Nothing beats Word-of-Mouth marketing. Traditionally Word-of-Mouth marketing is a trusted strategy – your existing clients extol your virtues to their friends and acquaintances, or business associates, who then, in turn, will tell their friends when they are looking for services you offer. Nielson reports that 83% of customers trust friends and family for referrals. It is free marketing at its best, as the friends’ opinions and experience are trusted.
What is Referral Marketing?
Referral Marketing Programs incentivize your customers to refer people to your business. Companies may do so in a casual way, by offering an incentive for each referral, by asking new customers how they heard about the business and then rewarding the person that referred them. Or it could be a formal Referral Program, where customers register for the program, and log any referrals, for specified rewards. It is an inexpensive way of leveraging your reach to potential new customers.
Referral Marketing and Social Media
In this age of digitization and the proliferation of Social Media Platforms opportunities for Referral Marketing abounds. It is a quick and easy way to spread the word very fast and to a wide audience. Getting a customer to post a link to your business or referral program has the potential to reach a large audience, depending on the number of followers they have.
Benefits of Combining Referral Marketing and Social Media
People trust referred brands
Once you have engaged a potential new customer, you want to convert them to a lead, then delight them with your service and products, as well as after-sales service. Great service will make them want to refer them. Follow up on all great customer feedback and encourage them to promote your brand by sharing feedback or referral. People trust their friends and family far more than advertising. While social media became a huge advertisement generating machines and veered from the original ‘social connections’ context, customer complaints led Facebook to change their algorithms to show more social posts in early 2018. Use this to your benefit, as social advocacy carries more weight with potential new customers, and it is free. Research shows that Referred customers become Advocates for your brand, as they
- Spend 25% more on average
- Exist more likely to repeat purchase
- Are Three times more likely to refer someone else
With the big-ticket sales going on in the B2B world, referrals are really important. In fact, according to one study, 84 percent of B2B decision makers start the purchasing process due to a referral.
Social media the significant driver of referral traffic
Promote useful content about your products or services – customers will Like or Share your content – their friends or followers will perceive that content to be trustworthy and may Like or Share it too, and may follow up with a look at your offers. This practically ‘gets the ball rolling’ with concomitant multiplication in views and clicks. Friends often tag friends in product posts to draw their attention to something they think they will like or know that they are looking for that item.
Making the share worth it - for example, a free e-book, or a digital discount coupon – encourages higher rates of sharing. Make sure you promote sharing across multiple platforms to add to the spread. Utilizing Influencers can amplify sharing exponentially as they have very large followings. On average influencers provide a 7:1 return on investment.
Do not forget that documenting your B2B social media plan allows you to set goals and ways how to reach them. Your strategy should answer vital questions on who is your target audience, what social platforms will you use, what type of content will you be publishing, what are your goals, how are your competitors utilizing social media? But do not make a mistake treating your B2B social media as an afterthought, producing posts that lack personality and a human touch.
Building Social Proof with satisfied customers
Customers have indicated that they are most willing to participate in referral or sharing at the time of making a purchase – thus capitalizing on that happy moment is your best strategy – remind them to share and give them an easy way to share. Hawk Incentives found that 81% of customers would be willing to engage in additional activities, 22% would be happy to refer a friend.
Sonia Bell, the marketing specialist of several medical companies says, that: “Some customers actively hunt for loyalty programs - a deserved reward for their continued support of your business. Blending your Referral program with your Loyalty program can bring more benefits. Do regular updates on both your Loyalty and Referral Programs on social media (say every quarter) and provide share buttons, so that customers can tell their friends about your great programs, which will lead them to your products and services. Offer a reward for sharing.”
Shout out regularly to customers that share often, they all appreciate a bit of recognition.
Remember not all Social Proof is built equally – negative social proof needs to be dealt with swiftly and professionally. Use logos for Social Proof where possible to list customers.
Social media networking
More than 2 billion people use social media platforms globally and spend on average two hours a day online. Most people connect with their friends and family on social media platforms, and some prefer to get their news in short snippets via social media. Thus, the audience is already there! Using social media to promote your referral programs and products is a no brainer, as it is easy to link to your program, a couple of clicks can bring you a referral to a large audience. Promotions and good deals are shared easily, and nothing sells better than a good story – tell good stories on your posts and make it easy to share to multiple platforms.
Don’t Restrict Yourself to Just LinkedIn. LinkedIn has developed a reputation for being the top B2B social media platform for these companies, and it makes sense. Content Marketing Institute found that 63% of advertisers evaluated LinkedIn as the most effective B2B social media platform.
The explanation for this is they're taking a gander at web-based life carefully as an approach to produce leads, which makes LinkedIn engaging. In any case, your first objective of B2B online promoting should be branding, not leads. Instead of posting a pack of Instagram post regarding why your items are so extraordinary and cool, make content that recounts stories, appeals to feelings and starts a discussion. Unexpectedly, Instagram and Pinterest are no longer off limit.
AI has been put to good use in e-commerce to personalize shopping for online shoppers – now you can amplify your referral programs by making use of data analysis to find trends for customers, then offering them discounts on those products if they refer to friends. The use of personalized messages and the ability to pick specific products to recommend to a friend encourages them to share. Sharing your profile picture to get a friend’s attention in referral marketing is very effective – just think how often you have been shown a list of friends that liked a page on Facebook.
Mobile first approach
Social networking is becoming overwhelmingly mobile grabbing more than 60 percent of social media time. 84% shop online from mobile apps and 77% of them used their mobile apps even when shopping in-store. Referral programs must be mobile-savvy – easy to find, easy to share, and to multiple platforms, with a few clicks as possible. Provide pre-filled messages but allow personalization and keep the sharing of products as intuitive as possible.
Additional ‘Weapon’ - Chatbots
Chatbots are growing in popularity with the growth of messaging platforms – Messenger boasts over 1.2 billion users – and early adopters have already reaped the advantages in expanding their customer base especially via referral programs. Use the chatbot to send messages about your referral program, allow them to pick contacts from any of their social media platforms and offer discounts or free services in return. Utilize loyalty marketing strategies by offering up referral program benefits during online or mobile viewing on your site.
Combining Social Media and Referral Marketing makes sense intuitively and brings a host of benefits for expanding your customer base – though, you need to manage it thoughtfully. Engage your customers, be responsive on social media, avoid being spammy at all cost, and allow and encourage them to carry your quality message to their friends and connections with as much ease as possible.