In part 1 we looked at how you can make it easier to generate referrals, if you haven’t read that already then you can find it here

Those were things that can be adapted in various different ways to be useful in many different ways. They are things that need to be thought about and attended to before you start thinking about how to actually generate referrals. So now that we’ve covered that, we need to start thinking about actually how to generate referrals.

Incentivise to generate referrals

The easiest and most logical way to approach it is to offer some sort of incentive. You could start an affiliate programme so people could get paid to generate referrals. Or, you could simply offer discounts for other services and products for every successful referral. 

Incentives have to be worth it. If you sell a product or service that, once the customer has experienced that product or service, they don’t need it ever again and there aren’t any real add ons to it and so on then a paid affiliate programme is going to be a much better incentive than discounts. 

Affiliate programmes: Generate referrals in a way that everyone wins

I’m part of a few affiliate programmes. None of them are complex or difficult to be part of. What happens is, when somebody comes into my world and they ask for a particular product or service that I do not myself provide I can shoot them an affiliate link so they can purchase it from someone else but I get a little fee in return. The customer doesn’t pay anymore for the item, my fee comes from the seller. The fee is small, so small that it doesn’t eat into the profit margins of the seller. Most affiliate programmes are between 5% and 10%. It depends on the product or service but there are a few that operate at 30%. Those are extremely rare though, as I mentioned most are between 5% and 10%

Affiliate programmes benefit people enormously, not just you the provider. Other businesses can use those affiliate programmes to supplement their own offerings. 

Generate referrals in the form of trusted recommendations

The recommendations made as a result of an affiliate programme offer enormous benefits to customers because they get the solution that they need through a recommendation that comes from someone that they trust. I am a member of several affiliate programmes, all for products or services I have used myself and had a good experience with. I don’t make recommendations for products or services that I haven’t used and that I don’t believe in. So those recommendations go a long way with people. 

A lot of the time those people then stop looking for alternatives and just go with what I put forward because they trust me, and therefore my recommendations, implicitly. The customer benefits not just because they get the solution they need but they also get some measure of reassurance because of the trust I myself have put into that product or service. Obviously, the business benefits because they get that sale. Not only that, they get that sale without having to spend time and money on marketing. 

Generate referrals without having to work harder or put yourself through any discomfort 

The company gets to make a sale based on your recommendation rather than having to increase their marketing budget or doing things that make them feel uncomfortable, like cold calling for example. In essence, they get that sale just by being good at what they do. Providing a product or service and it being well received, so well received that people happily recommend it. 

Any programme to generate referrals is only as good as the incentives

Incentives are really valuable things but you do need to think carefully about what you offer as an incentive as it can make or break the offer. Offer something irrelevant or too small and/or insignificant then you seriously hamper any opportunity to get people on board with your programme. The reward for the recommendation needs to be significant enough to encourage people to join and use your affiliate programme but not so significant that you end up not making enough money from the sale of your product or service. It is a fine line to walk and something that only you can decide. There is help available, people like me (business coaches) will be able to guide you through the process and help you figure out what is right for you and your business.

How to set up an affiliate programme to generate referrals with minimal fuss or effort for the end-user

Affiliate programs are fantastic. If you have a WordPress website, you can get plugins that will integrate with your site and do all of the heavy lifting. If you don’t have a WordPress website there will be alternatives. For those of you that don’t have a WordPress site, it is something that you will need to talk to your web developer about. For those of you that have a WordPress site, take a look at this article by WP Forms for a list of recommended plugins to help you figure out which plugin would be most suited to your needs.

Using referral codes

Lots of brands give the people making recommendations (I’m not going to use the word influencer because it irritates me immensely) whether it be new customers or old a code that they can pass on to people for a shared benefit of some kind. Something that encourages people to not only share the offering but to encourage people to actually accept and use the recommendation.

My home internet provider, Virgin Media, have a referral scheme in place where if I were to recommend them to someone and that person goes with Virgin Media for their TV, phone, or internet both the new customer and I receive a cash reward of some kind. The amount received is not insignificant. In some cases, it can be up to £80 each.

To make that referral I just have to give the person a referral code which can then be quoted over the phone or give a referral link like so

I used Virgin Media as an example because they are someone who I have dealt with for a long time. I have TV, landline phone, and Internet with them and have done for many years, I have also used the referral scheme many times so I know it all works well and is mutually beneficial for all. Virgin aren’t the only company that does that though, many do and many more should.

Affiliate marketing is an industry in itself and is something more companies should enter into

Affiliate programmes in general are excellent. They work really well and it is a multi-million-pound industry of its own. So if you are offering a product or service and you really want to increase those referrals and you really want to increase your sales then create some sort of a referral scheme so that you can actually get a slice of that pie too. Your business can start to benefit in the same way that millions of other businesses are doing so already. 

Experience matters when you are trying to generate referrals

Referrals are worth their weight in gold. I know lots of business owners that get all of their customers through referrals. As I mentioned before, it starts with providing those people those first level customers with a good experience as well as your product or service. They need to feel like they’ve had a good experience, then you can offer those people some sort of incentive to create those referrals. 

You also need to make sure that you make that process as easy as possible so that those people don’t have to work to make those referrals. If they have to work for it, they won’t do it. So make sure you make that process as easy as possible. Generate those referrals through good customer service and make sure that the referral process is as easy as it could possibly be.

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