#ParrotInspires: How to pick the best referral marketing software

Are you about to start referral marketing? It is a very good choice, since providing a referral program allows you to incorporate satisfied customers into your marketing strategy. There is a reason why referrals are often called word of mouth marketing: people talk, and you gain potential customers. Essentially, it helps to increase conversions, revenue, customer retention rates, and many other business-related metrics, making it a helpful tool for any successful business.

The decision to choose the best referral marketing software at the start of your referral marketing journey is essential, as you may struggle without the proper tools. In order to make the best decision, you should consider all the pros and cons of each available option. Ultimately, every business decision must be supported by adequate research and analysis. 

Below you will find a few tips that will certainly help you select the right tool. What features should a good referral software have? Let’s find out!

Referral and affiliate marketing – what is the difference?

Many people get confused when it comes to these two types of marketing, so here is a quick comparison between referral and affiliate marketing to be sure that we are on the same page. It is important to understand the difference, since using affiliate program software for tracking referrals might not be the best idea.


To help clear it up in your head, below you can find the major differences between affiliate marketing and referral marking:

  • Referral marketing relies on happy customers and their relationships, while affiliate programs involve people with significant reach across the internet.
  • Affiliates are usually paid commission, whereas a free product that is typically gifted through a referral program would not be ideal for everyone.
  • An affiliate program is a business arrangement, so you usually need to provide a contract and both sides have to agree on the terms. With a marketing program for referrals, you only have to provide the terms of use and the client should always be able to unsubscribe from it at any time.
  • An affiliate marketing program is more product-oriented. In most cases, affiliates provide a product review or present a service, so affiliate links mostly lead to product pages. Referral marketing can be related to many activities, such as registering on a website or signing up for a newsletter.

There are a lot of similarities between the two types of marketing as well, but let’s focus on the differences for the moment in order to cover the referral marketing topic without any confusion. First, we’ll talk about referral software.

What is referral marketing software?

A referral marketing platform allows you to create a campaign, name it as you wish, and choose your goals for starters. Then you can establish the incentives, their targets for earning them, and design the communication through the channels you prefer. Finally, you can create referral links and invite your customers to join the program. That is how any referral program software works in a nutshell.

Referral campaigns should be analyzed, and there is no need for additional marketing tools if you can monitor performance and referral traffic constantly using referral marketing software. All of the best providers offer such options, so their tools are essential not only for the creation of referral marketing programs but also for monitoring them and optimizing their performance on the go.

Who would benefit from referral marketing?

There is no set list of industries that may profit more or less than others from a referral program. This solution is for everyone – eCommerce platforms, SaaS businesses, and many more. There are also no limits when it comes to market sectors – clothing, households products, car accessories, or computer software, etc. – anything can be recommended through referrals. The only common theme that applies is a desire to have a successful business and gain more customers. 

Referral marketing is an excellent option for starters, since programs can be implemented very cost-effectively. There is no need for a separate marketing team to implement the strategy nor for IT staff to install the software, so they can be done inexpensively by the business itself. The user base does not have to be huge, it will grow by people referring to others. With a successful referral program you can drive more traffic and increase customer lifetime value by up to 25%.

How to choose the best referral marketing software?

Let’s be honest; there is no ready-made checklist for every business. Each company has different needs, audiences, and preferences. However, there are some common points that will help you choose the best option from the wide range of referral marketing tools available today.

Easy integration

Referral marketing solutions should be easy to implement and integrate with all of the apps you already use on a daily basis, like your CRM and email marketing provider. Moreover, the referral platform should be compliant with your landing page, so keep this in mind when searching for your solution. For example, EarlyParrot can be integrated with most of the popular programs and platforms, such as WordPress, Joomla, Magento, and MailChimp. It’s important to remember that the more seamless experience you provide your users, the more likely they are to make successful referrals. Connecting your apps allows you to do this and help your business run like a well-oiled machine.

It would also be a nice bonus if your chosen referral marketing software supported email list building. That way, you would be able to take care of your communication with new and loyal customers. EarlyParrot can do this, of course. 

A wide range of referral rewards

Since incentives are your choice, you can decide whether your customers receive gift cards, free products, or discount coupons, just to name a few possibilities. 

However, there cannot be any limitations in your referral program. An important factor in determining the successfulness of a referral is the type of incentive. 

Users should be encouraged and intrigued enough to share links. It is your job to pick the best possible reward for your target audience. This aspect should offer as much variety as you can so that everyone will find something for themselves. This will support not only your marketing efforts but also improve the sales cycle. 

The types and amounts of referrals are crucial, so your referral software should allow you to set up various kinds. For example, a welcome gift for new clients should be different from a successful referral gift for current customers. Although a referral campaign is very similar to a loyalty program, they are not the same. Offering one type of reward, as loyalty programs do, will not work with customer referrals. You need to vary the types of your referrals and the corresponding rewards otherwise you may not run the most effective marketing campaign.

Time to try 

Most marketing tools offer free trials, and this is the case with referral marketing software as well. You need to try out any tool before you commit to purchasing it. For example, EarlyParrot offers a free demo that you can use as many times as you wish, with the number of campaigns being the only limitation. 

So, when searching for referral tools, you may want to focus on free trials. There are often catchy headlines like 14-day free trial! or first week for free on providers’ websites. Check out their offers and evaluate them. Based on your testing, you will be able to choose which one will be the best match for your referral marketing strategy.

Remember that during such a free trial, you need to test the tool inside out. Take advantage of the trial period! Use a referral widget and try its integrations, for instance, all to make the most of that referral marketing software solution. After you have completed your test, you will be able to choose the one that best suits your business needs, and this will result in greater profits in the future. 

Data safety

There is no need to mention that the security of data is a priority for any online activity. In order to provide an effective referral program, you need to take care of safety first. When choosing software, you have to be sure that all user data is protected. Moreover, referral marketing software should provide you with fraud detection to block suspicious emails or traffic on your marketing channels. If you operate on the EU market then your referral tool must be GDPR compliant too. 

The whole process has to be secure – from clicking a referral link to joining the program. Putting clients’ privacy and security first helps to build up trust and in your business. Nobody will recommend a company to a friend or family member if it is not regarded as being reliable.

Intuitive to use 

Sometimes providers overdo with business language and their design to seem professional, but that may not actually be the case for their service. From your point of view as a user, it is very important to see the next steps clearly and know what you should type into a given text box. 

Using an intuitive tool can help save time by eliminating the need for constant rechecking. 

EarlyParrot is one such tool that provides you with support and suggestions step by step as you develop your program. Additionally, this platform will not let you click the next button until you have entered all the necessary information. Besides that, branding is another one of its great features. All your communication pages and links can be easily customized, and EarlyParrot does not display its own logo anywhere so people will know that your brand is running the referral program. Additionally, you have the opportunity to import your existing customers to the client base and invite them to join your campaign very quickly and easily. You can do this by importing them via CSV and start the marketing process immediately!

EarlyParrot ticks all the boxes! 

This tool may have the solutions to all of your problems. It covers all of the aspects mentioned above and even more below:

  • seamless integration with most popular platforms and programs 
  • a free demo
  • fraud detection and GDPR compliance
  • intuitive and user-friendly dashboard
  • a wide range of referral options
  • support and tips throughout the program creation process
  • …and many more!

Maybe this tool is the one for you?

Choose your referral software!

We hope that by following this short yet comprehensive guide, you will be able to choose the best tool and create a campaign that caters to your customers’ needs. 

No matter if you run an eCommerce business, SaaS enterprise, or you are another service provider, a referral marketing campaign could be a gamechanger for you. But only with the right tools and some knowledge, of course. Our blog has many excellent articles, so take a look if you want to broaden your horizons on this topic!

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