Most savvy marketers today are driven by data. And the numbers don’t lie: eCommerce referral programs work. Having a referral program can help your brand keep up in an industry where word-of-mouth travels far and wide.

How far and wide?

Well, according to a study released in partnership with Nielsen’s Harris Poll Online, 82% of people seek recommendations from friends and family when considering a purchase, while 67% say they’re more likely to make a purchase when a friend or family member shares it online.

Those are some pretty impressive stats. Which is why we did some further digging into referral marketing in the eCommerce space and found even more staggering numbers.

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Basically, if you were able to enroll 10,000 brand ambassadors in a referral program and 40% of those ambassadors shared their unique referral link, our research shows that you might be able to expect 46,000 site visits and more than $166,000 in new revenue. All from a channel that — depending on the referral incentive you offer — has been proven to lower customer acquisition costs and improve customer retention.

So what are the key elements to running successful eCommerce referral programs?

1. Noticeable presence on your website

How can customers find your referral program? Where do they go to see their rewards? While more and more users are turning to their mobile phones and tablets for browsing, desktop still needs to be a major component of your overall referral program strategy.

Without getting your entire dev team involved, here are a few ideas on where to place your referral program on your website – so it is easily accessible to members of your program as well as new brand ambassadors looking to join and share:

– Navigation menu
– Footer
– Pop-up window
– Welcome bar
– Sidebar widgets

2. Mobile-friendly functionality

Mobile has fundamentally changed (and will continue to change) how, when, where, and why customers engage with and buy from your brand. This is why it’s crucial the mobile experience of your referral program should be tailored to the user’s specific platform and possess true cross-platform flexibility. This enables users to move smoothly and seamlessly between desktop and mobile devices.

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3. Easy email sharing

While social media has flourished in the past few years, email marketing isn’t going anywhere.

In fact, according to Salesforce, email marketing has an average ROI of 3,800%. For every dollar invested, the average return is $38.

This is great for budget-savvy marketers since your brand ambassadors are doing most of the emailing – investing more of their time, rather than your resources. Additionally, users are more likely to open a letter from a friend than branded emails.

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4. Social media integration

For referral marketing success, your brand needs to be where your audience is – which is typically on social media.

For easy sharing of content, unique links, and promotional offers, integrating with popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is essential.

The easier the process (read: fewer clicks), the more your brand ambassadors will share.

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5. Offering the right reward

Points programs, discounts, and branded swag may sound appealing, but there is one reward that always works when it comes to getting people to recommend your business to others.

What is it?

Monetary incentives.

According to the study mentioned above, 88% of Americans stated they would like some sort of incentive (money, product or service, loyalty points, early access, swag) for sharing a product with their online networks. Additionally, 77% of Americans identify money as their reward of choice.

At the end of the day, focusing on continued engagement is the best way to truly succeed with referral marketing.

We’ve said it before, the best referral programs evolve over time. Be flexible, offer different types of rewards to new and existing customers, segment, or turn to gamification – it’s all about finding the right formula for you. When done right, eCommerce referral programs can be a real game changer.