Published: 09/03/2018

8 things to consider when setting up a referral program

It takes time for any business to establish itself. You will need to prove that what you can offer is credible and of a high standard. But it takes more than that: the words of satisfied customers can be incredibly powerful and could lead to other new customers.

The words of our peers can be hugely influential when we take a course of action and this is nowhere more apparent than in business. This is known as referrals. It can be incredibly advantageous for you to have a referral scheme in place. But what exactly are the factors that you need to bear in mind when you are going about creating a referral?

Start a referral program - The first port of call is putting a program in place so everyone in your business is on board. Make sure you set clear goals and objectives for this so you are clear about what you want it to achieve. Without these, you won’t have a clear idea of why you are doing this in the first place and neither will your team. Which leads us nicely on to the next point…

Know that you are referable - This might sound obvious, but in order to have a referral scheme put in place, you need to know that your company consistently delivers for its customers. If your business is having problems, and has several angry customers (we hope not) then a referral scheme may not be the best thing to be considering at this point. If you have a website, you should consider putting in place a review site like Survey Monkey or Trustpilot. From valuable insights, you will gain a good idea if customers are satisfied with you.

Get staff on board - If you are a one man band, you only need to think about understanding this process yourself. However, if you employ staff then you need to get them on board by selling to them the merits of the program. You will need to make them understand the potential of this as they will be advocating it to potential leads. The better your staff understand the program, the better your chances are in getting it to succeed.

Look for those most likely to refer - If you are going to start something which relies on word of mouth, make sure that you are targeting customers who you think will advocate your business. If you have a database, see if you can find customers who have made repeat purchases from you. They were happy enough to buy from you more than once - so may recommend you to others. You could always do a check through LinkedIn. This is a good medium to message prospects regarding their potential interest in your scheme. You can utilise your pre-existing network by using Advanced People Search. This allows you to segment your search options.

Identify rewards - The chances of an existing customer referring you will increase enormously if you have some way of incentivising that person. But don’t just offer anything. Look at what they have purchased from you; try and understand their habits on your website (if you have one). They will only appreciate the effort you have taken into understanding them and what they need. Now act on it. Make sure the reward is on message and on point with what your business offers. For instance, if your company sells IT software to businesses, don’t start offering vouchers at Debenhams in exchange for referrals.

Utilise online platforms - Today’s technology has taken the notion of word of mouth to a much larger audience. There are hundreds of referral marketing platforms out there which optimise multiple channels to gain referrals through offering numerous benefits and incentives for customers. If your business is Ecommerce based, this is something strongly worth thinking about when it comes to your referral marketing strategy.

Create an enticing landing page - Sticking with online (it’s pretty important these days), let’s move onto landing pages. It’s important to make your referral scheme something to be excited about because it should be a core aspect of your lead generation. This will be the main place where people can get access to information about your referral initiative. Make it clear what the program is and how they could potentially benefit. Again, if your business is getting most of its revenue online then this is another excellent method to drive interest in referrals.

And finally… Be special.

Ask yourself (and your customer/advocate) what is it about your company that makes it special? Maybe you work with a local charity that help people who have fallen on hard times. Perhaps you have a record of addressing issues your staff might have with regards to mental health problems. These are all things that can shape the narrative of your business. And it gives your customers a story to tell their friends and family when they recommend you. This will only increase your chances of standing out to new customers.

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