Word of mouth plays a huge part in helping your business grow—it acquires new consumers at a low cost. Your happy customers become your brand advocates who refer you to their friends and you don’t have to move a finger. That’s why making sure that your customers have a way to refer your business to their friends is one of the most important elements of any customer acquisition and retention strategy.
There are a number of ways for you to encourage your customers to refer you, but what you have to do is provide your customer with an incentive to give you a referral. Here’s how this can be done.
Referral programs come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s not that easy picking out the right one for your business. However, here’s a clue that you can use: the best ones typically have a targeted promotion, use incentives that actually fit their customers, and have very strong advocates. The latter is particularly relevant—your best referrals will come from people who value your business the most.
One of the most popular referral programs has to be the one Dropbox came up with some years ago. Up until that point, the company had been using traditional marketing tactics to generate income, but once they saw that it wasn’t bringing in desired results they came up their own referral program, inspired by PayPal. What they did was give extra storage space to both the referrer and the referred friend who signed up.
Did it work? It sure did. They gained 4 million users in just 15 months. 35% of their daily sign-ups arrived via the referral program.
Why did the program work? Because it rewarded the referrer and the referred alike and because it told people to “Get more free space” and not simply “Invite friends”. In other words, it put Dropbox’s core value in front of all the users, all over the website. Plus, the whole program was pretty easy to share which was perfect because the Dropbox audience was extremely active on social media networks.
Unlike a referral program, which encourages your customers to refer their friends, an affiliate program motivates other businesses and resellers to sell your stuff. Third parties are usually rewarded with cash, whenever new customers sign up for your product based on their referral. Affiliate programs work great if and when you have a collection of powerful influencers who can refer your product on a large scale.
Amazon Associates remains one of the most well-known and largest affiliates programs around. You can choose from over a million products to advertise to your customers, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re large website or a small-time blogger. Amazon is excellent at selling products to people, once they get to the website.
Why does the program work? The reasons are pretty simple: people love shopping online, especially on Amazon (they trust it), which is why this program converts so well. It offers a huge choice of products (which gives you a lot of ads that will interest your visitors) and has big spikes around the most important holidays (e.g. Christmas).