Fun fact! Did you know people are four times more likely to buy from your business if referred by their friend than if they heard about your brand through your marketing campaigns?
Let that sink in for a minute.
Customer referrals and reviews help build a sense of social proof, an assurance that other customers have loved and recommended you.
Customers generally see highly appreciated and reviewed products (and services) as superior. This is what makes customer referrals such a strong asset for your business.
Want to know how to get referrals?
It starts with providing positive and engaging customer experiences. As a business, you can only secure these client referrals by earning your customers' trust and loyalty. There are several ways to do this.
This article will help you understand how referral marketing works and how to get referrals from your customers.
What is referral marketing?
Referral marketing is word-of-mouth promotion where satisfied customers refer your business to people they know.
This is an effective marketing method because people trust a customer referral made by their friends or family and are likelier to engage with the recommended business.
These customer referrals may occur spontaneously, in conversation, or can take place in the form of a business referral program.
Keep in mind that customer reviews are similar to referrals because a person will trust the words and experience of another fellow customer more than the marketing claims of your brand.
This means that you can also use your referral marketing strategies to increase your customer reviews.
How to get referrals from your customers
Lay the foundation for referrals
Provide excellent customer service
Facilitate relationships between customers and your brand
Generate online reviews - and use them!
Know your top referrers
Be sure to ask
Set up a customer referral program
1. Laying the foundation for referrals
Businesses must understand what earns them the most customer referrals.
It is generally seen that a positive customer experience with polite and helpful customer service lies at the heart.
Your brand should look to engage the customer in a way that helps them form a connection with your brand, its values, and the customer experiences you provide.
Here are some tips to help you secure more referrals:
2. Excellent customer service
Top-notch customer service is the most significant component of creating a good customer experience, laying the foundation for business referrals.
Think of the customer experience as you excelling at delivering your service or product.
To improve your customer service, you should:
Whether your business is big or small, you'll have to deal with demanding customers. No matter your customer's attitude, you must show them respect and personalize your interactions as much as possible. Being courteous and professional will help you get referrals.
This is important if your business relies on in-person or virtual meetings. Being on time can help build your relationship with your customer, as it shows you value their time.
Provide a great experience to everyone, every time. You should create repeatable processes and ensure all employees have sufficient training.
You may communicate with customers in various ways: face to face, via email, phone, or social media messages. Being proactive in responding to queries, complaints, or feedback reflects well on your brand as it shows you value customers' opinions.
Let's look at an example:
Say you're an interior designer, and a potential client leaves a message asking if you have time to meet with them in your city, but they can only meet you the following day. As a busy professional, you know that fitting them into your already hectic schedule is a long shot.
However, you can respond to their message promptly and respectfully to let them know that you can't meet during their requested day. Then, you follow up with ideas for alternative meeting options like a Zoom call.
You can also throw in the option to meet with them for an early morning coffee (before your regular schedule starts). This way, even if you can't fulfill the customer's request, they feel heard and respected.
WATCH: How to Get More Referrals from your Customer's Experiences
On a 2021 NiceJob podcast, Ramona Rice explains how she sets the proper expectations, delights her customers, and turns that into more leads, sales, referrals, and reviews. Check it out:
3. Facilitating relationships between customers and your brand
You may be thinking, shouldn't I be focused on getting to know my customers, not the other way around? While knowing your customers' needs is vital, it is essential for customers to understand your brand and values.
Customers tend to shop with and recommend brands whose values align with theirs much more than others.
For instance, a brand that generates eco-friendly products through carbon-neutral methods will attract environmentally conscious customers. But to do so, the brand needs to market itself as being eco-friendly, reward customers for going cashless, and celebrate occasions like Earth Day through sales and seminars, among other things.
It's easier for customers to be interested in you if you take the time to build a relationship with them. But be careful not to overshare; sharing excessive personal opinions can quickly make someone feel uncomfortable, and make you appear unprofessional.
4. Generate your online reviews - and use them!
Your online reviews are almost like personal recommendations. According to Search Engine Land, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So if your business has lots of positive reviews, you're more likely to make a sale.
In case you have some negative reviews, don't panic. Instead, you should respond to negative reviews politely and professionally and mention how you're making changes to improve.
5. Exceed expectations
Even if your product is superior to others in the market, it might not be enough to gain customer reviews and business referrals.
The more help you provide to your customers, the better off you'll be: whether that means reminding them of what they should do next or giving a few extra tips on how to use the product better.
You don't have to break the bank or go overboard; being helpful can be enough to get you a stellar review and maybe even a business referral.
If you've been paving the way for referrals, that's great. You probably have some word-of-mouth marketing working in your favor, and new customers are coming in. The next step is creating an organized strategy to increase your referrals further.
6. Know your top referrers
Look for patterns and trends within your referral demographics: you can track your prospects and referrals in a spreadsheet or use referral software.
Let's say you're a Business to Customer (B2C) business and need to identify your top referrers. Using past data, you can determine whether middle-aged men or young, professional women respond to you better.
You can then use this data to tailor your customer experiences to cater to these key groups better. This will help you secure more referrals from a highly responsive and enthusiastic customer group.
On the other hand, if you run a Business to Business (B2B) company, perhaps you'll find that other small businesses, particularly startups, refer you most often. Whichever the case, this gives you the ammunition to dig a little deeper so that you can understand what type of customer is more likely to refer your business.
Additionally, you may learn you have a few local customers who promote your business frequently. Invest time understanding what you're doing right for them and try to replicate it.
7. Be sure to ask
A big part of a successful campaign or program to get referrals or reviews is to simply ask.
Failing to do so means you'll miss out on word of mouth opportunities. If you're confident that you're delivering an exceptional product or service and even hear it from time to time, all it often takes is to simply ask a customer if they'll share their opinion.
If they're truly delighted, most will.
8. Express gratitude
Showing you appreciate your customers' efforts to refer and promote your business can set you apart from competitors.
You can do this by providing freebies and other incentives that can be redeemed each time a customer makes an X number of referrals. This also motivates customers to make multiple referrals in your favor!
Even NiceJob Gifts allows you to surprise and delight your customers by sending your best customers a thank-you gift for their loyalty and sending new customers a token to create a lasting impression.
Let's go over a few examples of how you can show appreciation to referrers:
A quick email thanking them for their efforts goes a long way. You can also include a coupon for a store discount or free shipping as an additional way of saying thanks.
You can give loyal customers a freebie or discount on their next bill. If you are a software company, you can upgrade their account or give them an add-on service for free.
Your gesture doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. A simple gesture or shout-out on social media can easily let customers know you value their loyalty to your brand.
9. Start a referral program
Setting up a referral program makes it easier to ask for referrals from existing clients.
These referral programs allow your most loyal customers to get their own custom links which they can forward to people who they want to recommend your business to.
This allows you to build a better, more personal relationship with your best customers while also boosting your organic customer-driven growth!
Make sure your customers are aware of any referral marketing activities or programs you have. Whether that's having a sign by a cash register, on an invoice, or in your email signature is up to you. Why choose? Do them all. Using your social media profiles is also wise.
Some of the most effective referral marketing programs tend to be embedded in most aspects of the user experience. For referrals to deliver, include your program as part of how you operate.
If you focus on the product or experience, your referrals should follow. Under promise and over deliver is always a way to go.
What are the benefits of referral marketing?
Referral marketing is not only a smart business strategy but can be a game-changer when it comes to driving growth and building a loyal customer base. Your customers have an abundance of options, and referral marketing can be the key to standing out and getting noticed.
Here are the top benefits of referral marketing that you need to know:
Cost-effectiveness: Referral marketing is often more cost-effective than other forms of marketing since it relies on existing customers to refer new customers, eliminating the need for costly advertising campaigns.
Higher conversion rates: Referral marketing tends to have higher conversion rates than other forms of marketing since referred customers are more likely to trust a friend's or family member's suggestions.
According to Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising report, 89% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know above all other channels.
Increased customer loyalty: Customers who refer others to a business are often more loyal to that business since they have a vested interest in its success.
Better quality leads: Referred customers are often a better fit for a business since they come from someone who knows the business and its products or services.
When a consumer is recommended a product or service by someone they know, they are almost 2x more likely to generate actions.
Improved brand reputation: Positive word-of-mouth referrals can help improve a business's reputation and increase its credibility in the eyes of potential customers.
Greater customer engagement: Referral marketing can help businesses engage their existing customers by encouraging them to participate in the referral process and rewarding them for doing so.
Congratulations on scoring a referral from a client! Now, it's time to take action and turn that lead into a new customer. But where do you start?
Firstly, take some time to research the company that you've been referred to. This will help you to tailor your pitch and provide personalized information that will impress them when you speak to them.
Next, prioritize contacting the referral as soon as possible while their conversation with your client is still fresh in their mind. The longer you wait to make contact, the less likely the lead will convert. You should also follow up with referrals who don't close within a few months. They may not be ready to make a purchase right away, but could still be a great fit for your business in the future.
Finally, don't forget to thank your client for the referral! If your client knows their effort is appreciated, they’re more likely to refer you again.
Looking for an easier way to manage your referral marketing efforts?
NiceJob's customer referral software keeps demand for your business high! How?
If you haven't looked into or tried our review generation software, please do! But basically, once a customer goes through your automated review request campaign, they'll automatically be entered into an always-on referrals campaign!
And what this powerful one-two-punch process does is make sure you:
Get a steady referral stream
Never miss an opportunity to get a referral
See your customer lead network (and sales!) grow
NiceJob helps you send personal recommendation invites to your customers, letting them quickly share their experiences with their network. We also have a recommendation widget to keep track of all the recommendations you receive.
In addition, we allow customers to share a recommendation link on social media, making it easy for new and existing customers to recommend your business to their friends.