This article is a guest post from Campaign Monitor
There's a reason why endorsements are such a big deal in the marketing world. With a famous athlete or actor backing your brand, people stop and take notice. Whether it's direct or subtle, the message is that your brand has value and is worth a try.
But there's an easier way to get the same effect — referral emails. Who better to promote your product than your current customers? They have the power to help “improve customer engagement and loyalty, increase conversions and revenue and lower churn rates.” In fact, they can even help increase customer lifetime value (LTV). The LTV of new referrals is 16% higher compared to non-referrals.
Referral emails are effective because they let you tap into your customer's network of friends and family. But the extra exposure means your emails have to get people excited to follow-through and not just scroll past. Let's take a closer look at how to design referral emails that get readers to click and take action.
Referrals can even help increase customer lifetime value (LTV). The LTV of new referrals is 16% higher compared to non-referrals.
Understanding the psychology behind referral emails
There's a reason why social media, networking apps and meetup groups are so popular. People want to feel a sense of belonging. We're happy when we're surrounded by people with similar interests and experiences.
That's why referral emails are such a great marketing tool. They take the longing to belong and infuse it with social rewards.
Meaning, they give your customers a chance to be seen as good sources of information, generous or even trendy because they use your brand. When they make a referral, it's like they're saying, “I approve of this brand or product and you should trust them too.”
Engaging referral emails, the ones that excite people and get them to do something, use social proof. It means that “people conform to the actions of others simply because they believe that if other people are doing it, it must be the right thing to do.” Research shows that people are 4X more likely to buy something when it's referred by a friend.
You can generate social proof with FOMO or “fear of missing out.” The experience adds a sense of urgency to encourage customers to take action and be a part of a group.
For example, add a footer at the bottom of your email to show the number of people currently using your product.
The footer in this Invision email highlights the fact that “more than 300,000 designers” use the product. It's a little incentive to show that it's a safe bet. If so many people are using it, it must be good.
To boost uptake, send your referral email shortly after a customer buys something. Why? Because they're still excited from the purchase. In fact, 83% of customers say that they're willing to refer a friend after a positive experience with a brand. Take advantage of this and move quickly.
Engaging subject lines are better than clever ones
The first exposure your customers have to your email is the subject line. This decides whether they open the email or scroll past it. That's why it has to be something with meaning that also grabs their attention.
We've all seen subject lines like “What can you afford?” from Zillow or “Last Day To See What This Mystery Email Is All About” from Grubhub. There's no denying they're clever, but what they lack is clear insight into what the email is about. You only have a few seconds the grab your reader's attention so make your subject lines clear and concise. Think about what benefit your email offers and lead with that.
To make your subject lines clear and concise:
- State the savings up front because numbers stand out. For example, blogs with numbers in the title get opened 45% more than others. This logic transfers to subject lines. Use something like “Refer a friend and you both save 10%.”
- Briefly explain the offer. Birchbox referral emails simply say “Tell a friend. Get a month free.” It gets right to the point and tells the reader what they have to do to get the benefit.
To figure out what works best for your audience, an email campaign platform like Campaign Monitor can help you A/B test subject lines. Start by creating a new campaign and use the A/B test feature to test two versions of your subject line.
The great thing about this feature is you can decide how big your test pool is. Depending on how long your email list is, the pool can be as big or small as you want it to be. Plus, each group is a random sample of people, making the whole process simple to use.
You decide what makes one subject line better than the other. For example, if one gets more opens, that's the version you should send to the rest of your email list.
Take the time to test different versions. The more customers who open your email, the better your chances are of increasing referrals.
The KISS formula also applies to engaging design layout
The body of the email is your chance to wow your readers. But just because you have their attention, doesn't mean you should overload them with information. The email body should be short and sweet and explain the meat of the offer using a few words.
To increase the chances of customers taking part in the referral program, the process has to be quick and simple. Say something like, “Refer a friend and if they buy something, you both save 10% on your next purchase.” It lays out what the customer has to do, what their friends have to do and the outcome.
Adding GIFs is another way to explain the offer and keep readers excited and engaged. Research shows that people remember 10% of what they hear three days later, but remember 65% of what they see when the visuals match the message. GIFs can be memorable and are more likely to be shared.
In this example the header clearer explains the offer, “Give $10, Get $25.” The GIF that follows is a great illustration of a few things:
- The nautical theme makes it easy to show how easy it is to refer a friend
- It reiterates the offer in a fun way
- It cleverly highlights the abundance of savings awaiting the customer
The text below the GIF goes into a little more detail, but it still keeps it simple. It ends with a large CTA, making it clear what the next steps are.
With Campaign Monitor's drag and drop email builder you can customize them to make referral emails that customers are eager to click-through. Start by choosing one of their templates and a layout for the email body. Create your GIF using Photoshop and then upload it to Campaign Monitor. From there you can experiment with spacing, colors and accompanying images to create a simple email that people will want to read and share.
Creating referral emails that get results
Every audience responds differently to different design and content styles, so experiment to find the combination that leads to the most opens and referrals.
Include bold CTAs that make it clear what you expect readers to do. Some layouts even illustrate a three-step process to emphasize how easy it is to refer friends and to get attention. Sometimes graphics do a better job of conveying ideas that would otherwise get lost in a body of text.
If your campaign includes some content, it should get right to the point, but at the same time give an overview of how easy and beneficial the referral program is for them and their friends.
The point is to get creative, try new things, push the envelope a little. You'll get attention and readers will want to share the offer. Remember, a solid referral campaign will help grow your business and lead to more satisfied customers.