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For marketers that are running manual business referral programs, more often than not, it can feel like you’re on a hamster wheel. Your goal is to drive new business by bringing in more referrals from existing customers. But to bring in more referrals, you need more time, resources, and money to incentivize your customer base as well as track, pay, and manage your referral program members. But to get that investment from the suits upstairs, you need to show an uptick in new business. Which brings us back to your initial goal.

If you’re running in this never-ending loop – don’t fret, relief can be found in the form of automation.

By automating manual activities like enrollment workflows and referral commission payouts, marketers can break down some of the barriers to scaling this customer acquisition channel. When your business referral program is small, managing things manually isn’t a problem. When you have hundreds or thousands of customers and just as many approved referrals every month, automation is the difference between referral marketing success and failure.

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Best Practices for Business Referral Programs

We reached out to a handful of marketing experts that are leveraging referral technology to scale their successful programs across a variety of industries and asked for real-world advice. Once they were able to automate the time-consuming intricacies that come with referral marketing campaigns, what were they able to focus on?

1. Gain Valuable Business Insights

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This Household & Pet Products company values relationships and treats every brand ambassador like a customer. By providing one-on-one support via personalized and individual communications, they’ve gained valuable business insights through feedback from their referral program members.

This relationship-first approach to referral marketing builds trust with program members and leads to increased referrals. Additionally, the marketing team is able to take feedback to leadership to directly shape how their budget is planned and where dollars are spent.

2. Create Engaging Content

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This company in the Consumer Tech industry is able to focus on creating content around their referral program with the time saved by utilizing referral software. The company not only shared their new program with their customers, but also promoted it to their distributor partners. These partners regularly engage with customers and were a perfect resource for turning in-person interactions into referrals.

When its referral program initially launched, an email was sent to all partners in their network to help with offline promotion. Once referral program members started promoting and seeing results, the company sent out a testimonial email to encourage further participation among the network.

Sharing a program guide is a great way to start the conversation. And as your relationship with your program members grows, continue using content to engage. Customer newsletters, email signatures, website, and social are great channels to promote referral program content.

3. Educate Customer-Facing Teams

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Make it even easier on your customer-facing teams by educating them on the program and providing language they can use when responding. That’s what this B2B Software & Services company did to drive more referrals. Educating team members across departments puts your referral program front and center when it comes to promotions. Additionally, the marketing team consistently pushes the company’s referral program in emails, on social media, and in tailored communications with customers.

4. Optimize Your Referral Program

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This Education & eLearning company knew it needed to leverage technology in order to truly scale its referral program. The marketing team was able to free up time and resources that are now spent optimizing their referral program to deliver even more new business. In fact, the marketing team has now narrowed down a precise moment in their engagement cycle to push for referrals.

There are a lot of uncontrollable variables involved in building trust with your customer base and attracting new customers. Thanks to marketing automation, your referral program doesn’t have to exist beyond your control. Automated referral marketing ensures that ambassadors are easily enrolled, effectively reached, and rewarded in a timely manner.

This means you can focus on building relationships, creating content, leveraging your internal teams, and optimizing your referral program to drive more new business. And that’s what we call a win-win!