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Many successful ecommerce businesses have expanded their customer base through referral marketing. The reason why referral marketing is so widely successful is the same reason why it is difficult to get it to work: it relies on a referral to your business from someone that a potential customer trusts, be it a friend, online reviewer, or social media celebrity. It's word-of-mouth marketing, but in this day and age people have an abundant amount of options to communicate with one another, and therefore there are far more avenues for referral marketing to work in.

DOES REFERRAL MARKETING SUIT YOUR BUSINESS?

Targeting an audience is a major consideration for any marketing program. Referral marketing can target not only a large sample of people, but it will also target the people most likely to find your goods and/or services useful. However, referral marketing is not always the best option. It builds on a pre-existing word-of-mouth, so if there is not already a large customer base or some kind of word-of-mouth happening, then a referral marketing plan is going to yield poor results.

THE BULDING BLOCKS OF A GOOD REFERRAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN

Referral marketing works really well with other forms of marketing. Along with supplying high quality service and goods, a customer is probably going to need some other sort of incentive to refer your business to their friends.

Call to action marketing strategies are often used (think of the button on the website that says "Refer a Friend Now" or "Share on Facebook"), and so are traditional incentives like a discount or coupon. When deciding what to pair with your referral marketing program, keep in mind your audience and your product. It would do no good to make a Buy 1 Get the Second 1/2 Price offer if you are selling a one-off item like a fridge.

WHERE TO DISPLAY YOUR PROGRAM

Working out how to get your program in front of your customers so that they can start referring others to your business is the next thing. For an ecommerce program, you'll want to utilise all the connections to your customers that you already have, such as email, social media, and your online store.

Email is a really useful tool, as your customers would already be getting information from your business that way. It is also useful to include it in a series of newsletters, which has the advantage of not being intrusive if it's amongst other information , but can get to your customers more than once. This is helpful because it usually takes three or four times before a customer firstly takes notice, and secondly thinks of the perfect person to refer to your business.

There are different ways that an ecommerce business can present their referral program on their websites. Depending on how important it is to you, you may consider a link in the main navigation bar. You might want to have it as an optional part of the payment process. You could have it appear as a popup. Here at VPCart we offer a feature called Affiliates which enables you to do these things, and we also offer a useful Customer Loyalty Module.

CONNECTING WITH THE CUSTOMER

If there ever was a place to focus on good copy, it is when writing text for the referral program. All the text that goes into convincing your customers to participate in the program needs to proudly state the brand's ethos. If your customer feels at home with your brand, they are more likely to refer someone to your business. It creates a personal connection, and personal connections are the driving force behind referral marketing.




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