You have carefully chosen the incentives you’re going to offer and have created a marketing strategy for your Refer a Friend program. At this point your program is up and running and you’re already making lots of new friends. But are you really making the most out of it? Bear with us for a little longer, because we want to let you know (or just remind you) about five very important things that if well maintained—like most things in life—will continuously enhance your referral program.
1. Generate advocacy through visibility
Promote your referral program everywhere! That will do the heavy lifting for you. Promote it on-site (i.e. on your site’s header and footer), on your mobile app, and in catalogs. Talk it up on social media and insert links in dedicated Refer a Friend email campaigns, in general marketing emails, and in transactional emails. You get the idea, right?
2. Encourage participation through ease of use
Every year, approximately $4 trillion is lost due to shopping cart abandonment. Shoppers give up on buying for numerous reasons but some of them abandon their carts simply to avoid lengthy account creation processes. You should keep this in mind when deciding on the user interface capabilities of your program, because no matter how loyal your customers are, they will give up on referring you to their friends if the referral process is too complicated and time-consuming. With that in mind, you should consider integrating your Refer a Friend program with Social Login, in which you will allow your customers to easily log-in using a social network of their choice and reduce account creation friction. You should also consider a deep linking app based Refer a Friend in mobile, in which when a customer is referred and takes action by downloading or opening the app, the referral traverses the downloading of the app and is automatically tracked and recorded so both parties receive their rewards automatically. Long story short, make sure you create a simple and seamless experience on all channels: desktop, mobile, and in-store, in which your program explanations are short and sweet and the redemption of rewards is just one click away. That will make your customers a lot more likely to refer.
3. Make your referral program more than mobile friendly
As the world is slowly getting into our pockets (I mean, into our phones) it is important that you take your program beyond normal standards of mobile responsiveness. Make it personal, always exciting, and easy. Let’s take Uber as an example. Right after a ride, Uber—within the app—simply offers it’s customers a free ride if they refer a friend, and then sends a personal message to the friend. Uber’s referral program is one of the most successful not only because their product/service and customer service are great but also because their referral process is personal, exciting and easy. They present the CTA in a very simple way after an “aha” moment, allowing customers to refer friends immediately and regardless of where they are.
4. Create a relationship with your customers
Customers acquired through referral programs have a 37% higher retention rate. So, as you’re acquiring new friends, a.k.a. new customers, make sure you cultivate a strong relationship with them. However, you should not forget about your already loyal brand advocates who referred those friends in the first place. With that in mind, you should invest in integrating your Refer a Friend solution with a Loyalty program, in which you can give your customers incentives through a points-based reward system and keep better track of their activities. You can integrate your Refer a Friend CTAs into Loyalty transactional emails which limits the number of emails your customers receive but still keeps them thinking about you. With a Loyalty program in place, you can also give back to your top brand advocates by tailoring rewards to personal events such as birthdays and by offering seasonal rewards. By making your customers’ experience personal, you make them feel special which (needless to say) solidifies their relationship with your brand.
5. Reward your customers instantly
This one is simple and easy: make rewards available instantaneously! Yes, patience is a virtue but no one (or at least most people I know) likes to wait for a good thing . Think about Uber’s Loyalty Program again and how they enable customers to refer friends and redeem their free ride right away. The ability to redeem rewards right away will keep the program running and referrals and referrers to keep referring.
Watch all of these things closely and you are guaranteed to kick ass. Cars, diets and relationships (like most things in life) don’t work without regular upkeep; neither will your Referral program.