Questions to Ask When Drafting a Referral Marketing Message

As we’ve mentioned a few times, communication is a big part of a referral channel’s success. It keeps referral sources engaged and when done correctly, keeps your referral program top-of-mind with sources being educated on fresh new offers or deals.

But “correctly” is the key word here. If you bombard your referral sources with message after message that doesn’t actually say anything, eventually, they’ll stop paying attention even when the message is important.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure that your referral marketing message is solid.

Who is your audience?

This question is, on its surface, very basic: who are you sending this message to? Is it going to referral partners, customers? Both or neither? Knowing who you want to target means that you’ll know, at a base level, how to approach the message.

But it also goes deeper. Do you have an in-depth understanding of your partner or customer base? Do you know who they are and how they operate? If not, you should. Understanding your audience intimately is the first step toward crafting a message that they’ll actually want to read.

Knowing your audience means that you know how, when, and why to contact them.

What do you need to say?

Why are you sending this message? Is it because there’s a new deal you want customers to be aware of? An incentive or contest for referral partners? A new product that you want them to start pitching?

Whatever it is, condense your message into a single sentence. And from there, build it out. Stay focused and concise, and don’t take too long to get to the point — the longer the message is, the more likely it will be that the recipients won’t read all of it. And many will skim, anyway, so put your most important part in the first sentence.

Your customers and partners have limited time — so don’t waste it.

How can you make this message stand out?

Is your open rate down? If so, it could be because all of your messages sound the same.

This goes into the last point of knowing what you need to say, but it goes further than that. For example, if you’re revealing a new incentive or contest, why? What’s the occasion? How can you make the email reflect that occasion that makes it stand out from the incentives and contests you’ve done in the past?

Don’t let your emails blend into one another in your audience’s mind. Make sure that you make this one unique — but, of course, don’t sacrifice readability or conciseness to achieve this.

Has anyone else read this message?

If you can, we definitely suggest sending someone on your team a “test” before sending out the message to its recipients. Not only will they be able to catch simple things like grammar and spelling mistakes, but they’ll also be able to let you know if you take too long to get to the point, or if something is too confusing.

By following all of these steps, you can create a powerful referral marketing message that your recipients will actually read and respond to.

Discover, Explore, Buy: How Referrals Play into the B2B Buyer’s Journey

In today’s world, the B2B customer has more choices than others. And that means their journey to purchasing something is more complex than ever. They’re constantly inundated with cold calls, emails, and other noise, to the point where they willfully tune out much of it.

How can you, as just one business, break through the noise and be heard?

Part of that is understanding what the B2B buyer’s journey looks like. Once you have an intimate understanding of how these customers make decisions, you can position yourself as the best choice.

First, Understand that there is No Single Buyer’s Journey.

Every customer is a little bit different. Some will spend several weeks deliberating over options, while others will simply pick the first one that stands out to them and move on. So how can you appeal to every B2B customer, regardless of their time frame or patience level?

The answer is simple: referrals.

Referrals are a powerful tool. Statistics show that 92% of buyers trust referrals from people they know, and they’re one of the most trusted forms of advertising. If you’re not harnessing the power of referrals with a dedicated channel, you’re missing out on quality leads.

But when in the customer journey do B2B buyers want to get referrals?

At the beginning.

This is the point that the B2B customer realizes that they want or need a certain service. A well-timed referral here can stop their journey before it even begins — which, although it sounds ominous when phrased like that, is actually convenient for them!

Remember, the B2B customer journey is complicated. And it takes them away from the time they could be spending doing other things, like actually running their business.

So if you have a well-timed referral, you can save them that hassle. In many cases, the suggestion from someone they trust will make their decision for them. This will help you — and them — close the deal quickly.

During their research.

Another great time to encourage referrals is while someone is doing research. Often, this is a very easy time to give referrals, because the prospect will be asking for them.

Social media might be your first instinct for these referrals, since that is frequently where people will be asking. But our research shows that verbal referrals are actually far more effective at creating leads that convert to deals.

Encourage your referral partners and customers to meet with prospects face to face during this time. This will help make you memorable.

While they’re deliberating.

This is closer to the end of the buyer’s journey, where they’ve narrowed down their choices and are trying to decide on the best one. Often, you will have already been referred to them as an option.

But here, a second referral can help drive the point home that you’re the fit for their needs. It will bring you to the forefront of their mind, and position you as the most impressive candidate, since you have multiple people talking about you.

Getting referrals at any stage of the game can be beneficial, but getting referrals strategically is how you generate steady revenue. However, this can be difficult to maintain without help. That’s what makes a referral software so important.

By automating your referral channel, you can ensure that you’re hitting B2B customers at the right time, in the right way.

The art of referral emails

If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you probably know that communication is one of the best ways to keep your referral sources engaged. But for all the talk about the importance of communication, there’s less understanding about how to do it effectively.

There are many ways you can keep in contact with referral partners and others in your channel, but email is one of the more convenient ways to fit it into your schedule and theirs. While some things may benefit from an in-person or video meeting, a lot of day-to-day communication ultimately works as an email.

Here are the steps to creating an effective email to channel partners.

Step 1: The Hook

This is the part that catches the reader’s attention. When crafting this, there are a few simple questions to ask yourself: why should the reader care? Why should they want to click on this email to open it? How do I make them feel glad that they did? The subject line is certainly part of the hook, but make sure to include one or two sentences max at the beginning of the email to keep them there, as well.

Step 2: The Message

Once you’ve got your reader’s attention, it’s time to cut to the chase. Do you have an update about channel performance? A challenge? A success story to share? Whatever it is, give it to your email list in a way that is easy to understand — now isn’t the time for industry jargon. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal, but don’t ramble, either.

Step 3: The CTA

What do you want your readers to do once they finish reading this email? Is there a contest you want them to enter, a certain number of leads you want from them before a certain date? Or do you simply want them to keep up the good work? No matter what it is, try to end the email on an action — something that your readers can get up and do once they’re done reading.

Bonus: Tips and Tricks

The above steps are the broad strokes of creating a good referral email. However, here are some other things to keep in mind.

Keep the message short and sweet. Channel partners have limited time. Don’t waste it with long, rambling messages that take paragraphs to get to the point.

Keep things aligned with your brand. If your brand voice is cool and casual, an overly formal email will feel out of place. Likewise, if you’re a more formal or professional brand, suddenly switching to a casual voice will throw readers off.

Include special offers or incentives. Nothing keeps partners clicking and opening messages like offering them special deals or prizes for bringing in more leads.

Automated doesn’t mean impersonal. Automated emails can help save time and also make it easier to track open and click through rates. Automating this and other parts of your referral channel can ultimately make it more effective.

How Marketing Can Motivate Sales (and vice versa)

We’ve all heard about the importance of sales and marketing alignment. It makes for a better business, it grows revenue, and overall it makes everyone happier.

But what does sales and marketing alignment have to do with a referral strategy? A lot, as it turns out.

It’s no secret that referral programs perform better when sales gets involved. Statistics show that, with sales involvement, leads convert to deals ten percent more often in partner referral channels and seventeen percent more often in customer referral channels. When it comes to seeing actual results from a referral channel, sales involvement is key.

But the impact of strong marketing on a referral channel can’t be ignored, either. You do, in fact, need both of these teams to be working at the top of their game in order to get results. And how do you get them working their best?

You get them working together.

Getting Sales Involved in Referrals

Engaging sales in a referral channel sounds easy on the surface. But there are actually a few ways that you can go about it, and figuring out what is the best for your channel will take some strategic thinking.

The first step is to figure out if you’re involving direct or indirect sales. This will help you get an idea of the general shape of your program.

Then, there are a few options. One is to take a direct to individuals approach, which is where an individual such as a customer, influencer, small agent, small business or employee would refer business directly to you. Another is a to-and-through strategic alliance, where you make an alliance with a company that enables their employees to refer business to you. There is also the to-and-through partner network, which is where managed partners can enable their employees to make referrals.

Whatever you choose, your sales team should be part of the equation. They will be the ones helping you recruit and keep customers, alliances, and partners referring.

But it isn’t enough to just tell your sales team about your channel. You need to get them excited about it, too. And a big part of doing that is promoting your referral program — marketing it, in other words. And this is where your marketing team comes in.

Getting Marketing Involved

When many people hear the words “referral” and “marketing” together, they don’t think of involving promotional teams. They think of referrals as a type of marketing, which is perfectly true! But many don’t understand just how entwined a referral channel and a marketing team is.

Referrals can fit into just about any partner channel marketers are actively using. That means, no matter what, your marketing team will be a part of your channel. Instead of having this deter sales from getting involved, you should use it to your advantage.

Promoting your referral program is an important part of a channel’s success, and it doesn’t end one or two or ten days after you start the program. It should, in fact, continue to go throughout the life of your channel.

And just as you’re promoting to partners and customers, you need to be promoting to sales, too. Remind them of why they’re doing what they’re doing, and make sure you’re promoting your successes to them, as well! The more they can see the positive effect that the referral channel is having, the more they’ll be able to be involved in it.

This will cause a positive feedback loop, where marketing will have more positive things to say, which will bolster sales even further. And that will make your referral channel more effective than ever.

Get Inspired! Promote Your Referral Program like These Brands

Promoting a referral strategy is a daunting task. It helps to have a plan for every phase of your referral program’s life, but that can be difficult to put together when you don’t have any concept of where to start.

That’s why we gathered some of the most exciting referral program marketing techniques. We’re breaking down how these brands did them, and how you can apply them to your own B2B business.

Tesla

Tesla is known for its innovation, and its referral program is no different. Making the most of its excited and incredibly loyal fanbase, it created a referral program that saw over 40x ROI!

What can other businesses learn from Tesla’s referral program marketing?

  1. Cultivate loyalty. This is the driving force behind Tesla’s success. Tesla fans are incredibly loyal, with most of them willing to evangelize the cars for free. Almost all of Tesla’s success comes from word of mouth.
  2. Offer incentives your customers — and partners — want. Tesla calculated their incentives carefully and made sure that they were giving their customers what they actually wanted. You should be doing the same thing — calculate incentives based on your audience.
  3. Stay top of mind. Elon Musk is still generating headlines everywhere he goes, which means that customers have no opportunity to forget him or his business. While you probably won’t want to take that route, regular communication with your partners can achieve the same effect.

Rothy

Rothy takes a smart approach to referral programs by using post-purchase pop-ups to encourage referrals from happy customers. While this is a reasonable way to approach B2C referral marketing, many B2B companies might find it difficult or pointless to implement.

This does not mean that B2B companies should ignore these tactics altogether, however. Here are just some things that can be learned:

  1. Ask for referrals at the right time. Timing is key for referrals. Asking for them when your customer or partner is happy with you and ready to sell you to someone else is far more effective.
  2. Make your partners happy. Even if you aren’t necessarily trying to sell your partners on your product or service, you should still be making them happy and excited to be a part of your channel.
  3. Be direct but simple. Pop-ups are attention-grabbing. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to have the customer or partner’s attention forever. Notice that Rothy kept their message short and sweet — and you should, too.

Huckberry

Companies like Huckberry have had great success with referral contests — offering special prizes to whoever brings in the most referrals in a set amount of time. Huckberry used a lot of the tactics that we already discussed: short, effective messaging and powerful incentives. But they also had something more.

What can your business learn from this?

  1. Make referring fun. A little friendly competition makes participating in a referral program feel less like a chore and more like a game. This will make referring for you more memorable, and feed into your channel even after the campaign is over.
  2. Give things a deadline. Deadlines help add a sense of urgency to your referral channel. Instead of telling partners and customers to refer whenever is convenient, having a set, near date will prompt many into action.
  3. Be creative. While Huckberry offered a traditional cash prize, they had a little extra fun by offering bourbon along with. These tiny, humanizing touches will make your referral campaign more memorable and fun.

#Growthhacking: 5 Ways to Boost Your Lead Generation

How many of you have stuck to your New Year’s Resolutions? Many of us start the year with lofty goals for lead generation, but by the time Q2 ends, we become disillusioned with how much work is left to go. Maybe we don’t see the progress that we wanted, and we consider giving up entirely.

But all hope isn’t lost! Even if you didn’t see the lead gen growth that you wanted in the first or second quarters, there’s still plenty of time to meet and even exceed your goals.

Referrals are a great source of lead generation. In fact, they produce a higher quality of lead, with more of a focus on building connections as opposed to just cold calling. But even referral channels aren’t foolproof — you need to do them correctly if you want to see results. Here are five ways that you can supercharge your lead generation.

Know where you stand

How can you fix your lead generation if you don’t know what’s broken? It’s helpful to compare yourself against industry benchmarks to see how you stack up. As referenced in some of our annual benchmark reports, the kind of performance you can expect from referral partners is not the same kind of performance you can expect from customers. Make sure that you are comparing “like for like” when optimizing your program is key.. Once you do that, you can see where your programs exceed expectations and where there’s room for improvement.

Rethink where your leads are coming from

The quality of the lead is often determined by the source of the lead. This is why referrals are such a good option, but it goes even further than that. For example, a message on social media is an easy way to give a referral, but it isn’t always the most effective — only one percent of social media leads from customers convert, and nearly none from referral partners do. For example, social media is a great way to drive awareness through referral partners, but social generated leads tend to convert at a lower rate as compared to lead suggestion tools. Furthermore,verbal referrals are consistently the most successful. By empowering the right referrals sources with the right tools, you can greatly improve lead generation.

Engage your sales team

Sales involvement in a referral program is the secret ingredient to successful lead generation. In customer referral programs, lead quality increases 17 percent with sales involvement, and in partner referral programs it increases by 10 percent. Developing a formal sales engagement plan, then, might be beneficial to increasing the number of leads generated. Focus on making it easy for your sales team to get involved. This will help them actually get excited about providing referrals, which will increase leadgen!

Rethink your Incentives

Incentives encourage action. But there’s a big difference between an incentive that’s good, and one that either doesn’t produce the right results or isn’t cost effective enough to sustain itself. Calculating the right incentives is often the deciding factor in the success of your program.But when done correctly, great incentives will encourage repeat referrals, and can get more people generating leads than ever before.

Automate

All of these tips are great, but they often aren’t realistic for busy business owners. Who has time to be constantly tracking metrics, encouraging verbal referrals, engaging sales teams and handing out incentives? That’s why more people are turning to automated referral channels managed at scale. These are easy to adjust as needed, and they stay running without constant supervision! Best of all, they’re easy for partners and customers alike to use — ensuring that businesses see more lead generation, and more revenue growth.