The Power of Referrals

Most online processes are modeled after something you do in the real world. There's a reason why we use words like "shopping cart" or "store" when talking about shopping online, because it has a real life counterpart that we as customers can relate to. E-commerce creates an environment that seems comfortable and familiar to customers, so that they are more likely to make an eventual purchase.


One process that remains a key part to any business's success is the power of customer referrals. Good word of mouth can speak volumes about the quality of your business and a trusted referral can do so much for the growth of a business where traditional marketing might fall short. Customer referrals online and in the real world still offer the most effective marketing return on investment, and arguably carry the most weight to a potential customer.


A study done by Nielsen found that 92% of people trusted recommendations from people they knew, and that 70% of people trusted consumer opinions posted online. With so many options out there, people want to know that their decision is informed and will give them the best value, and the best way to do that is to have someone who has prior experience give you their take. So how do you gain more referrals for your business? The answers might be simpler than you think.


1. Embrace the WOW

We've all heard of the WOW factor; does your product have it? Is it positioned in a way that makes people want to buy? Great, high resolution photos, clean graphics, and an emphasis on quality will do wonders for your product. You take pride in your business, and you need to showcase that. Take this as your opportunity to get out front.


2. Give the People What They Want

Make sure you know exactly what your customers want, and what selling point will work best for you. If you are missing an opportunity to promote a benefit of your product that your customers care about, you're missing an opportunity to provide value to them. A prime example of if a tea company is promoting a particular flavor of tea as their selling point. But a majority of their customers buy the tea for its health and wellness benefits. By continuing to push flavor, and missing out on health and wellness, they are not keyed into what their customers actually want, and could end up missing out on a good referral.


3. Make Referring Easy

Make sure that your website prominently prompts your loyal customers to refer. By building in a referral form in the buying process, you automatically increase your referrals by sheer convenience. When people are prompted to refer and the process is streamlined, they are more likely to act out just because the process is spelled out for them.


4. Ask Your Existing Customers to Refer

Don't be afraid to ask your customers to help you spread the word because they likely will do so willingly. At the end of the day, small businesses are able to thrive through word of mouth, and even with a changing, increasingly digital marketplace, human connection is at the root of every sale. Leverage that connection to help you promote your product's value.


5. Leverage Social Media

Social Media is the voice of your business, and the easiest way for you to connect with customers on a large scale. Use it to your advantage. Twitter and Facebook allow you to interact with your customers in real-time, and are an easy way to build referrals because this is likely the way that customers can easily interact with your business. Using service ratings from Yelp or Google can help you fine tune your product, and have built in referrals with their rating systems. Make sure to highlight your best reviews, but also make sure you address your poor reviews in a manner that is polite and inline with what your business stands for.


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