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Q&A: How Do I Get My Customers To Recommend Me To Their Friends?

Author's avatar By Danyl Bosomworth 17 Jun, 2010
Essential Essential topic

Question: How Do I Get My Customers To Recommend Me To Their Friends?

"€œI am interested in learning more about 'Referral Marketing' and wondered if you have any blogs or references on this subject. Essentially, my boss has asked that I e-mail all of my database with a 'Please talk about us' kind of message. I'm not too keen on this as I think it needs to have a bit more substance? Are there examples out there of people doing these types of e-mails? I'm not necessarily talking about incentivising base customers to talk about us, just nudging them to ask them to recommend us. Is that a 'done thing'?"


Just asking people to refer does not work -- after all, why would they? Keep it authentic and treat people as you"€™d wish to be treated, we"€™re all human and it can be annoying if you sense you"€™re being hounded to help a business hit sales targets or "€˜maximise the value of their database"€™ - it"€™s got to be give and take.

  1. Rewarding, inspiring and entertaining people does work in a range of ways. And you have to be really honest how and why you"€™re doing it, and if you're smart also get feedback / ideas at the same time:
  2. Consider attention grabbing "one-off" surveys - give away a Kit-Kat to have with a coffee to say "€œthanks"€ for survey completers (ship globally with a small note). May sound a pain, but make the effort to create good-will and show thanks. What would make you smile?
  3. Building on the above example, ask survey respondents if they"€™d recommend you, if yes create an offer with a mutual benefit - their friend gets £20 voucher and referrer gets £20 voucher, consider a choice of vouchers that you"€™d want, maybe not your brands! (Amazon is great to make it easy and a tax efficient gift)
  4. If you want me to refer, and I have a mutual incentive to answer the "€œWhy should I?"€, please make it really easy to do, the "€œHow do I?"€. Asking for my friends email addresses over email is weird and clumsy. Create a mechanic, it may be a simple form that makes the incentive and process open, honest and also answers important privacy issues showing how the brand would first engage with your friend.
  5. Start a marketing process that builds referral in, essentially you want to avoid being in this situation again - creating an unnatural "€œrefer a friend campaign"€. Gaining a natural referral when somebody is new/happy is way easier through a satisfaction survey or similar post-sale touch-point
  6. Use social networks to engage people in ways that indirectly give you feedback and referral opportunities, it's really important as you're interacting with a fan base that's naturally talking about your product. This public feedback approach is a dimension of referral since it's public praise that others find as they browse. Use appropriate software to capture it (Get Satisfaction is good, User Voice is maybe a little simpler - both have API"€™s to Zen Desk), great tools like that make it simple to share ideas, feedback and build a momentum
  7. The ultimate referral tool, build a community with a myriad of features and functionality that allows me to share ideas in lots of places, I"€™m more likely to do it that way since you"€™ve so many opportunities to create inspiring reasons to do so

Done poorly, refer a friend or member get member is one dimensional, and a little cringe worthy. You have to step back, think and ask the questions: Why would they...; How would they...; When would they... and Where would they...

Author's avatar

By Danyl Bosomworth

Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.

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