How to Stress Less About Referrals

How to Stress Less About Referrals - Duct Tape Marketing

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You already know the value of a referral in building retention, value and loyalty to your brand. And those referrals help you grow your customer base at a much lower cost than waiting for customers to discover you.

The numbers make the case: Cold calls result in a 3% or less appointment success rate, where having a referral boosts your success to 40% or more. Think of the time and shoe leather you save by working mainly from referrals.

But what’s the best way to get them?

There are two ways: word-of-mouth referrals or marketing automation – having a program in place that can reach out to your customers automatically. Word-of-mouth is highly valuable but can take more time, commitment and effort. Marketing automation can be expensive, but it’s more practical and takes some stress off your sales team. The good news is the two methods are strong co-workers.

How marketing automation fuels word-of-mouth referrals

The tried-and-true value of word-of-mouth referrals is undeniable: In 2014, a Small Business Trends survey showed that 85% of small businesses say their customers learned about them through someone they know. And about 62% of small businesses consider word of mouth the most effective marketing strategy, says a report by InfusionSoft.

And technology has changed the way it works: Social media is the new word-of-mouth marketing. It’s today’s virtual water cooler. Ambassador shares the example of the recent Netflix series Making a Murderer, which at one point drove 8.46 million Twitter impressions and 412 unique tweets per hour, ultimately making it one of the most popular series that the online streaming service has offered to date.

People are interested and influenced by what other people are talking about, with 46% of people turning to social media when planning to make a purchase. That’s where marketing automation comes in.

It can help build the buzz, joining technology with the old-fashioned power of word-of-mouth referrals. And marketers and businesses are catching on: EmailMonday says about 11 times more B2B organizations are using marketing automation than they did in 2011. About 69% use marketing automation for customer acquisition and 50% for customer retention.

The value of marketing automation is undeniable, too. Capterra says 91% of those using marketing automation see the platform as “very important” to their marketing success, and businesses that use the tool see a 451% boost in qualified leads.

Ways to put marketing automation to work

So how does it work? Essentially, marketing automation is software that enhances your marketing plan by making it more target-rich and effective across various channels, such as email. It can generate leads by gleaning data about your prospects’ activities and interests, helping you direct the right content into the right channels, R2Integrated says. That gets people talking about you, and keeps them connected with more meaningful content.

Socedo, which helps clients find leads through analyzing social media data, uses a number of marketing automation tools itself to analyze and improve its own content, optimize success on click-throughs, and improve email communications and social media reach.

Marketing automation software also can determine who your top advocates are. That helps you to stop wasting time with people who aren’t interested in your product or service and instead stay focused on potential buyers and clients. A general email blast to your entire contact list won’t be as effective as targeting the users who you know have an interest.

Additionally, software tools like those offered by Ambassador allow you to build a campaign with custom rewards to encourage referrals – a top way to get your message shared. Among the highly connected millennial generation, 95% say they’d like an incentive, such as discounts or cash rewards, to share a product through email or social media channels.

Don’t forget the follow-up

You also should have a strong plan for following up with prospects. ActiveCampaign says to start with a sort of mission statement – a description of the kind of experience you want your contact to have. Then consider what result specifically you’d like the follow-up to provide, such as greater sales or increased referrals. These and other goals will help direct your automated follow-up plan.

Also, as R2Integrated notes, it’s important to remember that marketing automation shouldn’t run on autopilot. Authentic personal experience (not just “personalized” experience) and engagement will always be the core of making strong connections with your customers, so it requires some creative thinking and strategizing.

The good news is now you have many more tools to make that happen.

Aseem BadshahAseem Badshah, Founder & CEO of Socedo. Socedo helps sales and marketing professionals leverage social media to discover leads and build relationships more effectively.

The Art of the Ask: How to Ask for a Referral

The Art of the Ask: How to Ask for a Referral - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Pixabay.com

The main source of new orders for many small businesses is referrals. The reason is clear. When people are happy with a service or product, they tell others about it and new orders result. Referrals are a strong form of advertising because they carry an independent assessment from a user that your product or service is worth buying.

As a result, referrals should occupy a prime place in your business plan. So many people share their thoughts online these days that we are neglecting a prime source of sales if we are not able to reach out to satisfied customers by asking for a referral.

But how to ask for a referral can be a challenge. How do we do so without embarrassing customers? Here’s how. Check out these examples of asking for referrals that can serve your business well.

Looking for solutions

A common form of referral occurs when a person asks friends or family members whether they have solutions for a problem or suggestions for a service they would like to use. Their friends and family respond by recommending certain products or services. Today many of these discussions occur in online chat rooms rather than directly person to person, which gives them a much wider reach.

You can suggest to your satisfied customers that they respond to these questions by mentioning your business where it is relevant. Drop the hint through an email or even a telephone call if you feel confident about asking customers for referrals in that way. Customers who are happy with your service will usually be prepared to provide a direct response; sometimes all it takes is to encourage them to do so.

Spreading the word

Another type of referral is a testimonial. Someone reviews your product or service, explaining why they like it so much. They are, in effect, referring you to other people who could be interested in your business. Potential clients can see the testimonials on the site on which the review appears, such as Yelp or Amazon, and they will be favorably disposed to buy the product or service.

We need not be afraid to ask for such testimonials. When someone lets you know they are happy with your product or service, you might tell them that others would like to know about it and suggest that they write a favorable review about your business.

Another way to encourage referrals is to provide an incentive for customers to refer your service or product to others. Let them know that if they refer two or three people to your service or product you will send them a coupon or a discount as a reward. Of course, make sure you track the referrals correctly and award them in a reasonable time to avoid disappointing your clients.

You can also make these referrals work harder for you. You can place extracts from these favorable reviews on your website or in your email messages. In that way the reviews will be seen by a wider audience than those who visit the site on which they originally appeared. Of course, extracts from two or three favorable reviews would work better than just one.

Add buttons

Add share buttons to your website so that people are able to refer others to your business simply by tapping or clicking on a link. Say something like, “Did you enjoy this service? Share your experience with others.” Invite them to enter the email address of friends or colleagues.

Should you have a blog on your website, you might want to have visitors to your website punch a “share” button to send the blog to others. That way, you increase your exposure and so are asking for referrals.

With so many people “liking” items on Facebook these days, it does not take much effort to turn your facebook fans into your customers. Soon all their friends will know about your product or service.

Expand reach of webinars and workshops

When you hold a webinar or online workshop ask those who register to forward the information to colleagues, friends or business associates who would also benefit from the information provided in the event.

When the event is over, send them an email and ask them to rate the workshop or webinar. If they give you a good rating, you will be able to publish that on your website as a testimonial.

Use emails

Another way to encourage referrals is to ask at the end of your emails whether your clients know of anyone else who needs assistance with the problem that you solve. Provide them with a link to your website that they can use as a referral.

For example, at the end of an email newsletter, send a message that is similar to the following, “Thank you for subscribing! Do you know someone who would also benefit from this information? Please forward this link so they can sign up too.” Then, you can offer an incentive for referrals as a thank you.

Link with others

Consider including businesses that are complementary to yours to extend your reach. Customers of another business that is close to yours might like to know what you can offer their clients. Together you can reach more people than individually.

Take notice of complaints

Listen to what people say about your business. Even when your clients have complaints, check to see how you could have changed their experience into a pleasant one. Make those changes to avoid future complaints. Continue to do that until you start to receive those favorable referrals.

Look further

Check whether there are any places on your websites, in your emails or other communications where you are not asking for referrals from satisfied customers. When you find them, make sure you include a way to encourage referrals in a pleasant way.

Final Thoughts

Of course, the best way to obtain referrals is to earn them in the first place. When your business does something extraordinary the chances are that your clients will tell others about their experience. When they tell their friends and business associates online what you have done for them, your business is bound to benefit.

When that happens, extend those referrals into other avenues, and make sure you are asking customers for referrals in the ways we have outlined.

Now you know that asking for a referral does not have to be intimidating, there’s every reason to start doing so now.

Delan CooperDelan Cooper is a writer with years of experience in marketing communication. He enjoys meeting new people and reading more books to get inspired for his own book. Connect with him on on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.