And on the 7th Step, We Rested.
If you’ve been reading The 7 Strategies to Internet Marketing Success, you’re at the last article! And you know what? You deserve a break! What kind of break? Well, this article is about referral marketing. And referral marketing is less about a particular tactic or strategy, and more about doing everything else right. The 7 Strategies that we outlined give you a platform on how to think of your business. And good business creates referrals.
But, before you think there’s nothing in this article but a rehash of what’s come before, rest assured! We have some awesome tips below that will condition your mind to maximize your referral marketing. Read on!
If you did the other 6 steps correctly, referrals will come.
- You got your website out there, and increased visibility by ranking well.
- You drove traffic: from search engines and social sites.
- You leaned how to be sticky: with images, good layout, and interesting articles and calls to action.
- You built trust: by knowing how to convince your customer that YOUR the choice for them.
- You kept in touch – because sometimes customers don’t buy right away.
- You generated sales & leads – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg – the return customers will tell others about your products, and that’s where the real money comes from.
So, why is Referral Marketing so important?
Referrals are often more important than search engine traffic. Why?
|Trust||The visitor from a search engine usually still skeptical.||Their trust is high – friends refer other friends to things they like and trust as good products or services.|
|Attitude||Normal attitude when visiting a site.||Their attitude is optimistic – friends don’t tell friends about bad ideas.|
|Buzz||No potential.||Great potential.|
|Future Modifications||‘Search engine wars’ is a constant factor of marketing. Search engines change algorhythms, competitors enter the marketing, current competitors get an SEO guy, etc.||Since the return customer does not rely upon a search engine to find you again, you’re not longer SEO’ing for them anymore (though you should still do SEO!)|
Conversion rate is what I want you to look at here. Conversion rate is the percentage of visitors that “buy” out of the total percentage of visitors. It’s a rate that gives you an idea of your overall success of your website.
Note the chart to the right. Conversion rate can be much higher for referral customers. They buy more, because they trust you more, because they were referred by someone they trust.
Referrals are a precious thing, something to be cultivated, nurtured, grown over time. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Therefore, you have to create people that refer.
Now, as we stated before, if you did the other 6 steps correctly, you’re on your way to some great referrals. But, just like in real life, if you don’t ask for the referral, you’re not going to get it.
- “Hey Bob, can I have a referral?
- (Bob thinks about how great you are….)
- “Sure, what do you need?”
It’s the same online as in real life. So let’s learn the techniques to maximize referrals!
Creating referral agents: do the right thing.
People refer for many reasons.It might come from the most unlikely of places. Perhaps you have something that they’ll know someone will like. A variety of products or services makes that easier. People often refer when they believe you an authority on a subject. Article writing is a great way to invoke this. People refer you when you’ve done them a good turn. Karma goes a long way (perhaps it’s the only way!) to get referrals.
How can you generate business karma?
Giving away something. There’s nothing like a free gift. Often, it’s the least expensive thing that make a person feel like referring.
Good value for the cost. Providing good value is a must.
Great customer service. There’s nothing like it. Customer service is where most companies fall down. It seems like every day I am encountering this:
- Gregory: “So the last order arrived late, and I just want to make sure my business cards arrive on time this time. Now, I’m not saying it’s your fault; perhaps it was FedEx. But could you look at my past order and see if there is anything that you can see that I can do to ensure that I get my products by the 22nd?”
- Operator: “Your last order arrived on the date it was guaranteed.”
- Gregory: “Actually, it did not, but again, that might not be your fault. Can you check if there is anything I can do to make sure that I get it on time? Perhaps something in there about the problem in your notes, there, that says what the problem was?”
- Operator: “No.”
- Gregory: “Okay, can you tell me who shipped the item?”
- Operator: “It was FedEx.”
- Gregory: “Okay, are there any notes on the transaction? Does it show that I called TWO TIMES after the proposed arrival date and complained?”
- Operator: “Yes.”
- Gregory: “Do you have any idea what the hell I’m asking you?”
Feel familiar? Do you think that I’ll be referring that company? Nope. You have to go above and beyond, the outer limits of customer service, to create referrals. There is no excuse for bad customer service. Whew. I feel better.
Social media marketing.
There seems to be so much buzz about social media marketing these days that it’s almost difficult to define ‘the single thing’ that it’s used for (principally because there are so many uses for it). However, social media marketing plays a significant role in referral marketing, because it makes referral marketing easier.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to refer someone to someone else, or someone to many people, instantly and easily. If you’re not taking advantage of social sites, now’s the time. A few quick considerations, though:
- Do not spam everyone you know with everything you want to share. Consider the impact of referring sloppily someone you just met. Vet someone before you refer them, not because you want to make money or a finder’s fee.
- The flip side of this coin is to define channels of communication that are appropriate for certain groups of people. This is just plain common sense.
- If you do refer one person to another, monitor the exchange (if you can) by following up with the two people involved. Just a friendly hello via email is a nice touch (and keeps reminding them that you referred them – always important).
Creating referral language: making it easy to refer you.
Now, if you just implemented the ideas above, you’ll get great return. But you can ‘prime the pump’ for referrals.
Wikipedia talks about the 4 elements of referral marketing. You must encourage, inform, promote and reward. Let’s go through them.
You have to encourage people to refer you:
- “Hey, I love your services. Can I refer you? Would you consider referring me in return?”
- “Hey, what can I do for you if you refer me? What would you like?”
In order to get great referrals, make sure you understand a few things. Know who you are asking referrals from, and who they can refer to. Inform them of what type of referral is best for you.
- “Hey, thanks for giving me referrals, man. Do you have a good idea of what I do so you can refer people that I can really help? How about I take you to dinner – on me?
What you’re doing here is providing the customer clear ‘this is my type of customer’ language – demographics, if you will.
OK, I said before that you don’t HAVE to create a program for referrals, but you can if you WANT to.
- If you refer 3 people to us (but only if you fee our product X is the greatest product, ever) – we’ll give you a Y on your next purchase!
Then create a form that tracks those referrals. Newsletters are a common way this is done. You do have a newsletter that gives unique gifts away, right. Right?
In the book Drive by Daniel H. Pink, Daniel shows that monetary referral systems don’t really work. What’s more exciting and rewarding is the gift that is unexpected.
- Find out their hobbies and give a gift (fishing pole to a boat captain, jar of rare mustard to a deli owner, new sunglasses to a guy that loves cruisin’, etc.)
- Don’t tell them beforehand, make it a surprise!
- If it’s an online purchase, call a customer after their 3rd sale (think of it as a rewards program) and just say thank you, then give them a free gift for being a customer. After they recover from the fact that you’re giving them a great gift with no strings attached, thank them profusely and let them be!
Conclusion 1: Create Referrals.
The power of creating referrals only happens through testing and practice. So DO NOT GIVE UP if you feel dorky at first. Like everything in life, practice makes perfect!
Creating referrals comes through great customer service and value of product. But also remember that you can make referrals stick by asking yourself 4 questions about referrals. One, can you encourage a person to refer you? Two, have you informed the customer what type of referrals you’re looking for? Three, are there ways to bundle referrals into a system (or program?) Four, What will you reward them with if they do refer? Don’t make it money, make it special?
Conclusion 2: The 7 Strategies (or Steps) of Internet Marketing Success.
We truly hope that you have enjoyed the 7 steps. Did you like the articles? Did you pass over certain ones, but read others? How can we make them even better?
We want you to succeed – with or without us. Please post your comments below if you are so inclined – we put our heart and soul into these articles, and truly appreciate your feedback.
And finally, would you refer us?
Is there someone out there that you think might need our services? The world of Internet marketing is a big, scary place sometimes. And we’re here to help.
We know that navigating the murk of all this Internet stuff is confusing. That’s why we focus on two big things when we work for someone.
- One, we educate our clients as much as we can on what we’re doing and why.
- Two, we clarify our customer’s vision for their business – we take the long view of what we do and plot a course. And isn’t that what business is all about?
Thank you for reading!
- Daniel H Pink: Drive.
- Wikipedia defines Referral Marketing.
- The 7 Strategies to Internet marketing success.
- Do You Really Need a BIG Firm to do your Internet marketing?