If you’ve just started to research a referral channel, you might be asking yourself, “Do I really need to automate a referral program? Our business already has fans that promote it on social media.” And while social media promotion from fans of the business are important to a business’s growth, this isn’t a referral channel. This is brand advocacy.

Now, brand advocacy is a great tool! This is organic, unexpected promotion, and it can be great for bringing in new leads. But it comes with its own set of challenges, and isn’t always the most sustainable way to bring in leads and grow revenue.

And that’s where a referral channel comes in.

Here are some of the key ways that a referral channel differs from brand advocacy, and why businesses should consider including an automated referral program into their lead generation strategy.

A Referral Channel is a Long-term Commitment.

While brand advocacy can encompass a fan who only tweets about your brand once, a referral partner or customer is someone who regularly interacts with your brand to give referrals.

That said, some referral partners are more active than others, and this is okay! Unlike other channel methods, a referral channel can be a great way to nurture your long tail partners and get the most out of their limited interaction.

How do you keep referral partners and customers active? Communication is a big part of it. Involving sales and special promotions are other ways to ensure maximum participation. Also, calculating the right incentives is an important part of keeping those in your referral channel engaged.

All of this can be very time-consuming, which is why automating your referral program is such a good option for so many businesses.

A Referral Channel is Scalable.

While brand advocacy is hard to grow past a small number of customers, a referral channel isn’t.

Referral channels can be scaled based on the needs of your business and referral partners. By keeping an eye on the right metrics, you can make sure that your business is growing at the rate that it needs to.

Scalability is another thing that automated referral channels can help with. By scaling your channel appropriately, you can make sure that your referral channel benefits your business, your partners, and your customers. This level of control simply doesn’t exist in brand advocacy.

A Referral Channel is “Always On.”

When managed right, a referral channel is a consistent source of leadgen and revenue. This is very different from brand advocacy, which can stop and start. A referral channel is managed by your business, which means you can keep track of how often referral partners and customers are generating leads and act accordingly.

Referral leads are, on average, more likely to convert to deals than other leads. This means that a referral channel can always be generating revenue for you on a consistent, trackable basis.
This is the main reason that businesses turn to a referral channel over other forms of lead generation, such as brand advocacy. And with software like Amplifinity, tracking the success of a referral channel is easier than ever.