As you’ll have seen in Part 1, in our summary of our Referral Marketing Best Practice Guide, we discussed making sure you’ve the right software, not just for your current needs but also for the future, and planning the rewards and incentives you should offer. Now we move on to the next steps:
Reduce the Friction
As Steve Krug advocated in his seminal book ‘Don’t make me think’, a good user experience should let customers accomplish their intended tasks as easily and directly as possible. Basically, you shouldn’t get in their way or make them stop and think further about what they came to do. Because if you do, then they might just change their minds.
Referral marketing, like other digital marketing channels, requires that you capture people’s attention, get them to click, minimise drop out and then encourage action. However, referral sales funnels can be longer than for a simple sale, particularly as you need to consider at least two actors: the referrer and the referred-in friend.
With a referral, there are four main stages where someone might ‘fall out’ of the funnel when:
- Your existing customers get involved
- Your existing customers share
- Their friends react to this sharing
- Their friends shop
And a break in any one part of that chain can lose the referral. This means you need to make sure each stage is as smooth and efficient as possible. You can do this by:
- Asking less and delivering more
- Let users share however they want to share
- Make them shop, not stop.
- Emails and newsletters
- Social Media
- Your website
- Apps and account areas
If your customers need to sign up to share, then the best advice is to keep your forms super-short, as every additional question increases the risk of drop out. However, ideally, you won’t even ask your existing customers to do anything at all by integrating with your own website’s universal login, or by pre-populating fields when users click through from seed emails, so that they can just share straight away with a few clicks using a personalised easy to remember URL or code.
Let your customers share however they want to by using any of the tools they normally use to communicate with friends such as email, Whatsapp, Viber, SMS, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and any other social network or channel. Particularly on mobile phones, using native sharing to automatically open their favourite apps and letting them share in a couple of clicks will increase participation. Restricting sharing to just a few channels is literally just leaving money on the table.
Think of the expectations of those who saw your customers’ messages recommending your brand with an enticing offer. When they click through, what will they see? Will your landing page look like what they expected to see? Will it repeat the offer? Will it look trustworthy? Will it even look like your brand?
Referred-in customers are looking for three things: trust, familiarity and efficiency. So, if possible, avoid microsites and embed the experience on your regular website to increase trust. In a series of tests, we found that citing the referring friends’ names on the landing page aids familiarity and can improve conversion by anywhere between 20% and 45%.
Finally, you need to make it easy to check out. If you use voucher codes, and your ecommerce platform can support it, consider automatically applying the code to a user’s basket. Failing that, make sure that the code is clear and easy to copy, and that there’s a bold call to action telling them what to do next.
Marketing your Referral Programme
If the secret to a successful store, restaurant or bar can be summed up as location, location, location, then the first step to a successful referral programme could be summed up as traffic, traffic, traffic. Because if your existing customers don’t know you have a programme and/or it’s hard to find, then how do you think you are going to get customers referring?
We wrote a detailed examination of all the ways you can drive traffic to your programme here. But in short, you must include your referral programme in all your other marketing, and you shouldn’t just think about marketing the launch of your scheme either, but also how you to build in marketing automation and how regular marketing campaigns will continue to feed your programme throughout its life.
Here are some of the channels you should activate to drive traffic to your programme:
While we appreciate that there’s a limit to the number of dedicated emails you can send to your database about the programme, you should plan to communicate as often as you can. A refresh of your scheme, or new rewards and incentives, can be a good reason to reach out again, but you should ensure that your referral scheme is mentioned in each and every communication simply by adding a ‘refer a friend’ link to header and footer navigation in newsletters and emails. Side panels in newsletters are also a great place to regularly feature the programme, particularly with human interest stories about star referrers. And as well as email, let’s not forget about SMS communication opportunities with your customers.
Social media is the natural place to tell your existing fans and customers that rewards are available for introducing their friends. You can expand your reach by re-targeting on paid social using matched email addresses or cookies.
You should make sure that your referral programme is prominently promoted on your website by linking to it in your headers and footers and by featuring it in banners, promo carousels and sidebars.
Auto-invites catch the attention of your customers when they have just shopped and are most engaged with you. So a mixture of post purchase pop ups and emails can guide them straight to your referral programme once they check out.
Apps and account areas are a great place to get the attention of your customers, whether with fixed navigation tabs, call outs or in-app messages.
So what next?
Well now you should have the right software and rewards and incentives, you eliminated friction points, marketed your programme. Now we will consider branding, keeping it fresh, testing and learning and getting expert advice.