These days, online referral programs have picked up a lot of steam—and for good reason. When carefully planned out and properly implemented, an online referral program can substantially grow your client base. If you're new to using referral programs, however, there are some things you'll want to keep in mind as you get started.
Potential Referral Sources
Start by considering who you might be able to rely on as potential referral sources. If you have a pretty substantial existing customer base, then of course you'll want to factor them into the equation. Perhaps you could offer them some sort of incentive when they refer a new customer to you. On the other hand, remember that customers aren't always your only source of referrals. Depending on your industry, you might be able to rely on other businesses for referrals as well, especially if you work in similar yet non-competing facets of the same industry.
Aside from your potential referral sources, there are some other important considerations you'll want to keep in mind as well. For starters, what type of incentive will you offer to those who provide you with successful referrals? Will you pay them cash? Provide them with a discount on their next service? Maybe you'll give them a gift card. Consider what will appeal most to your customer base.
Of course, you'll also need to make decisions regarding what actually constitutes a referral. Will you give incentives to those who make referrals, even if those referrals don't turn into actual clients in the long run? You'll also want to make sure you have a method for tracking your online referrals; there are software programs available that can make this easier on you, or you can simply take the time to ask each of your new clients how they heard about you.
Developing a Strategy
Last but not least, you'll need to plan out all the specifics of your referral program. This includes figuring out where your target customers like to hang out online and focusing your efforts in those outlets. Social media pages are popular for implementing successful referral programs, but you'll want to make sure you have other strategies for conversion going on as part of your marketing as well.
As you can see, there's a lot that goes into creating and implementing a successful online referral program to grow your client base. By keeping these tips in mind and with enough careful research and planning, however, you'll be well on your way to new referrals in no time.