As you may be aware, Marketing is the key to increasing sales. Omni-channel Marketing is the latest buzz word, in light of the wave of e-commerce and Digital Transformation witnessed by the world, for propelling product sales, during the last 2 decades.
Marketing Managers are often challenged by the inability to convert customers, despite great products. DRM – Digital Referral Marketing apps or software applications have come to their rescue and emerged as an important marketing channel to address this challenge, especially for e-commerce and online businesses. Marketing Gurus have recognized and accepted the importance of Referral Marketing as a key strategy and marketing approach, especially in the Digital Space, one which cannot be ignored any further. Consequently, CTOs have also no option, but to welcome the Digital revolution, and become key enablers of the same.
What is Referral Marketing, particularly DRM?
Referral Marketing is nothing but, in simple terms – ‘Word Of Mouth’ marketing, where after positively experiencing your product, service, or brand, the customer recommends the same to his or her friends, relatives, and acquaintances about how good your product or brand is. This is called a ‘Customer Referral’, and in today’s world, is done mostly through ‘Digital Conversations’. The recipient of the recommendation not only buys your product or service based on the recommendation but also inevitably joins the bandwagon, becoming yet another brand ambassador, who recommends the product to another set of people if the experience is good. This cascading impact, when leverage effectively by the Marketing Team, leads to a jump in the sales of the product or service.
Although a fairly old concept, it has been formally embraced and adopted by the Digital world in the form of an incentive-based – Digital Referral Marketing apps, where the customer or person referring the product or services gets a reward or an incentive for each such ‘Customer Referral’ or Lead. This is an attempt not only to recognize the Customer’s effort for the promotion but also to suitably reward him in return for this effort. This establishes a clear ‘Effort to Reward Relationship’ and thus incentivizes all to generate more ‘Customer Referrals’. The incentive could be in the form of cash credits or freebies, depending on the individual arrangement of the DRM program. In a way, it is also akin to Customer Loyalty Programs used to market credit cards.
Referral marketing is one of the fastest ways to drive leads and customers to your website, even if your website is completely new. It works extremely well for e-commerce marketing sites and online businesses. Consequently, it drives more web traffic and sales than traditional marketing forms and results in immense cost savings
Studies have shown that there are billions of brand-related digital conversations, happening every day. When this invaluable data is leveraged by DRM applications on your company website, it can aid the Marketing Team in pivoting new ‘Digital Customer Referrals’ towards your products, by your existing customer base.
Also, slicing and dicing the ‘Customer Referrals’ data obtained from DRM applications, using Data Mining and Intelligent Systems can give extremely valuable reports, which can provide insights into how the product or service is being actively propagated by existing customers revealing the levels of market penetration. Hence, DRM applications have become a key driver of business, and are extremely critical for any sales and marketing eco-system.
Additionally, with the advent of Social Media, ‘Social Media Influencers’ have a pivotal role to play in DRM programs, with their ability to influence the purchasing behavior of the millions of followers who greatly value the Influencer’s recommendations to buy the product or service. Hence, for better results, ‘Social Media Influencers’ can be incentivized at higher rates, for better customer conversions and boost product sales.
Why Digital Referral Marketing?
What are the important elements of a successful referral program?
The following are some important considerations for setting up the DRM application or programs:
Must be part of your company website
To ensure smooth interaction between the DRM application and the user, it should be embedded in your company’s website and integrated well into the eco-system with necessary interfaces to ensure smooth function.
The DRM app should be fairly simple to understand and use. Besides the reward description, ‘how’ and ‘when’ the ‘Customer Referral’ reward or incentive can be obtained, and more importantly, ‘how’ it can be claimed, should be clearly explained, with absolutely no ambiguity. Also, the rewards should be easy to calculate for the average ‘Joe’, with no complexity!
Ease of access
A smooth and easy ‘Customer Experience’ will ensure that the customer returns back to the DRM app more often. Hence, it is imperative to make it ‘user-friendly’ and give the user an easy to access UI.
Ease of sharing
Typically ‘Customer Referrals’ accrue due to the ability of the app to allow sharing of the product content easily, between users. This is in fact, the key to the success or failure of DRM applications.
Dynamic Links and Landing Pages
To facilitate the above, consider using Dynamic links and landing pages for its implementation. This will streamline and ease the user-app interaction, and ensure a positive customer experience.
Privacy and Security
DRM apps must not only be secure but must ensure that the customer’s privacy is respected. This will build customer trust and confidence. This will inspire and nudge them to spread the word around about your product, without needing any push. This will consequently result in, and realize the ‘referred’ leads into customer conversions.
Provide personalized rewards
Remember that, ‘Effort to Reward Relationship’ is at the core of every DRM program. Hence, it is important to recognize the efforts of Customers or Influencers who provide more ‘Customer Referrals’ and reward them with higher incentive packages. This will undoubtedly not only motivate them to perform better but will also spur other customers to improve their contribution.
Utilize Social Influencers
Social Media Influencers must be utilized for recommending your product or service, since they yield a great influence on their followers, and can easily convert them into your customers.
Make your product look cool
The incentive or associated rewards should not be the overwhelming reason for ‘Customer Referral’. Instead, the DRM app or program should make your product look cool! Also, the product needs to be showcased as ‘must-have’ than an ‘also-ran’ kind, to promote it or get referred on its own merit, rather than on ‘Customer Referral’ incentive. Hence, it should be more of an ‘organic’ promotion than an ‘orchestrated promotion’.
Use analytics and referral to create product evangelism
CTOs must help Marketing Managers tap into the black-box called DRM, by using data analytics, referral apps, and cutting-edge technology. A conducive eco-system must be developed to create, support, and nurture DRM-centric product evangelism.
Benefits of Digital Referral Marketing:
DRM, when implemented properly, gives the following benefits to the company:
- It creates a positive brand image, evangelizes your product without much marketing effort.It drives business leads and results in greater customer conversions.
- Your existing customers actively promote your business and serve as brand ambassadors for your brand, product, or service.
- It lowers marketing costs & overheads and results in saving valuable marketing dollars, which can be utilized for other needs.
- It thus is the cheapest and fastest form of marketing, if effectively used.
- Hence, Startups especially find it attractive, since it is the most inexpensive and sustainable ways to start and expose their business, product, and services to their customers and the public.