Whether it’s “invite your friends” or “share this promo code,” there’s a reason every marketer is clamoring to get you to click send on their referral campaigns: According to Journal of Marketing Research: referral leads have a 16% higher customer lifetime value than other customers.
For B2B companies, the impact of referrals is game-changing: A direct referral lead is 36 times more valuable than a lead generated by a cold call, 10 times more valuable than a trade show lead and 4 times more valuable than a lead that comes through the web.
In spite of the evidence, though, only 30 percent of B2B companies have a formalized referral program in place. Asking your best customers isn’t enough: While 83 percent of satisfied customers are willing to send you referrals, only 29 percent actually do.
Obviously, the top key to earning referrals is to make sure your clients feel incentivized by what they’ll earn in return and motivated to participate. Armed with a compelling proposition, use these three tips to take your program even further.
Make it Clear
Due to the complexities of long sales cycles and contract negotiations, some B2B referral programs get complicated – mired in credits that can’t be redeemed until six to ten months down the road, or in segmented discounts off of portions of the invoice.
Keep it simple! Be transparent with the details of your referral process and make it easy to tell how the information they submit will be used, who will be reaching out to the “referee” and when; how the referral process will work; and when they can expect updates on the status.
Make it Easy & Engaging
Emails are easily ignored, in-person requests are easily forgotten, and complicated landing pages and lead forms turn people off. Steer customers to a simple, clear site and make it clear what kind of referrals you’re seeking – what kinds of companies you want to work with, which client contacts you’re seeking, what your goals are.
And make it fun! Gamification isn’t exclusive to the B2C space: Try a referral challenge over time by laying out rewards, providing point-based offers, or leveraging social media integration to drive stronger impact.
Make it Personal
84 percent of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral, and a key to success is knowing who they are. What’s great about referrals is the instant relationship it creates between you and a lead – so leverage to your full advantage by providing any referred client with resources and customized marketing offers related to their unique needs.
And make it personal on your side, too. Use the introduction as an authentic way to drive a stronger connection between the buyer and your business development team, then invest in nurturing the relationship over time.