You already know the value of a referral in building retention, value and loyalty to your brand. And those referrals help you grow your customer base at a much lower cost than waiting for customers to discover you.
The numbers make the case: Cold calls result in a 3% or less appointment success rate, where having a referral boosts your success to 40% or more. Think of the time and shoe leather you save by working mainly from referrals.
But what’s the best way to get them?
There are two ways: word-of-mouth referrals or marketing automation – having a program in place that can reach out to your customers automatically. Word-of-mouth is highly valuable but can take more time, commitment and effort. Marketing automation can be expensive, but it’s more practical and takes some stress off your sales team. The good news is the two methods are strong co-workers.
How marketing automation fuels word-of-mouth referrals
The tried-and-true value of word-of-mouth referrals is undeniable: In 2014, a Small Business Trends survey showed that 85% of small businesses say their customers learned about them through someone they know. And about 62% of small businesses consider word of mouth the most effective marketing strategy, says a report by InfusionSoft.
And technology has changed the way it works: Social media is the new word-of-mouth marketing. It’s today’s virtual water cooler. Ambassador shares the example of the recent Netflix series Making a Murderer, which at one point drove 8.46 million Twitter impressions and 412 unique tweets per hour, ultimately making it one of the most popular series that the online streaming service has offered to date.
People are interested and influenced by what other people are talking about, with 46% of people turning to social media when planning to make a purchase. That’s where marketing automation comes in.
It can help build the buzz, joining technology with the old-fashioned power of word-of-mouth referrals. And marketers and businesses are catching on: EmailMonday says about 11 times more B2B organizations are using marketing automation than they did in 2011. About 69% use marketing automation for customer acquisition and 50% for customer retention.
The value of marketing automation is undeniable, too. Capterra says 91% of those using marketing automation see the platform as “very important” to their marketing success, and businesses that use the tool see a 451% boost in qualified leads.
Ways to put marketing automation to work
So how does it work? Essentially, marketing automation is software that enhances your marketing plan by making it more target-rich and effective across various channels, such as email. It can generate leads by gleaning data about your prospects’ activities and interests, helping you direct the right content into the right channels, R2Integrated says. That gets people talking about you, and keeps them connected with more meaningful content.
Socedo, which helps clients find leads through analyzing social media data, uses a number of marketing automation tools itself to analyze and improve its own content, optimize success on click-throughs, and improve email communications and social media reach.
Marketing automation software also can determine who your top advocates are. That helps you to stop wasting time with people who aren’t interested in your product or service and instead stay focused on potential buyers and clients. A general email blast to your entire contact list won’t be as effective as targeting the users who you know have an interest.
Additionally, software tools like those offered by Ambassador allow you to build a campaign with custom rewards to encourage referrals – a top way to get your message shared. Among the highly connected millennial generation, 95% say they’d like an incentive, such as discounts or cash rewards, to share a product through email or social media channels.
Don’t forget the follow-up
You also should have a strong plan for following up with prospects. ActiveCampaign says to start with a sort of mission statement – a description of the kind of experience you want your contact to have. Then consider what result specifically you’d like the follow-up to provide, such as greater sales or increased referrals. These and other goals will help direct your automated follow-up plan.
Also, as R2Integrated notes, it’s important to remember that marketing automation shouldn’t run on autopilot. Authentic personal experience (not just “personalized” experience) and engagement will always be the core of making strong connections with your customers, so it requires some creative thinking and strategizing.
The good news is now you have many more tools to make that happen.
Aseem Badshah, Founder & CEO of Socedo. Socedo helps sales and marketing professionals leverage social media to discover leads and build relationships more effectively.