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5 Referral Marketing Strategies to Win More Sales

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5 Referral Marketing Strategies to Win More Sales

Winning more sales ultimately comes down to trust.

The prospective customer has to trust that your product or service is valuable and that you’re honorable enough to not sell them something they don’t need.

The way to win trust only comes in three forms:

  1. You’ve built trust by getting to know who you’re selling to and showing them that you’re invested in their success.
  2. Your brand has enough reputation in the market to warrant widespread trust.
  3. You get an extension of trust by getting your product or service recommended by someone they trust.

In this article, we’ll talk about the third option and show you five ways to deploy referral marketing strategies and ultimately close more deals:

What Is a Referral Marketing Strategy?

A referral marketing strategy is a marketing tactic that enhances your company’s ability to spread word of mouth about your products and services and receive more recommendations. It’s a competitive advantage that extends the reach of your marketing efforts beyond your own efforts.

Referrals are a great way to get the word out about your product or service, whether you’re a SaaS company or an e-commerce site. People tend to share what’s useful and makes them look good. They want to be seen as someone who has good taste, cares about their peers, and provides practical value. Referring to great products and services is one way to do that.

The hard part about marketing is getting people’s attention. It’s a noisy world full of too many great Netflix shows and products and services. We can’t buy everything and can’t watch all those shows. We have to find ways to filter out the noise. Getting recommendations is one way to do that, which is why referrals can be an integral part of your marketing strategy.

5 Referral Marketing Strategies That’ll Help You Win More Sales

There are a lot of referral marketing strategies out there that can extend your reach and ensure that you’re giving your company the best competitive advantage. Here are a few that’ll help you win more deals:

1. Host a Free Event for Customers

Doing something exciting for customers will always improve your retention rate. But how does it improve your referral rate?

When you provide that free perk, make it a “plus one” affair. That way, they’re encouraged to bring someone who isn’t a customer but could potentially be one. You get a chance to have a captive audience full of like-minded people ,and hopefully an opportunity to convert them to paying customers.

Digital events work just as well. You can host a seminar that’s paid but offer free invitations for current customers to give to friends, colleagues, or family.

2. Automate Your Ask

If you rely on your marketing or sales team to do it, you’ll see some decent results, but finding ways to automate asking for referrals is the secret sauce. It starts with doing a little research to figure out the prime time to ask for referrals.

From there, it’s as simple as sending out an automated email to each new customer asking them to forward this email to someone who might be interested.

The easier you make it for people to refer to you, the more likely it is that they’ll do it. Creating a simple referral link that they can copy and paste works wonders. Or take it another step further with a button that has a pre-written message typed up outlining the benefits of your service. Then they literally just have to decide who to send it to.

3. Maximize Your Incentives

Sometimes it’s enough to ask people for referrals, but why not boost your chances by offering an incentive? That could mean something as small as giving them a credit on their account for each referral that signs up.

It could also mean that they get a cut of the first deal or monthly subscription cost if you’re offering a service. As Content Mart rightfully stated,

The better your incentive, the more likely it is that customers will go out of their way to tell their friends, family, and colleagues about you.

4. Harness the Power of Reciprocity

The “law” of reciprocity essentially says that when you do something nice for someone, they’re more likely to develop an urge to return the favor and do something nice for you.

With referral marketing, you could evoke this urge by giving your customers or prospective customers a gift. It could be tickets to a concert or a sporting event. Perhaps something simple like a branded coffee mug or coupons to their favorite shopping store.

You close the deal, offer up a gift or kind gesture, and ask for a referral. If you find something that works well, then make it part of your sales plan and automate it. Build it right into the sales process and go even bigger for those that actually send a referral your way.

5. Take a Leap of Faith

Of the many popular sales closing techniques, none stands the test of time better than simply asking for the sale. That’s right. Sometimes the best strategy is asking your prospect if they’d like to make a purchase today. Or sometimes assuming the sale by asking, “how do you want to make your first payment?”

Turns out, that’s equally true for asking for referrals. Sometimes just asking is all it takes to get one. And if you do it consistently enough, the odds will stack in your favor. It could be an automated email like above, but sometimes a personal touch like a phone call or an in-person meeting works better.

What works especially well is being specific with your request. Swap “would you consider sending me a referral?” for “who else do you know that would benefit from our product?”

The strategies you can deploy to maximize your chances of getting a referral are endless. The best advice we have to offer is to pick one and stick with it for a while. Testing your efforts will help you truly understand what works, what doesn’t, and will ultimately help direct your investment the best.

3 Real Life Examples of Successful Referral Marketing Campaigns

1. Lyft

Lyft

Lyft’s referral marketing strategy is a perfect example of what it takes to spread word of mouth from current customers. Lyft incentivizes current customers to refer their friends and family members by offering up free ride credits.

The company also markets itself through features such as the ability to share riders’ ETA with other non-customers, as well as locating lost or left-behind items. Lyft further incentivizes newly referred customers by offering up free rides when they sign up, regardless of whether or not they use a friend’s referral code.

2. Dropbox

Dropbox

Dropbox puts their referral marketing strategy into the hands of its customers by offering up plenty of incentives in the way of additional cloud storage space. Dropbox Basic accounts are awarded 500 MB per referral and can earn up to 16 GB of additional storage, while Dropbox Plus and Professional accounts can receive 1 GB per referral and can earn up to 32 GB of free storage.

Customers can even track the status of their own referrals that they’ve sent, which allows them to have the ability to follow up with anyone that they’ve sent an invitation to without Dropbox ever being directly involved.

3. Tesla

Tesla

Tesla’s overarching goal is to “build the best clean energy products”, and its referral program goes hand-in-hand with that objective. Current customers can share their referral link via the Tesla app, which – like Dropbox – allows them to track the status of their sent invitations as their Loot Box rewards.

Rewards include 1,000 miles of free Supercharging with the purchase of a new Tesla car for both the referrer and the new customer, a $100 reward for the activation of a new solar energy system or Solar Roof, as well as a $400 award for each solar referral. A Powerwall can be earned for the referral of 10 solar customers, which is more than a lucrative enough incentive to keep current customers referring potential new customers.

4 Tools Companies Can Use for Referral Marketing

Getting starting with a referral marketing program can seem like a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of available tools that allow you to hit the ground running with your referral marketing strategy, all of which allow you to customize and configure your program as much or as little as you want. Here are a few solutions to check out:

Referral Factory

  • Website: https://referral-factory.com/
  • Price: 15-day free trial, then from $95/month

Designed for small to medium-sized businesses, Referral Factory makes it “easy for any business to build their own referral program.” You’re able to choose from 1000+ referral program templates, or create your own with your company’s branded colors and logo. Just set up your rewards, and you’ll be set to track your referral campaigns in real-time. This is a great tool to start your own affiliate marketing program.

Friendbuy

  • Website: https://www.friendbuy.com/
  • Price: 30-day free trial, then from $249/month

Friendbuy believes that “referrals are your best channel for dynamic business growth”, and puts its money where its mouth is with its refer-a-friend program. Automated rewards fulfillment and A/B testing are just some of the features that Friendbuy provides, with the ultimate goal being marketing your company through customer engagement and word of mouth.

Ambassador

  • Website: https://www.getambassador.com/
  • Price: Unavailable

Ambassador allows you to turn your best customers into brand ambassadors by segmenting them into categories such as “customers, affiliates, influencers, partners, employees, and other advocates.” These roles are incentivized and tracked in real-time, allowing you to make the most of your referral program while further understanding who your customers are and creating more opportunities for engagement.

Mention Me

  • Website: https://www.mention-me.com/
  • Price: Unavailable

Mention Me aims to drive referrals throughout the entire customer journey, incentivizing current customer referrals whether they are new happy customers, or long-time, repeat customers. With reporting and analytics tracking your customers’ purchasing behavior, you’ll have plenty of actionable insights to pull from.

Think back to the last time you referred someone to a product or service. What was it? How did you tell them? Share your findings in the comments below:

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5 Referral Marketing Strategies to Win More Sales

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel is a partner at Ramp Ventures & co-founder of Mailshake. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.

5 Referral Marketing Strategies to Win More Sales

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Gen Z Ditches Google, Turns To Reddit For Product Searches

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In this photo illustration, the Reddit logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

A new report from Reddit, in collaboration with GWI and AmbassCo, sheds light on the evolving search behaviors of Generation Z consumers.

The study surveyed over 3,000 internet users across the UK, US, and Germany, highlighting significant changes in how young people discover and research products online.

Here’s an overview of key findings and the implications for marketers.

Decline In Traditional Search

The study found that Gen Z uses search engines to find new brands and products less often.

That’s because they shop online differently. They’re less interested in looking for expert reviews or spending much time searching for products.

There are also frustrations with mobile-friendliness and complex interfaces on traditional search platforms.

Because of this, traditional SEO strategies might not work well for reaching younger customers.

Takeaway

Companies trying to reach Gen Z might need to try new methods instead of just focusing on being visible on Google and other search engines.

Rise Of Social Media Discovery

Screenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Gen Z is increasingly using social media to find new brands and products.

The study shows that Gen Z has used social media for product discovery 36% more frequently since 2018.

This change is affecting how young people shop online. Instead of searching for products, they expect brands to appear in their social media feeds.

1719123963 547 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Because of this, companies trying to reach young customers need to pay more attention to how they present themselves on social media.

Takeaway

To succeed at marketing to Gen Z, businesses will likely need to focus on two main things:

  1. Ensure that your content appears more often in social media feeds.
  2. Create posts people want to share and interact with.

Trust Issues With Influencer Marketing

Even though more people are finding products through social media, the report shows that Gen Z is less likely to trust what social media influencers recommend.

These young shoppers often don’t believe in posts that influencers are paid to make or products they promote.

Instead, they prefer to get information from sources that feel more real and are driven by regular people in online communities.

Takeaway

Because of this lack of trust, companies must focus on being genuine and building trust when they try to get their websites to appear in search results or create ads.

Some good ways to connect with these young consumers might be to use content created by regular users, encourage honest product reviews, and create authentic conversations within online communities.

Challenges With Current Search Experiences

The research shows that many people are unhappy with how search engines work right now.

More than 60% of those surveyed want search results to be more trustworthy. Almost half of users don’t like looking through many search result pages.

Gen Z is particularly bothered by inaccurate information and unreliable reviews.

1719123963 785 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Takeaway

Given the frustration with search quality, marketers should prioritize creating accurate, trustworthy content.

This can help build brand credibility, leading to more direct visits.

Reddit: A Trusted Alternative

The report suggests that Gen Z trusts Reddit when looking up products—it’s their third most trusted source, after friends and family and review websites.

1719123963 403 Gen Z Ditches Google Turns To Reddit For Product SearchesScreenshot from Reddit study titled: “From search to research: How search marketers can keep up with Gen Z.”, June 2024.

Young users like Reddit because it’s community-based and provides specific answers to users’ questions, making it feel more real.

It’s worth noting that this report comes from Reddit itself, which probably influenced why it’s suggesting its own platform.

Takeaway

Companies should focus more on being part of smaller, specific online groups frequented by Gen Z.

That could include Reddit or any other forum.

Why SEJ Cares

As young people change how they look for information online, this study gives businesses important clues about connecting with future customers.

Here’s what to remember:

  • Traditional search engine use is declining among Gen Z.
  • Social media is increasingly vital for product discovery.
  • There’s growing skepticism towards influencer marketing.
  • Current search experiences often fail to meet user expectations.
  • Community-based platforms like Reddit are gaining trust.

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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data

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Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

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