Share the wealth with referrals

Lately I have a new hobby

My spare downtime has been dedicated to reading a lot of blogs and checking out a lot of library books about investing because, well, I like money, and I want more of it! With a topic as important as financial future, I of course also looked for the advice of my network.

Crowdsourcing for advice

One of my favorite resources came to my attention after I posted on Facebook a general question about mutual funds. I asked if anyone who considered themselves informed cared to talk to me about them. Soon afterward a friend of mine messaged me and referred me to this awesome blog, called Mr. Money Mustache, that he was following. He told me it was written by a man who was able to retire in his 30s and live happily with his wife and child by living frugally and making wise investments. My friend loved the sound of this, and being 24, he was on the path to his own early retirement by following MMM’s advice on  “early retirement through badassity”

Well, I’m afraid early retirement is too late for me. Since I spent my 20s and half of my 30s as a stay-at-home mom, I have only begun to contribute to a 401K.  At this point I am hoping to be able to retire on time! But I was intrigued so I checked it out.  MMM pretty much verified everything I had been reading about in regards to investing your money, he endorsed putting your most of your money in an low-cost index fund like Vanguard and just let compounding work its magic. Albert Einstein, who is considered to be a kind of smart guy once said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

Real talk

As I cruised through his site I found a page where he listed all the organizations he uses and likes so well that he refers them to his readers. Some were affiliate sites where he received a kickback for bringing in referrals, and some were just businesses he felt were worthy of brand advocacy, we all have brands we love and tell our friends about.

And then it hit me, again, the power of referrals at scale, 1:1 and 1:???. First of all, my friend referred me through a Facebook post to this website, and then the website is chock full of great information and referrals to bring your retirement goals to the next level.

The world has grown smaller with social media and the ease to which you can receive quality referrals from people you trust. I can’t image this is a trend that will recede, but instead grow.

Best referral program

Want to further the discussion? Tweet me @krysiahepatica

Why developing a referral program captures the highest quality leads (and dates)

Aren’t you tired of lead “relationships” that go nowhere? Try developing a referral program

How well do your friends and family know you? If I had to wager on it I’d say pretty well. They likely even have a direct line into what products, services (or even dates) might be good for you. But instead of tapping into the power of already established relationships by developing a referral program you only use technology like marketing automation (or dating sites) to track down a lead (match) who might be looking for what you have to offer.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is an amazing asset, but you have to be critical of the data it’s using to provide you with those leads. While you may capture a large quantity of leads, only part of the time do they end up resulting in highest quality leads.

Research shows that leads generated from referrals convert 4x better than leads coming from other sources.  When considering whether or not developing a referral program is right for your business think about the juxtaposition of a friend suggesting someone to date compared to a dating website matching you up. I know from experience, one works better than the other.

 

The referred date versus the non-referred date

Fall 2012, I was dating a perfectly nice guy I’d met on a dating site, let’s call him Stan. Like many leads you acquire, he looked wonderful on paper. However, I had no feelings for him. The reality of the situation was, I was looking for a dating demographic that didn’t equal what I wanted to get out of the relationship. After a few weeks of meeting and communicating here and there the relationship fizzled out.

Now during that same period of time one of my dear friends, let’s call her Rose, had started a relationship with someone new and insisted that I should let her set me up with his roommate. Unfortunately, I’m chronically stubborn and refused at first because I didn’t think I needed to be set up. Like many businesses I didn’t understand the value of a referral or developing a referral program.

A week or so passes and I’m on my university campus, sitting under a tree and playing with leaves when a man walks up to me, let’s call him Eric, and asks me, “How can you be so happy just playing with leaves?”

Honestly, I don’t remember how I answered but he ended up sitting down with me and talking. Before he walked away he gave me his number and I gave him mine.

Weeks pass and nothing happens. Stan and I stop seeing each other. Then, sometime in October I get a Facebook friend request from Eric. I accept and he immediately messages me.

“Did you know Rose tried to set us up?”

He was the same guy that I had refused to go out with. Now you should know I’m a very cautious dater. I won’t go out with anyone to a club, let them drive me, or tell them where I live until we’ve been dating a period of time. But when he asked me out for a date I ended up breaking every rule. While this guy seemed nice, it was the fact that my friend told me how good a guy he was which made me trust him. I trusted her so therefore I trusted him. On that first date he came to my house, picked me up, and took me to a club.

We’ve been in a wonderful relationship for almost three years now. I guess you could say he was a quality lead.

The benefits of a new referral program and an old fashion matchmaker

Imagine, what if you could automate that same referral process to get a high number of potential customer to bypass their usual buying habits based off the trust of an already established relationship? By developing a referral program you can.

But it’s not only my experience that supports the value of developing a referral program. Research shows that:

  • Customers are 400% more likely to buy a product when it’s referred by someone they know.
  • 83% of customers are happy to refer a business after a positive experience if asked but . . . only 29% do refer
  • Customers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other type of advertising
  • Referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value

Through developing a referral program your business will build a network of advocates that will optimize the referral process to drastically increase your quality leads with a lower cost per lead than other marketing tactics. Take a quick and easy referral quiz to see if developing a referral program is the right move to get you the high quality leads (or dates) you’ve been searching for.

 

Questions? Email me at Jedmondson@amplifinity.com

What is brand advocacy?

The buying process: I get ‘buy’ with a little help from my friends

Do you remember your first car?

Lately I find myself dreaming about a new car. While I have fully enjoyed the functionality of my mini-van, my inner self is screaming to be shown in something stylish that hugs the road.  You don’t have to tell me, I already know the sigh and judgmental look that comes the minute I confess my ride is a mini-van.  It’s okay, I have embraced this phase of my life but it’s time to move on to some sporty style.

 

First Love

My first car was a red Camaro, she was used but had kept all her good looks, could still take every curve and when I drove her off the parking lot she was 100% mine. Do you remember your first car?  I bet you didn’t find that car on your own. A good car buying story always includes some buddies, a dad, maybe your network of trusted friends and family or even co-workers.  I would guess you could think of many purchases you have made that included any one of these key people.

The first car I wanted was a SAAB. It was pretty and had shapely curves, it just looked classy, but of course I had not met my Camaro yet.  Do you know I would have never met my Camaro, if not for the input from my dad.  He knew a lot about cars and I trusted him. Dad knew just what to say so I would walk away from the only used SAAB left on the lot, and keep moving toward a car that would be a better fit for me.  I have come to rely on those I trust when I want to make a purchase.

 

Major purchases require major input

I have noticed how others do the same. Like my good friend trying to buy a house. Do you know how she found her mortgage lender? Well silly, me, of course! I referred her to him, because I too just bought my first house and he guided me through that process with a level of customer service that is rare to find any more. It happens that I also referred her to my fabulous real estate agent, by my girlfriend was already excited about the one she already knew. That’s okay, it is good when you have choices but oh the influence of your friends, family and those in your network when you are looking to buy! Priceless.

I have had such good luck with referrals when making large purchases, I have expanded my influencers to include those in my local community. Those bats I can hear in my rafters, yeah, those creepy things really need to go but I don’t want to just grab a name out of the yellow pages or off Yelp.  I asked for referrals on my hometown FB page, like so many others do on a daily basis. When I see those referrals by my local community I start saving their names, so I know who to call when my insurance is up for renewal or when I need a new internet provider or when I want to rid my yard of pesky ticks and mosquitos.  In truth, I can see how people influence buying decisions in my professional network as well.

 

Referrals at work

Professionally I have experienced high level Executives requesting referrals when making buying decisions. For instance, when Healthcare Directors and CTO’s are deciding on high level IT solutions, they invest many hours in understanding what others are doing in their industry. With tight budgets and more work then staff, understanding what solutions make the most sense for business and what is working for others is critical. I could always count on the buying process to potential customers including a call to my current customer as a reference about what solutions were working best and the service levels we were providing.  My current customers served as vital influences on what future business I could close.

Are you missing out on the valuable influencers all around you or do you do the same when making a purchase? You can answer, but I already know you do. The proof is all around me, but if you’re more of an analytics person the supporting statistics can easily be found. I prefer what experience shows me. Someone should really figure out a way to capitalize on all of our experience, don’t you agree!

I would love to hear about your stories, if you would dare to share. When have you counted on those in your network to be a part of your buying process? Contact me at lskipworth@amplifinity.com

What is brand advocacy?

 

Top 3 reasons referral programs fail

As marketers and salespeople, we all know the power and impact of word-of-mouth on our business, yet we still struggle to leverage it.  Why?  Because it’s hard to measure, difficult to systematize, and seemingly impossible to monetize.  While these challenges exist in some cases, Amplifinity continues to prove every day that the best way to solve them is through closed-loop referral marketing programs.  Before launching another mediocre referral program that will fail to drive meaningful long-term lead volume, consider these three common referral program mistakes:

#1 – Failure to support them with the right systems, processes and strategies

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com said it best: “Although every company knows customer references are important, most companies have a lax approach to managing them.” Just like any other marketing program a referral program must be well strategized, tested and continually optimized to ensure peak performance. And when you automate a referral program and take the manual tracking and management aspect out of the equation, the results are even better. 

Takeaway? You can’t just ‘set it and forget it’ and expect good, long-term results.

#2 – Lack of executive sponsorship

Typically, a referral program is initiated by an executive and handed off to a junior-level employee to drive – often without the proper knowledge or bandwidth. As a result, the program is launched haphazardly and left to run itself.  Sure this method can provide average results, but we all know average isn’t gonna’ pay the bills.

Takeaway? Referral programs that are continually improved upon – and viewed as long-term acquisition channels have the power to produce just that: ongoing and sustainable customer acquisitions.

#3 – The Black Hole effect

In order to manage lead volume and quality, it’s important that every customer, prospect, and sales rep enrolled in the referral program is kept in the loop regarding the status of their referrals and any incentives tied to them.  When referrals are made and disappear into a “black hole,” engagement plummets, operational costs of managing escalations increase precipitously, and the program loses credibility.

Takeaway? Customers who refer new business to you are your BEST customers. Regular communication and nurturing them results in satisfied, high-producing additions to your company’s “sales team.”

Do you have a tip for building successful referral programs for your business? We’d love to add them to our blog!