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.

The Key to Keeping Your Referral Sources Engaged? Communication

Communication is the key to success for many things, especially a referral program. You’ve done the hard work of building your program and recruiting referral sources, now you need to keep them engaged. Here are some communication tips that can make a difference when trying to keep your sources engaged and active in your referral program.

Automate communication based on program status

A great place to start is setting up automated communication based on different statuses within your program. Once your customer, partner or other referral source is actively making referrals, you don’t want them to disengage from your program because of a lack of communication. Provide transparency, especially around the status of those submitted referrals currently in progress. By setting up automated communications triggered as the referral status changes, you can ensure that your referral sources will stay engaged while waiting for a referral to become successful.

Nurture communication based on program activity

There are a few different types of nurturing communications you can send to your referral sources to keep them engaged in your program between referrals:

  • Training Communication – If a referral source has a high number of referrals, but little or no success, send an email that helps educate the referral source on the target buyer and value proposition to ensure they are referring the right companies/people with the right message.
  • Engagement communication – If a referral source has low referral activity send an email that reinforces the product value proposition and the target buyer. You can also remind them where to find referrals and how to ask for them.
  • Educational communication – If a referral source logged in within a set number of days, but didn’t make a referral you can provide information on how to make a referral, what happens to a referral once it’s submitted and, again, reinforce the product value proposition and target buyer.
  • Thank you communication – If a referral source has a high number of successful referrals you can create a kudos campaign to recognize their efforts and encourage them to keep referring.

Regular Program Communications

Lastly, you can send out regular program communications. These regular value-added communications can keep referrals top-of-mind for everyone in your program. Topics you can focus on for these types of communications include:

  • Target buyer/persona spotlight with corresponding value prop.
  • A leaderboard of top members by referral success.
  • Tips on asking for referrals.
  • Success stories – highlight a story on how someone generated a successful referral.
  • Testimonials – get quotes on how great the program is and how easy it is to earn rewards.
  • How to earn incentives – the criteria needed and how payments are sent out.

The more you regularly communicate with your referral sources, the better engaged they will be – and engaged referral sources can help to increase the revenue generated by your referral program.

For more referral program tips and tricks, check out our blog.

The types of employee training vital to a referral program

Fishing can be a simple process, and almost everyone knows the concept behind it. But while you may know the basics of fishing, unless you’re an avid fisher you won’t understand the details that will take you from a beginner to an experienced pro (like a referral program). For instance, what tackle or lure will attract the fish you’re trying to catch? What time of day and at what location are certain types of fish more likely to bite? Should you introduce any special bait into the mix? To determine these sort of things you will need someone’s help. You need training.

Similar to fishing, a referral program can be easy to use when you’re given the proper guidance on how to bait your own hook. But unless the referral program you’re considering offers professional training on the finer details of the program that will engage different internal roles to promote, manage, and use the program, you won’t find it easy to reel in referrals.

What referral program training should include

When businesses research different referral programs, they often over-look the in-depth training that the referral host provides. But training is an essential tool to ensure your team members value the entirety of the program and its mechanics. After all, these are the team members promoting and facilitating the success of the referral program on a daily basis.  Comprehensive training ensures that each person that interacts with the program understands their role and feels comfortable working within the referral program to capture any new referrals and manage pre-existing ones.

As one of the many specialists at Amplifinity who provides advanced training to clients, I’ve seen how training assists and supports the following roles generally assigned to a referral program.

There are three consistent roles that a referral program host should train client’s employees on.

1. Brand Admin: This is usually someone either in a marketing or executive management role who takes ownership of the referral program and has full access to monitor its success. This individual is provided with advanced training that includes, but not limited to the following tasks:

  • Creating and managing the dashboard and widgets
  • Editing or publishing creative content
  • Adding new users to the referral program
  • Adding new advocates or searching for pre-existing accounts
  • Building and exporting reports
  • And much more

2. Content Admin: This individual usually is in command of the digital or content marketing or creative spotlight.  Prior to the referral program launch, they are the ones who need to integrate your content, CSS and Html into a testing environment. They also receive extensive training to ensure the content they are incorporating is not only successfully implemented into the system but are also appropriately aligned within the requirements of the referral program.

3. Sales Associate: This employee is usually the one who will assimilate themselves into the referral process as they provide daily support to maintain customer satisfaction. For that reason alone, training is essential for these individuals to feel comfortable with completing the following tasks within the referral program and their CRM:

  • Reviewing pertinent data within dashboards/widget shortcuts
  • Qualifying a referral lead,
  • Inviting clients and partners to participate in the program,
  • Reviewing advocate profiles and corresponding referral data
  • To alleviate the pressure of learning a new referral program, make sure to get basic training to these team members to ensure they feel equipped when assisting their customers.

Recently, I was asked to provide training for a new employee who was promoted to a management position and required Brand Admin access. Even though I had previously provided training for this client, the new manager requested a one-on-one training from me.

At the beginning of the training the manager had some uncertainties about using a few of the program’s features (as most of us do when learning something new). But, once I began demonstrating the various facets of how to optimize the platform’s user friendly features it quickly became clear to me that the manager’s feelings were no longer unsure.  Instead they were now excited to begin using the program’s tools on a more frequent basis. By the end of the training the manager sincerely expressed how grateful she was to receive one-on-one training.

If a referral program host doesn’t offer training for each designated role, than you might have trouble fully promoting the functionality of your referral program, not only to your team members but to your customers. Even if training is offered upon receiving your referral program, but not supported down the road, it will leave your future employees left to struggle instead of embracing the technology, while in-turn, making your referral program inefficient.

Find out how other companies have succeeded and gained continuously supports by exploring  the Success Stories page to discover what aspects of referral training and program functionality drove victory home for these companies.

Tried and true referral program ideas to outgrow your competition

Competition is a natural obstacle for any industry, but it also can facilitate inspired innovation (like referral program ideas) and help develop your most successful initiatives. However, outgrowing your competition requires a strategy. In its simplest form, consider how trees handle their natural competition.

“Trees have different strategies to deal with competing neighbors. Some grow quickly and tall, overshadowing the others, but die young. Others grow more slowly, but outlive the fast growing ones and cast shade on them over a longer period,” says Nickaus Zimmermann from the Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL.

Both these strategies have their cons. But by combining the right referral program ideas companies are able to harness the high velocity growth of the first strategy and combine it with the long life of the second strategy to obtain to a solid foundation for revenue generation.

To distinguish a referral strategy that will provide you with inspired and constant growth, let’s explore some tried and true referral program ideas. Jump to the section you’re interested in or read through to get the whole picture.

5 referral program ideas from companies who have succeeded

 

Referral program ideas #1: Have your referral program enable key departments

A main component of referral program success is making sure that sales and customer success/service is enabled and has the tools to support the referral program.

Trisha Winter, CMO of Amplifinity referral software, notes that “The companies that have tremendous success in launching a referral program are those that include the people in your organization (sales and customer service/success) that already have personal relationships with your designated advocates in the launch. If those people have the ability to directly reach out and invite perspective advocates to the referral program, then that program has a much higher rate of success.”

In RingCentral’s experience, integration with a CRM was a must for sales. The collaboration needed between sales and marketing means that the two way communication between marketing and sales software is crucial for creating a seamless referral lead flow. This allows sales to reach out to customers they already are engaged with and personally invite them to the program. In addition, verbal referrals allowed the RingCentral sales team to create a constant flow of trackable referral leads while adapting to customers’ preferred referral method.

For ADP, sales ownership of customer advocates and their referrals helped increase sales participation. By having the referral lead gets routed to the advocate’s sales rep instead of the normal lead routing rules, it benefits both the advocate and the sales rep. This is because:

  • The customer advocate want to refer their friend or peer to the sales rep they have built a relationship with so that they know their referral will be as well taken care of as they are.
  • Lead routing or lead ownership incentivizes sales to better foster relationships with customers. increase customer participation in the program and nurture referrals. This is based off the knowledge that when their advocate refers someone they stand to gain a commission from that referral.

Takeaway:

    • Look for a system that has the flexibility to enable sales to drive participation in the referral program.
    • Ensure that your referral program can adapt to your advocates preferred referral method.
    • Implement referral lead routing/ownership within your referral program to increase advocate engagement and incentivize sales to take better care of advocates and referrals.

Referral program ideas #2: Design authentic and engaging referral promotions

An important element of promotions is making sure the promotions speak to your advocate group and are a consistent representation of your current branding. DIRECTV has experienced a very high rate of referral success from their promotions. This is due to their creative referral marketing ideas executed through video and website promotions that catch customers’ attention with raunchy humor. This type of promotion aligns with DIRECTV’s overall branding.

On the other hand, TSYS uses their video to increase awareness. Through a clear and concise message they explained the benefits of their referral program and how to use it. This video avoids any humorous themes and instead quickly explains to advocates the advantages of referring. The minimal animation and quirky music keeps the promotion light and informative without going off brand.

Takeaway:

  • If humor is not part of your current brand guidelines, don’t try to include it in your referral program. Keep your promotions authentic.
  • You can always try to be lighthearted instead of comical.
  • Identify promotional channels that have worked in the past and use them to gain traction.
  • Have the promotions emphasize the benefits of referring to your advocate group.

Referral program ideas #3: Incentivize and empower sales to drive marketing promotions

The most important part of a referral program promotional strategy is keeping the program at the forefront of customer or partners’ minds. Any company that chooses to go the launch it and leave it route will not have success in generating referrals. One of the keys to keeping your referral program at the top of mind for customers and partners is getting sales to drive promotions.

For instance, Cable ONE Business has successful made their sales team a part of marketing’s referral program promotional strategy. They have done this by:

  • Creating marketing collateral in the form of hardcopy brochures for all sales reps to hand out to partners so upon talking to their partners they had something tangible to give to them.
  • Having marketing design program specific branding for the referral promotions which were put up around the office to drive sales reps’ promotional engagement.
  • Creating a rewards program that awards sales reps points for referrals which can then be used on an online store similar to amazon.
  • Rewarding successful sales referrals by giving sales associates 1x that of the referral customer’s first bill.
  • Creating a separate bathroom campaign where fliers where put up in all the stalls with what they referred to as ‘cheesy pickup lines’ that sales could use to engage customers.
  • Implementing a special offer for sales to earn up to $4,000 during a specific time period by hitting revenue goals with one requirement being they submit at least 4 referrals
  • Creating a relationship approach for sales that included conference calls and home visits to explain the program which ended up quadrupled referrals. This referral program ideas delivered what had been a month’s worth of referrals in one week.

RingCentral was another business that found success in using their sales team to promote referral marketing collateral. RingCentral’s marketing team created a special offer in the form of a raffle that advertised to their customers that for every referral submitted during a three month period a customer would have another entry put into the raffle to win one of two drones. This worked to increase advocate enrollment and referrals.

RincCentral referral program ideas special offer

Takeaway:

  • Special offers to sales helps re-invigorate sales participation.
  • A relationship-oriented approach supported by marketing where there is a 1-1 interaction has greater success.
  • Incentivizing sales is as important as incentivizing advocates.
  • Create special offers that sales can promote to customers.

Referral program ideas #4: Research your competition

Study what competitors in their space are doing. The success of referral marketing ideas is many times not as generalized as one might think and it can be specific to an industry. Often you’re not the first to try referral marketing. A competitor’s past inspiration and execution of their referral program ideas can help guide you in your own development.

For instance, Citrix researched how their competition was incentivizing their referral program and that is how they landed on offering 20% of the annual value of the deal.

Takeaway:

  • Look into referral strategies that have and haven’t worked in your industry.
  • If you are the first one in your space initiating a referral program, evaluate your customer base and mold your referral program to fit their customer journey and expectations.

Referral program ideas #5: Create a structured referral incentive

When deciding on a reward to increase referral leads, many companies originally try to go what they consider the inexpensive route by offering swag. While this will get a bit more participation, most business professionals have branded coffee mugs falling out of the kitchen cabinets. With this strategy, you’re looking at a one-time referral at best. Meaning, a customer doesn’t want your branded blanket and backpack and coffee mug (No hard feelings).

ADP has had tremendous success from their referral incentive program. Upon analysis, ADP determined their likely average number of successful referrals per customers per year was a little over one. Based on this they implemented an escalating reward structure that offered a $100 credit for each of the first three referrals, with the fourth offering the highly prized free payroll for a year. This worked as intended, making the average successful referral per advocate rise significantly. The escalating forth referral incentive acknowledges the extra effort the advocate has to put in to get the fourth referral and provides them with a reward that would be highly valuable to their group of advocates.

Takeaway:

  • Evaluate the likely number of successful referrals/advocate and create escalating rewards to motivate advocates to take the extra effort.
  • Remember that not all rewards have to be a form of cash. Charitable donation or training credits can also be valuable to certain advocates.
  • If you have multiple types of rewards you want to try considering adding reward choice to your referral development so every potential advocate can gain value from the referral program.

To get more detailed referral marketing ideas, explore additional referral marketing resources to help spark your imagination and build your referral program.

Resources with link to to resource page with referral program ideas

Amplifinity announces its commitment to give back at Salesforce Tour

Amplifinity, a leader in referral automation software, will donate $5 to Playworks for every qualified demonstration given during Salesforce events in 2016

Ann Arbor, Mich., March 22, 2016 — Amplifinity, the referral marketing experts, are pleased to announce its continued support as an ISV partner of Salesforce by utilizing its participation in upcoming Salesforce events to raise money for Playworks, a leading national nonprofit leveraging the power of play to transform children’s social and emotional health. Playworks partners with schools, districts, and after-school programs to create a great play environment throughout the school year. Research shows that safe, healthy play helps children develop social and emotional skills, increase physical activity, and deepen academic engagement.

At Salesforce events in 2016, Amplifinity will be demonstrating how organizations can utilize automated referral programs as an always-on channel for revenue growth.

Stop by Amplifinity’s exhibit at one of Salesforce’s events:

  • 3/24/2016 Chicago (Salesforce Tour)
  • 4/07/2016 Boston  (Salesforce Tour)
  • 5/10/2016- 5/12/2016 Atlanta (Salesforce Connections)
  • 10/4/2016-10/07/2016 San Francisco (Dreamforce)
  • 12/15/2016 New York City (Salesforce Tour)

Attendees interested in learning more about Amplifinity’s SaaS platform for referral marketing are encouraged to visit the Amplifinity booth at any of the events to receive a demonstration. Qualified participants will also receive a brick kit and a donation of $5 will be made to Playworks. Amplifinity embraces giving back as one of its core values and recently joined Pledge 1%, a corporate philanthropy movement dedicated to making the community a key stakeholder in every business.

“Fast growing companies like Amplifinity can generate both economic and philanthropic benefit to the communities we live in,” said Larry Angeli, CEO of Amplifinity. “Giving back is an important element of our corporate identity and culture and we’re excited about the opportunity to help Playworks transform children’s health.”

Salesforce is among the trademarks of salesforce.com, Inc.

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About Amplifinity

Amplifinity referral marketing software generates revenue growth for sales-driven companies. Amplifinity turns customer, partner and employee advocacy into high-quality leads by integrating referrals into marketing and sales processes. Companies like ADP and DIRECTV trust Amplifinity to enable high-quality acquisition while providing an engaging experience for their advocates.  www.amplifinity.com

 

About Playworks

Playworks is the leading national nonprofit leveraging the power of play to transform children’s social and emotional health. Playworks currently reaches more than 650,000 students in 23 U.S. cities. Playworks creates a place for every kid on the playground to feel included, be active, and build valuable social and emotional skills. www.Playworks.org

 

Top 10 common conundrums solved by a successful customer referral program

How to Navigate Israel with Successful Customer Referral Programs

You have to admit, even with all the space the internet has to offer it’s begun to feel slightly crowded. Business are SHOUTING from every direction, pushing past you in an effort to block you out but you’re still expected to deliver an increased numbers of quality leads.

What is your plan to get heard through the squall of squawking businesses? Our marketing team created an infographic that documents the top 10 most common problems for businesses solved by successful customer referral programs.

Not long ago I had the opportunity to experience the customer’s side of a basic successful customer referral and found it very fulfilling.

Recently, I was in Israel exploring the small town of Tsvat. In Tsvat there is this one narrow street which plays host to an artist market. While walking through the artist market people are jumping out of their shops, talking about their merchandise and desperately directing you toward their business. But if you show the slightest bit of interest in their product three more sellers show up beside you to direct you toward their shops with similar products. The process actually seemed to parallel very well with Pay-Per-Click (PPC).

At that point I wasn’t sure how to tell the difference between the right product and the product that would fall apart 30 minutes after buying it. Luckily, I had access to an advocate on my trip. She knew the sellers and was able to steer me away from the cheap, overpriced products and toward exactly what I was looking for. The referral process broke through the noise of the sellers and made me hone in on a particular business without doubt or second thoughts. Now imagine what successful customer referral programs could do for a business.

While the most successful customer referral programs are much more advanced and automated, this basic exchange of information, prompted by trust, establishes the foundation for successful customer referral programs. It’s time to ask yourself, can one of your businesses struggles be solved with innovation automated referral software?

 

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