Do you want to know how to increase referral business by making customers your top brand ambassadors? Getting your customers to talk about you isn’t as hard as you might think. Before you know it, you’ll be more popular than ever.
So, today, we’re going to teach you how to increase your referral business strategy. We’ll cover why it pays to be popular, a few companies that nail their word-of-mouth strategy, and 7 creative ways to get referrals.
By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly how to get business referrals the right way.
But first things first: let’s go over what we mean by the term “referral business.”
What Is Referral Business?
Referral business is when you acquire new clients or visitors based on recommendations made by your current clients.
You’re probably familiar with how this works without even realizing it.
Have you ever had a friend love a product so much that they just had to tell you about it? Then, a little later, you decided to purchase the same product and told another friend about your experience?
That’s referral business in action.
And when your product or service gets people talking, the results can be powerful for your business.
The idea is simple: if you have 100 customers to start with, and each of them refers your business to 3 friends, you have 300 new leads. If those 300 new leads do the same, you’re looking at 900 new leads.
In a short amount of time, your referrals grow exponentially, and you see sales increase.
Why Referral Business Matters
Some business owners make the mistake of putting their referral marketing strategy on the backburner. After all, referrals need to happen organically, right?
In theory, yes.
But when the stakes are as high as they are, it’s worth looking into a few techniques to level-up your referral game.
Just check out these referral business statistics from GetAmbassador:
- 82% of American consumers ask for a product recommendation from friends and family before making a purchase
- 67% say they’re more likely to buy after a family or friend makes a suggestion
- 86% of Americans with a household income of over $100,000 seek recommendations before making a purchase
Review42 sheds even more light on the subject:
- Consumers referred by a friend are 4x more likely to buy
- Referral leads have a 30% higher conversion rate than leads from other channels
Acquiring new customers through referral marketing isn’t just some icing on the cake. It can be a total game-changer.
This is why we’re going to look at our 7 actionable techniques to get more business from referrals.
First, though, let’s get inspired by a few companies who have nailed their referral business marketing strategy.
3 Examples of Great Referral Programs
Transferwise doesn’t hide the fact that they want to spread the word. In fact, they’re willing to pay you in cash for doing so. All you need to do is invite 3 friends who actively use their service:
Once you reach that milestone, you’ll get free money deposited directly into your bank account. Transferwise acquires new clients, those same clients get money in their pocket, and everyone goes away happy.
Uber is another referral business example worth modeling. They would offer incentives to get more customer referrals.
A customer can give a “ride code” to someone else, and each would receive a credit for an Uber ride.
And this strategy paid off. Big time.
Uber saw a 12x return on investment (ROI) from this move. It’s no wonder they became one of the most profitable and well-known companies on the planet in just a few years.
It’s no secret that Elon Musk is a pretty smart guy. Ok, he’s an engineering genius.
So when he uses a marketing strategy to boost his company, you should consider following suit.
And referral marketing is one way he makes Tesla such a famous brand.
You’ll notice that Tesla even adds a fixed deadline for some of their referrals to create a sense of urgency.
Ok, now that we’ve established what we’ve covered the referral business definition, why it’s so important, and have some good business referrals examples under our belts, it’s time to shift gears.
Let’s look at 7 tips you can use to increase referral business today.
7 Tips to Increase Referral Business
1. Offer Rewards and Incentives for Referrals
Like in the examples that we saw above, you should consider offering incentives for clients to share your product or service.
This is one of the best marketing strategies around.
According to Annexcloud, 39% of consumers say that they’re more likely to refer a business or brand for some kind of compensation. But that doesn’t always mean money. You could offer discounts, store credit, or even swag.
Just like starting an affiliate program, your referral business plan should find a way to satisfy everyone involved.
Offering small incentives or rewards for your client ambassadors will certainly sweeten the deal.
2. Sponsor an Event
If you’re looking for a good way to get people talking about your brand, sponsor an event.
Sponsoring an event is an awesome way to reach a lot of people in a short amount of time. And it also puts your brand in a positive light.
This is true for both professional and personal brands.
You could work with youth sporting events, charities, professional conferences, or any event that you’d like to be a part of. But be sure that this is an event or cause that you’re personally passionate about.
Otherwise, you run the risk of having this event become another burden to you, and can approach it with the wrong attitude.
When you find an event that you love, you can usually participate in a few different ways. You can donate your services, money, or time. Or, you can get more actively involved by helping organize the event itself.
SSQ Insurance, for example, hosts a marathon every year in Quebec. They are also sponsored by a pharmacy franchise called Brunet. As a result, both companies gain tons of recognition and get referrals from participants in the event:
By helping to organize an event, you’ll get higher visibility of your brand to the attendees. The best-case scenario is getting a company booth where you can share more information about what you do.
But if you’re simply a sponsor, most event hosts will likely thank you in public. That means their entire audience will know about you and the good work you do.
The bottom line is that sponsoring an event is a great way to get your brand in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of eyes.
And if you do it right, the attendees will talk about how your presence positively impacted the event itself.
3. Reach out to Influencers in Your Niche
One way to boost your referrals is by reaching out to influencers in your niche.
The benefit of working with influencers is that they have a large and engaged audience. They’re also able to communicate messages to that audience in a highly concentrated way.
Whichever platform your influencer is using, they’re typically speaking to there audience in close to real-time.
That means that you can potentially see instant results from referrals by influencers in your field.
But be careful.
When choosing the influencers you want to refer their audience to your business, you need to take your own customer-base into account.
You want to make sure that whoever is publicly endorsing your brand is both personally and professionally in line with your company’s values.
Remember, your brand will be associated with whichever influencer starts talking about you. And while you may get some more clients from that influencer’s audience, you may end up losing some of your lifelong customers in the process.
A great example of this comes from the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Bernie Sanders received an off-handed referral by Joe Rogan, a popular podcast host.
As a result, Bernie Sanders suffered pushback from his loyal fans, who found Rogan’s values out of sorts with Sander’s campaign.
So make sure that you’re choosing the right influencers to speak on your behalf. Otherwise, you may spend more time trying to fix a damaged reputation than you do building a referral marketing strategy.
4. Create a Referral Partnership
Another popular way of increasing your referral business is by creating referral partnerships.
That means making a deal with other businesses in your field who aren’t direct competitors. The deal is simple: they recommend your products and services, and you recommend theirs.
Again, if you go this route, you need to choose the right partners.
You not only have to worry about your own reputation (as we saw with working with influencers), but you need to make sure your customers don’t feel like you’re continually advertising to them.
This is easily avoidable.
If you have a good automated email series as a part of your email marketing strategy, you can take advantage of it. Simply add a few emails that casually talk about your new partner into that email series.
This comes off as much more natural than blasting your audience with tiresome partner recommendations.
5. Showcase Your Best Reviews and Testimonials
In the past, we’ve written a lot about how to get killer reviews and testimonials for your website. If you’ve been shy about showcasing either of these things on your website, now is the time to start.
Because both reviews and testimonials are already awesome referrals in themselves. That means you may be sitting on some free social proof.
By adding a great review or a personal testimonial to your website, you can harness all of the power of referral marketing at a larger scale.
And as it turns out, referrals can be just as powerful from strangers as they are from friends and family.
You can even take some of the positive reviews or testimonials from your clients and create social media posts from them. Or share positive social media posts about your company on your website.
SEMrush does a great job of this on their sales page:
Some business owners are uncomfortable with this. They worry that it will come off as too self-promotional.
But as long as your social media posts also convey the fact that you’re super grateful for your customers, most consumers are happy to read positive reviews about you.
6. Feature Clients in a Thorough Case Study
Reviews and testimonials are great. And you should definitely use them. They work super well at building trust and leveraging the power of FOMO.
But there’s another strategy that can be just as, if not more, effective.
Find one of your favorite or most successful customers and ask if you can do a case study for them. A case study is like an in-depth review of how your product helped a customer solve a specific problem.
In other words, it’s like a long and detailed testimonial.
OptinMonster has an entire page dedicated to showing their case studies:
Plus, it has benefits for your client. They get some additional exposure for their business through your audience, and you get a natural referral to make some free social proof.
Two birds with one marketing stone.
Chances are that the feature of your case study will share the article with their customers as well. That means you’re on your way to building an entire business referral network.
Again, as all good business relationships should be, case studies are a win-win for everybody. Hence why case studies should be a staple in your content marketing strategy and are absolute necessities for boosting your referral business.
7. Overdeliver on Your Promises
Earlier in this post, we said that some business owners make the mistake of thinking that referrals only happen organically. But as you can see, we just gave you 6 actionable tips for boosting your referral business.
This last strategy, however, is the only way to ensure your word-of-mouth referrals happen naturally: overdeliver on your promises.
For a lot of marketers, it can be easy to get carried away with how amazing your product is. When you’re advertising your business, you’ve probably been highlighting all of the cool features of your product, and all the things your customer will get when they sign up with you.
And that’s great as long as you can deliver all of those things and more.
Emphasis on the “and more” part.
When a new client signs up with you, they should be blown away by how great your product or service is. You can do by surprising them with benefits of your product that they didn’t see coming.
This doesn’t have to mean having hidden features that only your members will get.
It could be something as simple as designating an account manager to them when they sign up or offering them an additional discount on other products.
It could even be something as simple as sending out a handwritten thank you card to your new client.
Whatever you decide to do, you must do something more than what you said you would. Remember, there’s a whole lot of profit waiting for you at the end of that extra mile.
One Last Word of Advice
We just looked at 7 specific techniques you can use to make a referral business plan. But here’s the thing:
These referrals can instantly fall flat if people don’t trust your website.
Because when people recommend your brand to friends and family, the first thing their listeners will do is check out your website.
If your site looks scammy, full of glitches and bugs, or has poor web design, none of those personal recommendations will matter.
That’s why it’s essential to add trust signals to your website to build instant credibility with your new visitors.
We’ve talked a lot about these trust badges in the past. They can be things like SSL certificates, money-back guarantee seals, or icons that show secure payment at checkout.
Building instant trust with new visitors is even another reason why you should add reviews and testimonials to your site.
But one of the most impactful trust badges that you can add to your website our recent activity popups.
You’ve seen these before, maybe even while reading this blog post:
Recent activity popups show when another visitor or customer has taken action with your site. That can be anything from signing up to your newsletter to making a purchase.
These little popups accomplish a couple of things.
First, they build instant trust with your new visitors. By seeing other customers interact with your website in real-time, anyone who is new to your site feels more confident that you have a legitimate business.
Second, recent activity popups hit new visitors with fear of missing out (FOMO) and encourage them to take action. As a result, we’ve seen sales jump up by 15%.
All of that revenue from one little popup.
But when it comes to getting more referrals for your business, recent activity popups are an excellent way for your new visitors to see that you have a lot of happy and satisfied customers.
Do you have any referral marketing for small business tips that we didn’t cover?
And if you’d like to see a 15% increase in sales on your own site, we can help you out.
Join the TrustPulse community today to start building more trust and getting more sales.