In our last blog post, Free Google Marketing Tools for Your Small Business, we discussed how a handful of free Google marketing tools can partially automate your business’s marketing campaign.
Here, we build on that partial automation by highlighting how your clients themselves can also help drive the success and reach of your business marketing; simply through client referrals.
This article will teach you how to ask for referrals from clients, highlighting reasonable, simple and successful methods that we believe are the best ways for your business.
Why Are Referrals Important?
Referrals are vital to the life of a business and if orchestrated by business correctly, giving one of the highest return on investment (ROI) out of any other usable marketing tool.
Referrals are important because they are an excellent generator of new and warm leads. If a potential lead shows continued interest in your product or service after being referred to your business by either an existing client or partnering firm, it generally means that a level of trust has already been established given they know and trust their referrer. This is all without a relationship formed between you and the new lead!
Whilst this happens, your business’s reach is expanding into new networks and making new in-person impressions (see our last blog post to understand what we mean by impression).
According to a Wharton Business School study, individuals are four times more likely to buy your product when referred by a friend or close connection. Further, Invespcro believe that the average small business get a huge 60% of its business from referral campaigns! Just these two statistics alone demonstrate the power and importance of referrals, and how they can quickly help scale your business.
When do I Ask for Referrals from Clients?
In another previous blog-post of ours (4 Ways to Ask for a Google Review), we highlighted the importance of timing when asking for a Google Review and how the timing of your client approach can make or break the exercise’s success. We highlight its importance here once again, however there are a handful of additional factors that are to be considered when extending a client referral request.
The beauty of asking for referrals is that you can ask clients for them whenever you want. HOWEVER, we believe it is extremely important to openly discuss the potential for an existing client to become an active referral source for your business at the earliest stages of that client relationship.
By making your customers aware of this intention at the beginning of your relationship, it shows you are being clear and transparent whilst giving them a sense of responsibility for the overall success of your business. Given that the client is also now aware of this request earlier, it increases the possibility of them encountering someone in need of a similar product/service, whilst you, your business and its product/service remain fresh and front-of-mind for the customer.
Here below, we expand on this client referral process by listing specific methods and examples of how you can approach this situation in the best way for your business.
The Best Ways to Ask for Client Referrals
Asking at Initial Client Onboarding
Building on the process above, we believe that if your business is in a white collar/corporate business setting, asking for referrals at the point of client onboarding is an appropriate time that establishes a transparent level of understanding. Simply;
- “Please keep us in mind for anyone else who you believe would benefit from our service“, or;
- “Do you know anyone else in a similar situation to you that could also be benefited by our services?”
These simple examples will help you keep your clients mindful of referrals early in the relationship.
Separately, if your business predominately revolves around the presence of an online-based shop, creating a pop-up that highlights of the importance of referrals to your business or discusses an existing referral rewards program will ensure that it remains front-of-mind as the customer is making their way through your website.
Asking After Providing a Service/Product
If your business revolves around a physical service/product, such as a trade, it may be more suitable for you to discuss referrals with your client after you have completed your first works. Let your work do the talking, and then let the client do more of it!
From this point forward, asking your client to be kept in mind for when others they know are in need is understandable, particularly given they now truly know what solutions and benefits you and your business bring to their life; or even to their own business. One thing to make sure; Don’t ask too late, because your client will, over time, become less excited about your benefits and your product.
In comparison to the ‘white collar’ scenario above, we believe accepting the professional relationship in the ‘white collar’ scenario requires a different trust and conviction. Hence, we believe it is acceptable to ask for referrals from clients earlier in a professional services scenario, and later in a physical service.
In many aspects of business, consistency is key. When generating referrals for business, another effective way to ask for referrals from clients is through an approach that is systematic and consistent in nature. Specifically, systematic/automated emails or call/check-in campaigns are a quick way for you to boost the number of client referrals generated for you and your product/service.
Typically, we see businesses distribute emails to their leads and customers at least on a quarterly basis, for this type of request. Simply welcoming them into the new quarter, including a small, subtle piece about referrals and making sure the existing client knows that you/your customer service team(s)/Business Development Managers are readily available and easily contactable will go an enormous way in growing your customer-base.
This email also works as a reminder to the existing client that you are there; you never know when a customer may be interested in more of your products/service offerings without your knowledge. These emails can be generated via an email marketing service (MailChimp as an example), via your CRM or even by sending a bulk email yourself as the business owner to your full client listing.
Helpful Tip; If these email campaigns are sent from a personal email rather than a business email (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org versus email@example.com), it’ll generate greater levels of engagement through the small ‘personal touch’ of a personal email.
A call-out campaign has a similar effect on clients, reminding them over the phone to keep you in mind for referrals in the future as well as checking in and asking if there is any possible need for your product/service in the short-term for them. This also opens the possibly of asking clients directly whether they have any friends/colleagues/family in mind that could benefit from your product/service.
For example, you could ask “Does anyone you know come to mind straight away that would benefit from our service?” and build the conversation from there. Simple!
Completing these campaigns in high-traffic periods for your business is also a useful strategy, whether it be in holiday periods, seasonal changes or end of financial year inflows.
Referral programs are another great and convenient way to ask for referrals from clients. Establishing a marketing campaign that rewards existing clients for referring-on is an excellent way to generate more business from existing clients. Again, doing so in a way where your clients do the leg work for you.
Referral programs can be as easy as creating a pop-up on your business’s landing page or check-out (if applicable) outlining how the referral program can benefit them either via a future product discount or free products/service with their next purchase. To make this more trackable by helping identify your best clients and referrers, an email with a client specific referral code (possibly, through the systematically distributed email above) can aid you in identifying your best sources of new business. This information will also help your next round of client check-ins be more efficient than the last.
Acknowledging these people and their efforts for your business will never go unnoticed, another small yet effective step you can take to build longer-term, fruitful relationships with your clients.
Additional and Indirect
Lastly, you can also ask your clients for referrals indirectly by using the word ‘referral’ either throughout your website or within emails.
For example, including a small piece at the bottom of your business’s email signatures, such as “We are a referrals based business, please let your network know about us and our product(s)/service(s)” can keep your client subconsciously aware about referring your business to their connections.
Another compliment to this is including client testimonials and Google Reviews on your homepage, informing leads and potential customers of prior client experiences and reviews. By showing these, you’re increasing the possibility of a lead turning into a client. After all, “the early majority won’t try something until someone else tries it first“.
We hope these tips have helped you in your efforts to organically grow your business’s online presence.
Should you have any further questions relating to this blog post, please feel free to reach out to us through any of the mediums to the left !