Once upon a time, people relied on referrals via word of mouth to bring customers to their door. As businesses evolved, so too have referral programs. Successful customer acquisition, conversion, and retention begin with a marketing strategy. When applied as part of that strategy, referral marketing programs offer customers incentives with the goal of driving customer loyalty – and sales; people pay more attention to referrals from those they trust. We all have a circle of trust in real life and online. A brand endorsement from within that circle via a positive comment, rating or a review is more meaningful than the endorsement of a stranger. In fact, 97% of consumers read online reviews before making a buying decision. Referral programs therefore have a significant role to play in driving sales.

Popular types of referral programs

  • Direct referral programs: Incentive-based programs tied to marketing strategy encourage customers to promote a company’s brand in exchange for products, services, or financial benefits. This simultaneously invites new users and encourages brand loyalty among existing customers.
  • Symbiotic referral programs: These programs reward both the customer and their prospect with a tangible good or financial benefit.

The “Classic” Referral: Airbnb

How did a company that didn’t exist 10 years ago become a staggeringly successful business valued at around $26 billion? What was the secret to their success? A solid marketing referral program. Airbnb sent email invitations to existing customers, offering a travel credit when new members took their first trip and offered a bigger cash incentive for first-time hosts. Obviously, marketing referral programs worked for them and many others, such as Uber and Amazon Prime.

Going beyond traditional referral software

While Marketing Referral programs work, traditional programs are difficult to implement and manage. Referral programs that don’t include automation are difficult to measure and can be both costly and inefficient, often defeating the benefits gained from the program in the first place. Referral Marketing Automation has evolved beyond that and many marketing automation platforms are better than ever at supporting referral programs. MAP can streamline and simplify some of the most time-consuming responsibilities for marketing and sales. From automating the lead qualification process to creating a centre for digital campaign creation, MAP simplifies it.

What are the benefits of using Marketing Automation?

An automated incentive campaign means that marketers can better use their time and resources running efficient, measurable, and profitable marketing referral programs.

  • Marketing automation is easy to use and reminders are a snap to schedule.
  • With less staff required for initial contacts, these resources can be redirected to call warmer leads and have the time for intelligent, quality follow-up.
  • Campaigns are quick to deploy, with easy integration into existing tools like email, analytics, eCommerce, payment, and sales & reward components.
  • MAP allows for finely-tuned monitoring and tracking delivering the data needed to gauge success.

MAP further supports business referrals by allowing businesses to promote and personalize their relationship with every customer, lead and prospect, through meaningful digital strategies that include lead qualification, cultivating relationships, follow-up campaigns, plus lead and digital footprint analysis.

4 ways Marketing Automation makes for easier promotion

If you have a strong online presence and great online reviews, you should have no problem gaining referrals and recommendations, impacting your conversion rates, and increasing your revenue. Don’t be afraid to tap into the goodwill you’ve built among your customer base to drive new sales. Here are 4 ways automated referrals can be more easily promoted with simple CTAs:

  1. Links to landing pages (implicit in footers, email signatures, follow-up emails)
  2. Links to landing pages (explicit in direct invitational emails)
  3. Drive invitations via social media (repetitive basis, via bio or descriptions)
  4. At member login pages

Marketing automation isn’t just for referral marketing. MAP projects touch several different parts of your business. From IT, Sales, Marketing, and Operations, these platforms provide actionable insights into your prospects and customers leading to improved ROI and greater success for the savvy marketer.