a purchase. As researchers from the Harvard Business Review put it: If you’re not proactively seeking ways to generate referrals, you’re likely ignoring opportunities to drive “stunning profits.”
So, why do so many companies treat referrals as a nice-to-have supplement to their many other marketing initiatives, instead of the revenue-driving behemoth it could be?
The answer, very simply, is that many marketers mistakenly assume that referrals just happen. They implement a referral program, enroll only their “best” customers, send a few emails, and expect the ensuing momentum of organic advocacy to take care of the rest.
Problem is: Like all other high-value marketing channels, referral marketing doesn’t work like that.
How can you increase sales with referral marketing?
From refer-a-friend programs to customer referral campaigns, a well-built referral marketing strategy can actually increase brand awareness while at the same time boosting sales through existing customers and new referral traffic.
So how can marketers leverage referrals in order to increase sales?
We reached out to a handful of marketing experts that are leveraging referral software to scale their successful programs across a variety of industries and asked for real-world advice. Once they were able to automate the time-consuming intricacies that come with referral marketing campaigns, what were they able to focus on?
1. Gain Valuable Business Insights
This Household & Pet Products company values relationships and treats every brand ambassador like a customer. By providing one-on-one support via personalized and individual communications, they’ve gained valuable business insights through feedback from their referral program members.
This relationship-first approach to referral marketing builds trust with program members and leads to increased referrals. Additionally, the marketing team is able to take feedback to leadership to directly shape how their budget is planned and where dollars are spent.
2. Create Engaging Content
This company in the Consumer Tech industry is able to focus on creating content around their referral program with the time saved by utilizing referral software. The company not only shared their new program with their customers, but also promoted it to their distributor partners. These partners regularly engage with customers and were a perfect resource for turning in-person interactions into referrals.
When its referral program initially launched, an email was sent to all partners in their network to help with offline promotion. Once referral program members started promoting and seeing results, the company sent out a testimonial email to encourage further participation among the network.
Sharing a program guide is a great way to start the conversation. And as your relationship with your program members grows, continue using content to engage. Customer newsletters, email signatures, website, and social are great channels to promote referral program content.
3. Educate Customer-Facing Teams
Make it even easier on your customer-facing teams by educating them on the program and providing language they can use when responding. That’s what this B2B Software & Services company did to drive more referrals. Educating team members across departments puts your referral program front and center when it comes to promotions. Additionally, the marketing team consistently pushes the company’s referral program in emails, on social media, and in tailored communications with customers.
4. Optimize Your Referral Program
This Education & eLearning company knew it needed to leverage technology in order to truly scale its referral program. The marketing team was able to free up time and resources that are now spent optimizing their referral program to deliver even more new business. In fact, the marketing team has now narrowed down a precise moment in their engagement cycle to push for referrals.
Going One Step Further With Referral Technology
For marketers that are running manual business referral programs, more often than not, it can feel like you’re on a hamster wheel. Your goal is to drive new business by bringing in more referrals from existing customers. But to bring in more referrals, you need more time, resources, and money to incentivize your customer base as well as track, pay, and manage your referral program members. But to get that investment, you need to show an uptick in new business. Which brings us back to your initial goal.
If you’re running in this never-ending loop - don’t fret, relief can be found in the form of automation.
By automating manual activities like enrollment workflows and referral commission payouts, marketers can break down some of the barriers to scaling this customer acquisition channel. When your business referral program is small, managing things manually isn’t a problem. When you have hundreds or thousands of customers and just as many approved referrals every month, automation is the difference between referral marketing success and failure.
To learn more ways to boost sales with referral marketing, join us for our upcoming webinar with Content Marketing Institute on May 6, at 2pm ET. Register below!
Posted May 01, 2020 in Referral Marketing