Referral marketing: the key to business growth. Learn why you should start now for success.

Did you know referred customers are more profitable and more loyal than normal customers?

Research1 shows these customers are more valuable in the short and long run and they’re easier to retain. While the methods of referral marketing have evolved with technology, the strategies for success remain the same.

What is referral marketing?

Once upon a time, the main form of referral marketing was spontaneous word-of-mouth. It worked because it was seen as honest and trustworthy information. These days, businesses are harnessing clever strategies to encourage and incentivise referrals. Despite these strategies, consumers still consider referrals to be reliable and truthful.

Have you ever been tagged by a friend in a brand’s competition on Facebook? Read a Google review of a restaurant before booking there? Received a ‘first order free’ Hello Fresh coupon from a friend? Got a discount on your first Uber ride by using a mate’s code? Bought a product that was recommended by your favourite celebrity on Instagram? Then you’ve experienced some of the ways in which businesses are innovating in the referral marketing field.

How does it work?

Referral marketing occurs in a few ways:

  1. Organically: someone genuinely loves the brand and wants to recommend it to someone else they know will also enjoy it.
  2. Incentivised: the business gives a current user of the brand an incentive in exchange for positive referrals to that user’s friends, family or colleagues.
  3. SaaS: online Software as a Service marketing tracks consumer habits and serves people marketing from brands that want to reach people with those habits.

Tips for successful referral marketing

Organic referrals

  • Offer outstanding products and services at all times, keeping standards at a consistently high level; mystery shoppers and customer surveys can help you ensure your standards are being met.
  • Retain a spotless reputation in real life and online; take responsibility, solve problems, respect customers, run an ethical and honest business.
  • Ensure brand communications are consistent and targeted; commit to the brand personality, language and image in all communications.
  • Make the customer experience special; find ways to introduce personal touches in products or service delivery.
  • Take customer feedback seriously; use any criticism as a chance to improve the business, don’t assume the customer is wrong.
  • Ask for an independent opinion; a brand specialist can audit your current offerings and without investment or emotional attachment, will pick up on areas for improvement you and your staff may have missed.

Incentivised referrals

  • Encourage and reward user generated content online; e.g. Google reviews, videos or photos of users engaging with your brand, product ratings etc.
  • Create a referral program that benefits both parties, is trackable and is easy and quick to implement.
  • Ensure the incentive is attractive enough to get results, while being affordable for the business; remember money spent on incentives is part of the marketing budget.
  • Use marketing automation tools to ensure any program runs itself as much as possible.
  • Don’t just track results, review them regularly to find ways to tweak and improve the program.
  • Make sure whatever marketing activity you engage in is legal; follow social media platform rules, advertising standards, competition laws and so on.
  • Where budget allows, paying a strategically chosen social media influencer to recommend the product or service also delivers success for many brands.


  • Know your target market; do your research and make sure your messages are reaching the people most likely to convert.
  • Know your competitors; check their digital presence and ensure you’re offering something better, your call to action is stronger, your marketing more compelling.
  • Assess and reassess along the way; tweak your targeting and messaging if needed.

75% of people don’t believe advertisements, but 92% believe brand recommendations from friends.2 In an age of constant connectivity, everyone can be an influencer for or against your brand. Viabrand helps brands connect with customers and communicate in a way that encourages your customers to become passionate brand advocates.

If you’d like a successful communications strategy to encourage more referrals, contact our studio today: 07 3180 1416 or [email protected]