Think about the last time you made a large purchase. Did you immediately hop online to do some research about your options and pricing? Or did you go to a store or call customer service to engage with a salesperson? If you’re like most Americans, you didn’t follow the traditional sales process. That’s because today, customers get through 60% of the sales process by engaging with (and only with) online content, according to a study by Google and CEB.
Part of this could be because people tend to trust their peers through reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations or online influencers more than salespeople or traditional advertising.
Customers Trust Referrals
According to Nielsen’s latest Trust In Advertising report, referrals are the most trusted form of advertising. In fact, 84% of survey respondents said word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family was the most trustworthy source of advertising and 68% of survey respondents indicated that they trust consumer opinions posted online.
These trends suggest referrals are a viable marketing strategy for transaction-based businesses. With the right email marketing strategy and offer in place, retailers have an opportunity to exploit their most engaged subscribers to reach new buyers.
Here are three ways retailers can leverage email marketing to run a successful referral campaign:
Get Data on Your Most Engaged Subscribers
Enhancing your customer database with email intelligence gives you insights about your contacts, including purchase and engagement data. Use these insights to identify the segments of your customer database that will be most responsive to offers, including referral opportunities. This is the portion of your database that may be most likely to participate in a referral marketing program.
Include a Targeted and Compelling Offer
With detailed insights about your target segment, you’ll be able to create personalized messages and offers that will increase conversions and participation in your referral program. The offer must be relevant to your customers and it must be compelling enough for people to engage with and share. One tactic is to include testimonials or reviews about your offer. And ensure your message is clear about the incentives for your customers and the people they refer.
Make Your Offer Shareable
According to the New York Times Customer Insights Group, one of the most common reasons people share something with others is to bring valuable and entertaining content to others. About half say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
To encourage people to tell others about your offer, make sure your content is highly shareable. At the most basic level, include social sharing or referral messages within your email or on your program landing page.
Provide Incentives to Increase Referrals
In addition to making your content valuable and share-worthy, ramp up your referrals by offering more benefits to your customers. For example, a retailer may provide a coupon to a customer who shares content with their social network. Or a hotel chain might offer a free night to a guest who successfully encourages three friends to book a stay. By rewarding this loyalty, you encourage additional referrals.
While technology may have changed a great deal about the sales process, word-of-mouth marketing is still highly effective. By encouraging referrals, you can expand your business into new markets while simultaneously building your reputation.
The more you know about your subscribers, the better you can target them with personalized offers for your referral campaigns. Get all the data you need with a free trial of InstantData!