How to Ask for Referrals That Make Your Reputation Shine

Sep 1, 2021 | Expert Tips, Sponsored

By Marc Hansen, Podium

Learning how to ask for referrals can be your fast track to a better bottom line. Not only is it a low-cost marketing tactic, but it creates big results.

When it comes to growing your company’s credibility and profit, happy customers are your secret weapon. From stronger brand loyalty to more repeat spending, their buying habits can directly contribute to your business growth. Perhaps one of the best characteristics of a satisfied customer is their willingness to provide the referrals you need to grow.

Learning how to ask for referrals can be your fast track to a better bottom line. Not only is it a low-cost marketing tactic, but it creates big results. One study found that, of the companies that implement a referral strategy, 71% saw higher conversion rates and 59% saw a higher lifetime value per customer.

How to Ask for Referrals

No matter how long a customer or client has been with your business, it can still feel awkward to ask for a referral. You may be worried about your referral request sounding pushy, or you simply don’t want an existing customer to feel like they’re a marketing tool.

However, landing a successful referral isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Texas Tech University found that 83% of satisfied customers are open to providing referrals. And they will if you have a solid game plan for asking them.

1. Identify your most loyal customers. Sending direct asks to your entire customer base can be a waste of valuable time. Just as you need to narrow down your audience for day-to-day marketing materials, you need to target the potential referrers who are most likely to take action.

To start, think about which customers already have a strong relationship with your business.

Ask yourself:

• Who is a returning customer?

• Who consistently engages with my marketing emails?

• Who has left an online review in the past?

The best customers to target are those who know the value your business provides, especially if they’ve already proven to be advocates in the past.

2. Personalize your message. Whether you’re speaking face-to-face or sending an email, you don’t want your customer to feel like they’re receiving the same pitch as everyone else. Your best customers deserve a more personalized message, so toss aside your scripted email templates.

The content of your ask should include more than a request. Tie the ask into a message your customer finds value in. For example, when emailing a current client, an auto recycler may lead with information about new inventory. Then the content naturally transitions to the referral request.

To increase the likelihood of getting a customer referral even further, many business owners will also offer an incentive (such as a gift card, store credit, or discount) with the ask.

3. Ask at the right time. Even if a customer has had great experiences with your company in the past, they probably aren’t as excited about the brand six months after their last purchase. You want to catch your potential referral sources immediately following a good experience.

As an example, a tire repair shop may send a text message to ask for a referral right after a customer’s most recent appointment.

Improve Results with Online Reviews

Word-of-mouth referrals may lead to high conversion rates, but you need more than traditional referrals to really grow. If you want to speed up results and get new customers faster, you can add an online review management tool to your referral strategy.

Online reviews are testimonials that can reach thousands of people at once and influence their decisions. When you start making it a priority to capture, monitor and respond to your glowing reviews, you’ll speed up your progress even more.  

Marc Hansen, Director of Strategic Marketing, is a marketing leader at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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