How to Succeed with Referral Marketing – Complete Guide

No matter what business you work in, the acquisition of new customers is inevitable. Unfortunately, it is not for all of us Even as a blogger, whether you are a beginner or an advanced user, you want to gain new readers. You want to get new subscribers to your newsletter and maybe sell your digital products too. But it’s not quite as easy as it sounds or as you imagined. Don’t worry, there you are not alone!

In both cases, the best solution is pretty obvious: A personal recommendation from an existing customer or reader. This is by far more effective than any other kind of marketing, or rather advertising.

The magic word is Recommendation marketing and that’s exactly what we’re dealing with now.

What’s the name of Referral Marketing?

Referral Marketing, aka Word of mouth or Word-of-Mouth-Marketing (WOMM), according to the definition of the Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon, describes a “form of direct personal communication (literally: word of mouth) between consumers within a social environment. In marketing, word-of-mouth is understood as an informal, judgmental expression of opinion about brands, products, services, and companies between consumers. This can be both positive and negative.”

Anne Grabs, communications expert and author of the book Recommendation Marketing on the Social Web( for the review), even describes recommendation marketing as “the essence of advertising” and justifies this formulation with various examples:

Every advertisement should trigger a conversation about the brand or the product and preferably in such a way that it is told to others. The special thing about recommendation marketing is that a positive brand experience is passed on. For some, it was the unique advice when buying a car, for others a special delivery service that led to this unique experience. People like to tell people like that, and the great thing about it is that reports and stories from other people are understood more quickly and remembered more easily than, for example, the message on an advertising poster because stories are part of our evolution. We all tell stories by sharing our points of view.

Referral marketing is when others talk about you. Word of mouth in its simplest form means nothing else than that others talk about you, your strengths, and your products or services.

The Internet and general networking have simplified this mechanism many times over and also led to a massive acceleration of such structures.

How marketing is received and works today

We are constantly exposed to stimuli and information. Digital life is like a fast lane, everywhere it flickers and flickers, messages reach us via the inbox, messenger apps, RSS readers, and endless links within interesting articles.

Just a quick look on Facebook or Twitter and two hours later we find ourselves on a completely different website. We hardly notice that the radio is playing quietly in the background and we end the day with the evening program on television with an incredible amount of advertising pouring down on us.

Congratulations to the brand if it does, but we still don’t believe their statement.

And although the content and inbound marketing approach effectively counteract the frustration of onliners, it is usually the recommendation of a friend that moves us to buy or not to buy products and services. This is also confirmed by a study by Lithium Social Software, according to which 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family members rather than advertising messages.

To the question of how marketing works today, there is only one sobering answer: When it comes to classic marketing, then hardly at all! It is high time that we dedicate ourselves to those approaches that actually work. And yes, we can also actively promote recommendation marketing!

Trust as a basic requirement

With a recommendation, you not only make a purchase suggestion but also pass on a little bit of yourself. You “vote” in a very specific way for this very product or service. If contrary expectations, it does not meet the requirements and expectations, you will lose some of your credibility. Not good. to give a recommendation is therefore an Act of trust. Trust is the basic requirement for every human relationship, including that between customer and brand. But you can’t buy the trust of your customers, you gotta earn it In this respect, WOMM is an intensive and future-oriented method of expanding the image of your brand.

Trust is the basis for successful referral marketing.

Trust only grows through continuous and honest dialogue. Only if you meet the expectations that your advertising messages arouse and you also respond to the needs of your target group and treat them empathetically will you gain their trust. Andreas Quinkert wrote an article that is well worth reading at the beginning of the year.

Approach recommendation marketing in 3 steps

Trust is the foundation of referral marketing. But it’s not the only wheel you can and should turn. Today, word-of-mouth marketing has developed into a complex interaction of many different factors. As a provider, you can actively influence many of them:

Develop a great product and keep developing it

Only if you are 100% convinced of the quality of a product will you recommend it to your friends , right? Conversely, for you as an entrepreneur, this means that your target group just not will recommend your product is only second or third rate.

Anne Grabs put it this way: “It takes a great product that you can actually have a great brand experience with. Every entrepreneur has to ask himself what that is for his product.”

If you’re in the If you come across criticism as part of your customer dialogue (see next point), you should always see this as a starting point for improvements and never take it personally. See criticism as an opportunity and use it!

Train your communication skills

This point sounds banal, but maybe because of that, you should start here. Successful communication on the social web means having an honest dialogue with your target group. Getting rid of your fear of openness and criticism is key. Take Ivana’s tips to heart, for example. And another aspect is important, especially with regard to the brand experience mentioned by Anne Grabs:

“Man communicate and redeem this brand experience. The USP should be visible in all marketing measures, including reviews and communication on the social web. You might often say the same thing and wonder if that’s not original enough. On the contrary: the customer wants to know what is special about the product and the more often it is repeated and supported by customer reviews, the more credible it becomes.”

Search and find influencers

An authentic and personal recommendation is always worth a lot, no matter who it is and no matter where it is pronounced. Nevertheless, there are people and communities whose word carries more weight and who can influence a large number of people in their decisions. We call such people influencers.

Ideally, a positive statement from an influencer can trigger an avalanche of likes, recommendations, and increasing sales figures. Because this person already enjoys the trust of a large target group that you are probably still working on.

If you are sure that your offer is “The Next Big Thing”. , then you should approach influencers in your industry and ask them for their feedback – but never for a direct recommendation within their community! If the influencer’s assessment is worse than expected, turn back to your product and optimize it. Then try again.

Deliberately trigger Word-of-Mouth

A common mistake is that we think if someone is happy with us then they are he will tell us about it himself. There is a lot of potential right here! Do not leave your word of mouth and recommendations to chance, but develop them strategically. – Katja Hofmann

Only when you have considered and gone through all the points described above does it make sense to include your dialogue group. You have already taken the first step by contacting and asking for a review of an influencer. If you have convinced this opinion leader of you and your achievements, you can be sure of a recommendation within their community.

In addition, there are other places where you can trigger word-of-mouth marketing:

Ask your customers for reviews:

For example, a few days after the purchase, send your customer an email with the request for a review or rating of satisfaction. This procedure is already being used actively (and automatically) in e-commerce. But beware: Such an e-mail is only permitted if the customer has agreed in advance to receive further e-mails (i.e. independent of the purchase, ergo advertising) e-mails.

Bonus for a recommendation:

Show sincere gratitude for every recommendation and give back a little love and trust! You probably know offers like “Recommend us and get -20% off your next order”. Similar requests can be found again and again, not only in the field of online communication. Rather think of something special to stand out from the crowd, ideally something that your customer will benefit from immediately and without further investment.

Make it easy for your customers to give a recommendation:

The simplest form of recommendation is now a “Like” or a follow, but that’s not all. Build in rating options, enable shares, ask questions and look for interaction. A nice idea, for example, is to encourage your social media followers to tag a friend who might also be interested in the content.

Tell a story:

Stories are mostly about big emotions and solving serious problems. Therefore, tell a personal and real story in which your customers recognize themselves and ask them to share their story with you and the community. The need for communication is surprisingly high among young users. The trick is to combine effective storytelling with user-generated content.

Pay attention to the communication channels of your target group:

Your regular customer’s best recommendation won’t do you any good if it’s in the wrong place. It is therefore essential that you know your target group exactly and where you can best reach them (keyword: buyer personas). It doesn’t always have to be Facebook!

Conclusion and outlook

As simple as the approach appears in its theory, it is as complex in its execution. The basic work for successful recommendation marketing is up to you and only extends to the actual target group in the second step. In the next post, I will explain why and how people actually share content and recommendations on the social web.

Until then, have fun with Word-of-mouth, and thank you very much for your recommendation.

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