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Referral marketing 2021: what works, and what doesn’t?

Referral marketing is a powerful form of marketing that has proven to be very effective for businesses. Referral marketing can work especially well in the 2021 economy, where consumers are more conscious about their spending and want to make sure they’re getting value when they spend on something. This blog post will explore what works and doesn’t with referral marketing so you can get the most bang for your buck!

Affiliate marketing is hotter than ever. With Instagram and Youtubers taking a big slice of the pie, it might feel like referrals are only for the already rich and famous. However, there’s a subtle group of affiliate marketers placing strategic links in their high-volume blog posts. Either through explicitly calling out a product or just linking to it, affiliate marketing is booming without anybody seeing the behind=the-scenes work.

There is, of course, the small ask of getting that post seen by the right audience. So we are talking about referral marketing exploiting SEO. It’s no good writing a blog post and inserting affiliate links. And if you’re not Instagram-famous, search engines remain the largest platform for your blog posts to be read.

Dominic Kent, Founder.

Going the extra mile for subscribers can do a lot for your business. Everytime someone interacts with your company (e.g. via Whatsapp chatbot), they should be left feeling great, even after a complaint. So, being able to fulfil your customer’s needs always results in something good. The main point is that you should always be nice to your loyal consumers, no matter what.

What doesn’t work is not doing anything about something your customers care about. For example, not dealing with their complaints and ignoring their inquiries. By doing these things, you can lose customers and destroy your brand at the same time. No matter how difficult it is, always put your customers first and find a way to deal with their complaints in an understanding and professional way.

Ebnu Sudarso, Co-Founder

Referral marketing has transformations in recent years due to the increase of customer acquisition costs and the decrease price of used customers. Agencies who are looking for a reasonable return on their investment should ideally target new customers, meaning referral marketing will likely become more expensive. Approaches that come out ahead with buying new customers is the use of word-of-mouth advertising, organic exposure within social networks, and active media mix engagement. Ad dos that work well? A single paid placement will normally do better than sustained “word-of-mouth” campaigns – but reliability is questionable for one campaign.

Maciej Biegajewski, LiveWebinar

What would work in referral marketing in 2021?
1. Before kicking off referral marketing, make sure you build your fan base with your existing customers. Not any customer will contribute until he/she is a brand loyalist.
2. CSAT score is an important metric to target your customers for referral marketing
3. Target specific group of your existing customers for referral marketing
4. Keep the incentives useful, genuine by knowing what your customers need
5. Keep your incentives recurring than a one-time thing

Rangarajan Nallappa, Marketing Lead,

1. Don’t build partnerships just based on social media stats

While establishing partnerships with referral ambassadors, don’t just run behind their social media stats such as follower counts, likes, etc.

Pick influencers that are relevant to your business/product, even if their follower base is not too high.

More importantly, pick the ones that have a healthy relationship with their online followers.

2. Respect the referrals

Once a referral reaches your platform, you have limited time to convert them to customers. The best way to do so is by personalizing your message to them.

Give them information on why your platform is a right fit for them and how it can help ease their life.

Also, inceltivize their membership by providing them with discounts and other benefits for availing your services.

3. Don’t complicate the referral process:

Work on keeping the referral process simple and easy to understand. Educate your existing customers about why your product/service needs to be promoted and what they’ll get in return for their effort.

Avoid implementing complex forms, asking too much personal details, etc.

Vineet Gupta, Digital Marketing Team Lead,

There are many ways to use referral marketing. Some of these methods work- and some, despite their huge popularity, just don’t.

The majority of marketers who use referral marketing choose to spread the word about their product through online communities like Facebook groups or forums. They often offer rewards for active members in the group who do more than just commit to joining; they also offer merchandise or free demonstrations with exchangeable referrals (receiving a share when someone signs up).
It’s harder for marketer’s messages on social media sites to be seen because of all the other spamming going on there- so it really depends whether someone wants a wider audience or not.

Julien Roy, Sparkbay

When we talk about 2021 referral marketing trends, influencers will have bigger impact and become more important. Nowadays, influencers are always more effective than you when it comes to selling anything. They have a large number of social interactions and followers for them, which can help you to drive hyper-targeted traffic. Not to mention they also help you gain trust in your customers by stating highly valuable reviews on your product to the audiences. ​In this case, smart marketers will be looking forward to use influencers for their referral marketing strategy

Meanwhile, one referral marketing trend that has to go away is relying on one, single offer only. Today’s savvy marketers always seek to diversify, looking for different products and services to satisfy their target customers. Therefore, they start partnering with new affiliates or diversifying their own offers.

Andre Oentoro, CEO of

Referral marketing still works wonders in 2021. This word-of-mouth marketing is one of the effective ways to acquire new customers almost easily. Although referral marketing happens almost naturally, you can boost it up by making the right strategy to connect with your target audience.
Making viral content is excellent when you want huge coverage and exposure about your brand. When people start talking about you, chances are more people will get in the thread and tag their friends to discuss your product. While this is a powerful tactic, it can go wrong when you don’t do it correctly.
Once your content goes viral, you can undo it or simply neglect its existence when it goes wrong. That’s why you need to be careful before creating new content. Although virality is key to your brand’s exposure, making unethical and provoking content for the sake of getting attention will leave your brand a bad impression, which can’t be changed easily over the years.

Natasha Rei, Digital Marketing Manager at Explainerd

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