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BizReport : Ecommerce : March 05, 2014

Top tips to improve referral strategy

Referral marketing isn't new; it's existed as long as advertising has. However, the online space is pushing deeper engagement for some because of marketers' ability to target and scale campaigns. One expert offers his top tips to improve a referral marketing strategy.

by Kristina Knight

What's new in referral marketing is the breadth, depth, and control advertisers receive through scalable technology.

"Some basic online programs, for example, involve contacting the company via an email or filling out a form backed by a rudimentary or manual business process. Not surprisingly, those programs don't scale," said Matt Roche, CEO Extole. "You can now make referrals a meaningful source of acquisition by being able to easily promote, personalize, and improve a referral campaign using many of the techniques that marketers use for search, display, ratings and reviews, testing, and even merchandising."

Roche suggests that marketers can acquire as much as 40% of their new customers through a referral channel. The key is in the strategy.

"The most important thing to keep in mind is that you're building a new channel leveraging a very powerful tool, your existing customers," said Roche. "It's an acquisition source based on the passion that your everyday customers have for your brand and products. And, it's an iterative process. Assuming your product or brand is appealing, you'll get conversions as soon as you start. The big opportunity though is building the channel in the same way that you built up your search practice, for example."

Why focus on referral marketing? Because of the lifetime value of the customers acquired through referral campaigns - they tend to be more loyal and to have higher lifetime values, says Roche. Referral customers also tend to refer more themselves by advocating for the brands they enjoy.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: advertising, advertising strategy, Extole, referral strategy

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