Share the Love: 5 Tips to Boost Customer Referrals

The concept is simple: You have customers. Your customers have friends. Your customers’ friends probably “walk alike, talk alike.” In fact, they most likely like a lot of the same things — clothing, travel, social causes, Instagram posts, events etc.

You with me? It’s pretty simple. If your customers like your products, then their friends will too!

What do you think of when you hear “word of mouth marketing?” If you just said “social media” to yourself, you’re not alone, but it doesn’t start and end there.

Word of mouth is actually more powerful when it happens in the real world too.

In fact, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association found that two-thirds of all referred purchases come from real world recommendations, vs. one-third that are discovered online. Recommendations made by people are 10 times more powerful than impersonal ones. Need more convincing?

92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.

So why isn’t everyone doing it — and doing it well?  The truth is that “referral marketing” isn’t easy … and it’s so much more than automated referral links and pre-populated spammy messages for your customers to annoy their friends with on their social pages.

graphic

But with a little planning, finding the right customers, and then giving them the tools to make referrals online AND <<drum roll please>> in the REAL WORLD … You will be able to turn your business into the next $1 Billion Brand.

Inspired by the book Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, here are 5 tips to get your customers talking:

  1. Talkers

Find your most authentic voices and actually talk to them. Understand why they love your product and how they talk about it to their friends.

I’m the talker in my friend circle. If I find something and it works, I tell everyone I know — and often who I don’t know — everything I know about it. All of my friends now subscribe to SunBasket, own a VitaMix, have been to Iceland, and wear Allbirds to work.

You don’t have to use discounts or product; things like early-bird access and newsletters often attract people like me who are authentically your most valuable customers and want to learn more or just support your brand. Using these “incentives” makes it easier to collect their contact information, which means you have a more personal way to engage them.

  1. Topics

Using real the feedback you get from real customers makes it easier to engage a larger audience more authentically. Create topics for your Talkers to organically talk about based on the topics they are interested in.

Niyama Sol ambassadors, for example, were asked: “Take a photo of yourself in your favorite place to do yoga on your personal Instagram.” Hundreds of real people shared their story to their friends and the brand saw lift quickly.

  1. Tools

Create an easy format for you and them.

Getting 10 customers to talk and spread the word about your brand to their friends is manageable; 100 customers a little harder; 1,000+ customers and it won’t scale unless you have the right tools in place.

One more time … MAKE IT EASY … You will thank me later.

Don’t complicate it for your customers. Add a sign-up link to your website and automate an invitation to join the ambassador program when a customer makes a purchase. Once they have joined, keep making it easy — give them access to your brand’s story, referral links, and topics to stimulate their storytelling about your brand.

Ensure that they are able to share their unique referral link or code and tell their story quickly on as many platforms as possible without any hassle. This includes social media channels like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and the like.

  1. Taking Part

Great. You have them talking the talk, now you need to show them that you can walk the walk … WITH them.

You want people to purchase your product without having to convince them. So the only way to do this is to make sure you are listening and engaging with your Talkers, and then rewarding them for authentically spreading the love about your product in the real world to their friends.

Make sure you make it easy for your Talkers to talk to you and encourage them to give you feedback. Big retailers like Sephora, Amazon and Nordstrom ask every customer to leave a review.

If they ask a question, you answer.

If they have a suggestion, you listen.

If they had a bad experience, you get a chance to fix it.

  1. Tracking

Understanding the data behind what is working and who is working the best for your brand is important.

You will find that some of the best Talkers don’t feel comfortable sharing a referral link online, but they will talk to anyone who listens in the real world. Or you may find that some of your customers are great content creators with high engagement, but they don’t see themselves as an “influence.”

Reward them & engage with them equally.

These are your “diamonds in the rough.” Love them and hold onto them dearly. They will intrinsically help you attract more people like them and are the best advertising investment you can make.

The biggest headliner you’ve never heard of

Think about your group of friends. There’s usually that one person who always seems to be coming up with something to do — picking the restaurant, finding a new destination, or suggesting the next festival to attend. This is the planner — the one who convinces you to do something you may have no idea how to do and makes sure you have the time of your life doing it. Planners are the most important person to any event organizer, and luckily there is a way for organizers to harness their power and reward them for all of their hard work.

Firefly Music Festival realized the power of these fans and wanted to find a way to make them feel like they were a part of the festival’s planning process as a whole. By harnessing the power of natural planners, Firefly was able to create a robust program of 1,600 fans who became their biggest advocates. Then, using gamification, Firefly challenged these fans to start doing what they do best — round up their fans and make the plans.

stPdTC0s4dTqBrFWjRL3fbTreEx9oZi849hHUu0R.jpeg

In just 90 days, these superfans rounded up over 2,000 of their friends to attend the festival and generated 13 million+ impressions by creating content and sharing their tips for how to experience the festival better.

By creating a “home” for the planners, festival organizers were able to say “thank you” to these valuable fans by making them the headliners — hooking them up with elevated experiences that are generally reserved for the artists and sponsors like backstage passes & VIP camping upgrades.

So next time you’re stressing about finding the big name to bring people to your event, don’t forget about the real headliner: the planner.

Need help identifying them? Ask us!

BREAKING NEWS: Ambassador Programs Drive Results

STUDY SHOWS THAT MORE THAN 80% OF AMBASSADOR SALES ARE TO FIRST TIME BUYERS

MYTH: Ambassador programs cannibalize sales.

FACT: SocialLadder ambassadors sell 80%+ NEW sales for brand partners.

SocialLadder ran a study of two repeat festival partners — Lights All Night, an electronic festival in Dallas, and 515 Alive, a hip-hop festival in Des Moines. Two communities of different fans in different locations with the same results.

Of all sales made by SocialLadder ambassadors for these two festivals, an average of 83.5% were NEW sales, purchased by first-time buyers.

 

48019

515 Alive

A few tips for how your brand can find new buyers:

      1. Build a community of authentic ambassadors

Festivals are always a reunion with friends I consider family. They’ve changed my life and who I am. They’ve taught me the meaning of community!”  –Nikki Breslauer, April Ambassador of the Month

The fan journey is the most important part of the festival experience. When a fan opts into being an ambassador, you want them to feel like they are part of a community that they can relate to and feel special about. Ultimately, they are going to be helping your brand extend its reach to their friends, so make them feel like family. When ambassadors don’t feel like they are promoting alone, their overall experience is reported as being better.

      2. Convert Your Customers

The best ambassadors are people who have already purchased your product — especially early-bird or presale buyers. These are the folks who are already committed to attending your event or who have experienced your brand — which makes them your biggest fans and thus most likely to help you reach new fans (aka their friends & family).

SocialLadder is able to help brand marketers capitalize on this by automating emails to customers encouraging them to personally invite their friends to buy.

      3. Align marketing strategy with ambassador team tasks

63% of marketers interviewed in The Pulse Report: 2019 Industry Trends said that word-of-mouth was an effective strategy, and 49% said that social media — especially Facebook and Instagram — is an effective strategy to drive ticket sales. Aligning your marketing calendar with ambassador tasks is a great way to reduce your paid media spend and get ambassadors to help you spread the word — ultimately boosting your content to their personal following.

     4. Use rewards to motivate your ambassadors

What’s more hype than an exclusive afterparty or VIP tickets to your favorite festival? Using fan experiences like artist passes, free tickets and exclusive merchandise are great ways to boost fan engagement and to say “thank you” to ambassadors for their hard work. Make it easy for fans to promote your brand by providing them with sample social media posts, email messages, images, logos, event descriptions, event hashtags, and any other brand assets that will make it as easy as possible for them to spread the word, and in return earn points to unlock priceless experiences.

     5. Track results

In addition to making it easier for marketing directors to track ambassador activities, SocialLadder’s integration with e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Eventbrite enbles brand marketers to track the overall effectiveness of programs and view data to see which sales are new sales. Understanding what your customers enjoy and how they engage their friends is an important part of the marketer’s journey and an even more important factor in building a long-lasting relationship with your customers.

SocialLadder Featured on Amplify

SocialLadder’s recent partnership with Eventbrite has the potential to make significant changes to the landscape of live music and concert promotion, a development which is not lost on Amplify Media’s founder and executive editor Dave Brooks. His writeup on SocialLadder’s integration with Eventbrite’s third-party API can be found here, or you can read the text below:

Peer-to-peer marketing technology provider SocialLadder has made its technology available as an extension to ticketing platform Eventbrite, integrating “the company’s online ticketing technology with its comprehensive brand ambassador management system,” according to a release.

“Our partnership with Eventbrite means that the world’s largest ecosystem of event organizers can now discover new fans and seamlessly access the power of word-of-mouth marketing to increase tickets sales and drive buzz,” said Raavi Iqbal, CEO and co-founder of SocialLadder.

This is the first on-platform extension for an ambassador marketing program to be built on Eventbrite’s third-party API. The integration allows event organizers to activate peer-to-peer marketing in one click by giving them direct access to SocialLadder’s network of on-demand ambassadors, and enabling attendees to secure tickets where they hear about most events: their friends.

“Eventbrite is focused on helping event organizers sell more tickets, and making the process of buying tickets as easy as possible, regardless of where people discover those events,” said Scott Van Brunt, Head of Partnerships at Eventbrite. “Events are inherently social, and the integration with SocialLadder helps event creators sell out their shows by tapping into the networks of the most influential fans through the power of ambassador programs.”

SocialLadder was founded four years ago to make professional ambassador teams accessible to organizers of events of all types and sizes, and sold millions of dollars of tickets in 2016 for thousands of the world’s most popular events.

“Event fans win with this partnership too – as more organizers turn to SocialLadder, we continue to be the best destination for fans everywhere to get rewarded for promoting the events that they’re actually passionate about,” said Alana Bly, Co-founder of SocialLadder.

How Disco Donnie Presents Generated Millions in Value via Word of Mouth Marketing

Have you ever done something, whether it was listening to a new artist on Spotify or buying some cool kicks, because a friend recommended it?

You’re not alone.

Nowadays, millennials place a greater emphasis on the opinions of others who share similar views and experiences as themselves. According to a study by Nielsen, over 92% of all consumers trust their peers for recommendation above all other forms of advertisement.

ddp-banner-xtra-logos

For this reason, brands have begun integrating strategies that focus more on the impact of influencer (peer-to-peer) marketing via social media and in-person interactions rather than traditional television ads. This marketing strategy, commonly referred to as ‘peer-to-peer marketing,’ has become integral to the success of many brands. While traditional ads are still prevalent, their purpose only encompasses bringing awareness to new products and services. Traditional advertisements don’t drive as much revenue for a brand as they used to because consumers prefer to trust recommendations from friends.

The authenticity and approachability in their communication with peers allows micro-influencers—an influencer with a smaller but more loyal following—to create a ‘people like me’ factor, making them more relatable to a brand’s audience. As they become the new faces of digital marketing, micro-influencers are able to reach a wider audience in ways other forms of advertising such as banner ads simply can’t.

When we see our friends, family members, and even co-workers talking about how great the new features are on the iPhone 7, we are inclined to purchase it ourselves as a way of retaining that sense of connectedness with those around us. SocialLadder, for example, uses this peer marketing technique in its challenges by having micro-influencers share things such as posts, videos or even their favorite memory of an event on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with friends. With this, they are able to bring more attention to an upcoming event and, by extension, the brand promoting the event, leading to more ticket sales.

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 12.04.22 PM

Disco Donnie Presents, one of the leading electronic dance music promotion companies that worked closely with SocialLadder on promotion efforts for Sunset, Sun City and Something Wicked this past year, was able to successfully incorporate peer-to-peermarketing strategies to increase its revenue and presence in the social sphere.

Fans of the company signed up to become ambassadors and helped generate over 28.5 million impressions and sell over 8,900 tickets without offering any discounts. On Instagram alone, ambassadors generated more than 2,000 unique pieces of content that reached 8.25 million people. By having individuals complete challenges—over 18,500 social posts generated by ambassadors on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—Disco Donnie Presents was able to generate millions of additional value in just a few short weeks.

As you can see, micro-influencers are rapidly driving up revenue for brands by acting as their ambassadors and promoting products or services to their friends, family members, and co-workers. Successful brands have thus looked to social media to better connect with their consumer base and drive up overall gross revenue. If a brand hopes to continue its success or drive up its more revenue, it will have to take the necessary steps to ensure it incorporates some level of peer-to-peer marketing in its campaign.

For more marketing tips, click here or subscribe to our blog!

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 4.32.36 PM

Mirayda Martínez is an intern at SocialLadder. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Computer Science at Swarthmore College, as part of the class of 2020, and is a member of the the Swarthmore Track & Field team. She loves going to parks and petting any and all kinds of dogs, as well as rock climbing.