Referral marketing is like flossing.
We all know it’s important. We all say we do it religiously whenever anybody asks. (And we make sure to look appropriately scandalised by the question.)
But deep down, we know the truth…
We know that we could stand to floss more regularly — and to be more diligent about asking for those referrals!
Now, I’m not a dentist, but I am a marketer and entrepreneur. So here’s what I have to say about referral marketing…
When done right, it can become an unstoppable growth engine for your business. If you could get just 2 referrals per existing client or customer, you would double your revenue — with no additional marketing expense.
And considering how simple it is to implement some form of referral generation in your existing marketing system, you have zero excuse to ignore this strategy!
So today, I will show you how to get your referral marketing from 0 to 100 in 2022, and beyond.
- How to know if referral marketing is the right fit for your industry and business model
- The absolute perfect time to ask your existing customers or clients for referrals
- 4 must-follow rules for making referral requests that get an enthusiastic “yes”
- How to incentivize and reward your audience for referrals — the smart way
So, if you want to kick your growth into high gear in 2022 using referral marketing… read on!
We’ll start with the all-important question: is this strategy even a good fit for your industry, your company, and your offer?
“Is referral marketing right for my business?”
Sorry, were you expecting a more detailed answer?
Sure, let me elaborate:
Your business can benefit from referrals, no matter what you sell… but your specific method will vary based on different factors.
Before deploying any kind of referral campaign, you want to ask yourself:
- Do you want top-of-funnel referrals (e.g. email subscribers)… or bottom-of-funnel referrals (a.k.a. hot prospects)? Generally, the first option means more referrals from each source, but longer time to sale and little to no increase to your typical conversion rate. The second option will net you far fewer referrals (1-2 per source, on average) — but they will be much more open to buying from you, faster.
- What is your audience willing to do to refer someone to you? They may be up only for something small, like forwarding your newsletter to an acquaintance. Or they might be happy to introduce you over email to a high-quality prospect. With the right incentives and tools, you can “stretch” these limits (more on that later), but it’s important to be aware of them from the get go.
- What kind of incentive will your audience respond to? And more importantly, what type of incentives are you willing to give? A one-time discount? A finder’s fee for each referral? A chance to win prizes? Guaranteed rewards tied to the number of people they refer? No incentive at all, except warm and fuzzy feelings? Incentives will influence your strategy a lot, which is why I have a separate section of the article dedicated to them.
Write down your answers to these questions, and let’s move on to more practical matters like…
“When is the best time to ask for referrals?”
In referral marketing, when you pop the question matters just as much, if not more than, how you do it.
But the catch is, you can’t narrow this down to an exact measurable time a la “every Friday at 5:02pm local time, except if it’s Friday the 13th or an annual office party.” I wish it worked like that!
Instead, the best time to ask for referrals isn’t chronological… it’s conditional; or more accurately, behavioral.
Specifically, it’s when your client or customer is feeling an emotional high from their own experience with your product or service.
For example, a great time to pop the referral question could be after:
- You’ve helped the client create their first (or their biggest!) “win”
- Your customer has just received your product in the mail and unboxed it
- The buyer has been happily using your solution for days / weeks / months
- You’ve just wrapped up a project for a grateful client
That looks like a lot of options, doesn’t it? So let’s boil it down to two simple rules of thumb.
- For a product-based business: ask for referrals right after fulfilling the customer’s order — e.g. leave some gorgeous marketing collateral inside the box. That way, you’re most likely to catch the buyer in a good mood and with enough attention to spare.
- For a service-based business: pop the question after securing a big win for the client. If you communicate on the regular, and the relationship is ongoing, you can definitely afford to time your referral request to their “emotional high.”
OK, now you know when to ask for referrals. Moving on, let’s talk about how to do it in a way that makes people eager to say yes!
“How should I ask for referrals? What do I even say?”
Now, let’s get one thing clear first:
The specifics of how exactly you ask for referrals will vary depending on your business model, your target market, the magnitude of the ask, and the channel you’re using. I wish I could give you a word-for-word referral marketing script to swipe… but I can’t. There are just too many variables!
But I can give you a few detailed, proven guidelines to follow. So, when asking for referrals, make sure that you:
- Use appropriate channels. The bigger the request, the higher-touch channel you should use. E.g. if the ask is “forward this newsletter to 1 friend,” a simple one-sentence call to action at the end of said newsletter is plenty; but if it’s “refer someone who needs our product / service,” go as personal as possible with an email, a call, or even a face-to-face meeting.
- Emphasize what’s in it for them. Lead with the benefits of referring people to you. Whether it’s getting paid, winning prizes, scoring a discount, or even simply looking like a certified life-saver to friends and family, “what’s in it for me?” needs to be top of mind for your clients / customers, or they won’t act.
- Make your request easy to fulfill. Referring people to you should be as effortless as possible! If you need clients / customers to send an email intro, write it for them; if you want them to share your offer, give them a unique referral link; if you’d like them to send your newsletter to someone else, provide them with an automated forwarding message.
- Do it more than once. Just as with “normal” sales, you may need multiple touch points to get a conversion. So, for big requests made through high-touch channels — e.g. email introductions to potential clients — follow up until you get a definite yes or no answer. And for small-caliber requests like sharing your content, just make them into regular calls to action within your emails, lead magnets, articles etc.
And now, let’s unpack one of the top sticking points business owners have with referral marketing… incentives! Read on.
“What should I offer as an incentive, and do I need one?”
The secret to an irresistible referral reward is two-fold:
- It must be appealing to your target market. Your reward should be desirable enough to offset the inconvenience of spreading the word about your business… and the fear that referrals might have a bad experience with you.
- It must be aligned with the scope of the request and your contact’s expectations. E.g. some people make referrals with zero extra incentive, and will get insulted if offered! But others expect to be rewarded as a matter of course. Know your audience.
9 times out of 10, you can follow a simple rule of thumb: the bigger the commitment, the greater the incentive. But it’s not always cut and dry like that. Let’s workshop some examples, so you can see what I mean…
Scenario #1. You sell digital courses and have a free weekly newsletter. At the end of each email, you put a short call to action asking the reader to forward it to 1 friend. This is the easiest request of all time, and no reward is necessary.
But you also ask existing students to recommend your course to someone they know. That’s a much bigger, riskier commitment… so you offer a free private coaching session to the student — plus a 20% discount on the course for whoever they refer.
Scenario #2. You sell high-ticket web design services, and you’re asking a longtime client to refer someone to you… for a generous $500 finder’s fee upon a successful sale. In a surprise twist, the client refuses the reward — they love working with you so much that they’ll happily refer someone for free!
(But a different client, who’s only been with you for 3 months, does take the cash.)
Scenario #3. You sell a monthly subscription box for cat owners (yep, those are real, delightfully so!), and have a permanent referral program in place. For each successful subscription, both your customer and whoever they refer get $10 credited to their account — and a one-time bonus goodie for the kitties.
As you can see, there are many ways to incorporate incentives and rewards in your referral marketing. And surprisingly, a lot of the time no reward at all is perfectly fine!
Dazzle your new referrals with this high-converting message
Converting leads into buyers is hard — even if they come in as warm, eager referrals!
So, that means:
Just like you’ve prepared some killer assets to make it easy for people to send you those referrals… you also want to have something up your sleeve that instantly charms your new prospects and makes them extra delighted to buy from you!
…Something like an Elevator Pitch.
An Elevator Pitch is designed to cut through all the distractions and grab your prospects’ attention as fast as possible. It’s a single, memorable statement about your business that you can deliver in 30 seconds or less. And it has ONE job — getting potential customers excited enough and curious enough to say the 3 all-important words:
“Tell me more!”
I know what you’re thinking, “There’s no way I can hook people on my business in 30 seconds!” I disagree. My team has already helped dozens of businesses formulate an irresistible Elevator Pitch — and we want to create one for you, too.
All you need is to hop on a 30-minute consultation with one of our expert copywriters here at The Draw Shop. They will help you define the problem you solve, how you solve it, and the life-changing results your customers will see from working with you.
Then we’ll transform your input into a unique Elevator Pitch for your brand — a powerful 30-second statement scientifically designed to stand out, delight, persuade… and convert.
And we’ll top it off with a one-page, one-of-a-king infographic that makes your pitch into an engaging visual story! That’s going to be a valuable marketing asset in its own right — you can use it to…
- Share it with your team
- Feature it on your website
- Use it in your email signature
- Put it on the back of your business card
- Spread it on social media