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#ParrotInspires: 8 things to research before launching your referral program

Launching a new referral program always awakens some emotions, but to increase your chances of success you have to be sure to check every aspect before the big day.

A program that is unfinished or littered with bugs won’t bring you many customers. Instead it will send a clear message – since the program is not of the highest quality, your products probably won’t be either. 

Making double or even multiple checks is not a waste of time, it allows you to save time on starting the program again from scratch and also to save face. Hence it is worth spending a few more minutes to check now and not be embarrassed later.

What should you pay attention to? We will provide you with a checklist that you should go through every time you release a new program. Grab a pen and get ready to make a few notes.

Make sure you review this list again before you begin thinking about your next referral program. 

4 things to check before you create a program

There are a few aspects to check before you start designing your program. Thanks to this list of them you will be able to adjust your plan from the start and avoid unnecessary mistakes. Before we cover the foundations of every business venture, i.e. research, we want to point you in the right direction. You should think about what you offer, the quality of it, and whether or not the time, money, and effort invested in your program is likely to pay off.

#1 User experience is crucial

You should analyze whether your offer is simply good enough to become a customer referral before you think about developing one. In case you quickly answer “Of course, it is!”, just hold on for a minute. We believe that you do offer the highest quality of products or services, but your business performance should be flawless. The quality of your products is not the only thing you have to consider, but also think about the customer service you provide, your website’s architecture and responsiveness (the same rules apply to mobile apps), plus the overall level of processes like delivery time and available payment methods, etc. All of them influence the customer experience. Moreover, you should find your USP and highlight it in your communication. Your loyal customer should know how to present your brand to their friends and recommend your products.

Keep in mind that almost 45% of users would tell their friends about a bad user experience, and it is not the type of (un)referral that you want. 

#2 Conduct proper research 

It may seem a little tedious, but this is an obligatory and crucial step to make your program successful. You have to know what your competition is up to. Therefore, take a closer look at their programs, how they work, and what they offer, etc. Focus on their customers and whether they are willing to participate actively in their programs or if they are not interested in them at all. 

Analyzing the rules of your competitors’ programs, rewards, and strategies can be a great benchmark for you. You will be able to check which solutions work for your target audience and which you should rather avoid. Copying competitors’ strategies is obviously not advised, but observing their mistakes is. 

#3 Choose your templates

In marketing, communication with your customers is essential. Therefore, choosing the most suitable and clear template should be your priority. It will be necessary to announce the launch of your program and then later communicate with participants through this method.

The template should correlate with your brand’s visual identification – colors, fonts, and logos, etc. The style you write in also should be your focus. It is not so easy to write a good and catchy referral email, but no worries because you can find a few tips here.

Speaking of communication, you should also design the share message, i.e. the text that will appear when a customer shares their referral link via social media. Catchy, polite, and encouraging is the ideal approach. You should tailor the message to the social media platforms that your potential customers use. 

#4 Decide on the software you use

To automate the process, you should choose a piece of referral marketing software. It should be easy to integrate with the apps you use on a daily basis such as your CRM or email provider. Also, the perfect software should allow you to tailor each aspect of your program as you wish. Good news! EarlyParrot ticks all of the boxes.

It cooperates seamlessly with most of the CRMs like WordPress or Joomla, and moreover if you run an eCommerce store then WooCommerce or Shopify are available too. With our tool, you can tailor each step of your program and automate it. EarlyParrot handles communication on your behalf and has your back when it comes to saying “Thank you!” or congratulating recipients of rewards. Furthermore, you can even tailor and brand referral links. All you need to do is design the messages, customize them, and you’re done!

4 things before you launch the program

Let’s suppose you have created your perfect referral program and covered all of the required steps. Before you click launch, you should be 100% sure that your program is without the smallest flaw. Don’t be hot-headed, take a deep breath and examine the issues below.

#1 Check the technical aspects

They are the engine of your program. If there is a bug in the code or a link directs your clients to a 404 page, then there is no way you can be referred. Why would users recommend something that doesn’t work?

Therefore, double-check each step of the referral process. From the very beginning, i.e. invitation, until the very end, which is receiving the rewards. Review whether or not the appropriate emails arrive and referral links work, etc. If you offer a mobile app, you also need to pay attention to referral actions. The goal of mobile apps is to simplify our lives, so be attentive to them in order to fulfill this objective. You can lose many clients if your program doesn’t work on mobile devices. (p.s. if you don’t have an app then you should consider it –  in 2019, more than 60% of US time spent on digital was using smartphone apps).

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#2 Plan the promotion

Launching a new referral program without proper promotion will not attract many potential customers. That’s because they won’t even be aware of it. To provide a positive experience and higher conversion rates, you have to make some noise about your referral marketing program. You could use content marketing and write a few blog posts about the program or upload a few social media posts. You may also want to send your entire customer base a newsletter ahead of time and invite them to join later. Maybe a sort of early-bird discount code would work? What should you do to promote your referral program? For example, your marketing strategy should include:

  • content marketing – blog posts, social media, landing pages
  • Google and social media ads
  • affiliate and influencer marketing
  • contests for current customers.

To recap, if you want to provide a successful referral program then you have to promote it well and in advance. People have to hear about it and become curious. Catch the attention of your satisfied customers when they are at their most positive point, i.e., right after purchasing. In a “thank you” message, you should mention that your refer-a-friend program is around the corner in order to increase their interest. You can also reveal one or two types of referral rewards. This way, you will be able to gather new participants at very low customer acquisition costs.

#3 Deliver clear messaging

Promotion is crucial to providing a successful referral program, but you should also explain what it is about. When you encourage users to join the referral program, you should also direct them to a page that outlines the details of it; terms of use, the types of referral rewards you offer, and a step-by-step guide on how to sign up and make a successful referral. You should create such a landing page and link to it whenever you mention your refer-a-friend program. 

Additionally, it is important to highlight this page on your website, as active users of your site might find it interesting too. The average customer shouldn’t have any difficulties finding that subpage and understanding what it indicates. You need to use simple language and be specific. Ideally you should provide some graphic or video material on how to sign up and begin the referral process. Remember that such a page is a part of your content marketing strategy, therefore it should be coherent with the other elements. Both text and graphic content should look like a part of your business model; language, colors, internal linking. You should pay attention to detail, as only this way will content marketing work. 

#4 Set tracking tools

So your happy customers start sharing referral codes, your brand awareness increases, you gain new, loyal customers, and everything is going like clockwork. There is one “but” – you have to track your customers’ activity, who shares the highest number of referral codes, and who is the most efficient referrer, etc. This way, you will be able to recognize whether or not your referral rate is increasing, and you can follow that straight from your referral marketing software. With EarlyParrot you can track program metrics from your dashboard. Furthermore, if you prefer to follow links and program performance from your Google Analytics tool, no problem! Use RocketLink to upgrade your links and keep following them via your Google Analytics account. 

Design it and launch it!

As you can see, launching a referral program should be well-planned and thought out. There is no need to rush. Before you start designing your referral campaign you should pay attention to the issues pointed out in the first part of this article:

  • user experience
  • research
  • communication and message templates
  • software

Also remember to look at the points discussed in the second half of this article after launching your referral program:

  • technical matters
  • promotion
  • instructions
  • tracking tools

Once you cover all of these above issues, your referral program will be ready to conquer the market. Go live and profit from it!