Word of mouth is still one of the greatest marketing tools in business.
Whether it has to do with haircuts, dining options or legal help, people trust the people closest to them for recommendations. Word of mouth is a primary factor behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions.
Turning your customers into advocates for your business is key to growing your business because they help send referrals your way.
What are some successful ways to incentivize customers to refer friends and family to use your service or product? Here’s what members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), community of leading business professionals, had to say:
1. Provide supplementary services offered “at cost.” “I’ve seen a lot of companies end up paying customers so much to refer people that they destroy their profit margin. Instead, we offer our loyal clients supplemental services “at cost.” We have found this just as effective in terms of recruitment as offering untenably high discounts or free services.” ~ Joel Butterly, InGenius Prep
2. Give them an exclusive experience. “Nowadays customers have unimaginable options to choose from, where price incentives alone may not be enough of an impact for a referral to happen. You have to create an emotional tie with your customer where they feel excited, privileged, or cool by sharing your business. Some of the things we do are to provide genuine personal customer service and exclusive, member-only limited products.” ~ Billy Ono, Kami Speed
3. Take advantage of SMS. “When your product really solves a problem for the industry and ends up saving users money and time, they become your biggest advocates. But you still have to give them tools to refer the app or product. And an ability to refer specific people is key. SMS is the biggest source of referred installs for us, while social networks work less effectively.” ~ Ivan Tsybaev, Trucker Path Inc.
4. Don’t be afraid to give. “Measly referral bonuses can mean very little to a consumer who doesn’t want to become a full-blown affiliate or brand ambassador. Offer free products or services to consumers to “share” with friends and family and build loyalty and brand awareness organically. Encourage buyers to give out these free samples by offering customizable gift wrapping or personalization.” ~ Blair Thomas, First American Merchant
5. Offer top-notch customer service. “Discounts are a great way to lure friends and family to use your service, but you won’t even get them knocking on your door unless you build a great reputation in the first place. First and foremost, do the best job possible, offer top customer service at all costs — even if it means you’ll be spending your weekend and nights on the computer. Offer an attractive discount to top it all off.” ~ Ayelet Noff, Blonde 2.0