Methods for Generating More Referrals

Word-of-mouth marketing is perhaps the best type of marketing. However, you may be confused on how to get your members to tell others about your organization. In this post, we’ll break down exactly what you need to know and do to gain word-of-mouth marketing. Let’s get started.

Define Your Ideal Member

Who is your ideal member? What are their goals? How can you help with these goals?

You’ll need to answer these questions before you can effectively solicit referrals. Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that your ideal member is anyone who signs up. Your organization is set up to help people accomplish a specific goal. Out of a global population of 7 billion, only a select few will have that goal. It’s a waste of time and energy to advertise to those who will not be helped by your organization.

Instead of expecting your members to refer your organization to their friends and colleagues, create a clear definition of who will benefit the most from your organization. Start now by defining your ideal member in terms of career stage, and their immediate and long-term goals.

Ask for Referrals

A lot of organizations fail to simply ask for referrals.

To you, it seems obvious that you welcome referrals. However, to your body of members, referring others to your organization isn’t at the top of their to-do list. The thought of referring your organization to others may never even cross their minds unless you ask your members directly to do it.

While you can start asking for referrals right away, it’s a good practice to create a landing page on your website specifically for wooing prospective members.

On this landing page, be sure to introduce yourself and your unique value proposition and share your mission statement. Also include a list of your main services (including any courses that you may run), your contact details, and information on how to join your organization.

You can give the link to this page to your members to share with others. However, as mentioned above, don’t just ask your members to recommend you to their friends. That’s too general. Instead, position your ask like this: “Do you know someone who needs to get certified in XYZ? Tell them about us. Here’s a link that you can share with them.”

Now, let’s talk timing. When should you ask?

The best time to ask for a referral is after the member has engaged in a positive interaction with your organization. For example, once your member completes a course and receives a credential, tap into their excitement and ask for a referral. Another good time to ask is immediately after your new member has signed up for membership. Make “asking for referrals” part of your onboarding process.

This leads us to the next question: Where should you ask?

Here are a few ideas of where to ask for referrals:

Ask on your website. Display a banner in the members-only section of your website that asks for referrals (with a link to your prospective member landing page).

Ask in the inbox. In your series of onboarding emails, ask new members to share the word with others who will benefit from your organization. Also, reach out via email to all members periodically (i.e. once or twice a year) to ask for referrals. Last, but not least, ask for referrals in your email signature. Incorporate this plea into the standard email signature for everyone in your organization. This way, you can reach more people.

Ask on your social media page. Ask your followers to refer others. Share the link to your prospective member landing page here, too. You can also run an ad campaign on social media to reach members who may not follow your social profile but have recently visited your organization’s website. In your ad campaign, ask for them to share your post with others.

Get Testimonials

No matter how many times you ask, some of your members simply won’t refer others to your organization. Perhaps they don’t know anyone personally who can use your services, or they simply just forget to spread the word.

However, there is a clever way to still generate referrals through these members. It’s called “testimonials.” Members who don’t refer directly can refer indirectly by reviewing your service(s) and providing a testimonial or detailed endorsement.

In much the same way that you ask for referrals, you can also ask for testimonials. Although you could request both at the same time, it’s better that you ask for testimonials after asking for referrals (or visa versa). Don’t bombard your members with too many questions at once.

The best testimonials are detailed. Instead of “I like being a member of this organization” (which isn’t very persuasive, encourage your members to describe the benefit(s) accrued by being a part of your organization. When requesting for testimonials, ask questions that dig deeper and cannot be satisfied with a one word “yes or no” answer. For example, ask the following questions:

  • Why did you choose our organization?
  • Can you share a key benefit that you’ve gained from being a part of our organization?
  • What specific feature or service do you enjoy the most and why?
  • If someone asked you about joining our organization, what would you tell them?

To get maximum value out of your testimonials, make sure that you present them in the places where prospective members are most likely to see them. For most organizations, that means on your website, via your email newsletters, and through social media.

However, testimonials shouldn’t just live on your website, email, or social media pages. They can also exist on third-party sites, such as Yelp. Encourage detailed reviews and testimonials on other sites, too. In fact, provide step-by-step instructions for how to leave a review on these third-party review sites. Remember that most of your members won’t immediately think to leave a review, so it’s best to ask.

Here’s an email template you can use to ask for testimonials.

Build an Affiliate Program

While your members may refer freely, it never hurts to incentivize referrals. Consider creating an affiliate program where you reward referral sources with a small token of your appreciation.

An affiliate program is especially useful when promoting a specific service, such as a certification course.

Motivate members who’ve taken your course (and even those who haven’t) to share the course with others. You can do this by providing a monetary incentive for each successful referral. For example, if promoting your certification course, offer a commission to those who refer valid leads. Pay once the lead successfully completes the course.

Think of this affiliate program as part of your overall marketing campaign.

When mapping out your affiliate program, consider the following:

  • How will you advertise your program?
  • Who can be affiliates?
  • How much will you pay in commission for each valid lead?
  • Will you cap the earning potential for your affiliates? If yes, how much?

Use Shareable Certificates

You can also increase word-of-mouth referrals through the digital certificates and badges that you issue to your members. Accredible allows you to extend your referral marketing reach while also validating your members.

Increase word of mouth referrals through the very digital certificates you issue to your members. Click To Tweet

Social sharing is built into our digital certificates. This means that every time you issue one of our certificates to your members, you’ll get an extra boost of brand awareness. Certificate recipients will share their certificates on LinkedIn and other social media sites. Those who want to learn more about the certification and your organization can connect with you from the digital certificate itself. To learn more about how Accredible certificates enable social share, click here.

Final Thoughts

It does take time to generate quality referrals. However, the good news is that quality referrals usually reproduce after their own kind. Use these tips to get more referrals guaranteed. Also, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up for Accredible here.

Don’t forget to download this email template you can use to ask for testimonials.

Mark is a tech entrepreneur passionate about solving problems through software, and is currently the Marketing Lead at Accredible. If he’s not working he’s probably running or enjoying craft beer.

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