If you made it through Part 1 and Part 2 of this summary of our Best Practice Guide to Referral Marketing you will have learned the importance of choosing the right software, rewards and incentives, eliminating friction points in your funnel, and supporting your programme with regular marketing.
Now we move on to consider the remaining steps:
Align with your brand’s look and feel
To create trust and confidence for your visitors, your referral program should sit comfortably within your website and align with your branding. If your referral programme and marketing support fails to match your website, or reflect your current Above The Line (ATL) marketing campaigns, then your visitors may stop to wonder if they are in the right place and maybe decide to go elsewhere. So it is vital that your referral marketing software allows you full control over the look and feel of your referral programme.
We recently helped a leading mobile phone network greatly increase conversions by upgrading from an uncustomizable off-deck referral microsite to a fully-embedded, fully-branded platform, living in their own website.
To achieve consistency and trustworthiness, you need to make sure that the following elements comply with your branding:
- Copy / tone of voice
Refresh your programme
Many referral programmes run out of steam because, once the brand has reached out to their customers and generated an initial run of referrals, they fail to maintain the momentum.
So instead of constantly hitting your existing customers with the same message, you need to spice things up with special events, promotions and a series of stretch targets. Over the years, we’ve found the following activities can dramatically improve performance:
- Regularly changing your basic rewards and incentives
- Using tiered rewards
- Running occasional communal referral drives
- Running occasional booster campaigns
By regularly changing your basic rewards and incentives, you can keep your programme fresh and get more opportunities to reach out to your existing customers without running the risk of overplaying the same old message.
You can encourage multiple referrals per participant using tiered rewards. We have found that, whereas static rewards will get you one or two referrals at best, before customers get distracted and move on, small stretch targets, together with tiered rewards which kick in when those targets are met, can motivate customers to make three or more referrals each. For example some of our clients offer double-rewards at five referrals (which can generate anywhere up to a 35% uplift), others offer free products or personal experiences customers can’t get elsewhere.
An occasional communal referral drive – where everyone gets something great once a certain target is hit, can be effective at increasing participation across a wide part of your customer base.
Short term booster campaigns can be used to offer additional rewards if referrals are made within a specified time period. These can work well if tied to a notable event or anniversary and particularly if they are matched with an ATL campaign.
By using gamification with super-stretch targets, you can inspire your key influencers to really go the extra mile to find you new customers, for example by running seasonal leaderboard campaigns that offer money can’t buy prizes to top referrers.
You don’t have to do all these things all the time, but they’re invaluable tools to have in your locker, either to tie in with existing promotional activity or simply to light a fire under your referral programme at key times.
Test, Measure, Iterate
Peter Drucker famously said that “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” So unless your referral marketing software delivers the right suite of measurement tools and analytics, you’ll be flying blind, relying on nothing more than guesses and hunches, and probably those of your HIPPO. And even if you get lucky the first time, the moment something changes – your competition launches a programme, your product range evolves, your initial launch shifts into business-as-usual mode – you won’t know how to change with it, and you’ll miss out on potential referrals as a consequence.
This means you need to rely on science and implement a constant test and learn culture, where you identify areas for improvement and run tests to determine if they work or not.
These are just some of the tests you could run:
- Entrance rate for existing customers
- How many existing customers click through from your seed marketing?
- How many then go on to express an interest in inviting their friends?
- Can this be improved by amending the channel, style or content of your seed marketing?
- Can this be improved by amending the rewards on offer, or even the incentives for their friends?
- Does adding in gamification prizes or tiered rewards have a significant effect?
- Sharing rate for existing customers
- Of the customers who participate, how many go on to share with friends?
- How many friends do they share with and via which channels?
- Can these numbers be improved by tailoring your rewards and incentives?
- Are you offering the correct sharing channels and in the best place?
- Does your sharing rate rise if you send participants a ready-made email to forward to friends?
- Attention and participation among friends
- Relative to the number of people who share, how many friends click through?
- Do they participate once they arrive, or quickly bounce away from your site?
- Are there changes you can make to the default sharing messages customers send out?
- Does it help to display their friend’s name prominently on the landing page?
- Can the participation level be improved by amending the incentive on offer?
- Conversion rates among friends
- Relative to the number of friends who hit your site, how many shop?
- How many themselves go on to participate in your referral programme?
- Can the participation level be improved by amending the incentive on offer?
- What works better? A coupon code to copy or an instant incentive applied to their basket
- Do more shoppers go on to become referrers if you implement an auto-invite programme?
But as each referral programme is different, there will be different questions to ask and different hypotheses to test and these will evolve throughout the life of the programme.
Work with the Experts
Our recent blog post sets out six key reasons why you should outsource your referral marketing technology to a best-in-class provider like Buyapowa.
This is so you can get the key features we identified in Part 1 of this blog post as being vital to ensure the success of your programme, but also so you can concentrate your scarce development resources on what you do best, namely developing your core products and services to generate benefits for your customers. This is exactly the same reason why you don’t build your own email service provider or review technology, but buy the best-in-class solution from a dedicated email service provider like Emarsys or specialist review service like Bazaarvoice.
But as we stated right back in Part 1, it’s not just about the referral marketing software. When you work with a company like Buyapowa, you benefit from all our experience having powered hundreds of referral marketing programmes for leading brands and retailers. This means we know exactly how to drive referrals in retail and ecommerce, style and fashion, mobile networks, online gaming, premium & luxury and many more industries. And we have worked in 27 countries and in 21 languages.
So, as part of our managed service, we will advise you as to rewards and incentives, messaging and marketing campaigns, and help you understand and benchmark your performance and review your UX and copy, and identify friction points in your funnel. In other words, advice that can fasttrack your programme to success and means you won’t have to guess all the answers yourself.
Hopefully you have found our best practice useful. If you are thinking about starting a programme or just looking to improve the performance of your existing programme, we would be happy to chat. Just drop us a line and we will get in touch and share what we have learned over the years.