17 Ways to Effectively Promote Referral Programs
Referral programs are a great way to organically spread the word about products and services, but you have to let happy customers know that they can benefit from your program.
Whether you show off the program on your website’s homepage, send out an email to tell your customers, or find an influencer to spread the word, you have to promote your referral program in order to see success.
“It’s important to promote your referral program,” says Rob Edell, founder of Servy, an app that helps restaurants increase customer satisfaction. “Too many companies hide the refer feature in a sub-menu when referrals are one of the most important growth drivers.”
You may think that the referral program incentive is the most important part of a referral program. That’s only partially right. Think about it… If happy customers don’t know about your referral program, then how can they take advantage of it? Here are some ways to effectively promote a new or existing referral program
1. Use targeted email marketing
Email is one of the best ways to get in touch with your customers. When you introduce a new referral program or want to get fresh eyes on an existing one, send a well-designed email to your customer base that focuses on the deal.
If you want to be especially successful with this method, target those who’ve actually bought your products and services, as opposed to those who simply email subscribers. For example, if you buy a Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon, the eCommerce giant will soon encourage you to buy a case for your new device. This highly-targeted tactic can do wonders when you’re selling products or promoting a referral program.
2. Build social sharing into the referral program
It’s a lot of work to promote a referral program, so ideally you want to create a program that encourages customers to promote the program for you. You want to build social sharing into the referral program.
Stitch Fix, a clothing subscription service, does a great job of this in their customer portal. They encourage customers to share a referral link on whatever social media site works best for them.
The result is that Stitch Fix customers share their referral link on social media, acting as promoters for the program. Note: you can also use your social media bios! Add a link to your program in your bio – it’s quite effective (see #8 below).
3. Strategically place it on your homepage
Many brands have referral programs in place, but they’re so hidden within the website that customers don’t know about it. In order to effectively promote a referral program, you should strategically place it on your homepage. That way, when a customer visits your website, they’ll see the program front and center.
For example, Premier Estates Wine, a U.K.-based wine retailer, has a rotating carousel on its homepage, and one of the images promotes the referral program.
When customers come to the site, they see the referral program immediately, ensuring that it’s top of mind. If you don’t want it permanently on your homepage, add it as a homepage pop-up.
4. Make call outs for the referral program on product or sign up pages
When someone is checking out a particular product, they’re more interested in that product than anything else on your site. Most likely, they care more about the product itself than your brand. Because of this, you should make call outs for your referral program on product and sign up pages.
According to Friend Buy, product page sharing usually represents about 51% of referral revenue for companies who have social sharing buttons on those pages. Even if you don’t promote your referral program directly on your product page, you must have social sharing buttons to make it easy for customers to share particular products with their friends.
5. Create a special and unique referral program page
If you have a robust referral program, it’s worth creating a special and unique referral program page. This page not only serves to promote the program but can also help explain the terms and additions to your current customers, as well as those they refer. Use this opportunity to explain the benefit of joining the program too.
HubSpot’s referral program page is a great example. The page explains the referral program and encourages customers to share their happiness on social media sites.
If customers don’t want to share HubSpot’s products on their own social media pages, HubSpot steps in and offers to “do the talking,” providing a referral form for customers to fill out.
6. Add a reminder into user accounts
Your current customers may spend a lot of time in their user account on your site, making it a perfect place to promote your referral program. Every time they log in, they’ll see they have the option to recommend your products and services.
I use FreshBooks as my small business accounting solution, and when I log in, I’m presented with a tab that says “Recommend FreshBooks.” When I click the tab, I’m given information about the referral program, as well as some social sharing options to help me share it.
7. Promote the program in email signatures
Most brands have email signatures attached to each email a team member sends, so why not include a link to your referral program in your email signature? This tactic works especially well for those that interact with customers over email, such as support staff. It’s not too in your face, but customers will know exactly how to find the program when they are ready to sign up.
8. Remind in your social media bios
If you’re trying to promote a referral program, you want to get it in as many places as possible. You can easily add information about referral programs into your social media bios.
For example, if we added information about Referral Rock’s referral program into our Twitter bio, it would be visible every time someone visited our Twitter account, reminding them that they can refer Referral Rock at any time.
9. Create Call-to-Actions on your blog posts
If you have an active blog and content marketing strategy, then it’s a good idea to add calls-to-actions (CTAs) for your referral program into your blog posts.
For example, Last Pass, a password database software, uses this CTA on some of their customer-oriented blog posts. Each time customers read a blog post, they’re reminded to refer their friends.
10. Find an influencer or happy customer to spread the word
The best people to promote your referral program are those who already love what you do. They’re not just happy customers– they’re ambassadors.
ClassPass, a nationwide fitness service, offers an Ambassador program, which is basically an advanced referral program. It’s the ClassPass Ambassadors‘ job to promote ClassPass, as well as the referral program they’re a part of.
11. Run a paid social media campaign to target loyal customers
Paid social media, such as Facebook Ads or Promoted Tweets, are a great way to promote content, products, and even referral programs. The best part of these networks is that they’re highly targeted, so you can promote the program exclusively to existing customers by uploading a list of email addresses.
Surprisingly, advertising on social media is inexpensive. You can test out a promotion for as little as $100 to see if you get results. Even small businesses can benefit from these paid promotions on social media.
12. Add it to your thank you or confirmation page
After someone makes a purchase, they’re usually super excited about what they’ve bought. This makes thank you or confirmation pages the perfect place to pitch your referral program. After someone buys a product or service, encourage them to let their friends know.
13. Continue referral program promotion well after launch
When you launch a new referral program, you’ll dedicate a ton of time and energy into making sure your customers know about it. You might come up with an email marketing campaign to promote the program immediately, for example.
However, if you want your referral program to be successful, you need to promote it well after the program launches. Whether this means sending out periodic emails, finding new places to promote the program on your web page, or coming up with an automated system, you need to promote your referral program long after you launch.
14. Automate promotion of the referral program
Automation is one of the best ways to guarantee that your referral program gets in front of customers who are most likely to share with their friends. Rather than manually emailing everyone in your system, set up an automated program.
For example, after someone buys signs up for your service, they might get an automated email thirty days later that encourages them to share with their friends.
15. Promote the referral program in other marketing campaigns
If you launch a marketing campaign, such as a funny video, use the opportunity to remind existing customers that you have a referral program. Simply adding the words “Refer a Friend for $20 Off” can make a huge difference in encouraging customers to promote your products and services.
16. Early Release
Perhaps you can create a hype for your program before it’s even released to the public. Take a few of your top advocates and let them test drive the referral program. You can start getting the feel for how the program will work, and you can create a smooth running program all thanks to your top advocates. Plus, these early release people will feel like they are on an exclusive VIP list, and they will truly feel like they are part of the team.
Why not ask your customers how willing they’d be to refer a friend? Using a Net Promotor Score (NPS) which measures how willing a customer is to recommend your product or service could be a great way for you to not only promote your referral program but to also get people participating. Perhaps you send the survey before you officially invite your customers to join. You can sift through and invite the ones who mentioned that they are highly willing. You can also ask and score customers on other aspects of the referral program like incentives. This way you can build a program that truly fits your business and customers.
Promote referral programs
Referral programs can bring huge wins for businesses large and small, but you must make sure your customers know they can benefit by telling their friends about your brand. Try out these tactics, and let us know which ones work best for your brand.