4 Secrets to Getting Referrals in the Financial Services Industry

Nearly all businesses live by referrals. Whether its simple word of mouth or sophisticated sharing systems, humans are social animals and we share the world we encounter with those around us. The hard part is to find a systematic method that helps you get referrals but that doesn’t feel systematic or intrusive to the consumer.

I had an enlightening conversation with a senior leader in the Financial Services industry recently. With over 40 years in the business, he knew a thing or two about referrals since, over the decades, he has requested and received them from satisfied clients and they remain a key source of his success. He outlined the evolution of referrals within the industry and I thought I’d share some insights and ideas in getting lucrative referrals.

1. The 3 P’s: Pen, Paper & Prompting

The very basics of getting a referral is asking a current customer to provide one, or more. Pretty simple and straightforward. But the industry executive I interviewed indicated that there’s more to it than pulling out a pen and paper. The fact is that even the most satisfied and willing clients often would indicate that they didn’t really know someone who could benefit from the same sound financial and advise and astute planning that they had benefited from personally. That’s when the 3rd P — prompting — comes into play. An effective professional will ask, “Do you have any neighbors that you think might benefit from a consultation?” or “Are there co-workers that you think might need some planning advice?” These and other simple questions help to prime the referral pump, and gets customers to consider specific individuals that might be relevant, and ultimately thankful, referrals.

2. Data Mining: Working Social Media Platforms

With the advent of LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media platforms, it appeared that life for referral-seekers got easier. One reason for this is because a financial services professional can research the client’s business and personal connections to identify friends that appear relevant. When meeting with the client, some name-specific prompting can certainly get the referral juices flowing. However it can also make an the customer feel uncomfortable and even stalked — not exactly the feeling one wants to engender in an important client. In addition, many of us have online connections that are not truly friends, so the time needed to blindly research names in advance of the meeting might actually be poorly spent.

3. Let Me Do That For You: The Hard (and Awkward) Way to Get a ‘Prestige’ Referral

Ideally, professionals are after the prestige referral in which a client will do the contacting and subsequent ice-breaking for you. This might come in the form of a call from the client to their friends about your services. Or even an email. But some clients find themselves tongue-tied or a victim of writer’s block and therefore may not be open to this option. To overcome such objections, some financial professionals will write an email for the client so she/he can forward it to their friend. Unfortunately, chasing the prestige referral in this way turns a straightforward and palatable referral request into an byzantine affair in which your key clients are expected to sign-off on a ghost-written email to their friends. Talk about awkward.

4. Mobile Referral App – An Elegant Solution to Getting Prestige Referrals

Even if a client provides you with the names of relevant friends, the next steps can be laborious and ineffective. If the client failed to provide the referral’s phone number, you need to attempt to locate it. Ditto for the person’s email and/or mailing address. Then, there’s the follow-up actions: cold calls, cold emails, and cold snail mail letters, not to mention additional cold follow-up that’s needed if a response is not forthcoming.

Imagine if a simple and affordable mobile app could take care of all the key elements of getting a referral: Prompting, capturing the names, phone numbers and emails of the referrals for follow-up and even allow the client to introduce you to their friends in a way that was simple and non-intrusive.

“Wow, that’d be very interesting, indeed,” said the executive I spoke to said when I introduced the concept of ShareSomeFriends, our new mobile referral app followed by, “How does it work?” Good question! Here’s how:

A) You create a referral campaign on your ShareSomeFriends account which includes crafting a short introductory message. Your clients can edit and then will send this message as an SMS to their friends as a part of the referral process (see below).

B) At your request, clients download the ShareSomeFriends app from the App Store or Google Play and enter in your unique campaign code. The app then presents their phone contact list, prompting them to scroll through it and consider might be a relevant referral

C) Clients select relevant phone contacts to refer and then view and ultimately send the (editable) text message you crafted in the first step. That’s it!

Not only is the process of getting the prestige referral simple and fast, but all the information volunteered in the referral process is captured on your ShareSomeFriends back-end for follow-up (so you can finally dispense the pen and paper).

The”Right” Way?

While clearly there is no “right” way to get the prestige referrals that financial professionals need to grow their client base, a new method that capitalizes on the ubiquitous smartphone might just make ShareSomeFriends with its 14-day free trial worth a shot.

The Uncoventional Convention Kiosk

Let’s consider “conventional” convention kiosk. Clearly, a kiosk is essential. It allows conference goers the ability to sample your offerings, pick up pamphlets, speak with professionals and exchange business cards – and more. Often, fun swag and giveaways are, well, given away, only to end up in the trash bin within hours or by the end of the week.

Depending on the nature of your business and the conference, the metric of success will vary, but usually new business is the goal. The question is whether the event and the kiosk is leveraged to its maximum, that is not only to generate new business with attendees that you meet at your kiosk, but to also leverage your interactions to get referrals. It makes sense that someone willing to do business with you also knows others that could use your services and would be willing to refer them to you if there was a quick and efficient way to do so.

That’s where ShareSomeFriends can make your convention kiosk unconventionally successful!

Here’s a recent example:

A few days ago, one of our clients held an event for 2000 Americans currently participating on an international 8-week professional internship program. At the event were 25 vendors and kiosks.  While this is a promising participant-to-vendor ratio, the catch was that the event lasted only 90 short minutes.

French Macarons. Tough Competition

Further exacerbating the issue was that a large variety of delicious free food, including refreshing drinks and yummy deserts, were served at the same time, so therefore each vendor was desperately vying for the attention of the attendees, some with more success than others.

One kiosk — the ShareSomeFriends booth — provided the ability of these participants to refer friends to participate on a future internship program.  Comparatively, it was minimalist with just one small giveaway —  a $5 Amazon gift card — for those who would be willing to refer their friends.

Referral Kiosk
Quick and easy. Interns refer their friends directly from their phone within seconds!

The results?  Within the hour and half, over 4500 unique referral leads were generated through the ShareSomeFriends platform.

At what cost? The total cost of the incentives distributed came to $830, meaning the cost per lead was just 18 cents!

50 leads a minute x 90 minutes at 18 cents a lead. Not bad.

What did our client get for 18 cents per lead? Each person referred received the program’s promotional message sent via SMS. More importantly, however, is that they also acquired a high-quality, customer-vetted list of 4500 potential new customers, replete with contact information. They can now follow up both through direct outreach and by creating custom audiences to serve them ads through Google and Facebook, and grow their future programs.

Referral app for conventions
Referral leads by the thousands. Once attendees heard about our incentive and how easy it was to refer friends, the kiosk was flooded.

ShareSomeFriends can turn your convention kiosk into an unconventional tool for business growth through referral leads. Since it takes all the hassle out of making referrals, people are willing to refer, and you generate thousands of quality referral leads in minutes!

27 Viral Referral Strategies for Ultimate Growth in 2018

“If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck it’s a duck”. Have you heard that expression?

There are some companies among us that sell like the best, hire like the best, treat their customers the best possible way. They are simply the best. Everything they do makes them great.

What is consistent with all the top marketers and business owners out there is that they usually get referrals from their customers. Some of them are even solely based on referrals.

How does that make them stand out?

Well, referral leads convert 30% better than regular leads, people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend, and tend to refer their friends 2.68 times to the same business.

That’s some pretty strong data don’t you think?

Heinz Marketing actually asked a bunch of people what they think about referral leads and 82% of the sales leaders and 78% of the marketers that were surveyed agree that referrals are the best leads that your business could get.

Referrals are like gold, if you know how to get them they can completely transform your business.

This is why we asked the top marketing experts (from B2B to B2C and everything in between) about the top viral referral strategies that have worked for them.

These are the answers we got:

 

1. Create two-way referral relationships (Matt Holmes)

 

Most people think that referrals go one way. You get your customers to refer people to you, you thank them for it, and you’re done. Not so quick!

Matt Holmes, a marketing maverick and entrepreneur superstar, says that you need to create two-way referral relationships. This is where you refer people to other companies you know. If you pay it forward like that, you are very likely to see those same companies referring customers back to your business.

“On a smaller B2C or B2E (early-stage entrepreneur) level, the best way to get referrals is to send referrals. I saw this both with my company, Handshakin, and with our at the time biggest client Mashey. Another client, KyletheInspirer, has referred several people to us because we are also pointing many people to him!” – Matt Holmes

Matt Holmes LinkedIn

The Golden Rule of Getting Referrals: Refer customers to other companies and they will reciprocate. goo.gl/qaW4XU @handshakin @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

2. Make it super simple (Hailey Friedman)

 

A referral is the highest intent traffic that you can get to your website, and they convert at a 5x the rate as traffic from other marketing channels. Yet, only 30% companies have an established referral program. Maybe, they think that starting one is complicated.

That’s why the key to a successful referral program is to keep everything super simple.

Hailey Friedman, the co-founder of Growth Marketing Pro, gave us some insight into this strategy. In her own words: “When possible, offer customers the opportunity to refer friends for access to a free upgrade or additional features of your product. Otherwise, offering money or an Amazon gift card works too, just make sure to limit the program to current customers only and not keep it open to the public, as you don’t want to be paying for fraudulent referrals”.

Hailey Friedman LinkedIn

I saw 10x referral growth the month I implemented a referral program. The key = keep it simple & offer awesome rewards goo.gl/qaW4XU @HaileyFriedman @realtyshares @growthmktingpro @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

3. Find your “Why” (Simon Sinek)

 

Every great company clearly explains or displays the reason that they exist, what drives them. Simon Sinek, the founder of Start With Why, said it best – “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

The way to inspire your customers to refer their friends is by building your marketing efforts around your “why“. What drives you? What made you start the company in the first place? What makes your company tick? What do you tell your employees to inspire them to come to work on Monday mornings?

If you create a brand around your “why” then your customers will feel it through and through and will be inspired to participate in your referral program.

Simon Sinek LinkedIn

Referral Tip: People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. goo.gl/qaW4XU @simonsinek @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

Besides the why, what else do you need?

 

4. Focus on building a network (Victor Kung)

 

Victor Kung is the co-founder of Tandem, a growth marketing agency. They have been able to get one YouTuber named Ollie B from 324 to 50,000 subscribers in just 1 week. What does that have to do with building a network? Absolutely nothing, it was just an incredible achievement.

But Victor also happens to be the host of BAMF events in Chicago (If you don’t know about BAMF check out their site here). He brings together growth marketers to talk about innovative growth hacks, share experiences, and just schmooze.

If your customers are businesses you need to reach out and meet people. You don’t have to go to meetups, you can reach and start conversations on LinkedIn, where you can easily find professionals all over the world that would love to talk to you. You can ask for some feedback about your product, about a new project that you are working on, or even start partnerships and get more clients for your company.

An easy way to automate reach out on LinkedIn is by using a tool like LinkedHelper which allows you to make lists of people you would like to connect to, automatically send 50 “friend requests”, get endorsements, ask for recommendations, and even invite all of your connections to your LinkedIn group.

Building your network is a powerful thing so double down on that in 2018, you will see a huge difference in your business.

Victor Kung LinkedIn

Top Referral Tip for 2018: Focus on building authentic relationships, your network is everything goo.gl/qaW4XU @realVictorKung @tandemdesigns @remotelifestyle @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

5. Consistently over deliver (Kale Panoho)

 

This might seem pretty basic but this strikes to the core of your business. Don’t just try to do more for the customer, change the way you view your customer and create a culture around that.

Kale Panoho, the co-founder of K&J Growth, gives an incredible insight into this strategy:

“Change the way you view your client or customer. A lot of people look for volume and the way to capture that customer through sophisticated growth tactics. Those are essential in the beginning if you’re competing but as a service provider, your goal is simply to be memorable for your product or the way you sell your product.

Everyone knows what Uber does.

Everyone knows what Airbnb does.

Everyone knows who Richard Branson is.

Everyone knows who Elon Musk is.

Each of these businesses or people have been defined by their products or the services they offer. Their brands have been enhanced by targeted advertising campaigns or social media strategies but it is not the other way around.

These people and businesses consistently over-deliver one or two benefits to their customers and fans and their branding and marketing is a side effect of consistent association with the benefits of their products or service”.

Kale Panoho LinkedIn

Referal tip for 2018: Put great business and great service first and your branding will take care of itself goo.gl/qaW4XU @kale_panoho @ramonthechief @designselfies @higherlifestyle @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

6. Reach out to competitors (Scott Britton)

 

This is brilliant and so intuitive you all are going to say: “duh, I wish I thought of that”. Here is an incredible strategy from Scott Britton, the co-founder of Troops and an-all around baller:

This can work for literally any company, one that sells products, services, and software. Let’s say you have a marketing tool that a big marketing agency just bought. If you reach out to the competitors of that agency you will likely be able to sign them up.

Scott Britton LinkedIn

Referral Tip for 2018: Every time you close a deal, go find a competitor of that company and reach out to them goo.gl/qaW4XU @britton @troops @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

7. Automate social proof (Scott Britton)

 

Social proof is super important, it showcases your work, helps convert customers, and helps land bigger deals. In order to use social proof to get referrals the key is really to automate it.

Scott Britton strikes again!

Scott says – “automate your social proof by setting a certain threshold of value like product usage and then automatically ask that person for a referral or public review on a site like Capterra or G2Crowd”.

For example, if you are using Intercom, you can create a message that will be automatically sent to users that have used your product every week for over 6 months, with a link to your review page. This is a super efficient way to put your social proof on auto-pilot.

Referal tip for 2018: Put your social proof on autopilot by setting a threshold of value like product usage and then automatically messaging all your customers above that usage value goo.gl/qaW4XU @britton @troops @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

But what about your personal brand? Let’s look at that.

 

8. Ask for recommendations (Deepak Shukla)

 

Deepak Shukla, the founder of PurrTraffic and UnsheathedReviews, is a master of personal branding. He’s got so many LinkedIn recommendations and Google reviews that he makes the rest of us look like interns.

Of course, you should ask for a recommendation from every client that you work with. Personal recommendations on LinkedIn do really well if you are B2B and/or if you’re a business owner or entrepreneur.

But ideally, you need to be specific. Get a recommendation from the account manager, the actual person that you ordered your product or service from, or from the head of that department at the company.

Deepak Shukla LinkedIn

Referal tip for 2018: Use LinkedIn recommendations to build your personal brand and show that your customers are happy with you goo.gl/qaW4XU @deepakshukla1 @UnsheathedTools @purrtraffic @teampearllemon @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

9. Build a 100% referral business by bringing value to people (Zach Benson)

 

In all my years of marketing, I have never seen a business that is 100% referral-based. Well, I just found one and it blew my mind.

Zach Benson is the founder of Assistagram, which is a social media tool that grows your Instagram by doing hundreds of thousands of manual actions that make your Instagram account go viral. Zach spent $0 on marketing last year and got all his customers from referrals.

Here is how he did it:

“Offer to do things for free and ask for a referral and testimonial in exchange. Lots of people have been burned in the past (maybe they have lost money or it just didn’t work out with a company they hired) so they operated from this fear mindset that the same thing will happen again.

One way to build their trust is to simply tell them that you will do something for free for 1 month get them crazy insane results, offer a ton of value to them and they will end up probably hiring you”.

Did you miss that?

This is what happened.

Zach offered people the free use of his tool Assistagram and was able to get them really awesome results. That made them immediately sign up for it, and pay him money ($$$).

Pure genius.

Try it in your business and see what happens.

Zach Benson LinkedIn

Referal tip for 2018: Offer your service for free, provide value, create crazy insane results and you've got yourself a paying customer goo.gl/qaW4XU @Assistagram @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

10. Be super specific when asking for referrals (Joe Apfelbaum)

 

A lot of people say that the best way to get referrals is to ask for them. But what does that really mean? How do you get the best referrals out of that?

The secret sauce is by being specific.

Joe Apfelbaum, the CEO of Ajax Union, a badass marketing agency, gave me the recipe for this sauce. Check it out:

“Be as specific as possible when asking for a referral. For Ajax Union I would ask a client, Who do you know that is a Marketing Director at a B2B company with a sales team in NYC? That will get them thinking specific and make it more likely to get an actual ideal referral”.

Joe Apfelbaum LinkedIn

Referal tip for 2018: Be specific when asking for referrals and you will get your IDEAL referral faster goo.gl/qaW4XU @joeapfelbaum @ajaxunion @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

11. Find a product partner (Matt Holmes)

 

Have you heard of startups finding re-sell partners in other countries to re-sell their products or services? A lot of companies are doing that now. If you are a US firm and you want some more European clients the easiest way for you to expand is to get a company in Europe to expand your product.

That’s way easier than hiring a sales team that speaks other languages, that’s for sure.

But Matt Holmes took this strategy to a whole another level:

“I used this strategy for my client Mashey. They found a product partner that they would essentially re-sell, and in turn, that partner would refer their customers to Mashey if they needed services in addition to the product”.

So Mashey actually re-sold another company’s product and in return asked them to refer people to Mashey. Brilliant!

Matt Holmes LinkedIn

Top Referral Tip for 2018: Get referrals by creating relationships with your product partners. It's simple, just pay it forward! goo.gl/qaW4XU @mattbholmes @handshakin @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

12. Offer a reward for social shares (Sam Hurley)

 

One of the most popular ways to get referral leads is through social media. The problem is that those leads are not going to be the highest quality – people tend to click on things they see and quickly go to something else. So the strategy is to get as many leads off of social media as possible to hopefully convert some of them to referred customers.

Sam Hurley, the guy that went from “nobody” to #1 marketing influencer in 15 months and now manages an influencer marketing business, believes that social media should be at the center of referral marketing.

Here is what he told us – give your audience and customers an incentive to spread your word across all the top social networks by rewarding many types of prizes — from special social mentions on brand accounts, to cash rewards and holidays!

Sam Hurley LinkedIn

Referal tip for 2018: Social Media is an essential component of any marketing strategy today. Referral programs are no exception! goo.gl/qaW4XU @Sam_Hurley @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

13. Use gamification (Sam Hurley)

 

People love to play games, get points and level up. Gamification is so powerful to our human brains that 72% of all American households play video games, and the average length of time spent playing is 20 hours per week.

Why not make gamification part of your referral strategy?

Here is what Sam Hurley had to say:

“Turn your referral program into an addictive game! Create a well-planned value system — badges, credits, coins or something similar — but make sure it’s not too superficial. The whole idea is to make your brand advocates feel special and rewarded, not manipulated or like they are victims of a gimmick. 

Attach rewards to milestones, in such a way that bigger achievements yield better rewards. I highly recommend creating a public-facing leaderboard to show who has unlocked the most benefits, introducing an exciting element of friendly rivalry”.

Top Referral Tip for 2018: use gamification and offer epic rewards so that your brand advocates feel special goo.gl/qaW4XU @Sam_Hurley @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

14. Build strong relationships with the right people (Deepak Shukla)

 

According to Deepak Shukla from PurrTraffic, “No matter what your service is, it’s super important to build a good relationship with the account manager of the company you already delivered service to, because then they will see you as a friend and they will want to see you ‘win'”.

Deepak is the master of making friends, he has friends everywhere. The reason? He takes every work relationship and interacts with that person on such an authentic and personal level that they become friends. It’s never just business for Deepak, it’s more than that. It’s winning at life together.

Deepak Shukla LinkedIn

#1 way to differentiate yourself & your service is through building solid relationships goo.gl/qaW4XU @deepakshukla1 @UnsheathedTools @purrtraffic @teampearllemon @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

15. Pamper your top clients (Gilles de Clerck)

 

One thing that every business needs is an engaged and loyal community. A lot of people think that if they build a large following on social media then they will automatically have an online community, and this is not necessarily true.

You can build a community without going all in on social media. All you have to do is to build strong relationships with your existing clients and give them a ton of value.

Gilles de Clerck, the head of growth at SalesFlare and the co-founder of The Growth Revolution, summarized it best – “you need to build strong relationships with your top clients by featuring a testimonial of theirs on the website, including them in case studies, interviewing them, and featuring them in a blog post”.

Gilles De Clerck _ LinkedIn

Give your top customers attention and make them feel important. That's the key to becoming 100% referral-based goo.gl/qaW4XU @GillesDC @wetriggergrowth @salesflare @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

16. Create an ambassador program (Gilles de Clerck)

 

Now that you’re engaging with your top customers you need to make it more official by creating an ambassador program. Why all the fancy terms you ask? Let me explain.

According to Gilles, “people don’t tend to like the word “referral” so much. Affiliate, which often comes down to the same thing, is even worse. Ambassador sounds way more spectacular. An ambassador program helps you phrase the message differently and give your customers a feeling of inclusion in your mission rather than being some sort of sales guy trying to bring extra leads”.

So ambassadors are what you really need. You need to make your top customers the advocates for your brand – those people that can make others excited about your product or service. Create a program that rewards your top customers with either gifts or discounts to use your product/service.

An ambassador program helps you phrase the message differently and give your customers a feeling of inclusion in your mission. goo.gl/qaW4XU @GillesDC @wetriggergrowth @salesflare @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

17. Use data to find top ambassadors (Gilles de Clerck)

 

A lot of businesses have loyal customers that are super passionate and enthusiastic and can qualify to be ambassadors but how do you find them?

One brilliant way is to use your data and look for them. For example, you can use any CRM tool to check for the highest paying accounts or the oldest accounts you have. But that’s not enough. You need to find those people that use your product the most.

SAAS companies can use a tool like Intercom to quickly segment their customer list and identify potential ambassadors.

Referral Tip for 2018: Use data to find the top ambassadors of your brand, then reach out to them and invite them to your ambassador program. You will see tremendous growth goo.gl/qaW4XU @GillesDC @wetriggergrowth @salesflare… Click To Tweet

 

18. Use a keyword search to get referral traffic (Tuba Tezer)

 

Let’s talk about SEO because no one has mentioned that yet. Most people know the terms paid ads and organic traffic, but there is also a subcategory of organic traffic called referral traffic. Referral traffic is anytime another website (other than a search engine) refers visitors to your site. This happens when you build online communities, become an expert in a subject matter and people read your stuff and check out your site to learn more about you.

One brilliant way to find new blogs and online communities to write on is by doing a quick keyword search. This brilliant tip was given to me by the awesome Tuba Tezer who is a growth marketer and developer evangelist at Botanalytics.

You can use any keyword or SEO tool for this. Look up a keyword and get a list of similar searches that have a substantial volume. Then plug those keywords into a blog outreach tool like NinjaOutreach to create a list of people that you can reach out to and write a guest post for.

I did this a few months back. I was writing about chatbots and wanted to find some good sites to publish on. I used several keywords – AI, artificial intelligence, chatbots, and bots – to create a list of a few hundred leads and in the end, I now have 20+ bloggers that I’m building a relationship with. Every time I publish something I put ShareSomeFriends in the bio and get referral traffic.

Tuba Tezer Linkedin

Make a keyword analysis to discover where you should go for driving traffic and expand your online community goo.gl/qaW4XU @tzrtuba @botanalyticsco @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

19. Use advanced search queries for blogger outreach (Aaryn Kobayashi)

 

Another way you can find bloggers and get referral traffic is by using advanced search queries. We got this tip from Aaryn Kobayashi, who is a growth marketer at Kahuna. Advanced search queries help you find exactly what you are looking for, all you have to do is to know how to use them.

Let’s say you wanted to find a few online publications and write some guest posts. Here is what you would do:

intext:”editorial calendar” AND intext:(“check out our” OR “see our”) AND -your topic. 

This would find all of the sites that have the words “editorial calendar” and either “check out our” or “see our” as well. Also, put a few words that pertain to your topic (marketing, chatbots, whatever it is).

Aaryn Kobayashi LinkedIn

Top Referral Tip for 2018: Use advanced search queries for blogger outreach. Write guest posts, share your expertise with the world, and get referral traffic back to your site. goo.gl/qaW4XU @aakobes @kahuna @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

20. Incentivise bloggers with affiliate commissions (Gavin Hammar)

 

One way to get a lot of referrals in a systematic way is to create an affiliate program. This is where your customers refer their friends and get a reward or a discount for using your product.

We got this tip from Gavin Hammar, the CEO and Founder of Sendible, a really cool social media management tool. They worked with a handful of really popular social media bloggers that had engaged and loyal audiences. The results they achieved are incredible. Their conversion rate from trial to paid account for a referral was 15-20%. So about 1 out of 5 people referred would sign up for the product.

The key here is to focus on an ideal audience for our business and pick a specific medium. Sendible picked social media bloggers that used written content. They also supplied the bloggers with materials, information, use of the tool, basically anything they needed to learn about and promote the product.

Gavin Hammar LinkedIn

Top Referral Tip for 2018: We've achieved 20% conversion rates by starting a blogger ambassador program. What's your move? goo.gl/qaW4XU @sendible @gavinhammar @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

21. Use empathy to create a compelling customer experience (Toby Corey)

 

Toby Corey is a very unique entrepreneur. He is a board member at numerous startups, he lectures at Stanford University, and most recently he was the President of Global Sales at Tesla.

What’s really fascinating about him is that he has built his businesses on a strong foundation of ethics and empathy. He has worked on his own character in such a way that he uses it as a compass in every aspect of his work – from marketing strategy to meetings, business relationships, and especially the way he treats his customers.

Here is what he had to say:

“First, be yourself, be authentic and honest, customers can sense disingenuousness instantly. Second, do your homework, find out everything you can about your customer (before, during and after the sale) so that you can ‘connect’ and build a truly meaningful relationship. Don’t try to fake it, you know if you are connecting or not.

Third, go above and beyond every step of way; keep them informed, be transparent, anticipate problems and get in front of them; it’s your responsibility to create a compelling customer experience, more so when things go sideways – customer empathy is crucial – pretend your customer is your Mom or Dad, what type of experience would you want them to have?”

toby corey linkedin

Top referral tip for 2018: It's your responsibility to create a compelling customer experience. Use empathy, transparency, and anticipate issues before they happen to win referrals and make life-long friends goo.gl/qaW4XU… Click To Tweet

 

22. Leverage the customer journey (Savvas Zortikis)

 

The customer journey is another great way to get ambassadors and high-quality referrals. Map out the journey that your customer experiences – from sign up all the way to successfully using your product or service. Then, identify the specific point when a customer reaches a milestone or has a successful outcome from using your company.

For example, if you were the CEO of Fiverr you would want to contact all the sellers the moment they reach “level 2” or a certain threshold of sales from their gigs and ask them to refer their friends. At that moment that they are happiest that’s when they are the most likely to tell people about your company. All you have to do is just to find that moment and automate the process.

This tip was brought to you by the entrepreneur superstar Savvas Zortikis, who is at the CEO of Viral Loops and the co-founder of a growth agency called GrowthRocks.

Savvas Zortikis LinkedIn

Top referral tip for 2018: prompt people to invite their friends the exact moment they are happy and successful using your product goo.gl/qaW4XU @SavvasZortikis @ViralLoopsHQ @GrowthRocks @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

23. Automate engagement to perfect the follow-up (Shane Barker)

 

Since we’re talking about engaging with your customers I wanted to bring another brilliant strategy to your attention. 2018 is the year of automated follow-ups. If you’re not using outbound drip campaigns and automatic email follow-ups prepare to become a dinosaur, an artifact, a thing of the past. The entire success of a sale depends on the follow-up and often you need 5 or 6 follow up emails or conversations to get it.

The same principle applies when you’re dealing with existing customers. The “sale” in this case becomes getting a referral from them. You want them to be so happy with your product or service that they will start referring their friends to your company. This requires strategic follow-ups. Identify specific points in the customer journey where the customer will either be happy, or will have possible questions about it, and set up an automatical email to go out. Make it friendly, appealing, use some emojis, show them that you really care.👌😁😘🌹

If you already have an ambassador or referral program consider using gamification (tip #12) and send out automatic emails for every new level unlock.

This tip was brought to you by Shane Barker who runs an influencer marketing agency. He helps brands work with influencers and get a ton of referral traffic to their site. Shane is not only an excellent communicator but he is a master of the follow-up. He will check on you even if you’re an old client, a business acquaintance, or an old classmate. And that’s one of the secrets of his success.

Shane Barker LinkedIn

Top Referral Tip for 2018: to ensure long-term success, make sure you constantly engage with your existing customer base, even if they don’t purchase from you regularly goo.gl/qaW4XU @shane_barker @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

24. Use referrals to unlock new features in your product (Haris King)

 

Let’s talk about your product. A great way to build your referral program into your product offering is to have it unlock new features as the customers refer their friends. This is a super popular model.

Haris King, a startup growth consultant and previously the head of growth at Curl, gave us this tip and the example of Revolut which is a tool for free bank transfers between currencies. In order to unlock the ability to use cryptocurrencies a user would have to refer 3 of their friends, then they could use the feature and transfer money to them for free.

Revolut blog cryptocurrency referral program

Another great example of this is the video tool Loom which offers a really easy way for anyone to create short 5-10 minute feedback video and email them to a co-worker. They also require 3 referrals to unlock all the features and actually offer a credit of $5 for every new referral.

Loom video tool referral program

Haris King LinkedIn

Top Referral Tip for 2018: Use referrals to unlock new features of your product. goo.gl/qaW4XU @harisgrowth @paywithcurl @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

25. Offer exclusive content (Ben Sardella)

 

Besides offering a cash reward or a new feature of your product you can also offer exclusive content. This is a great way to build a community using your content. This might not work for every company, you would have to be really content-based for this to work. A great example of this is Patreon where creators raise money and offer rewards in the form of exclusive content.

The same is happening with online publications like Medium where members pay $5/month to unlock a certain number of highly well-written stories. It’s an excellent way to build a community and a loyal following if you are a content creator.

Ben Sardella LinkedIn

Top Referral Tip for 2018: Align the referral incentive with things your customers/partners want. It might not always be a rev share for example, but rather exclusive access to content or events goo.gl/qaW4XU @bensardella… Click To Tweet

 

26. Leverage your social media presence (Brian Peters)

 

Social media is a great avenue to build an online community and create ambassadors for your product or service. You don’t have to be super famous to be a micro influencer. If you consistently publish content that’s engaging and brings value to your audience then you will slowly begin to build a following. Use that following to get traffic to your site, get referrals, and boost your revenue.

Or in the words of the famous Brian Peters, the digital marketing strategist at Buffer:

“Build and grow tight-knit social media communities that act as ambassadors for your brand. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Slack Groups are all massive opportunities to develop your loyal customers and followers into advocates. This will help grow brand awareness around your product and engagement across social media”.

Brian Peters Buffer LinkedIn

Top Referral Tip for 2018: Build online communities on various social media channels to create ambassadors for your brand. goo.gl/qaW4XU @Brian_G_Peters @buffer @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

27. Don’t forget to be yourself (Ben Kazinik)

 

And last but not least, the tip that tops all the tips – please be yourself. Don’t try to fake it, don’t pretend you know something when you don’t. Be 100% honest and genuine with every single customer, partner, brand ambassador, influencer, everybody!

The advice that I grew up with is “show up, do the job, no one is hiring you because you’re a nice guy”. The reality couldn’t be more different. I’ve gotten countless jobs, worked with numerous influencers, and have built a ton of content relationships all because I was genuinely being myself. I find that people like to work with nice people.

That’s just the truth.

So don’t be afraid to be yourself.

ben kazinik linkedin

Top Referral Tip for 2018: Just be yourself gosh darn it! You can do this! Be genuine! honest! and customers will love you! goo.gl/qaW4XU @bengrowthjunkie Click To Tweet

 

Recap

 

Wow.

This is probably the most comprehensive list of referral strategies for any kind of business – B2B, B2C, and everything in between.

Here is the recap in case you missed some of the main points:

1. If you don’t have a referral program – start one. Find existing customers that could be your brand ambassadors and work with influencers to promote your product.

2. Build and nurture relationships with everyone – your clients, potential business partners and LinkedIn connections.

3. Automation is key – automate asking for reviews/recommendation, following-up with the customers, and all communication with regards to your referral program.

4. Be smart about finding influencers and conducting blogger outreach – use keywords, advanced search terms, and leverage your customer journey and your social media audience.

5. Build viral referral strategies into your product by offering exclusive content, access to events, or unlocking new features for each referral.

Did we miss anything? Is there anything you would like us to add? Send your tip to ben@sharesomefriends and we’ll see if your tip deserves to be on the ULTIMATE GUIDE to Referral strategies for ultimate growth for 2018.

Ben Kazinik is a marketing manager and growth hacker for ShareSomeFriends, a referral app and lead management platform. He does all the lead generation, inbound marketing, and content management. Email him at – ben@sharesomefriends.com or connect on Twitter (@BenGrowthJunkie) and LinkedIn. 

11 Surprising Statistics about Referrals And Why You Need a Referral Program

Referral marketing gets confused with so many things nowadays. So many people think of pyramid schemes when they hear that word. The reality is, referrals marketing is simply word-of-mouth, and it has been there since the first human transaction was ever made.

Truth is – when someone makes a purchase of a product or service and are happy with it they want to recommend it to their friends.

It’s as simple as that. If your business has a referral program in place then you are able to capture more of that word-of-mouth goodness and get more loyal customers. If you don’t already have a referral program, then you are simply losing money every year.

How much money are you losing by not having a referral program?

Check out these 11 surprising stats about referral marketing and find out.

Let’s dive in. 

 

1. Referral leads convert 30% better than leads generated from other marketing channels (R&G Technologies)

 

Referrals simply convert at a higher clip than any other acquisition channel out there. Have you heard the phrase “happy customers make happy customers”? If your customers like your product they will refer more people. If you put all of your efforts into getting more referrals and abandon all other forms of customer acquisition (don’t try it at home kids) your business will eventually grow by 30% more when you ramp up.

That’s perhaps the immediate result but what about across the lifetime of the relationship?

What’s the value there?

 

2.  Referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value (Journal of Marketing)

 

Referral leads are not only easier to close but they help your business long-term. Think about it, if Sally referred Harry and he continues to refer more people (assuming you have a referral rewards program in place) a big chunk of your customers are going to know each other. In the event of a mistake, a shipping delay, or any type of mishap on your part your referrals will trust you and have more patience with your process because they know that their friends were happy with your business.

 

3. People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. (Nielsen)

 

This is another mindblowing statistic. Every time you get a new referral lead the likelihood that they will buy is four times greater compared to a lead that was not referred to you. We’ve found that people that were referred through the ShareSomeFriends app were more likely to sign up and did so at a higher percentage than non-referred leads.

So if referral leads are so great, how come they are so hard to come by?

 

4. 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience—yet only 29% actually do.

Texas Tech University

 

This statistic is a good indicator of the current state of referral programs everywhere. Only 29% of consumers actually refer people. Why is that? We believe that most businesses lack good tools and processes to ask for and collect referrals. A lot of companies avoid directly asking for referrals and instead put their money into social media ads and PPC. While these are valid strategies, the use of a simple referral app can help them ask for referrals and provides an easy way to capture referral leads.

 

5. Offering a reward increases referral likelihood, but the size of the reward does not matter.

American Marketing Association

 

A big part of what we’ve done is offered a reward to every customer that refers their friends to the business. We were working for a student tour organization and met with the students to show them the ShareSomeFriends app and ask them for referrals. We gave each student a $5 Amazon gift card if they chose to refer people, and multiple cards for over 30 or 50 referrals. The friends were so happy with their experience on the tour and partially motivated by the reward, that they gave us 500-700 referrals.

 

6. 87% of frontlines sales reps, 82% of sales leaders, and 78% of marketers surveyed agree that referrals are the best leads your business can get.

Heinz Marketing

 

When I was working in a sales organization, referral leads were our greatest possession. If you would get a referral lead you had bragging rights for an entire week! There are a few reasons for that:

– referral leads close at a higher clip.
– referral leads have a better idea of your product or service.
– referral leads already have a good first impression before they talk to you.
– if you can’t reach the referral you could always reach out to the person that referred them and ask for a favor =).

The only thing you need to have in place is a referral program with a process of getting referral leads. Which brings us to the next incredible statistic.

 

7. Companies with formalized referral programs experience 86% more revenue growth over the past two years when compared to the rest.

 

Companies that have referral programs in place actually experience 86% more growth in 2 years. That’s like having your $100k company do $186k in revenue in 2 years without doing anything else other than starting a referral program.

And yet…

 

8. Only 30% of companies surveyed have a formalized referral program.

 

Not a lot of companies have referral programs. This is probably the most powerful and surprising referral statistic. It’s not that businesses don’t ask for referral enough, they don’t establish referral programs. Perhaps they think that they are lacking a dedicated team to do it, or the funds, or both.

Starting a referral program is actually very easy.

Here is what you would need to get one going:

1. The ShareSomeFriends app

2. A list of customers you would want to outreach to

3. A couple of emails and signs around the office or place of business

4. 10 minutes.

That’s all.

 

9. When referral tools are used, companies are 3x more likely to accelerate referral generation and conversion.

A lot of companies think that they need to have a robust team managing a referral program, or some magical formula to talk to clients, or maybe more dedicated customers. The reality is if you have a tool that you use for your referral program you will have 3 times the referral leads (and 3 times the conversions according to this statistic).

 

10. Yet only 22% have a tool in place to effectively scale their programs.

 

So we find that the adoption of referral tools is slow. There are numerous tools that are used on social media to get leads, but those are not full-fledged referral tools. When we started ShareSomeFriends we realized that many businesses don’t have referral programs set up. We also realized that many don’t have a tool to simply collect referral leads from their clients. Even if customers do refer someone, they don’t get a reward, or the referral is not registered in the system so the business has no way to track its referral rate. That’s when our app was born.

 

11. Every referring customers makes an average of 2.68 invites.

Referral SaaSquatch Data Science

 

That’s an incredible statistic. If you ask those happy customers you have to refer their friends to your business you will find that on average each person will bring 2. It really depends on the industry that you’re in. With ShareSomeFriends we find that our clients are getting 20 referrals from each client on average.

Wait, are we 10X better than the national average? 

Regardless, if you calculate your per customer acquisition cost and multiply by 2.68 that will be how much money you are losing if you don’t currently have a referral program.

We hope that this post has been helpful, what do you think? How hard would it be for you to create a referral program for your business?

Let us know in the comments.

ShareSomeFriends Logo

Cheers =)

Ben Kazinik is a marketing manager for ShareSomeFriends, a referral app and lead management platform. He enjoys hiking, cooking, soccer, and visiting his family around the world. Email me at – ben@sharesomefriends.com or connect on my LinkedIn.

 

Strategy: How to Get 20k Referral Leads in 30 Days

How do you get 20,000 referral leads in 30 days?

This goes back to how ShareSomeFriends was started.

We were a 2-man team at the time doing marketing and consulting for a bunch of different businesses. We had one client that is a trip organizer. They get a massive volume of college kids to travel across the world and to learn about different cultures. It’s truly a phenomenal trip.

They asked us: can you help us get more participants?

We said, heck yeah. 

We started coming up with ideas and we realized that everything we came up with was wrong. For one simple reason: every college kid lives in their smartphone. 

You got YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger. Most people are on their smartphones throughout the day, especially the 12-35-year-olds. 

So what did we need?

We needed a smartphone app that would be able to:

-Connect with the customer’s contact list
-Allow the user to select which friends/family/co-workers they would want to invite
-Easily send a list of all the referral leads to the business

BOOM. 

We created a simple version of this app back in 2016 and we set out to meet every single group that season. We met with 40 tour groups in 1 month, got 800 of them to use the app, and received 20,000 referrals.

That’s 25 referral leads per participant!

Absolutely incredible.

What were the steps that we took to get there? Let me share them with you.

Step 1 – Communicate with your customers

After you create your account and start a campaign you have to communicate this new referral program to your customers. There are different ways to do it depending on what type of business you are.

If you are a trip organizer/conference/event – gather all of your participants in one spot and tell them about the app. Ask them to download it and select the friends that they would think most value the program. Do this towards the end of your event so your participants get a chance to enjoy your event before their circle.

If you are an online business – use your regular marketing channels to communicate the referral program with your customers. You can send an email blast, send out an update on social media, or DM your favorite customers.

If you are a physical business – you can use banners, posters, or simply talk to your customers as they come in. PRO TIP: hand out small cards with instructions on them about how to use the app and how your referral program works.

 

Step 2 – Offer awesome rewards

Rewards are key. People want to know what they are getting for helping you.

In the example of the trip organizer, we actually handed out $5 Amazon gift cards to each person and gave out several per person depending on how many people they referred to us. Amazon is awesome so people really liked that and were motivated to refer more people.

 

amazon-gift-card

Step 3 – Be smart about outreach & retargeting

There are a million different ways to outreach to your referral leads once you get ’em right? The best way is to always call them first – you want to make a good impression and you want to add your personal touch.

Here are other ways that we found truly helpful:

  • Text messaging – You can set that up through the app that every referral gets a message from the person that referred them (your customer) with a blurb and a link to your business
  • Push notifications – Send a message to all of your ambassadors asking them to refer more people and check in with their existing referrals
  • Social retargeting – plug-in your referral emails and phone numbers to create similar audiences on Facebook and run ads.

For our comprehensive guide to all the ways you can outreach to your referral leads check out – the 11 Ways to Convert Referral Leads.

Step 4 – Reward your top ambassadors

Free stock photo of landscape, fashion, man, couple

You have to reward your top talent. 

In our case, we gave out more Amazon cards to the people that referred more leads to us. The more they referred the more $$$ they got.

You can do the same thing for your business. It doesn’t matter what the reward is, you can always up the game for your top ambassadors. And let’s face it, they deserve it.

The more referrals leads you get the more you can grow your business.

Recap

Businesses that want to win and grow, need to have a strategy to get referral leads. Capitalize on word-of-mouth by creating a referral program that is simple to use. We believe that ShareSomeFriends is the simplest way to get referral leads on the planet.

Top 3 Reasons Why We’re Awesome: 

-Users don’t have to login or register
-Easily communicate with your ambassadors and leads (text messages & push notifications)
-Easily export your referral leads through our CRM

What referral tools are you currently using for your business? And how is it going? We would love to hear your experience, leave us a comment below!

Ben Kazinik is a marketing manager for ShareSomeFriends, a referral app and lead management platform. He enjoys hiking, cooking, soccer, and visiting his family around the world. Email me at – ben@sharesomefriends.com or connect on my LinkedIn.

11 Ways to Convert Referral Leads

Everyone knows that referral leads are gold. You don’t have to take our word on that, check out these statistics:

 

  • 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know – Nielsen
  • Consumers rely on word-of-mouth 2x to 10x more than they do on paid media – BCG
  • Word of mouth referral programs increase effectiveness of marketing by up to 54% – MarketShare

 

Powerful, right?

Anything you do in your business can become more effective by 50% if you use referral marketing. Setting up a referral program is just the first step in the process. The next thing you need to do is to convert those referral leads into happy customers.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to wreck your brain and try to figure out what to do. We’ve compiled the most comprehensive list of all the different ways to convert referral leads.

1. Call them

Let’s start with the obvious. If you have phone numbers then you need to pick up the phone and call them all. This is the best chance for you to spark a conversation, talk about your business, and make a good first impression.

This is probably the most overlooked step, this is why we started with it. So many business owners get busy or overwhelmed with their day-to-day duties that they don’t find the time to call these golden referral opportunities.

People also think that if I just send them a text or email or hit them up on social with some auto-DM then I won’t even have to talk to them and they will just come and sign up.

If Gary Vaynerchuk can do it, so can you.

 

old-school-cold-calls-attract-customers-gary-vaynerchuk

2. Create an Outbound Email Campaign

Depending on how you get referral leads you might or might not get their email addresses. It totally depends, but in case you do, there are a variety of ways you can target those people and convert them into customers.

One of my favorite ways is to create a drip campaign that automatically sends an email every few days. As soon as the person replies than the drip campaign stops. This is a super effective way to get someone’s attention without annoying them afterward. I like to use MailShake for this one, It’s a super simple tool developed by Sujan Patel, a master marketer and growth hacker.

 

mailshake cold emails outbound home page

 

3. Automatically send a text message to every single referral

Another great way to get your referral lead’s attention is by sending them a text. You can actually send a large number of texts at once. You can use things like Texedly or Eztexting to send mass messages to your referral leads.

 

textedly mass text messages

 

You can actually send texts to all of your referrals through the ShareSomeFriends app, but you have to make sure that you are in the same country as your referral (so this is less effective for international campaigns) and it will look like it’s coming from your ambassador.

4. Send a WhatsApp Broadcast

The more advanced method of text messaging is through WhatsApp.

What’s the difference? 

You can create a list of “subscribers” and send out a Whatsapp broadcast that includes text, images, and videos. It also feels more exclusive than a text message.

This will be more effective in an international campaign, where you can send WhatsApp messages to the whole world. If you don’t know how to do this here is a list of instructions.

 

how to send a broadcast message on whatsapp

 

Ok, I get it. I can send them a text message.

What if I want to hit them up on social media? How do I find their account?

5. Find the social media accounts of your referrals

There is no tool that can help you automate this process yet but you can still do this manually. Use a tool like TruthFinder to put in a number and see all the social media accounts that your lead is using. Then you can manually friend them or DM them.

 

truthfinder - find social media account with phone number

 

Ok, let’s say you don’t want to stalk your referrals on social.

Is there a more legit way to do this?

6. Plug-in your referral phone numbers into Facebook Custom Audiences

Here is something more automated and effective that you can do with your referrals’ phone numbers.

Copy past all of the numbers into Facebook Ads and you will be able to retarget them. All you need to do is to go to Create Audience > Customer Audience > Customer File. There you can paste the numbers.

This creates a custom audience for you to work with and target in your ad campaigns. Want to learn more? Check out this article for more info.

7. Match your referral emails to social media accounts with AdRoll

If you have the email addresses of your referrals then you can target them much more effectively on social media. There are a number of great platforms that let you plug in your email addresses and create audiences for specific ads.

I like using AdRoll because it connects with a bunch of different advertising networks and can advertise for you on mobile as well as social media.

 

AdRoll advertising retargeting on social media

8. Send updates to all your ambassadors using push notifications

That’s all fine and good, but what about my ambassadors ie loyal customers? They are the ones that referred all these people, shouldn’t they get some love, care, and attention?

Absolutely! 

Using ShareSomeFriends you can send push notifications to all of your ambassadors to notify them of a new deal, to congratulate their progress, or to invite them to an exclusive hangout.

 

push notification

 

9. Content Retargeting

I added this point for all you content marketers out there. You need to make content that your referral leads and ambassadors will connect with.

No, don’t just talk about your referral program over and over again. 

You can announce new referral rewards, new ambassador rewards, new success stories. Most importantly, think of articles that will grab your referral’s attention.

If you are a gym then write an article about how to stay fit with a busy schedule. If you are marketing conference write an article about marketing. Treat your referrals as new visitors to your site and write articles that will apply to them.

Then you can text, email or send a message to them with a link to the article.

10. Posters and Banners

So old school… I know.

Posters and banners are never going away unless the whole world goes into a permanent coma. This strategy is specifically powerful for geolocalized referral campaigns. If you are targeting a specific city or neighborhood, or if you started a business and have leads from one geographical location, you should post posters and banners where those people live.

The more “impressions” your referrals get of your business the more successful you will be.

11. Offer prizes, awards, and swag

Last but not least, swag.

Every business needs some swag. You need to reward your referrals and your ambassadors with items that they would enjoy. Besides, every time they wear that sweater with your logo on it it’s free advertising.

(EXTRA) Pro Tip: Use gamification.

Gamification is making something into a game. Every time your ambassador refers a friend they should get points, and every few points they get to level up. The higher level they are the better rewards they get, the more exclusive events they could go to, you get the point. Levels are powerful because they help you translate your goals into actionable user behavior.

If your goal is to get 5 referrals for each ambassador then you can set the next level to start at 5 referrals.

Simple but powerful.

Here is a great gamification platform called Queue that you can use to gamify your referral community.

 

queue gamification platform

 

Recap

These are some of the best ways to retarget and convert your referral leads. Which ones have you already tried? And what successes have you seen? Let us know in the comments below.

Ben Kazinik is a marketing manager for ShareSomeFriends, a referral app and lead management platform. He enjoys hiking, cooking, soccer, and visiting his family around the world. Email me at – ben@sharesomefriends.com or connect on my LinkedIn.