They say to err is human.
No big deal if your error is missing a typo when editing your business cards and having to reprint them. ☎️
Or ordering 20 boxes of paper when you meant to order 2.
But when you’re running an e-commerce startup or small business, some errors can have serious financial ramifications.
One common marketing technique that’s prone to errors is referral marketing.
Don’t get me wrong—an effective (read: error-free) referral marketing program is a surefire way to gain customers and boost sales.
Customers are, after all, four times more likely to buy a product recommended by friends or family.
But if you’re looking to secure some profitable referral buzz, do yourself a favor.
Take a look at the most common referral marketing mistakes we see and how you can successfully avoid potential pitfalls that could cost you both money, time and loss of potential sales — neither of which you likely have to spare.
Selecting Boring Incentives
To develop a successful referral program, you must tempt customers with rewards attractive enough to entice them to take the time to log on to social media and actually refer potential clients to your business.
And without spending a fortune.
One of the biggest referral marketing mistakes we see, is companies (from big businesses to fledgling e-commerce sites) trying to save a buck as they attempt to entice customers with lackluster incentives.
Let’s face it. You’re not going to gain many new prospects offering customers a logoed stress ball or free promotional pen.
How much excitement do you think these bland offerings will elicit?
#SpoilerAlert. Not much.
Do this instead: Give customers what they really want. And be willing to spend some money to do it.
Gilt did this masterfully, developing a comprehensive insider program to encourage referrals.
To appeal to their broad customer base, Gilt didn’t just go with one incentive but instead established a tiered system of rewards including everything from free merchandise to insider access to their best flash sales.
Complicating the #$&! Out of Your Program
You have only seconds to get the details of your referral program across to your visitors.
Some stats to consider:
The average webpage visit lasts less than a minute.
Readers spend between 15 and 20 seconds per individual email.
You don’t have much time to share the details of your program. Between 15 seconds and a minute. Take much longer, and you can almost guarantee a New-Yorker-style “fuggetaboutit” from customers.
The longer your explanation, the less likely your customers will understand and participate in your campaign. In addition, developing a program that’s too complex can also make it look like you’ve got to hide.
Fine print for days leads customers to wonder…am I being played?
And you’re certainly not going to get a customer referral from someone who’s suspicious of your intentions.
Do this instead: Keep. It. Simple.
E-commerce company, Robinhood, kept it simple – and won big-time – as they prepared to launch in 2017.
✅ Their pitch was clear and uncomplicated – $0 commission stock trading.
✅ Their process was streamlined – simply sign up with your email address.
✅ Their intentions were direct – customers only had one option – opt-in.
✅ Their follow-up email was automatic — ensuring customers felt the love. ????
By making it easy for customers to sign up and share their referrals, Robinhood got what they wanted – a bank of potential clients ready and eager to use their product upon launch.
Putting it on Autopilot
Your referral marketing strategy is not something that you can set and forget. ⏰
If you want your program to translate to sales, you need to review, revisit and revamp (if necessary) on a regular basis.
Failing to review your program is one of the biggest mistakes we see. It could mean that you’re tossing money out the window, continuing to fund a referral program that’s not doing much to bring people your way.
Which, basically, means you’re burning cash.
Do this instead: Before you launch your program, develop a follow-up plan for assessing its effectiveness.
One company that got that right is Airbnb.
They established six specific metrics to track the ongoing health of their program.
By setting success measures from the start, Airbnb kept all stakeholders in the loop and ensured everyone was rowing in the same direction.
Pro Tip – Conducting ongoing assessments is decidedly easier if you use a robust referral marketing software to systematically track the health of your program and deliver up-to-date data to you when you need it.
Giving Up Too Soon
You want sales…
And you want them now.
So when you see that a program you launched two weeks ago isn’t bringing in the millions you hoped for, you feel compelled through throw in the towel.
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that results take time.
It doesn’t matter if what marketing strategy you’re implementing. Whether you’re trying email marketing or starting a simple campaign to increase click-through rates, marketing programs need time to bake. Be consistent and tweak your program…but don’t give up.
Do this instead: In order to avoid falling victim to this common mistake, you need to undergo a complete paradigm shift.
Don’t think of your referral marketing efforts as a quick fix that will patch up the holes in your company. Instead, think of it as an ongoing system that will continually feed your company a healthy diet of new customers.
That’s what MailChimp did, fulling investing in this method of marketing and continually reinventing their referral program — with snazzy new incentives.
In the 17 years since MailChimp launched, referral marketing made a major difference.
If MailChimp had given up the first time someone wasn’t as enthusiastic about the prospect of winning a cat hat as they had hoped, none of this would have happened.
With time and effort, though, referral marketing can produce the growth you seek.
It happened for MailChimp.
It can happen for you.
Let’s recap. If you want your referral marketing campaign to live up to its true potential, you MUST NOT:
- Select Boring Incentives.
- Make your referral marketing campaign complicated.
- Put your campaign in autopilot mode.
- Give up too soon!
The devil’s in the details. As long as you pay attention to avoiding the aforementioned mistakes, you’re- more or less, good to go!
For the rest (meaning, building and running your referral marketing campaign), you have our assistance.