How B2Bs can avoid getting stuck in the refer-a-friend zone

Automated referral marketing software is a semi-new creation in the tech world that has only relatively recently started to get major recognition and acceptance for its remarkable revenue generation. But even with this recognition the adoption of referral marketing programs can still get confusing with all the different terminology companies are using. One such term that has gotten a bit jumbled in its meaning as referral marketing evolved is the B2C referral term refer-a-friend.


During the point at which referral marketing programs started to develop, they were mainly focused on the B2C arena, even though many B2B Salespeople still asked for referrals. Thus came the popularity and acceptance of the B2C term, refer-a-friend, in regards to referral marketing. And so it is not surprising that for a long time this term defined the referral marketing space and the features that were developed to support referrals.

But what’s the big deal?

Well we all know what it means to get stuck in the ‘friend zone’. But how about when a B2B gets stuck in the refer-a-friend zone? Like the ‘friend zone’, the refer-a-friend zone fails to nurture any referral relationships beyond that of a simple friend relationship due to its in-ability to perform the necessary actions and processes needed to align with a next level referral relationship, aka a business relationships.

But while more B2B focused referral programs came out, many still couldn’t shake some of the refer-a-friend functionality or the term. In other words, many referral marketing programs that were deemed fit for B2Bs still stuck them in the refer-a-friend zone because of their lack of features that aligned with B2B functionality, integrations, and processes. And while refer-a-friend works for precipitating referrals for B2C business between friends or acquaintances at the base level, it doesn’t have the functionality to nurture referrals in a business relationship.

The reality is, B2B and B2C businesses have very different demographics. And B2B businesses need technology that supports their demographic and business processes. That’s why company’s like ADT and ADP have adopted professional referral marketing programs that have features that nurture their professional customers and partners to make referrals.

To avoid getting stuck in the refer-a-friend zone understand the differences between a refer-a-friend program and a professional referral marketing program.

Refer-a-friend vs. a professional referral marketing program

Refer-a-friend programs

  • The referral program exists online only.
  • Referrals are part of an ecommerce buy flow.
  • Referrals have a lower life-time value with less opportunity to engage Advocates.
  • Refer-a-friend is best for shopping cart referrals.
  • It resides as an added promotional or campaign tool to increase engagement during key times of the year.
  • It has a simple reward structures.
  • It has minimal integration options

Professional B2B referral marketing programs

  • Referrals are integrated into the lead buy flow.
  • Sales teams have referral data and functionality integrated into their current technology.
  • Partner referrals are used to strategically manage partners.
  • The referral program is always live for constant engagement and revenue growth.
  • They have sophisticated reward structures to keep Advocates referring multiple times.
  • Advocates are segmented with targeted messages, rewards, and positioning.

By breaking down the differentiation between refer-a-friend programs and professional B2B referral marketing programs you can decide what type of program can best move you forward in your lead generation efforts to capture a 35% conversion rate from referral to purchase, (Amplifinity).  Discover what your ROI could be with a professional referral marketing program by trying the ROI calculator today.