During my research on referrals, I found an interesting quote by Mark Zuckerberg which “Nothing influences more than a recommendation from a trusted friend”

Your current customers have such great potential in you more customers. Just by spreading the word to their family and friends. This activity by most brands has been termed Word- of-mouth marketing (WOMA)

I like to call referrals Word-Of-Mouth but on a wider scale, using different online channels and medium. Generally it’s humane and logical to believe and accept what people close to us say about a product. Much better than a brand trying to convince us using different paid ads.

Referrals can bring an endless number of new customers as long as products truly meet the needs of the initial customers or users. However, getting people to talk about your brand and refer friends can take different approaches. Put into consideration different factors like, type of service offered, the target market, promotional channels etc.

So if you are asking yourself how you can possibly get customers to give positive referrals about your brand as a new or existing business, here are some suggestions which have been proven to be effective using a Nigerian brand Zoto Nigeria (a mobile money app) as a case study.

Tell your users

One factor can make or break your referral campaign. And that is how and where to communicate and create awareness for the program to your users or customer.

Below are some ways and channels Zoto Nigeria shared the information to their users.

  • Push Notification

    Push notifications allow a smartphone or desktop display text or image driven message alerts. This is similar to the notification message you get from your Facebook or Twitter app. Zoto Nigeria sent daily push messages, to be precise about 3 messages a day, reminding their users about the referral program. This approach proved to be useful as many Zoto users who received the push messages began calling to get more information on the program.

  • Social Media

    Social media is a powerful tool for a brand to advertise, educate and most importantly share information. Online users are counting on social media for new and relevant information from the brand. Your referral campaign should be uploaded and posted across all social media platforms your brand is active on. As a start-up, you might not have enough organic reach to make your referral campaign reach a wide audience, hence you can promote the referral posts on different social media platforms for adequate reach. These will help increase your chances of acquiring new customers, furthermore it will help generate word-of-mouth marketing for your brand.

  • Emails

    Email marketing is still one of the most effective forms of marketing. You are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet. Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. Yes, social media has become a very powerful marketing tool in recent times but we still need to continue with our good old friend email. Email marketing should specifically be used for your referral campaigns.

  • Blog post

    You can also write a blog post to tell current and prospective users about your referral program. Or educate other influential bloggers to write about your brand and the referral program coming up. Make sure to optimize the article for SEO. This helps it rank well when people are looking for “your company” + “referral program”. This will give your users who are looking for the referral program another easy way to find it.

Inclusion of Relevant Rewards

Understand what motivates your users to make a referral then design your program to give out rewards that match their motivations. Rewards are a crucial element for performance. Zoto Nigeria’s referral program was based on a double-sided reward, where both the referral and the referee got rewarded.  This even reward structure helps encourage both parties to participate in the referral promo.

Make the process easy

Getting your users interested in your referral program isn’t complete until your onboarding process is straight to the point. If you make your user do unnecessary things in your referral program, you’re going to have abandonment issues and dormant users after your referral program. Also remember that your customers are not copywriters, get your marketing team to put together a simple content template for your existing users to use for referrals.  Your marketing team should also do an AB test on different design/copy and calls to action for the one which will appeal to your target audience during your referral.

In Conclusion, for a successful referral program you need to dedicate real resources towards it.  Let your marketing, customer service and development team be in sync to make the referral program a success. You need to treat your referral program like your other marketing channels. With this approach, not only did Zoto Nigeria get over 12,000 new users within 3 days of their referral campaign, it also helped their SEO because different bloggers wrote about the promo. This clearly shows that if referrals are done smoothly it brings adequate traffic and brand recognition for most startup companies.

Looking for the best referral strategy for your business? Let me know by replying in the comment below