According to HubSpot, 90% of people trust recommendations from their friends and family and SEMRush says that 64% of marketers think that word-of-mouth marketing is the best form of marketing.
So in today’s article, I’m going to tell you exactly the tactics that I’ve used over the years to generate more referrals from my customers. These tactics have generated millions in revenue. So let’s dig in.
Ask in moments of momentum
The first tactic that I’d tell you about is to ask in moments of momentum. What I mean by that is in the case where you’ve had a positive customer interaction, it can be a really good process to ask your customer a little bit after that interaction if they know of a friend or colleague that might benefit from your services.
The reason why this works is because it draws upon the reciprocity principle, which is when somebody does something good for us, we feel indebted to want to return the favor for them. So, what you should do is in the case where you don’t have the sort of motion with your customer service experience, you should bake it into your standard operating procedure.
In the case where somebody responds with very satisfied or satisfied to their customer satisfaction survey, you’ll wanna follow up with them a day or two after that in order to ask this sort of question. Oftentimes, you’ll find that by simply asking this sort of action and building on the momentum moment that your customer is going to be more than willing to share a name or two, that might be interesting to you.
Work in in-app recommendations
This extends beyond just customer satisfaction moments and that leads me to my second tactic to share with you today, which is to work in in-app recommendations or suggestions to your user to refer a friend.
So there’s really two ways that I’ve done this in the past.
The first way is in product onboarding and then the second way is when thinking about my referral program or incentive structure. So when it comes to your product onboarding, you want to think about how you are teaching your customer to bake in referrals into the sort of motion and use case of your product.
In other words, are you teaching your customers within their first 30 days of being on your website or working with you that you asking them for referrals is a normal behavior and that they really benefit from seeing more of their friends on the site because their friends might be able to benefit from your product or service, or they might have some sort of additional benefit of a network effect by having a colleague or somebody else on your respective tool.
One of the best ways I’ve seen this done is in the education technology space by a company called Mystery Science. Immediately upon creating a free account on Mystery Science, what they are doing is they’re asking you whether or not you’d like to invite a peer or colleague on to their website. And what they even do is they feed in some suggestions of people that you might be associated with because they’re able to scrape the public information of different teachers at the same school that you might be teaching at.
By creating this sort of onboarding experience we are really emphasizing to the user that it is beneficial for them to potentially add a friend or colleague onto the site and also that they shouldn’t be alarmed when we ask them later on for a referral because this is a totally normal behavior that we are normalizing from the very beginning of their user journey.
The second place that I really look to incorporate this into your in-app experience is by creating a dedicated referral program or page. From here, you’re going to want to potentially look at different services, like a GrowSurf, which can manage your affiliate program and then what you’re gonna want to do is you’re going to want to plan a launch of your referral program with your customers.
It’s really important that you get the incentive structure right here. A common sort of incentive model might be to give your customer a certain amount off of their next month’s subscription in exchange for a referral that signs up for a paid account with your product. You’re going to need to naturally have to play around with the referral program here. But what’s really important is to then also work in a product trigger in your in-app experience to then direct attention to this referral program.
This means, for example, aside from just having an intercom series, go out with you’re announcing this a referral program, the next time that your customer logs into your app or service that you’re going to also show them that there is a new referral program and then direct their attention to that section of your website.
What’s then gonna be useful for you to do is to track what the advocacy rate is here. In other words, for every 100 or so people that are going into this respective referral program page, how many of them are clicking to copy their referral link or actually sending out an email to their respective friend or colleague.
Ask after key activation points on user onboarding
This leads me to the fourth tactic that I’ve used in the past, which is also to make and ask after key activation points in user onboarding. Let’s say for example, that you’re a CRM and your customer just marked their first deal one in their pipeline. Well, what you might wanna do at that point is create a little celebratory model for them to see.
And then from there, ask passively whether or not, they know of a friend or colleague that might benefit from your service or to direct their attention to the referral program. It might be something where it’s like, congrats on winning your first deal. Did you know that you can save $50 off your next month by referring a friend? And by celebrating this sort of win we’re building on that same principle to tactic number one, which is building on momentum.
So in order to apply this for your own business, what you should think about are, what are some of the points of wins or success points for your customer.
In the case where you run a services business, you might find this useful to think about on every single key milestone that you achieve with your client. So if, for example, you just completed an entire overhaul of a website. Well, you might have some sort of reward or celebratory gift that you wanna send your client because they’ve spent a ton of money on you and then at that point, what you might also include is a one pager on how important it is for referrals for your business, and then maybe offering some sort of clear incentive for them to recommend a friend or colleague to your business.
Add in customer success calls
The fifth tactic that I’d share with you to get more referrals from your existing customers is to simply add in customer success calls. This can be either from your customer success team or from the sales rep that sold the particular product or service to that person. The reason why is because at this point in time, there’s probably been some form of a relationship formed with this customer. And so this can be really valuable for you to continue to build rapport with that customer, and then work in that as through a live interaction with the customer.
As opposed to some of the tactics I’ve shared so far, which have been more passive or they’ve been through in-app experiences, this still builds on the human relationship and the ability for you to get a gauge of whether or not this customer is feeling good at that point in time.
When you jump onto these sort of calls, what I recommend you do is you really position around the success of the customer first. Check in on whether or not they’re seeing the sort of outcomes that they’d expect from your business and then from there, make an ask towards the end of that respective call.
You’ll often find that they are more than happy to make these sorts of recommendations because again, it pulls on that reciprocity principle that I told you about earlier in which you’ve just done a big favor of them, making sure that you are all lined on the sort of things that your prioritizing to get them more success for their business. And so naturally they wanna give you success as well for your business.
Recognize and showcase customers more often
The sixth thing that I recommend for getting more referrals from your customers is to recognize and showcase your customers more often. This really builds into the relationship-building side of things. What this means is that in the case where you ever hear about your customer, doing something really impressive, it can be great to either showcase them or even just highlight them on social media and then to just continue to build a positive relationship with that customer.
Over time, you’re gonna naturally be building up your own case studies and you might find it useful to share how that customer heard about your business. And if you work in, for example, in your case study, XYZ customer heard about this from another customer of ours, ABC, well, naturally you’re showing your other customers as well as your prospects when they’re on your website that customers are hearing about your business or service from other customers.
This really shows the network effect for your business and it serves more than one good purpose, which is it not only teaches your customers the behavior, but it also shows your prospects that your customers tend to refer other customers, which is a positive signal for them when they’re getting your services.
Bake it into your contract agreement
And then the seventh tactic that I’d share with you today, when it comes to getting more referrals from your customers, is to bake it into your contract agreement.
This usually works best when you have a really strong relationship with your prospect, and I’ve seen it work, especially in the SaaS world, but essentially what sales reps will work in is they’ll give the customer some sort of a small discount. It might be like a 5% discount in exchange for having a clause added to the contract terms that ask the customer to introduce you to two or three other prospects that might be valuable to your business.
Again, this has been a tactic that I’ve seen most often used with SaaS products and special enterprise-level deals. So that means anything over 10K or more, but it’s something that has worked in the past. So you might be able to try it out for yourself.
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