The 3 Keys to Creating a Customer Referral Program that Works

By Published 29 April 2016

There is one question that we ask almost every customer: “Where does the majority of your business come from?” The answer is consistently: “From word of mouth and referrals.” Of course it is, that is the easiest way to get business, sitting back and doing nothing except being a rock star at what you do and letting your results speak for itself. What’s great about this is that it doesn’t require doing any difficult marketing, SEO, pay per click, or re-vamping the website. All you need to do is sit back and hope your customers tell their friends about you and sit back and watch the referrals come in. Right?

So my next question to prospects would be: “OK, so what are you doing to actively stoke the flames to the fire and get more referrals and more repeat business?” The answer is typically: “Nothing.” I’m always shocked by this, however it does lead to a great discussion on how to improve effectiveness in this area. If you want to hit your target of more customer referrals and upsells, you need to A.I.M.


1. Ask

The first and most obvious step is to ask. Most business owners ask some of their customers for referrals once or maybe twice. They don’t want to make it awkward after winning the business. There is power in asking. When you ask, you speak energy into existence because it requires action.

I remember when I bought a home here in Arizona three years ago, I worked with a great real estate agent who was awesome. I couldn’t tell you his name, because I never heard from him again, but boy was he great at the time. Here’s the problem: Soon after we bought a home, I convinced my parents to move to Arizona so they started looking for a home. They asked if I knew any good real estate agents and I said yes, I do have a guy… what’s his name again? What was his number? I told my parents I would dig it up and get back to them. I never did. They found another real estate agent and bought a beautiful big home. Fast forward a few months and my brother decided to come to Arizona for physical therapy school and wanted to look at homes. He asked me if I knew a good real estate agent. Same story, I couldn’t remember my guy and meant to pass along his info but couldn’t find it and it wasn’t top of mind. So my brother got his own agent that he worked with and bought a home. The moral of the story is that if my real estate agent had followed up with me and asked for referrals occasionally, I would have given them. He would have sold two more homes. It never hurts to ask.

2. Incentivise

What is your cost of acquiring a new customer through traditional methods? Do you pay sales reps to make calls and run appointments?  Do you pay for SEO and website optimization that drives traffic and leads? Do you advertise or sponsor events to get leads?  When you add all of that up and apply it to your actual cost of acquiring a new customer you might be shocked just how much you spend to get revenue. So why on earth wouldn’t you give a small incentive for customers to prompt more referrals? It costs you much less for customer referrals than all other lead sources, so don’t be stingy—be intentional.

I’ve seen a lot of things work really well over the years:

  • £25 gift card for closed deals
  • Each referral gets a ticket for a drawing to win an iPad
  • Contents for whoever refers the most in a given month wins £1,000
  • Refer a friend and receive 10 percent off your monthly membership
  • Tickets to sporting events
  • Saying thank you for a referral that closes with a gift basket

And the list goes on and on. Get creative, have fun with it. Reward them. It’s a very small price to pay overall compared to the other things you do to acquire new business. The problem with most referral incentive programs is that nobody knows about it. This is where marketing automation comes in very handy to follow up with customers automatically and make them aware of your incentive program whenever possible.

3. Make it easy

A couple months ago I consulted with an HVAC business that was trying to figure out how to get more referrals. He would ask for referrals, he had a way to incentivise customers, but when I looked at how a customer would submit a referral, it was a mess. They had to fill out a web form that was as tedious as the day is long. Then, the majority of the time it went into a black hole and he never saw the referral anyway. We worked with him to create an automated funnel for capturing customer referrals that were based on customer surveys that went out after the sale. There was a question in there that stated “Would you be willing to refer others?” If they answered yes to that question in the survey, an automated email would go out two weeks later to let them know about the customer referral program. Then, a few days later an email would go out that asked them for anyone they could think of that they might refer. All the customer had to do, was click on a link on the email, fill out a very brief form of first name, e-mail, and phone number, and BAM! Problem solved. The referrals came pouring in from that time forward.

Another great idea that I have seen from savvy business owners is making the referral process easy by putting up a link at the top of your website that says: “Refer a Friend.” That link will direct to a landing page where they can enter the quick info for their friend. Marketing automation can then send an email to the customer thanking them for their referral and ensuring that there is an easy place for your customers to go whenever they have someone to refer. This is also great because you may have prospects who aren’t a good fit for what you do, but they have someone in mind who they could refer over to you. This gives them an easy way to do that.

Getting customer referrals is easy when you are good at what you do. Creating a great customer referral funnel is not as difficult as it might seem. No matter how good or bad you think it’s going with your customer referrals, it’s never too late to fix it—just remember to A.I.M. at your target.

Still not mobile friendly? Google update in May is looming!

By Published 25 April 2016

“Seconds away, ready for round two!”

For those that dabble in what the latest Google thing will be or how it may impact your website, you may be interested to know that ‘mobilegeddon 2’ is on its way! If you can’t remember mobilegeddon 1 then it either didn’t impact your website at all, your website was already mobile friendly or you have no idea what is going on with your website.

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2 Ways to get Website Traffic

By Published 16 September 2015

Interestingly the total number of Retail Sales online is not as high as you think.  It’s actually between 7 and 8% (at August 2015). I’m guessing you thought it was a lot higher than that.

So figuring out how to get traffic to your website in today’s world takes a lot of time and an awful lot of money. Thankfully the Digital Marketer has done all the legwork and shared with us what works and what doesn’t work.

There is no such thing now as a traffic problem. It’s now about Engagement. Traffic has become a commodity. If you want traffic you can go to the shop and buy it. Read the rest of this entry »

How to create a Hot, Engaged Facebook Group

By Published 26 August 2015

Facebook has value, in fact it has a lot value despite what some might think.  And I have to be honest here and say that it’s only in the past year that I have understood exactly how to leverage that value.

You see, I used to use Facebook for personal use seeing just some crazy updates from friends and family of their dog or cat in some strange position, or of a crazy video they’d shared or photos of their latest fancy holiday trip. Nice, but really? It was beginning to consume a lot of my time almost without me realising, and so I was about to cull the whole thing! Read the rest of this entry »

Get the Facebook audience that will treasure and value your content

By Published 13 August 2015

Getting the right Facebook audience is tricky. Back in December last year, Facebook estimated that it was home to more than 30 million active small-business pages. That number will have definitely grown since then. That’s a lot of business pages that yours needs to compete with. Do you know what one of the biggest tricks to having a successful, engaging Facebook page is though? A wonderful audience. Read the rest of this entry »

26 Things that will Change the Way You Run Your Business

By Published 10 July 2015

We all know that there are certain aspects of our business that could be improved or changed.

We all know this, but often we’re too busy doing client work, or checking emails or doing other stuff.

So when someone tells you to work “on” your business and not “in” it, or at least put some time aside to do this I’m guessing a lot of the time this is put off because the task seems too much of a mountain to climb, and you don’t necessarily know where to start.

So here are some ideas to give you a kick start: Read the rest of this entry »

Are you frustrated your traditional marketing is not working anymore?

By Published 24 June 2015

Here’s why!

Raise your hand if you want more customers in your business?

Raise your hand again if you want your website to generate those customers – AND automate the responses you give to these new customers!

Maybe this is you and your business?

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Not getting the reach you want on Facebook but begrudge spending the money to get it?

By Published 15 June 2015

Organic (as always) is the best.

It’s the best food, best type of content, best everything. And for Facebook, organic is best because it’s free. Who doesn’t love free things?

As free and wonderful as Facebook is though, over the last couple of years they’ve gradually become sneakier with how far your organic reach goes. Read the rest of this entry »

How to attract the right prospects with your Profile on LinkedIn

By Published 4 June 2015

LinkedIn has the reputation as the go-to place to grow your network online. Although often I meet people in business who really don’t understand why they have all these odd requests to connect to people they don’t know on Linkedin?  Does this sound familiar?

And should you even be on LinkedIn? Read the rest of this entry »