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13 Reliable Tips to Take Your Referral Marketing Program to the Next Level


If your referral marketing program is not bringing in the desired results, then you’re probably not doing it right. A well-oiled referral marketing program can do wonders for your top line. Here are 13 tips to improve your referral marketing program.

  1. Offer a freebie: Offer something attractive and easy to earn. For example, some IT companies rely heavily on employee referrals to meet hiring targets. They usually offer cash based rewards for referral hires. Similarly, you could offer prizes, discounts or freebies to customers who bring in new customers. Make sure that the reward scheme is comprehensive and covers every existing customer.
  2. Win-win: Provide a two-sided incentive for referring. This means that you offer incentives to the referrer and the referee. For example, Dropbox, a Web-based file hosting service, offered more space to people who signed up through a referral link rather than through a normal sign-up. The referrer got additional space, too. According to Drew Houston, Dropbox co-founder and CEO, the referral program increased  sign-ups by 60 percent.
  3. Database management: Always keep an eye on your database of contacts, as these are the customers who are going to help you get new customers. Make sure that the database is constantly updated, and remove outdated addresses or contact numbers as soon as you see them.
  4. Correspondence: Build loyalty of your existing customers by sending frequent mailers, or by announcing discounts or loyalty programs. Correspond with your customers to nurture relationships.
  5. Sensitize employees: Train your employees to manage customer relations. This is extremely important because customers come in contact with your employees. If your employees don’t know how to react to different kinds of customers and respond to different types of queries, how will you make sure that your customers will refer your business to their friends?
  6. Avoid negativity: No customer should walk out of your store because of a bad experience. And if prospects are walking out unhappy too often, your referral marketing program will go nowhere.
  7. Highlight your brand: When you offer a freebie such as a pen, key chain, pen drive, make sure your brand is printed on the gift so that customers are constantly reminded who gave them the gift. This also helps when they refer your brand to family or friends.
  8. Don’t make it hard to earn rewards: Getting customers to buy-in by offering irresistible referral offers can work wonders, especially during the launch phase of a business. For example, a new online fashion store offered its customers $25 for every person they introduced. Since most products in the store cost $25, a customer could start off just by introducing her friends without having to spend a penny. Needless to say, the referral program was a roaring success.
  9. Ask customers to provide contact details of friends/acquaintances: Getting existing customers to share details of contacts (purely voluntarily) can grow your database fast. Readers Digest asks its subscribers to fill in a form with contact details of your friends. If these contacts are authentic, the reader gets a free book. By spending a pittance on a book, Readers Digest gets 14 new potential customers to whom it sends introductory offers.
  10. Make your existing customers feel special: Making existing customers feel pampered or cared for is the best way to improve your referral marketing program. Send a holiday card, or send them gifts or discount coupons on their birthdays.
  11. Pamper referred customers: It’s likely that your existing customer has already spoken highly of your business to get a referral to visit and/or sign up. The last thing you should do is to take this new customer for granted. Instead, create an awesome experience so this person starts another chain of referrals for you.
  12. Personalize your referral marketing: Depending on who your ultimate customer is, customize your referral marketing program. If for example, you want to attract female customers, pay attention to existing women customers and make them an offer they can’t refuse. For instance, offering female customers a key chain may not be a great idea, but discount coupons can help.
  13. Innovate: Revisit the database as well as your referral scheme to surprise your customers. If one year you offer a discount coupon, the next year make it something different. It keeps your customers motivated to participate in your referral program.

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