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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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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

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Google Quietly Ends Covid-Era Rich Results

Google removed the Covid-era structured data associated with the Home Activities rich results that allowed online events to be surfaced in search since August 2020, publishing a mention of the removal in the search documentation changelog.

Home Activities Rich Results

The structured data for the Home Activities rich results allowed providers of online livestreams, pre-recorded events and online events to be findable in Google Search.

The original documentation has been completely removed from the Google Search Central webpages and now redirects to a changelog notation that explains that the Home Activity rich results is no longer available for display.

The original purpose was to allow people to discover things to do from home while in quarantine, particularly online classes and events. Google’s rich results surfaced details of how to watch, description of the activities and registration information.

Providers of online events were required to use Event or Video structured data. Publishers and businesses who have this kind of structured data should be aware that this kind of rich result is no longer surfaced but it’s not necessary to remove the structured data if it’s a burden, it’s not going to hurt anything to publish structured data that isn’t used for rich results.

The changelog for Google’s official documentation explains:

“Removing home activity documentation
What: Removed documentation on home activity structured data.

Why: The home activity feature no longer appears in Google Search results.”

Read more about Google’s Home Activities rich results:

Google Announces Home Activities Rich Results

Read the Wayback Machine’s archive of Google’s original announcement from 2020:

Home activities

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Olga Strel

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Google’s Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

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Google's Gary Illyes: Lastmod Signal Is Binary

In a recent LinkedIn discussion, Gary Illyes, Analyst at Google, revealed that the search engine takes a binary approach when assessing a website’s lastmod signal from sitemaps.

The revelation came as Illyes encouraged website owners to upgrade to WordPress 6.5, which now natively supports the lastmod element in sitemaps.

When Mark Williams-Cook asked if Google has a “reputation system” to gauge how much to trust a site’s reported lastmod dates, Illyes stated, “It’s binary: we either trust it or we don’t.”

No Shades Of Gray For Lastmod

The lastmod tag indicates the date of the most recent significant update to a webpage, helping search engines prioritize crawling and indexing.

Illyes’ response suggests Google doesn’t factor in a website’s history or gradually build trust in the lastmod values being reported.

Google either accepts the lastmod dates provided in a site’s sitemap as accurate, or it disregards them.

This binary approach reinforces the need to implement the lastmod tag correctly and only specify dates when making meaningful changes.

Illyes commends the WordPress developer community for their work on version 6.5, which automatically populates the lastmod field without extra configuration.

Accurate Lastmod Essential For Crawl Prioritization

While convenient for WordPress users, the native lastmod support is only beneficial if Google trusts you’re using it correctly.

Inaccurate lastmod tags could lead to Google ignoring the signal when scheduling crawls.

With Illyes confirming Google’s stance, it shows there’s no room for error when using this tag.

Why SEJ Cares

Understanding how Google acts on lastmod can help ensure Google displays new publish dates in search results when you update your content.

It’s an all-or-nothing situation – if the dates are deemed untrustworthy, the signal could be disregarded sitewide.

With the information revealed by Illyes, you can ensure your implementation follows best practices to the letter.


Featured Image: Danishch/Shutterstock

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

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How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs Evolve

There’s one thing standing between you and several days of SEO, socializing, and Singaporean sunshine: your boss (and their Q4 budget 😅).

But don’t worry—we’ve got your back. Here are 5 arguments (and an example message) you can use to persuade your boss to send you to Ahrefs Evolve.

About Ahrefs Evolve

  • 2 days in sunny Singapore (Oct 24–25)
  • 500 digital marketing enthusiasts
  • 18 top speakers from around the world

Learn more and buy tickets.

SEO is changing at a breakneck pace. Between AI Overviews, Google’s rolling update schedule, their huge API leak, and all the documents released during their antitrust trial, it’s hard to keep up. What works in SEO today?

You could watch a YouTube video or two, maybe even attend an hour-long webinar. Or, much more effective: you could spend two full days learning from a panel of 18 international SEO experts, discussing your takeaways live with other attendees.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve speakers from around the world.

Our world-class speakers are tackling the hardest problems and best opportunities in SEO today. The talk agenda covers topics like:

  • Responding to AI Overviews: Amanda King will teach you how to respond to AI Overviews, Google Gemini, and other AI search functions.
  • Surviving (and thriving) Google’s algo updates: Lily Ray will talk through Google’s recent updates, and share data-driven recommendations for what’s working in search today.
  • Planning for the future of SEO: Bernard Huang will talk through the failures of AI content and the path to better results.

(And attendees will get video recordings of each session, so you can share the knowledge with your teammates too.)

View the full talk agenda here.

There’s no substitute for meeting with influencers, peers, and partners in real life. 

Conferences create serendipity: chance encounters and conversations that can have a huge positive impact on you and your business. By way of example, these are some of the real benefits that have come my way from attending conferences:

  • Conversations that lead to new customers for our business,
  • Invitations to speak at events,
  • New business partnerships and co-marketing opportunities, and
  • Meeting people that we went on to hire.

There’s a “halo” effect that lingers long after the event is over: the people you meet will remember you for longer, think more highly of you, and be more likely to help you out, should you ask.

(And let’s not forget: there’s a lot of information, particularly in SEO, that only gets shared in person.)

The “international” part of Evolve matters too. Evolve is a different crowd to your local run-of-the-mill conference. It’s a chance to meet with people from markets you wouldn’t normally meet—from Australia to Indonesia and beyond.

How to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to AhrefsHow to Persuade Your Boss to Send You to Ahrefs
Evolve attendees by home country.

If you’re an Ahrefs customer (thank you!), you’ll learn tons of tips, tricks and workflow improvements from attending Evolve. You’ll have opportunities to:

  • Attend talks from the Ahrefs team, showcasing advanced features and strategies that you can use in your own business.
  • Pick our brains at the Ahrefs booth, where we’ll offer informal 1:1 coaching sessions and previews of up-coming releases (like our new content optimization tool 🤫).
  • Join dedicated Ahrefs training workshops, hosted by the Ahrefs team and Ahrefs power users (tickets for these workshops will sold separately).

As a manager myself, there are two questions I need answered when approving expenses:

  • Is this a reasonable cost?
  • Will we see a return on this investment?

To answer those questions: early bird tickets for Evolve start at $570. For context, “super early bird” tickets for MozCon (another popular SEO conference) this year were almost twice as much: $999.

There’s a lot included in the ticket price too:

  • World-class international speakers,
  • 5-star hotel venue,
  • 5-star hotel food (two tea breaks with snacks & lunch),
  • Networking afterparty, and
  • Full talk recordings to later share with your team.

SEO is a crucial growth channel for most businesses. If you can improve your company’s SEO performance after attending Evolve (and we think you will), you’ll very easily see a positive return on the investment.

Traveling to tropical Singapore (and eating tons of satay) is great for you, but it’s also great for your team. Attending Evolve is a chance to break with routine, reignite your passion for marketing, and come back to your job reinvigorated.

This would be true for any international conference, but it goes double for Singapore. It’s a truly unique place: an ultra-safe, high-tech city that brings together dozens of different cultures.

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Little India in Singapore

You’ll discover different beliefs, working practices, and ways of business—and if you’re anything like me, come back a richer, wiser person for the experience.

If you’re nervous about pitching your boss on attending Evolve, remember: the worst that can happen is a polite “not this time”, and you’ll find yourself in the same position you are now.

So here goes: take this message template, tweak it to your liking, and send it to your boss over email or Slack… and I’ll see you in Singapore 😉

Email template

Hi [your boss’ name],

Our SEO tool provider, Ahrefs, is holding an SEO and digital marketing conference in Singapore in October. I’d like to attend, and I think it’s in the company’s interest:

  • The talks will help us respond to all the changes happening in SEO today. I’m particularly interested in the talks about AI and recent Google updates. 
  • I can network with my peers. I can discover what’s working at other companies, and explore opportunities for partnerships and co-marketing.
  • I can learn how we can use Ahrefs better across the organization.
  • I’ll come back reinvigorated with new ideas and motivation, and I can share my top takeaways and talk recordings with my team after the event.

Early bird tickets are $570. Given how important SEO is to the growth of our business, I think we’ll easily see a return from the spend.

Can we set up time to chat in more detail? Thanks!

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