When referral programs first launch, there's often a lot of hype and excitement surrounding them. But the truth is: some referral programs stop being as effective over time. This happens for a couple of reason, namely:
- The program no longer meets the needs of advocates
- The program doesn't feel personal enough
- There are too many steps in the referral process
- New advocates don't know about the program
- It isn't easy for advocates to track their progress
An ineffective referral program means your customer acquisition efforts take a hit. The lifetime value (LTV) for referred customers is 16% higher than non-referred customers, and referred customers have a 37% higher retention rate. This means an ineffective referral program can represent a major loss to your ability to pick up and maintain new customers in an affordable manner.
To pinpoint the reasons why your program isn't performing, start by asking your customers — instead of assuming you know the answer.
Asking ensures that you're fixing the right problems and also shows that you value customer insights.
We've put together a three-step process to help you create a process that does two things: 1) gets customers engaged and 2) gets you the information you need to improve your program. Let's take a look.
1. Ask the right questions to get the right answers
The first step in any customer feedback campaign is to set a clear objective. This makes sure that instead of asking for general referral program feedback, you approach feedback more strategically.
For example, do you want to know if customers understand your program? Do you want to know how customers feel about the referral process? With a specific objective, it's easier to think of questions to ask to get the information you need.
Remember, the goal here is to find out why advocates aren't sharing your referral program so start by looking at the program in parts.
Let's say your objective is to better understand how advocates use the referral program. You can ask questions like:
- What do you like most about our referral program process?
- What part of the referral process doesn't work well?
- What features would you like to see added to the referral process?
This way, the data you collect gives you insight into specific pain points in the referral process. For example, you might find that advocates want more social media sharing options or they want to be able to write their own personalized message to referred customers. Asking general questions like “What's the best part of the referral program?” won't get you this information.
To decide which questions to ask customers, first ask yourself if each question will help you meet your objective. If the answer is yes, then use it. If not, remove it from the list.
Also, consider the types of questions you'll ask. You can ask categorical questions with multiple choice options, ordinal questions that ask customers to rank their preferences, or ratio questions that are open-ended and let customers give as much feedback as they like.
2. Pick relevant distribution channels
The next step in improving your referral program is figuring out how you're going to ask your questions. This depends on where your advocates spend the most time online and the types of questions you plan to ask. For example, open-ended questions are best shared via email than on social media where people are easily distracted.
Let's look at examples of the best places to ask different types of questions.
Send surveys via text
There was a time when sending emails was the best way to get hold of customers. Now, inboxes are full of personal messages mixed in with marketing and promotional emails from brands. There's no doubt that people get value from some of the emails they receive but inboxes have gotten noisier and there's a lot of information in there competing for your customers' attention. By 2021, there are expected to be almost 320 billion emails sent daily!
Another approach is to use a tool like VoiceSage to send surveys via text:
You can send short survey questions and ratio questions with a text box for an open response. The benefit to this approach is the improved customer experience. Customers don't have to leave the message to complete the survey, which ensures they'll complete it sooner instead of putting it off for another time.
The main benefit of sending surveys via text is the open rate — open rate for text messages is 98% compared to 20% for emails. Plus, faster response time means that you don't have to wait days or weeks to get a response from your customers. The response rate with text messages is 45% compared to 6% with email.
Simply create a campaign, enter the questions you want to ask, and then send the campaign.
Post polls on social media
If the best way to interact with your customers is through social media, choose the platforms with the most engagement and post polls there. For example, post a poll on your Facebook business page or use your Instagram Stories.