Hands down, the best time to ask your customers to refer their friends is when they are most excited about your brand. If that ask includes a gift, how could they possibly turn it down? This is close to trivial when your customer high points are online, but it is a challenge when the high point is offline. And, even more difficult when you are managing the dreaded offline to online chasm.
Fab.com got it right with a promotion it ran over the Christmas shopping season. Its model is common: customers shop online, receive packages delivered to their homes, and excitement ensues. When they open their playfully branded boxes, they not only see the awesome products they purchased, but also an envelope filled with gift cards telling customers “one for you and 3 for them (friends and family).”
Many retailers take this opportunity to ask for referrals, enclosing a card promoting their online referral programs. But, not with Fab. Instead, Fab took a step out of the process by physically putting the gift cards in their customers hands and asking them to give a few of their friends gift cards as well i.e. “Here’s a gift card for Fab. Enjoy!” Each gift card was customized with tracking links, so customers and their friends could directly apply their coupons to their purchases online.
Call me a sucker, but my friends and family have this promotion to thank for their Fab-ulous Christmas presents, and my besties appreciated the discounts. Bonus for Fab, they got a few purchases from my network that hadn’t planned to shop at Fab during the holiday season.
This was a great example of a well executed referral program, bridging an offline engagement opportunity (when customers received their orders) and tying it to online transactions (the purchases friends of customers made by redeeming their gift cards). The best part – it was a great experience for everyone.