#ParrotInspires: How Email Marketing Supports Your Referral Program

Email is the most cost-effective way to keep in touch with your customers and prospects. But it’s not just about sending out a marketing email every now and then—it’s about creating an engagement plan that works for you and your business. Check out our clever approaches to boosting sales on your referral program with email services.

#0 First things first

The first step for any great affiliate or partner strategy starts by using emails as the medium of communication between partners and affiliates/referrers alike, while also incentivizing them both along the way too! This style of “closed loop” communications makes it easier to track performance, and therefore more efficient to manage.

Your referral program should be the “hub” for all communications, as it’s a great place to keep in touch with your partners and affiliates about what they can do together. Think of emails as one way you may want to let them know how their referrals are doing!

The most effective campaigns have email sequences that bring customers through the entire process: from reaching out for information on making a purchase decision up until after they’ve purchased something or participated in an event. The sequence typically starts by introducing who you’re inviting to participate – then provides incentives like discounts or free gifts (which vary depending on your industry). If this is successful, there will be subsequent phases where you might provide additional perks.

#1 Create a sequence of referral emails

Email #0: Introduce your referral program and make the offer

Your first email should consist of some introduction to your referral program and showing its value. Ideally, you should offer a discount or some type of reward to those who sign up.

Hi _______,

How are you? I hope all is well! With summer here (yay!), there’s never a bad time to chat about how we can grow our business together through referrals – one of my favorite topics 🙂 Can you introduce me to someone in your network who might be interested in what we do? We have some great deals right now that would also help them save on their next purchase with us. All they need to do is mention this email and get 20% off any product or service when they become new customers. And if they sign up by September 30th, we’ll give them an additional $100 towards anything from our store!

So, introduce me to someone you know who might want more information about our products or services (or buy something from us) and we’ll hook them up with a great deal. I can’t wait to hear from you – let’s connect soon.

Best,

___________

Want a quicker version? Here it goes.

Hi _______,

Congratulations on reaching one of your goals at work/school! It sounds like that took some time and effort—I’m really proud for you! In return for all this hard work, what would be a better reward than $100 off any product in our store? Just mention my name when signing up by September 30th* so we can give you the $100.

Happy shopping,

___________

*Terms and conditions apply.

Email #1

Follow up with customers who have not yet taken advantage of this great opportunity to share their love for you!

Your next email would be your thank-you for signing up and the introduction to your referral program. This is where you educate them on how it works – what are they going to get in return? A good incentive could be an exclusive coupon codes available only for their referrals. You’ll want this message short so that people can easily pass it on through social media or by word of mouth but long enough for them to see its value.

Email #2

Send a reminder email or two near the end date of your promotion, especially if it is about to expire soon. Good idea? Maybe not so much—people will be less likely to respond when they are already on autopilot…

In your third email, send out rewards! People love getting things fast and if you’re lucky with a large number of new customers referred over time, then they may not need any more incentives beyond receiving their reward (along with the person they referred to).

Email #3

Send a thank you email to your new customers, share something about yourself and show appreciation for their support. This is also where you can include links to other blog posts, products or services that would be of interest to them.

You guessed it—another chance in this last email for an exclusive coupon code! And if anyone has not yet taken advantage of getting 20% off any purchase when referring to someone else? Your offer should still stand after a particular date, too!

This content will only work well as long form content because there are so many steps involved in running an effective referral campaign.

#2 Leverage your email signature to promote the program

If you are getting a lot of emails from your company, be sure to include the referral program in your signature. This will make it easier for people to refer and share their content with others. It’s simple marketing!

If you add links to your referral program in your email signature, you can gain more interest and potential options for collaboration.

#3 Make your referrals feel like a priority

Send info about your referral program to your brand ambassadors.

The more people you can get to advocate for your brand, the better.

Reach out to them with offers and updates about the referral program. You want those supporters of yours to feel like they’re a priority so that they’ll continue giving word-of-mouth referrals.

Your business is competing against every other company in a customer’s inbox daily. So it’s important to make sure this info stands out from all their other emails (think: newsletters, promotions, blog posts). For example? Make it personal by showing some personality! Send an email thanking them for the referral or asking what product worked best for them when referring others!

It doesn’t matter if you forward each recommendation request on as soon as possible – one at a time – or if you batch them together, as long as they’re answered.

#4 Double-check the timing

Timing is everything when it comes to sending your emails. You need to pick the right time and date, otherwise, the open rate of your emails can be terribly low.

However, the best answer to this “When to Send Email” question is: it depends – on your subscribers, your industry, and many other factors.

For example if you are a retail store that sells products for pets such as dog food or grooming tools then “midnight Friday” might be an appropriate hour because pet owners purchase more over the weekend than any other day during the week (according to Experian Consumer Insights from 2017). But if you sell something like jewelry that isn’t often purchased online at midnight on Fridays (or even in the middle of the day for that matter) then you might want to plan your email campaign so it sends at a different time.

If you are in an industry where customers don’t typically buy products online from midnight on Friday, and instead wait until Sunday night when they get home from their weekend activities, then send out your emails during this time frame because people will be more likely to open them. And if many of your clients work nine-to-five jobs, avoid sending any campaigns later than noon on Fridays or early Saturday mornings. These two times are prime moments for catching up with friends and family over coffee after being stuck inside all week rather than checking their inboxes (let alone opening one).

#5 Pick the right email subject line

The most common email titles are short ones. Do you fear that you may not include everything you want to say? Preheader is the place to put it.

Creating short emails is not easy every time, but it’s worth experimenting to see how they perform. Remember that mobile devices can only display a limited number of characters if you contain more than 25-70 characters. Five out of every ten email recipients view their messages on a smartphone.

The end result is that you have an engaged customer base who are empowered because they know what’s going on in their company. Your reward: Loyal customers bring new customers!

Over to you

One of the most effective ways to grow your referral program is through email marketing. Emails help keep customers engaged in the referral process and remind them about opportunities for earning rewards with every new customer who joins their team.

ParrotInsider #10: 4 reasons why you need EarlyParrot if you run a B2B company

Running a B2B business is demanding, there are no doubts about that. In these markets relationships with your clients are very crucial, you have fewer clients than in the B2C market but each of them disposes of quite the sum of money. In other words, it is good to create loyalty and a solid bond with your clients. 

One way to do this is referral marketing and delivering a program to your clients. Is it worth doing so? According to this report, referrals influence more than 90% of B2B decisions. Consider this to be a yes.

Getting started, how does referral marketing work in B2B, and why is it wise for you to sign up for an EarlyParrot account for this? We will tell you!

B2B vs B2C referrals

Before we jump into the sea of referrals’ pros, let’s focus for a while on the differences between B2B and B2C. It is important to know how these two differ.

B2B referralsB2C referrals
AudienceSmallerBigger
Main focusCreating a long time relationship 
Boosting awareness
Staggered purchasing decisions
Sharing knowledge about product and industry
Coming up with new solutions 
Managing risks
Products or services
Short-time purchasing decision
Brands’ USPs and image
Emotions
MediumsBlogs, LinkedIn, FacebookYouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
Types of contentProduct pages
Blog posts
Webinars
Ebooks
Whitepapers
Videos
Social media posts
Apps

As the above tab presents, there are some differences between these two referral types, so even if you run a B2C referral program, you should gain some info about B2B ones. These are not the same. 

One of the main differences between them is the length of purchasing decisions – on the B2C they can take even minutes, and they apply to one person. On the B2B market, such decisions are long, complex processes with various people and stages at different departments involved. 

The next issue here is the main focus of each type. When it comes to B2B referral, they aim to build a bond and share knowledge about products, so clients come back to them to get some more. With B2B referrals, it is also common to manage risks and present new, tailored solutions rather than offer regular products. 

Another big difference between these two is a way of communication. First, we go with the medium, individuals are influenced and use different platforms than business clients, so you should adapt to this habit. Moreover, preferable content types differ too. With business clients, you should focus on longer forms, fulfilled with information and knowledge. To individuals, it is better to send short, casual messages.

Why do you need an EarlyParrot driven referral program?

According to Harvard Business Review, more than 80% of B2B sales start with a referral. This statistic shows that recommendations in business are crucial too. What’s more?

Let’s start from the very beginning. If you want to create a referral program, you should do it with EarlyParrot. The process is very simple and takes up to 15 minutes. Once you get it done and integrate our tool with your daily use apps or tools, you can create the program and benefit from it. OK, but what are the benefits of B2B referrals, though?

#1 You can follow the progress

As you have read above, in the B2B market it is crucial to make your leads high-quality, i.e. make the relationship long-term. Referred customers show 15 times longer LTV than non-referred, this shows how quality they can be. 

EarlyParrot lets you track the referrals – when did they shop for the last time, what did they buy, and who referred them. All the information you need is right at your fingertips with our tool, so you will be able to tailor the communication or do a follow-up if needed in order to make a bond with them. The better designed the messages, the better (and longer) perspectives are in front of you and your customer base. 

#2 You can vary channels

The tab above shows that various content types and mediums need to be used for B2B and B2C referrals to be successful. The good news is that with EarlyParrot you can use various channels from Facebook to WhatsApp. You can even design a Telegram message. What you need to think about is that every social platform has its character limits, so while designing the message keep this fact in mind and do not go all the way. Social media are mostly dedicated to short updates.

Besides, each channel has various demands. For example, if you want to design social media messages you can surely do it by yourself, but when it comes to writing blog posts or ebooks you should have it done for you. It is important for such longer forms to be written by professionals who know how to write interesting and insightful pieces (if you can do it, go for it). Of course, this content has to be fulfilled with industry insights, so you should provide some background in order to make these pieces informative and useful. 

#3 You can make it a useful part of your app portfolio

It is crucial for the new app or tool to be easily integrated with the programs you use on a daily basis. Your apps and tools would be more useful if they were integrated into a coherent whole. EarlyParrot can be integrated with lots of popular tools like 

  • Typeform,
  • Mailchimp,
  • Autopilot, 
  • AWeber,
  • Shopify, 
  • WordPress,
  • Magento,
  • and many more.

Furthermore, the integration process won’t take you long, and you don’t have to be an IT pro or have an IT department to do it. It is very easy, and the tool indicates what to do and what should happen next. 

#4 You can use it both for SaaS companies and eCommerce

We provided two articles about these topics – how EarlyParrot can help SaaS businesses and eCommerce, so we won’t dwell on these topics for long. EarlyParrot can be integrated into both with CMS like WordPress or Joomla and eCommerce providers like Shopify and WooCommerce. 

For both industries, it is a great idea to use referrals, especially if they operate in the B2B market. Creating a loyal customer base and strengthening bonds is profitable for both these industries, no matter what type of products or services they offer.  

Top practises for B2B referral programs

Creating a program is just a first step, to make it useful you have to take care of a few aspects. Here are our tips & tricks on using the whole power of referrals. If you want to learn more about this topic, feel free to visit our blog. You will find there many useful pieces regarding referral marketing and more. But now, let’s get back to the topic – B2B referral best practices. 

Make the lead form as clear as possible

While a B2B client is trying to sign up, sometimes asking about too much information can scare them off. You do not have to know everything about them. Once they start to be your clients, there will be time to get to know each other better and ask for more details. 

What such a form should include:

  • Referrer name/company’s name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Lead/company name 

This is it. The above information is the most crucial and needed to start operation. Everything beyond that is unnecessary and can wait. 

Keep terms and conditions simple

For every B2B client, it is crucial to get to know all terms and conditions of the cooperation. An individual simply clicking “I agree” without opening the file is a very common situation, but with B2B clients it is completely different. Be aware that while B2B referrals, there may be some questions, and you need to face them. 

To limit them, you should first provide the “Terms and conditions” file in a visible way and make it easy to download. Moreover, it should be done in a simple and informative language. If any questions occur, you should also provide a way to address them.

Inform your loyal customers

If you are about to start your first referral program, you have to make some noise about it. Before you launch a referral campaign, you should send emails to your regular customers (all you have to do is to choose the right EarlyParrot template) to let them convince their business partners or industry colleagues that your offer is the best. In the B2B market, where much money is at the stage, time matters a lot. Nobody will decide spontaneously about issues that may cost the company thousands or millions of dollars. 

Also, from the referrers’ perspective, they need time to think whether it would be profitable for them (and you need time to convince them that it surely would be). As a recap, what is very important when it comes to cooperation between business partners is time, and you should keep this in mind. 

Make it personal

In the B2B market, you don’t have as many clients as in the B2C, so it would be easier to personalize the experience. Make the referral client feel special. Besides the personalized communication that is a must nowadays, you should make a special offer just for them. Every business has different needs, and it is your job to meet them. 

By personalizing their referral experience, you show them that it was the right decision to choose your company, and you are worth the recommendation, so they would recommend you, too. It is a simple way to broaden your customer base and improve your brand image.

Conclusion

Partnering with B2B clients through referral marketing is a great way to improve your relationships and company’s image. Without a doubt, thanks to the recommendations of your regular customers, you would be able to expand your customer base and be more recognizable in the industry. 

We hope that thanks to our article, you will find EarlyParrot useful on your referral way and want to explore this world with our tool. Moreover, we are sure that with our few tips you would rock the industry with your referral program.

Make the most of user-generated content

Creating a bond and sense of community among your audience are crucial aspects of your business performance and long-term success. Nowadays, there is fierce competition fighting about customers’ attention, so setting a place in their hearts and minds may be a good strategy. 

There are plenty of marketing strategies that rely on relationships with customers, but there is one that engages the customers the most – user-generated content. Considering that people constantly post stuff on the web, why not take advantage of this habit? They love to brag about new products, so as a brand, you can use these praise posts as user-generated content and promote yourself. How does it work and how to make the most of it? Keep reading!

What is user-generated content?

As the name indicates, it is content created and delivered by your audience and followers. It can be done both by your regular clients and new customers. Such type of content may greatly influence purchasing decisions. It is a proof that your products are used by “real people” not only by e.g. paid influencers. Thanks to user-generated content, your loyal customers can show your prospective customers how to use products or share some tips and general opinions. It really increases trust and awake curiosity about your offer. What exactly is the user-generated content? Here you go:

User generated-content examples:

  • social media posts about your products
  • Instagram or Facebook stories about using your items
  • product reviews on customers social media channels 
  • blog posts on business clients’ websites 
  • webinars about your products or services
  • pictures, videos or texts in the opinion section on the product page

Pros about user-generated content

Why is it worth spending some time and putting in some effort to encourage your customer to make some beautiful photos or record inspiring videos? There are a plethora of reasons, here you can read a few.

Driving a brand desire

People are quite envious by nature, if they see that somebody has a given item they want it too. Such content is a great way to spark this desire and target their purchase decision a bit. By publishing customer content or their positive reviews about you, you prove that it is worth buying your product and trigger potential customers even more to do so.

Sparkling the brand desire is a great way to acquire many new customers and have a chance to bond with them. Making them look forward to your product for a longer time should be your goal. 

Increase trust

When “real people” show that they use your product and talk or write about it, it is great social proof. After all, over 8 out of 10 people admit they trust reviews over advertising, so featuring this content might provide a big helping hand when making a buying decision.

In general, the more content provided by your products’ users, the better. Additionally, to gain trust, you will also increase your brand awareness and stay on top of your potential customers’ minds. But remember that your customers shouldn’t be your only social media creators, it’s your job, too. 

Making you a “brand for people”

Which means it shows that your products are used and helpful while “ordinary” life. Marketing campaigns try to generate needs and demonstrate how to meet them, but all this is done by actors. Authenticity is better than the most creative script. 

Influencers may not be as persuasive as those they know or who belong to the same social group. Referral marketing follows the same rules, it works because it is more down to earth and simply saying is more realistic. 

Now that you know what the user-generated content is and why it is worth using this content creation, it is time to learn some tips on how to make the most of this content strategy. 

User-generated content tips & tricks

How can you boost the benefits of user-generating content? This is a good question, and we have a few answers for you.

#1 Ask both your loyal  and new customers 

If you have a strong bond with your group of customers, you can use it. If you have a group of loyal clients who buy your products regularly, their opinion (almost certainly positive) about them is well-established. Let them speak for themselves. 


You can ask about their opinion after the purchase and encourage them to publish this type of content. It would also be a great idea to mention this possibility during referral communication. If you run such a program (hopefully with EarlyParrot) you can adjust the content of the emails as you wish. Moreover, you can set such a template with our tool. The email can be configured to automatically send when specific conditions are met, so all you have to do is set the right triggers. 

Let’s suppose your regular client refers you to three new ones. If they made a purchase, you can ask about their opinions and encourage them to provide customer reviews. Of course, you can promise them some extra incentives. 

#2 Organize a social media contest

Competition is a great motivator for people, so give them some. Announce on your social channels a contest for the best user content. It could be a pic when your client uses your product or a short video on how to make the most of the given product. The rules are up to you, but they should be clear. You will see that such an idea will meet with positive feedback and people will be more than willing to make some authentic content and win rewards. In order to keep up with these posts, you should create your branded hashtag and follow the fresh content that rolls in.

What is important to say in this case is that consumer-generated content won’t do much if you haven’t taken care of your social media platforms properly. First, you should gather a community and encourage people to click the follow button, then you can rely on custom content. It will work, provided you have an audience and target to influence. Otherwise, these marketing efforts will backfire.

#3 Take care of user experience

You may think how these two aspects are connected, but believe us, there are. If you want your customers to become your content creators, you have to do your best to meet their requirements and needs. 

Make sure your website is easy to use, and items can be easily found. Also, it should be aesthetic – colours, fonts, graphics should be as coherent as possible. It is very important. Over half of the users admit that this aesthetic aspect is the main reason why they do not return to the website. You see, appearance is crucial.  You should also make sure your product is presented well and described correctly, of course, honestly. It would be also nice to offer post-purchase services like the installation or longer warranty. Additionally, customer service counts as such services, so make sure that all emails and social media queries are answered, and if you run a call center, make sure that no phone call is missed. The quality of service matters too, so all messages should be written in a polite and informative way and your agents should be active listeners. 

Speaking of customer service, you should provide some self service methods in this case and upload a knowledge base and FAQ to allow customers to find needed information on their own.

You should deliver brilliant products and even better service, only this way your customer will be willing to deliver you some content with positive reviews. 

# 4 Make the creators stars

People like to be in the spotlight, especially when it comes to becoming an Internet star. Once your customers deliver you the content, you should distribute it the same way you distribute your own materials. Publish it across your platforms and make a story about these pictures or videos. It is a great idea to tell histories about how the pictures were made or why these customers choose your products. There is always a story! 

But first, before you start being a storyteller you should agree with each author on what can be said and every version of history should be read by the creators. After all, stories are about them. 

It is also a great idea to promote this content via social media platform ads. It would catch users attention for sure and allow you to stand out from the crowd of marketing messages. By taking such a step, you can encourage prospective buyers and user-generated content creators to become involved with your company’s community. 

#5 Deliver the tools

You can provide a special graphic template or video creator to make users’ works coherent and easier to do. It will also be a curiosity trigger to check how it works and what will be the final results. Tolls of this type enhance customer experience and are just plain fun. This way, you can also decrease the possibility of forgetting a branded hashtag or so. 

Helping your community to create and share their experience puts you in a very good place and creates a good association with your brand. It deserves to be remembered!

Delivering your customers some tools may also decrease a reluctance and fear of not knowing how to do it. Thanks to providing them with resources, you meet them halfway and make this situation kind of win-win. As a result, they win because they receive tools, and you win as a result of receiving user-generated content.

Let them create!

This content strategy doesn’t demand much effort from your side. For starters,  you have to encourage people to be creative and deliver you great content. 

We hope that we have encouraged you to use the whole power of UGC. It is  a really great support for your marketing campaigns and support of social media presence. Remember one thing! Even if you flooded your social media account with UGC, you should also publish your branded content and show the “behind the scenes” of creating your products or publish some industry news. Make your social platforms interesting, so people want to be published on it. 

What is brand awareness?

Brand awareness has been a hot topic lately, since it may be a key factor of your business popularity and as a result a booster for your performance. It is halfway to reaching your target audience and staying in their mind for longer. If you want your brand awareness campaigns to be successful, you should understand what makes a brand unique and then create campaigns that convey this information. As part of your marketing strategy, you should aim to increase awareness of your brand. 

In this article, you will find a brand awareness breakdown; what the brand is and what the brand awareness stands for. We will also share a few tips on how to boost it at low cost. 

What the brand is?

What sticks in people’s minds is the brand. It is a combination of the name, logo, marketing slogan, packages and USPs which makes a perfect mixture of your business recognition.

Brand is how people see your company and what comes to their minds when they hear or see your products or name. It indicates the emotions or memories associated with your business. Every single brand has ties with various feelings, ideas or memories which make them all special and unique. 

For example, let’s take a closer look at the Starbucks brand. What is your first association with this name? Its logo or characteristic coffee shop design? Maybe your favourite beverage, or your last meeting with friends, sipping Starbucks Frappuccino? This is how  that so-called brand magic works. It brings all connections to the top of your mind and builds a company image in your head. 

Brand awareness – crucial aspects 

Let’s focus on brand awareness, now. What is it and how does it work in practice, beyond all that theory?

What is brand awareness?

Customers’ awareness of a particular brand is measured by their ability to recognize it. It plays a crucial role during making the purchase decision. Both your regular and potential customers should recognize the brand and products to go through the marketing funnel successfully. Your awareness efforts should lead to an expanded group of potential customers who are able to tell what your brand is and what product category you offer.  

Strong brand awareness contributes to immediate brand recall, which is the ability to point to the name when a given product category is mentioned. In practise, it is when your customer base needs a product from your field, your brand comes to their mind first. As a result, they search for the product on your site and make a purchase. This is how consumer awareness generates income.

There is also another type of brand awareness: an aided awareness. It happens when customers recognize your brand among others in a specific field. It is also very helpful and a good place to begin. 

Why is brand awareness important?

It can be your business’s “be or not to be”, especially in a competitive market. It is essential to your target market to know you and come to you before competitors. So, just briefly – why should you care about brand awareness? 

  • It increases sales, engagement rate and conversion rates.
  • It is helpful in identifying your brand’s level of recognition.
  • It boosts consumer engagement and thus customer satisfaction. 
  • It supports your marketing efforts, as the campaigns of known and recognizable brands have a higher ROI  than the ones of unknown brands.
  • It supports building loyalty among your customers. 

These are only a few reasons why brand awareness is so crucial for your business. 

Brand awareness vs. brand recognition 

Let’s keep it simple and straight to the point since many people mistake both terms with each other. Yet, they actually complement each other. Brand awareness is not possible without brand recognition, and vice versa. How do they differ, then? 

  • The first corresponds to knowing what your brand is, and in which field it operates. Strong brand awareness leads to becoming a top brand in customer minds. It is about your search engines optimization, marketing communication and overall presence. 
  • Brand recognition is about more tangible aspects of your brand like logo, names, set of colours. It is about making your brand inherent with these factors. For example, when you see blue and yellow, probably your first association is IKEA. Although this Swedish giant is not the only one using these two colours, their brand reposition is so strong that it outclasses others. Research shows that using significant colours may boost brand recognition even up to 80%, and IKEA is a living proof. 

Can you see how they are connected? Nevertheless, it is good to see the difference between them and know how to improve both of them. 

What is branding? 

In terms of brand awareness, there is one more box to open: branding. It is the process of shaping the way your brand is recognized by the target audience. Proper branding helps people link their needs to your products as a way of meeting them. You can tailor their perception by marketing communication and channels you use. Depending on the type of branding you have selected, your marketing tactics may differ. 

For example, the branding of Coca-Cola makes the beverages a good companion while family dinner or meeting with friends. Recent marketing efforts suggest that it also supports being and expressing yourself while living a full life.

https://www.coca-cola.com/

As a contrary, Cartier built its brand as one “available not for everyone”. Brands with this history and tradition are for people who aim to live by these values and need a bit of luxury.

https://www.cartier.com/en

Top way to boost your brand awareness ASAP

To increase your brand awareness, you should focus on your customer engagement and building bonds with them. We have some ideas on how to do so. 

#1 Referral programs

It is one of the best ways to establish a long-term relationship with your loyal customers. In a referral program, your customers get a referral link or code, they share it with their friends via e.g., social media posts. Each of the client’s followers who come to your website and provide a desired action will receive a reward. Furthermore, the referrer can receive one, too, in this matter rules are up to you. There is also a flexibility of what you should offer as incentive. 

With word-of-mouth marketing you will be able to expand awareness of your company thanks to friends’ recommendations, people will be more willing to trust in them. More than 80% of recipients trust referrals more than any other types of marketing. This number speaks for itself, it is worth running a program. 

If you want to try, sign up for an EarlyParrot demo and learn more about our referral software. With this one, you can create a program that is well-tailored to your needs in a heartbeat. You should try!

#2 Social media presence

What you publish and how you build your brand in social media is crucial for increasing awareness. Your content should be coherent and reflect your brand mission and vision. It is important to think about the type of content you wish to publish. It should bring value to your audience and be catchy. You can shuffle with various types of content, pics, infographics, short videos and deliver some news from the industry or tips on how to make the most of your products. It would also be a good habit to respond to comments, or at least like them or give them hearts. This way you create a sense of community. People prefer brands that are down to earth and make a bond with their audience. This can be accomplished through social media. 

Additionally, to scheduled posts, you should think about live broadcasts. During such events you will be able to get in touch with your followers, show your product in action or answer some questions. The numbers speak for themselves, by a year, live streaming field has grown by almost 100%. It’s living proof of its effectiveness. 

#3 Affiliate marketing

What about the combination of the two above? Affiliate marketing is quite a one. As with referral marketing, it is all above sharing links, but it is done not by your customer, only by affiliates. You might wonder who they are. There are people who have gathered a bigger audience on their social media, blogs or YouTube channels. They have a big influence on their followers and the content they publish is an opinion-forming one. It is worth cooperating with affiliates from your niche since, similar to referral, it may be a very cost effective option. Also, some people enjoy feeling as if they are stars, so they want to use the same product as their favourite YouTube creator or Instagrammer. 

There are a few major rules when it comes to selecting your affiliates. 

  1. Rule No.1 – don to go too big. If your business is a local one, don’t reach global stars. First, there are small chances to contact them and second of all, their commissions may be too high for a local company. Furthermore, their audience may not coincide with your target perfectly. Local influencers are more than good, then. 
  2. Rule No.2 – before making a final decision, do a decent research. Both in terms of cooperation with a given creator and in terms of their cooperation. It means you shouldn’t work with affiliates that have worked with your competitors. It doesn’t seem trustworthy at all, and people will  trust both for your and the affiliates.
  3. Rule No.3  – set terms and your buffer zone. While doing research, you should also get to know what the commissions are in your field and prepare the offer. Moreover, there should be room to negotiate, but you need to set the buffer. In this way, you won’t be surprised by the other side’s offer and the negotiation will go smoothly.

What is important to add, using all the three suggested strategies you will be ready to profit from the synergy effect. You will be seen on various platforms from various sources and people will remember you. This is how brand awareness is built. 

3, 2, 1… go!

From this article you have learnt something about brand and brand awareness. We showed you what the difference is between brand awareness and brand recognition. Moreover, there are some subtleties about branding. And crème de la crème – three tactics on how to boost brand awareness of your company. If you are interested in this topic and want to learn more, there is a great piece about brand awareness on our blog, yet. Feel free to jump in!

ParrotInsider #9: How can EarlyParrot support your eCommerce platform?

Today, running an eCommerce platform is no easy task. 

Several companies are vying for the same market share. Your main objective should be to stand out and make your business shine, but that’s easier said than done, right?

You probably know that your customers are getting more demanding, and it is your job to meet those demands. In the ever-evolving digital world, providing a great user experience has never been more necessary. Over 90% of consumers are willing to switch companies after only one bad experience. Since this is a very challenging environment, yet if you want to succeed, you must cope with it and remain competitive. 

This may be hard without a proper guidance, so we’ve prepared some tips for you 

6 tips to support your eCommerce performance

In this post we’ll address a list of eCommerce hacks. Here are a few tips on how to maximize your eCommerce efforts. Here’s a secret! The majority of the ideas can be addressed by EarlyParrot. How about we get started?

#1 Get to know your customers better

Before taking any business step, you should establish the type of audience for which your offer is intended. It dictates your company’s whole journey in the future. What is the best place to begin? The target audience of your eCommerce business should be understood in terms of its characteristics, needs, and preferences. By doing so, you will be able to tailor not only the offer, but also the way you communicate and market. 

What is the best way to reach them? You won’t find it as difficult as you thought. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best, so keep asking your audience for what they expect! Give customers a chance to provide feedback on their shopping experience. The market and their preferences change constantly, so follow what are the bestsellers and what your existing customer base is interested in. Customer satisfaction would increase and new potential customers could be targeted with a more tailored offer. 

#2 Reward your clients

It is a given that people enjoy receiving rewards. 

However, you need to find a golden mean here: don’t offer rewards to everyone, because then rewards would seem less enticing. 

As well, you should figure out how to best manage such a system. When you want to reward many clients, then things can get complicated. 

Here’s where EarlyParrot can help.

It would take you minutes to make your own referral program using EarlyParrot. It’s a very straightforward process.

You will be able to recognize your brand ambassadors and reward them accordingly with such a referral campaign. In the meantime, let’s recap how referrals work. In essence, once you have designed your program, you can invite your entire email list and wait for them to join. The individuals who sign up for your program receive their own unique referral link once they become interested in it. After successful referral, both the new client and the referring party may receive rewards. You decide on the rules and referral types, just make sure you explain them clearly to everyone involved. Clearly determine what constitutes a successful referral, such as whether the user has to comply with registration requirements, fill out a shopping cart, and complete the checkout process. Recognition and appreciation of the most active users can also be beneficial. Following them on EarlyParrot will allow you to reward them accordingly.

#3 Keep clients in the loop

In simple terms, it means that you should inform your customer about any upcoming changes, drops, etc. Email marketing is a good solution here, set up a newsletter, let your customer base know what is going on with your brand. If you want to set a default email campaign regarding referrals, you can do it while designing a program with EarlyParrot. You can set up a “Thank you campaign”, “Welcome campaign” and many more. There is a message creator so you can customize them as you wish. Building (and using) your email list may become a game-changer for your eCommerce business, we write about this topic here

Speaking of communication, nowadays, social media platforms are a major channel to stay in touch with your target audience. Probably many of your loyal customers are following you on social media, so it is crucial to be active out there. It is also a way to reach your prospective customers and start their customer journey from the “like” on the Facebook page. Social media is also a perfect place to present product reviews or user-generated content as social proof that people love your items. 9/10 people say that authenticity is a crucial aspect while deciding which brand to support. In order to increase these factors, implement the above tips. 

#4 What about self-service?

As with the brick-and-mortar stores, you can provide a self-service with your online one. We don’t mean the sale process itself since it is self-service already. We talk about post-purchase activities.

To be even more specific, we mean customer service. In these situations, the client is at the mercy of the customer service agent. You can change it. Over 6 out of 10 U.S consumers prefer automated self customer service via mobile apps or websites. It means that it is a very influential factor in the whole customer experience. So how to provide such self-service? Over half of the consumers claims that lack of available information is the main issue while it comes to solving problems on their own. In other words, you should deliver information and let your customers know where to look. As an online retailer, you should provide a FAQ section and knowledge base. These two should be done precisely and involve all questions and issues that may occur. Both sections should also be updated over time. A chatbot is also a good idea, but choosing the right provider and setting it up can take some time. 

Moreover, you can consider your referral and affiliate partners as your customer agents for special tasks! During recommendations they can answer questions and dispel all the doubts. It helps you save time and lower the number of queries for your customer team.

Providing self-service doesn’t mean you should resign from customer service representatives and fire your whole customer support team. There are some issues that couldn’t be solved without a living human being and besides, some people just prefer a personal consultation over looking for the answers on your website. You may also provide an online chat for people who prefer interaction with people but via the internet. This way you will deliver excellent customer service and offer help for all types of your customers. 

#5 Make yourself known

Your eCommerce marketing strategy must include SEO, paid social and Google ads, in addition to a strong customer service policy. The importance of SEO for eCommerce businesses cannot be overstated, especially in such fierce competition. 

Most clients type into the search engine the product they wish to buy, then check the results that appear. Since these users are your potential customers, attracting them to your website is crucial for you. However, how can we do that if everyone in the industry is striving for the same result?

Enhancing SEO is a popular eCommerce marketing strategy. Thus, ensure that you are using content marketing and brand referral links (we already mentioned that EarlyParrot makes it easy). Additionally, you should review your website copy. If you are focusing on search engine optimization, inquire about customer testimonials on Google and have your loyal customers contribute. Online reviews are another form of social proof that establishes your trustworthiness. 

You can also boost your business performance by setting up Google Ads. It is worth trying them since 90% of consumers agree that they can influence their purchase choices. You should have a long lasting impact on the purchase decisions of your customers in order to keep them coming back to your online store. You can help it by using SEO and paid advertising, on top of other solutions we have already mentioned.

#6 Measure and optimize – also with EarlyParrot

Running a business means that you should keep your finger on the pulse constantly especially when it comes to all the most important indicators. This means checking ROI, retention, abandonment rate, etc. 

These factors are all crucial for success. You can track most of the KPIs in your Google Analytics account but if you want to dig deeper e.g. in your referral marketing programs performance, EarlyParrot can do that for you. Due to the comprehensive overview of each of your campaigns, you are able to make necessary adjustments. 

Moreover, always keep in mind this sequence for effective analytics:

  1. Measure
  2. Optimize
  3. Repeat

Will it guarantee the success of your eCommerce business? No, but it will definitely help it stay on track with measurable results. 


Ready to conquer the eCommerce market?

Let’s make a short recap of what we have established so far. In order to provide the highest customer experience and stand out from the crowded market you should:

  1. Recognize the needs and habits of your customers.
  2. Be in touch with them.
  3. Customer service should be available in many forms so that everyone can find something to suit their needs.
  4. Be visible in the search engine.
  5. Optimize your marketing and sales actions.

Once you cover these aspects you will see the difference and your customer will recognize and appreciate it too.

Fingers crossed for your online business!

#ParrotInspires: Types of referrals

If you are familiar with our blog, then you will already know that referral marketing is a great way to acquire new clients and make the process cost-effective. If your program is a success, customers will refer your brand and products to their friends or family, and your brand awareness will increase.

From the point of view of the referred parties, the variety of referral processes has already been mentioned in our guide on how to start referral marketing. But there is more to discover!

In this article, you will find the most popular and commonly used types of referrals. Our goal is to point out the differences and suggest who would benefit most from them. Shall we begin?

Types of referrals – a quick breakdown

There are many types of recommendations that you can implement in your referral program. They are categorized as follows:

  1. Referral sources
  2. Method of communication
  3. Medium of communication

We classify the types of referrals this way, but you could create your own system. Each of them is briefly described below. It is important to mention that you can mix up the types that you provide, as no rule says you have to stick to just one!

Referral sources

In this category, you will find three referral types. It is worth noting that these referral types are very popular among B2B referrals. Let’s start with reputation based referrals. 

  1. Reputation based referrals

These referrals are for brands that are well-known. This is primarily based on the assumption that your products are already established and well-received. Typically, these referral types are handled by large companies that have been on the market for years, have loyal customers, and even their “typical” recipients have no problem being associated with their names, logos, or products.

Those who want to take advantage of this referral type should focus on building strong relationships with recipients and raising awareness of their brands. Marketing activities should be differentiated between individual markets rather than homogenized by global companies.

  1. Experience-based referrals

Many people associate “referral marketing” with recommendations of this type. Referrals in this case are not derived from the reputation of the company, but from direct experiences related to it. People who suggest using products or services base their recommendations on their own experiences. The important point is that in this case (as in most), customers are not the only ones who can make referrals. Products could be recommended by employees or employee referral programs. Even business partners may refer you to others for cooperation. As a result of their credibility and the use of products by trusted individuals, experience-based referrals are very effective. To gain loyal customers, it is crucial to establish lasting relationships and deliver a good user experience. 

Experience-based referrals are for brands that deliver the highest quality and provide faultless service.

  1. Specialized-based referral

The last type of referrals are based on specialities. In this case, the referrer knows in which niche you operate but they still have a general lack of knowledge about your reputation and most likely they are not your permanent customers. Such referrals are based on what they have heard from others. It is important to show why the recommendations make sense at this level and show no dissonance to any of the referrers.

It is worth mentioning that if you operate on the B2B market and are searching for such a recommendation, there is no point in only focusing on one type of referral. You should do your best to invest resources in delivering all three. 

Method of communication and trigger

The following category discusses types of referrals according to the way they encourage potential customers to join. First come direct referrals.

  1. Direct referrals

The principles of direct referral programs are very simple, and moreover they are very effective. This type of referral is very similar to the aforementioned experience-based ones. So what’s the point, then? 

With this type of referral, your current customers refer your business to their friends or family because they are familiar and satisfied with it and want their close ones to benefit from your products. More than 90% of consumers believe in referrals from people they know. Let’s say that some random influencer recommends a shampoo from brand X on their social media, while at the same time your friend tells you that the shampoo from brand Y is the best and makes your hair look exactly like shown in their ad. It is very likely that you choose the latter because you trust your friends more than influencers. They are your close ones for a reason after all.

With direct referrals, you ask your regular client to recommend your brand by offering them incentives. Once they meet the requirements, both they and their referees may receive rewards.

  1. Implied referrals

Referrals of this type are often overlooked, which is a mistake because they can bring a lot of profits. In short, what do implied referrals rely on? They are about showcasing your brand but without intrusive promotion. You have to let people know that you are present on the market. A good way would be, for instance, to sponsor a charity event. No one wants to detract attention from the main goal, which is why sponsors are just in the background. However, you will be remembered by the participants, and maybe the event organizer will recommend you too. It is worth presenting yourself in an unobvious manner. 

An example of a budget version of implied referrals is to assume you run a florist service and start cooperating with a wedding planner. You can make an agreement that the planner shows your portfolio to future brides and grooms in order to make subtle recommendations this way. 

This referral type may be useful for newbies on the market to make some noise about their brand, but on the other hand, if you want to make a name for yourself through sponsorships then it will require a decent amount of money. 

  1. Tangible referrals

Now let’s talk about tangible referrals. The word “tangible” refers to the fact that you should provide value to your customers so they can pass it to referees. This is a method that can not be overused though, because then it loses the sense of uniqueness that makes clients feel special.

Basically, this type of referral is for brands that have been around for a while and have the option to choose the most active customers to pass along extras to. 

  1. Community referrals

Last but not least, community referrals. There are many non-profit organizations that would appreciate your help. Supporting their jobs is one of the best types of help you can provide. You could offer a percentage of your weekly sales or deals such as “If you buy products from category X, we will donate 10% of your purchase to non-profit organization Y”.  As a result of whatever sales are generated, your community partner will be motivated to talk about and refer your organization to their constituents. It is a win-win situation. 

This method requires sources and customers who are willing to shop for this type of partnership to be possible, so if you have been on the market for a while then this approach could be for you.

Medium of communication

Now it is high time to cover mediums. Referrals can be shared via many platforms, so let’s focus on the most popular ones.

  1. Social media

Social media comes first since it is estimated that we will spend over 6 years of our lives scrolling through these platforms. They are a big part of our lives nowadays. If you want to use the full power of social media marketing, you should focus on referrals too. This method is often used when your clients want to share their referral codes or links with their friends. They can be very powerful messages, but it is you who should design them. You can do so with a little help from referral program software. With EarlyParrot you can design the communication while creating your referral program. You have various platforms and messengers to choose from, so you just have to focus on delivering valuable content that will grab the attention of your clients’ followers. 

Social media referrals can bring you many new customers since people spend so much time on these platforma. Why not use this habit to your advantage?

source 

  1. Email

Your email marketing strategy ought to involve referral communication. You should invite each of your new customers to join your program and remind your client base about it from time to time.

Referral emails need to be clear and deliver the essence of your program. They should indicate how to sign up and what rewards are available to be earned. You can read more about this topic here.

  1. SMS

It takes a bit of effort and also sensitivity to use this communication channel. You can not overuse text messaging because your customers may feel trapped if you do. Your messages shouldn’t be sent too often, so it is better just to use this channel as a reminder from time to time rather than your main way to keep customers in the loop. 

SMS messages are a good way to remind that, e.g., only one referral has to be successful in order for a reward to be given out. If customers give their consent for it, you can also remind your current client base about your program. But as we mentioned, sometimes enough can be enough. Consider how annoying it would be if your phone rang every day with the same message about referrals. Terrible!

To recap 

You may feel overwhelmed by the various types of referrals presented above, but don’t be. These lists give you the opportunity to vary referral co-operations and make your programs more attractive to their potential participants.

There is no need to use all of the different types, but rather choose the one that will work best for your business and fit your industry well. You know your environment and customers best, so you know what will grab their attention most. This is just encouragement to try and show you all the possibilities!

6 strategies to boost your ROI

There are multiple measures and indicators to pay attention to if you run a business. Monitoring its performance requires keeping your finger on the pulse constantly. You have to cover such topics as sales campaign results, a marketing strategy, and the activity of your target audience, etc. One of the most important indicators is ROI, i.e. return on investment. What is it and how to improve it? We are here to tell you. 

The first part of the article provides some basic knowledge about return on investment, its essence, and why it is so crucial. In the next section, you will find some tips for boosting your ROI and keeping it that way. Let’s dive in!

What does ROI mean?

Return on investment indicates the efficiency or profitability of your investment. Efficiency is compared among a number of investment options. ROI attempts to determine how much a particular undertaking has returned relative to its cost. The formula looks as follows:

Simply put, tracking ROI helps you to recognize what pays off for your business. Let’s suppose you invested in several content marketing campaigns. Thanks to following the ROI measure, you will be able to check which one suits your target audience best and brings you more customers at lower costs. You don’t have to buy any advanced analytics tool to check the numbers; all you need is a Google Analytics account and you will find all the necessary information there.  

Why is it important to keep your ROI high? The higher the measure is, the less money you are wasting, i.e. your investment is paying off. As a business owner, you probably know that staking money in the wrong investments won’t bring profit, so you should put your resources into investments with strong returns and reduce costs wherever possible.

Boosting ROI: our tips & tricks

#1 Create bonds with your customers

There are no marketing budgets for building customer relationships specifically, but there are ones for referral or loyalty programs. The former allows you to increase conversion rates and CLV at very low costs. Referred customers’ lifetime values can be even 16% higher compared to non-referred ones. It provides a great opportunity to focus on your customer satisfaction and take care of them so that they stay with you for longer. How does a referral program work? Similar to loyalty ones. Your existing clients get rewards in exchange for you acquiring potential new customers. Each of your clients receives a link to share with a group of friends, and every time the referee performs a desired action like registering for a newsletter or purchasing, both parties (or just one, it depends on you) can earn rewards! Referral marketing may be very profitable for your business since it can bring you new customers just for the cost of giving them a discount or free items. Want to give it a try? Register at EarlyParrot and create your program in a flash!

The same rules apply to loyalty programs, but here your customers can, for example, collect stamps and receive a 50% discount after collecting 10 of them. This is one of the most effective strategies for building strong and long-term bonds with your current clients. It is a popular way to do so too, as an Accenture report shows that 90% of brands have a loyalty program or some other form of customer engagement (referrals count here too!).

#2 Reduce abandoned carts

Easier said than done, right? But it isn’t impossible to reduce this number to as low as possible. How to do so? We are here to tell you. First of all, analyze the moment of abandonment, whether it happened at the payment stage or when selecting delivery methods. If so, analyze the options you offer. It is always a good idea to offer more than fewer so that people can choose what they are more comfortable with.

Furthermore, pay attention to your website structure, if users can seamlessly switch between various pages, how the search engine works, and if it is generally bug-free. Your site is one of your marketing channels, too. You can think of it as your company’s business card, so it should run as smoothly as possible. Perhaps a client is still considering a product because there is not enough information about it? You have to be sure that the description includes EVERYTHING that may be in the interest of your clients – sizes, colors, compositions, etc. This is a good place to highlight customer reviews and some user-generated content too, so if your customers send in some pictures with their product reviews then use them! They can be game-changers for indecisive clients. 

If a customer simply put items into their basket and left them unpaid for, remind them about stuff waiting in their cart. You can use SMS marketing or even send an email. No matter which marketing channel you use, be polite and make the message encouraging. Moreover, do not send such info straight after the client left your website. Wait a day or two, so that you do not overwhelm them. You can use marketing automation tools to plan such actions, and you can read more about automatization below. 

#3 Focus on conversions 

Conversion rate is very closely related to ROI. Simply put, the higher your conversion rate is, the greater the chances of improving your ROI. Why are conversions so important in this regard? Well, it depends on what you mean by conversion. Let’s say you invest in social media marketing and set up Facebook ads, then every time users click on them and purchase from your store your conversion rate is boosted and so is your ROI. In other words, the return on your Facebook ads investment increases. 

So, how to achieve marketing goals like having a high conversion rate? Let’s stay with the example of social media; your marketing efforts will pay off when you focus on what you publish. Ads are a great option, but social networks are mostly about your feed and what you publish, so concentrate on that. Thanks to social media channels, you can build a community and strengthen bonds with your customers. This will also affect your marketing ROI. Establish your own hashtags, encourage your followers to post about your brands, highlight customers reviews on your profile, and reward user-generated content. The latter provides social proof that your product works and is worth a client’s money. Such aspects are crucial for potential first-time buyers and can be the final trigger to purchase. 

#4 Automate your processes

By automating your processes, you can make them more efficient and improve your workflow significantly. There are lots of tools supporting this aspect. Email and social media marketing autoresponders are the most popular, but you can automate basically every part of your strategy – from the very first step of the marketing funnel until you send a “Thank You” email. 

For example, suppose we have encouraged you to implement referral marketing with EarlyParrot. In this case, you can design templates of your default emails and allow the tool to communicate with your clients on your behalf. Our tool can say “congratulations” when they earn a reward or “welcome” to new referred customers. It makes communication quicker and more efficient. Such processes handle repetitive actions for you and allow you to focus on more crucial aspects.

Keep in mind that investing in digital marketing should go hand in hand with automation tools if you are to make the most of it.

#5 Implement testing

Efficiency demands testing, so provide it! If you want to stay up-to-date with what is going on with your strategy and whether there is progress or not, you should follow KPIs and check out alternatives! It can always be better, so it’s worth trying. 

How to check what would work best for your business? Web analytics and A/B testing comes in handy. It is a way of comparing various marketing methods or elements and checking which one works better for your business. Through this approach, you will be able to identify the weak points of your strategy and come up with something different! How to run such tests? Because it’s not rocket science, you won’t need to hire a team of specialists to manage it. Depending on the market you operate in, the niche you’ve selected, and a few more aspects, the complexity and direction of your tests may be different, but here are a few things you might want to consider:

  • landing page copy
  • CTAs
  • headlines
  • graphics
  • fonts
  • website layout 
  • links
  • colors
  • website architecture and navigation

Checking the above elements will give you a big advantage over your competitors and make you stand out. When testing, don’t check too many different elements simultaneously, as this will make it impossible to determine which one caused specific changes. 

Once you recognize what works the best for your enterprise, you will be able to increase your income and so your ROI will rise too. 

#6 Use various platforms

To increase earnings and thus take care of your ROI, you should be in touch with your audience around the clock and try to stay in their minds as long as you can. As we mentioned at the very beginning of this article, communication and bonds with your customers are very important. The same rules apply to awareness; you need to stay at the forefront of their minds. For this to happen, you should be present on a variety of channels and not focus only on one method of communication. Use social media, emails, chats, and IVRs. In order to satisfy your customers’ needs and remain in their minds, you must work from all angles.

To be clear, we are not discussing marketing alone here but the overall performance of your business. Take care of the user experience, customer service, and post-purchase services, etc. Be present at industry events and let people get to know you better there. Differ your distribution channels and put yourself out there. The key is to focus on delivering high quality via various channels and be open. This way, you will maximize your chances of higher income. 

Start increasing your ROI now!

Making your ROI high is not the simplest task, but it might not be as hard as you think it is if you focus on the goal. And it is almost a piece of cake if you follow our tips! 

Increasing your ROI means increasing your income, but you shouldn’t put the money aspect first all the time. What or rather who should come first are your customers, both existing and potential ones. That is because happy customers are the ones who spend the most money on your items. Keep them satisfied in the first place so that you can meet their needs and deliver high-quality services. Increasing your return on investment will follow as a result.

Social media marketing and referral marketing – a power couple?

Marketers are constantly seeking new and unique promotional ways to boost the performance of the businesses they work for. Usually, the key is to attract as many people as possible in order to acquire new customers. There are numerous marketing methods, but not all of them are effective. 

In this article, we will share with you our perfect recipe for gaining new customers quickly. The perfect duo which will give a new meaning to your marketing strategy is here. All you need is a strong social media presence and a good referral program. You will be surprised how well these two go hand-in-hand together and can change your business forever.

Let’s jump in!

What is social media marketing?

We hear the term ‘social media marketing’ a lot, right? But what exactly is it? It might seem pretty obvious, but it is actually a lot more complex than it may seem. In short, social media marketing refers to the use of social media platforms and websites to promote products and/or services as well as brands, movements, events, people, and much more. 

Nowadays, social media marketing plays an important role in digital advertising as it involves encouraging various audiences to engage with brands and perform specific actions. Companies that want to promote their businesses will usually advertise their activities on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and now also TikTok, just to name a few examples. 

The importance of social media

Let’s look at some of the key statistics regarding social media for this year:

  • Facebook is the most commonly used social media platform worldwide.

Most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2021, ranked by number of active users (source).

  • On average, people spend 2 hours, 25 minutes on social media every day

source

source

Social media marketing is a powerful tool, there is no doubt about that. Now that you are familiar with how much various platforms can do, let’s focus on the key pros and cons of social media marketing.

Good or bad ?

Like with everything, there are good and bad sides of social media. It is important, however, that you try to keep a balance between the advantages and disadvantages. Do not only think about the pros and forget the cons, but also make sure you do not focus solely on that latter and end up not even giving social media marketing a try. Find your golden mean and use social media to its full potential.

Pros:

  • low cost and high effectiveness 

You can post content on social media platforms pretty much for free. If your content is interesting and people engage with it repeatedly, it will get many impressions that could lead to a high conversion rate and new leads. 

  • huge audience potential 

With so many social media users worldwide, there undoubtedly will always be people who will want to follow you and view your content. You never know who will become your new customer, so why not give it a try?

  • more than a marketing medium

Social media platforms are not just about generating profit. They allow companies to explore their target audience, reach new people, monitor competitors, stay visible, and much more.

  • allows you to initiate discussions and engage with brands 

When you run social media profiles as a business, you give your customers the chance to reach and engage with you away from your website. This contributes to building greater brand awareness and customer loyalty.

  • gives access to plenty of data to analyze

There are plenty of analytics and reporting tools out there that will help you measure the effectiveness of your social media campaigns. You may want to track so-called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as likes, impressions, views, link clicks, website visits, shares, and comments. All of these will enable you to carefully evaluate your performance to see if social media is for you.

  • allows you to be more visible online (SEO)

The more content you create, the higher your company will appear in search results. Make sure your content is loaded with the right keywords and essential hashtags. Make it as simple as possible for people to find and reach out to you.

  • contributes to building loyalty and makes referrals easy

When brands are active on social media and publish content regularly, their brand image automatically improves and they are more likely to be found trustworthy by customers. Moreover, when people can reach you in more than one place, referral marketing and building a customer base gets much easier.

Cons:

  • time-consuming

To create engaging content that will attract potential customers, you need a lot of time. Whether you are trying to build your audience using paid methods or aim at growing your profiles with organic reach, you need time to find the best strategy for your profiles as well as to produce content. Sadly, not every company has the resources for that. 

  • requires commitment and dedication

Just like with time, to make your social media profiles effective you need to really commit to the goal and dedicate yourself. It is all about constantly thinking about how to improve, being creative, and staying focused.  

  • it is a fast moving environment, so trends change quickly

Trends do change very quickly and it’s important for companies to at least try and stay up to date. It is not easy when new features like filters, sounds, hashtags, and other forms of content are popping up out of nowhere all the time, but with the right approach it is doable. 

  • it can not be controlled

People say that once something is uploaded on the Internet, it stays there forever – and that is true. Some companies lack the skills to think before publishing something and then have to deal with a huge wave of hate and often not a small amount of criticism. It is important to think twice before publishing something risky as there is no going back for companies.

  • high engagement does not mean contributions towards ROI

Just because your social media profiles get many likes, shares, and comments, does not mean those people have any intention of becoming your customers. Therefore, all your efforts could be wasted for some meaningless impressions.

  • security and privacy policies may be an issue

Like with everything that is online, social media carries the possibility of data breaches. The more information that is placed on the Internet, the higher the possibility of being the victim of hackers, invasive companies, or malicious interlopers looking to mine your data in ways that break privacy policies.

Let’s take a step back from social media and look at referral marketing for a moment.

What is referral marking?

Referral marketing is all about you and your existing customers. It is a marketing strategy designed to encourage them to become ambassadors of your company and refer it to their networks. Most of the time, there are incentives included in such strategies to drive interest in participation of promotional methods like this.

Referral marketing focuses on word-of-mouth activities and is a way for companies to grow their businesses at very low costs. In case you’re wondering why you should dive into the referral topic, here are some reasons!

Again – good or bad?

Pros:

  • low cost per lead 

It is up to you what to offer your customers in exchange for them referring you to their friends and family. The good news is that you do not have to pay anything to be referred. You could offer something like free samples or discount codes, which many companies do, but it is not absolutely necessary.

  • high conversion rates

92% of consumers trust referrals more than traditional advertising, so this gives you a great opportunity to attract new customers without the need to spend money on other ineffective marketing methods.

  • more profit

Research shows that referred customers tend to spend 16% more money. Now, surely that’s an interesting thing to know? Because it says that the more referred customers you acquire, the more money your company will make. 

  • keeps your current customers happy 

With product samples and discount codes, your customers will love you for allowing them to get something for (almost) free in exchange for doing as little as spreading the word about your company. This will contribute to building brand loyalty and deepening your relationships with customers.

  • increased marketing reach at a low lost 

By using your clients as advocates for your business, referral marketing helps you increase your reach.  

While there are certain situations when traditional advertising is off-limits, there are virtually no limitations on your customers telling others about your company. Expanding your customer base through referrals is also possible since most people have a diverse circle of friends.

  • automation possibilities 

Once you have set up a good referral marketing program, you are pretty much ready to sit back and enjoy the benefits of it in the form of new customers. Referral marketing does not require constant attention and can pretty much take care of itself.

Cons:

  • little control over what type of customers you will attract 

Some people will do anything for freebies and discount codes. With referral marketing, you never know who will join your company and how authentic they will be. It may turn out that your “new” customers are actually existing ones using different email addresses and/or fake names. It is, unfortunately, difficult to spot and monitor behaviour like this.

  • not a lot of price flexibility 

When customers recommend your services and/or products, they keep in mind the specific pricing range that you offer and talk about it with new potential customers. For this reason, it may be difficult for your company to increase prices often as your news customers will most likely want to see the same offers as their family and friends did. If you do not keep your prices the same, it could lead to customer dissatisfaction. 

  • high competition

In order to successfully launch a referral marketing platform, you should analyze the market and make sure you know where the demand is. Otherwise, you may end up launching a referral program that will not bring any success. 

  • you are exposed to criticism 

As your referral marketing platform has the potential to reach a large audience, you’ll  need to be able to handle negative opinions. There will always be people who disagree with you and even take their criticism too far on the internet, regardless of your intentions. You’ll need a thick skin in this industry in order to survive.

  • good software is difficult to find 

Finding a referral marketing platform that will meet your demands and needs can be a lot of hard work. You will need to dedicate your time to searching for the best solution out there.

Like two halves of an apple – social media & referrals

Social media marketing and referral marketing are like a match made in heaven. They have much more in common than you might think. Look at the pros of both of them and connect the dots together: 

  1. With the huge audience potential offered by social media, your referral program has a high chance of reaching a lot of people and bringing new customers to your company.
  1. Both social media marketing and referral programs are low cost and highly effective, giving you a competitive advantage thanks to the possibility to save money on advertising and promoting your business.
  1. Both social media and referral programs contribute to increasing your online visibility and make your company grow faster.
  1. Being active on social media increases your credibility and gives potential customers the courage to try your company for the first time and perhaps become loyal clients. 
  1. Because you are active and engage with your customers on social media in fun ways, as well as offer attractive incentives, your customers will be more than happy to stay with you for longer, which means more profit for you. 
  1. Neither social media or referrals require a lot of time or effort once they are up and running as they are marketing strategies that can be automated. This is an important point because it allows you to save a lot of time and focus on other aspects of your business.

Find out yourself

What do you think, then? At EarlyParrot, we believe that social media and referral marketing are best friends and, when used appropriately, can boost a company’s performance significantly.

If you want to dive into the referral marketing topic, check out our blog. You will find many interesting pieces there on how to start out with and fulfill the whole potential of referrals.

ParrotInsider #8: Organise your online event with EarlyParrot

Online/virtual meetings and events began to spring up like mushrooms as the world moved into remote and online mode. Since we are slowly getting back to “normal”, offline meetings are ready to come back, but that doesn’t mean online events are going to disappear. They have become a convenient way to meet with people, teach, and learn from anywhere in the world. Numerous business events have been held online, and plenty more will be in the future too. 

How to organise such an event and stand out from the crowd of online classes, webinars and virtual meetings? We have some ideas. To begin, let’s define what virtual events are. 

What is an online event?

As the name suggests, it is an event that takes place online. It gathers groups of people who may or may not have paid for an entrance fee in front of their laptops or mobiles to watch a broadcast over the internet. Such events can be hosted on a variety of platforms:

  • dedicated ones like Zoom, LiveWebinar, or ClickMeeting, etc.
  • social media like Instagram or Facebook (mostly live streams)

Moreover there is also the ability to broadcast your e.g. LiveWebinar meeting to Facebook.

Such virtual events could be conferences, online classes, webinars, or private live streams. Furthermore, if we focus on the term event, we can say that business fairs and employee training count too. 

This can all be summed up in the one sentence that a group of people meet online, using their digital devices to speak with and listen to one another. It may be a situation where everybody is allowed to talk and contribute a few words to the conversation, or only an invited expert is given a speaking role. 

One of the biggest advantages of such events is that they are relatively easy to organize. All you need is an electronic device,  an internet connection, and people who wish to participate or attend.

How to organise an online event?

Organising a physical event may involve lots of planning – a venue, guest list, food and drink, invites, the agenda, etc. The process is so much simpler with online events! You do not need to book a venue or choose a caterer. Nevertheless, there are a couple of issues worth discussing, which we will do below.

#1 What is your goal?

Setting goals determines the whole process. Why do you want to organise your event?  To gather a few specialists and let them share the knowledge, to present you business/offer, or promote new products? And an even more important question is what do you want to achieve? Here are some examples of such goals:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Boost lead generation
  • Promote a new product launch
  • Present your brand on the new market

Determining your goal is the first step to organising a blockbuster event! You have probably heard about the SMART rule. It is a very common and simple principle, yet it is proven to work. According to this rule your goal should be:

  • S for Specific – you have to be precise and clear about what you want to achieve (what, when, and who will be involved, etc.)
  • M for Measurable – “how many” or “how much” questions are here to help you, this way it will be easier for you to follow the progress.
  • A for Achievable when setting goals you should keep both feet on the ground, otherwise it could be hard to achieve aims that are too ambitious.
  • R for Relevant – on the other hand, your goals should be meaningful for your business, so they should bring (positive) change.
  • T for Time bound – setting a time frame is crucial for achieving your goals and progress is crucial in order to consider them as achieved.

#2 Select the right type of the online event

Before you start organising, choose the event type. Here is a list of the most popular ones: 

  • Webinars give you the opportunity to network with professionals around the world. By hosting a webinar, you can increase your brand recognition and expand your network in the virtual world. It is also a great way to present yourself as a professional and share your knowledge with others.
  • Virtual conference – large gatherings can be hosted online without the need for costly venues or many staff, and this is the beauty of online events. They are official occasions during which you and the guests can talk about business-related issues and exchange your experience with one another.
  • Live streaming allows you to meet with your audience in real-time, without the need to send loads of invitations in advance. Such events can be more spontaneous and less formal. Also, they are a great way to meet your followers and answer some questions or show them new products.

#3 Choose your fighter i.e. a platform

The software you choose is the online equivalent of a venue, but it is definitely easier to arrange. There are dozens of possibilities out there, you just have to choose your perfect tool. What element should you pay most attention to? For example, audio and video quality should be as high as possible. Moreover, take a glance at pricing options, sometimes one tool’s business plan can cover the same basic features as another’s standard plan. Also, it would be nice to use some advanced features to improve the comfort of the audience and their user experience, so do some research on what is offered and the pricing plans.

There are many popular platforms to choose from, but check out LiveWebinar if you want to offer amazing content directly from your browser (no need to install another app on your laptop). There are four pricing options (custom included), so simply choose the most suitable one for you and move to step four.

#4 Invite the speakers

If you want to invite a few experts, you should ask about their availability in advance. Each of them should be given limited time so they do not drag out the whole event. Of course, each of them should have an extra few minutes after speaking for little Q&A sessions. The guests you invite are making an investment of time to share their knowledge, which could raise audience engagement as well as present your brand as professional and well-positioned on the market. 

As you may have noticed, great speakers increase the quality of virtual events, so it is worth putting in a bit of effort to invite outstanding people from the industry to share their insights. Don’t forget about the formal aspects of such cooperation – contracts, terms, and payments should be covered at the very beginning of the discussion. Be professional about that. 

#5 Set the agenda

After you invite the speakers, you can create the schedule, which will be very helpful for promoting your online summit. All you have to do is to decide on the limited time span that each of your guests will have, then add a few minutes for Q&A sessions, and consider the order that they will speak in. Of course, as an organiser, you should start the event by saying a few words to introduce the guests and explain the reasons why you are all gathered there. If your online event is expected to last for a few hours, short breaks will be required too. 

By planning the schedule, you will be able to deliver your participants clear messages about what is coming and when. This will be useful information for people who can’t (or don’t want to) participate in the whole event. 

Speaking of the agenda, there is one more issue to cover – what time and day of the week is the best to organize an online event? It is clear that weekends are a big no if you are running business training. If you want to plan a hobby related event, like yoga classes or something like that, then the weekend may actually be a good choice though. But let’s get back to the business model – if you have plans to arrange a virtual summit for IT business owners or a webinar about improving skills then you should schedule it on a weekday. Wednesdays are said to be the best days, right in the middle of the week. Mondays are not the right choices because very often, everybody has tons of work to catch up on after the weekend and that may last until Tuesday. Thursdays and Fridays are the second half of the week, during which everybody is looking forward to the weekend and relaxing. So Wednesdays it is, when that is possible.

Now what time is the right time? It depends on the form of your event. If you want to organise workshops for a whole team, it would be great to gather them around their lunch break (11 am to 2 pm, say). This way your audience will be in a good mood and still have a fresh and open mind, ready to learn. If you want to arrange a webinar that people will attend privately, not as an employee of a given business, then early evening around 6 to 7 pm should be good. Also, when you are choosing the perfect date and time, remember about time zones if you are aiming to attract a global audience.

#6 Ready, set, promote!

You’ve got the theoretical plan so now it is time to work! You know who, what, and when so let people know about your event! What should you do first? Use your email list or social media platform to spread the news. Set up a Facebook or LinkedIn event and invite people to a page on which you present an online program, show the agenda and… ask people for help! If you want the potential audience to engage, use referrals! With the right referral marketing tool, you can give each of your participants links thanks to which their invited  friends and/or themselves will receive incentives like a coupon for your store or discount code for your next event. Thanks to referral marketing you will be able to acquire qualified leads, so it is an amazing option for creating bonds with potential clients. All you have to do is to create a referral program, and with EarlyParrot you can in a flash!

First, create an account, then choose your goal, and let the tool do the work for you. It indicates what step is next and what information is required. Once you have created a whole referral program, you can brand referral URLs and spread the news to your whole email list. Moreover, you can encourage the speakers to share referral links so that information about your event reaches a wider audience.

To sum up

Organising an online event can provide your users with a whole new and better user experience. As you will obtain a bundle of new leads, you can prove your expertise in your field and demonstrate your brand’s strong position in your niche. 

Moreover, you will likely rank higher in people’s minds and remain there longer by inviting some famous names to speak at your events.  This will also cause people to associate you with a willingness to share knowledge and experience.

If you want to arrange an online event, keep in mind this article. You can come back to it every time you are planning something new, use it to organise your work, and check what has been completed or what needs to be done before each event. 

Are you ready to conquer the online events market?

#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).

source

#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!