Biz Tips: How to Combine Referral Marketing with Other Tactics for More Impactful Outreach

Biz Tips: How to Combine Referral Marketing with Other Tactics for More Impactful Outreach

Biz Tip:

How to Combine Referral Marketing with Other Tactics for More Impactful Outreach

The old one-two is one of the first combinations rookie fighters learn when they start boxing. It combines a jab—a fast-but-light strike—with the more powerful, but also slower cross punch. By using them together, boxers can draw their opponents attention to protecting the first strike, while getting enough time to make the more powerful punch.

Marketers who only apply one tactic are like boxers who’re swinging with one hand behind their backs—while the hand their’s using may be very strong, they’ll never be as effective as those who’re able to wield and combine different tactics. In digital marketing, just as in boxing, some tactics are quick and easy to implement but modestly efficient, while others take a lot more effort, but yield great results for the brands that master them.

Most brands today get troves of data from all the interactions they have with their customers through multiple touchpoints—brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, social media, etc. Weaving together channels like loyalty, referral, influencer marketing and others allows you to offer a consistent experience for customers and to build retention loops that help you keep your customer base beyond the initial transaction.

In this article, we look at three examples from companies that have successfully applied the one-two in a marketing environment.

Incentivize referrals through your loyalty program

In a hyper-competitive environment, where switching between brands has become effortless, few companies have a choice whether or not they should run loyalty programs. They provide a valuable opportunity to create long-term customer engagement as members of the program get anchored in sustaining the progress they’ve made.

To take your loyalty program to the next level, consider embedding referrals into it. Birchbox runs on a business model where monthly subscriptions drive customer acquisition, while the company makes most of its money selling full-size products through its website. The loyalty program is the thread that keeps the two groups together and ensures the success of the model.

The loyalty program is structured in a way that rewards customers significantly—standard 10% back, rising to 13% to those who spend at least $300 in a given year. Birchbox customers who invite their friends and relatives are rewarded the equivalent of $5 for each referral.

One thing you should keep an eye on when combining loyalty and referral, is to make sure that the lifetime value (LTV) of a new customer acquired in this way is higher than what you need to spend to win them over. In the example above, the risk that Birchbox loses any money on a customer they spent $5 to acquire is negligible, thus, making their referral program a strong channel for customer acquisition.

The great thing about using referrals in your loyalty program is that it creates a strong virtuous loop. Customers who join on an invitation from a friend are much more likely to refer their friends—they send out 5x more invitations on average—thus creating a scalable engine for customer acquisition.

Turn happy customers into advocates of your brand

Discount and rebate promotions, much like loyalty programs, create a loop that motivates customers to keep coming back to your brand. The moment they’ve completed a purchase, or are claiming a discount or a rebate is an opportunity to turn them into advocates of your brand that you shouldn’t miss. This is a time when customers are feeling excited and happy and are most likely to refer friends.

A recent study commissioned by our partners at Hawk Incentives found that 81% of customers would be willing to engage in additional activities at the moment when they’re redeeming a discount or a rebate. 22% of all respondents said they’d be happy to refer a friend to try the same product or service.

The simplest way to take advantage of this trait is by reminding customers to take advantage of the opportunity immediately after they’ve completed a purchase:

Rebates offer a valuable opportunity to collect data on customers and engage them in a meaningful way. In a world where customer experience is ruling the marketplace, this is an important opportunity that companies shouldn’t ignore.

Empower influencers to promote your brand

Influencer marketing a great way to promote a brand and attract targeted, highly-motivated visitors that turn into long-term customers. eMarketer has found that influencers give close to a 7x return on the investment on average.

However, working with influencers can be expensive and it can be challenging to measure the results from such collaboration. That’s where referral marketing comes to the rescue. It allows you to easily track, recognize, and reward successful advocacy by influencers.

Airbnb used influencer marketing in combination with referrals to boost its international expansion. In China, an endorsement by a local celebrity named Anthony who had 2m followers on popular messaging platform Weibo, drove thousands of new signups and bookings when he posted a referral code on the network.

Using referrals for this kind of campaign, rather than a traditional endorsement deal, makes influencers much more vested in having a productive relationship. For companies, it means they can focus their resources on working with advocates who’re the best fit to drive benefits for the brand.

Deal heavy blows with referral marketing

Weaving referrals throughout all channels that you use to acquire new customers allows you to be much more effective in them. On the one hand, it gives you superior data about the behavior of your audience and where new customers com from. On the other hand, it allows you to reward accordingly those channels and partners who’re most successful in driving business towards you without wasting money on tactics that don’t work.

This is an opportunity for marketers to run programs that are much more efficient—by quickly testing to find the channels with the best ROI for their brands, and quickly readjusting budgets to them when there’s a shift in the market. As we know well from boxing, the most formidable fighters are not those who can hit the hardest, but those who know where to hit.

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