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5 Customer Referral Program Ideas for Boosting Sales

Customer referrals are worth more than any other advertising you can do for your business. It should mean a lot that people are willing to put their own reputations on the line to endorse your brand to their friends and family. After all, if their friends and family don’t have the same great experience they did, they’ll be the first to hear about it.

The best kind of referral comes naturally, after people have had such genuinely good experiences with your brand that they are willing to tell others about it. This kind of referral takes time, which you might not have. However, here are some tips to boost your referrals without the wait.

1. Customer Referral Discounts

Saving money is a great motivator for anyone. Give online shoppers a code that will get them a discount on their next purchase when a referred customer uses it. This will encourage them to purchase again and new customers will get their own codes to refer others and earn savings, as well.

For offline customers, mail them a coupon when someone comes in and tells you who referred them. Be sure to train your customer service representatives to ask customers if they were referred.  You could also create discount cards that customers give out to friends and family. The referred customer turns them in for a discount and a coupon is mailed to person who referred them.

2. Loyalty programs

Start a loyalty program with great rewards. Customers could earn points for purchases to earn a reward, or they could earn a free product or service after a specific number of purchases. The program can be digital or based on physical punch cards. Put the punch cards on the back of your business cards so that customers will always have your card on hand.

Your customers will become brand ambassadors for your business. Brand ambassadors can be more valuable than endorsements because they are actual customers who have tried your product or service and like it enough to tell others about it without being paid, which saves you money. Potential customers are also more likely to take their word for it because there’s no reason for a brand ambassador to lie; they’re not getting anything in return for their endorsement. Give them a few cards in a unique holder (such as a gift card holder) so they don’t get lost in the bottom of customers’ purses or the floor of their cars. There are many different options for gift card holders, so make sure you have one that works best with the theme of your loyalty program.

The more satisfied customers are with the program, the more likely they’ll be to talk about it and why they shop with you to their friends and family. This, in turn, will create referrals.

3. Contests that Boost Sales

Another way to increase customer referrals is to offer an incentive for them. Have a contest offering a prize to customers who get your name out there the most. The customer who shares and likes your posts the most, wins. This may not be for direct referrals but all of the extra free advertisements from your customers will turn into new customers, as their friends and families view their posts.

Prizes will vary depending on your budget and the scale of the contest. They could range from free products or services, gift certificates or customized T-shirts to cash and getaways. Select winners for first, second and third place prizes. This will encourage more people to participate if they know they have better odds of winning something.

You’ll also receive additional benefits from running a contest like this including an increase in followers and a boost in brand awareness.

4. Survey

Create a survey to gauge how your existing customers feel about your products, services, and your brand in general. Tools like sends out surveys to customers. Or, you could build your own survey with a tool like Survey Monkey.

Design your survey so that if you receive a high rating, a message will be sent to those customers thanking them for their rating and explaining your referral program. This is where you can offer a discount for referrals or use one of the other strategies. Ultimately, your strongest supporters will be more likely to endorse your brand and refer you to others.

5. Great customer service

At the end of the day, the best way to increase customer referrals is to offer great customer service. Get to know your audience to meet their needs in a way no one else can. Be ready to go the extra mile for them. They’ll remember that and tell others.

Get back to them in a timely fashion, whether it’s on social media or in an email. Engage with your customers on social media. Ask them what they like about your products and services and how you can make them better. Then put some of those suggestions into practice. This will let customers know you are listening to them and build trust in your relationship.

The best free advertising you can get for your business is a customer referral. It’s also more valuable to many than the word of a high-price celebrity or a large marketing campaign because people like to hear from others who are like them. They put more trust in that endorsement, and are more likely to give your brand a try.

To that end, a customer referral is the same as them adding the credibility of their own names to the product or service, too.

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About Lori Ohman

Lori enjoys living and changing Southern California, one business at a time. Lori has built a reputation as a leader and change agent. Through she explores how we can tackle change.