No matter how popular digital marketing becomes, word-of-mouth recommendations will still carry very significant weight in the world of business. Getting the odd referral here and there from a satisfied customer is great – but wouldn’t it be even better if there was a way to boost your chances of getting them? To help you out, we’ve rounded up top five actionable ways to get more high-quality referrals from customers.

1. Ask for a Referral at the Right Time

One of the simplest ways to get more referrals is to ask for them. Rather a straightforward process, right? The only thing is that you need to make sure you ask for one when a customer has had a positive experience with your brand, and not before.

Ideally, you want to do this:

  • right after they’ve made a purchase
  • after you’ve successfully solved a problem they’ve been having with your services
  • after your customer service team has solved an issue, and so on.

Don’t ask for referrals when a customer is not satisfied, or when the entire experience is not over.

2. Thank Those Who Refer Others

Another way to boost your referrals is to thank those who have sent more business your way. Customers will often tell you they are being referred by someone, even if it’s just in a casual manner. Remember who they are referencing, and send a thank-you note at least.

You can throw in discounts or special prices, or provide freebies for those who have referred new customers your way. You don’t even have to advertise this fact – just surprise your loyal customer. It will make their day.

3. Establish a Referral Program

On the other hand, you can make an official referral system and clearly advertise what someone will get when they point new clients in your direction. A lot of games, SaaS companies, and local businesses do this. They typically offer a “refer someone and get something free” program or provide a certain discount.

If you choose to go down this route, make sure you clearly define the rules of the game and what a referral actually is. You want to reward those who have helped you grow your business and expand your client base, not those who have sent inquiries your way but haven’t converted at all.

4. Refer Other Businesses

While you’re at it, why not refer others yourself? You might refer a company that sells items that complement yours – for example, if you sell shoes, you can point your customers in the direction of socks, cleaning products, or shoe storage companies). Or, if one of your clients also runs a business, try their products/services and recommend them to others if you’re satisfied.  Whatever the scenario, providing your own recommendations can earn you plenty of them too.

Make sure you are honest about them, however. Don’t just recommend someone hoping they’ll return the favor. Know what you are claiming about someone’s products or services, and don’t praise someone unless you’re sure they are good at what they do.

5. Use Social Media

Social media is certainly the one hub where referrals are made easy – all you need to do is share. By maintaining a regular and active presence on the networks your target audience prefers, you can get yourself plenty of high-quality referrals.

Start by creating share-worthy posts. Post images, videos, IGTVs, anything that will inspire your followers to share your content, which is essentially an act of recommending you to their own network. When someone does share you, thank them and give them a shout-out.

Make sure you also share the content your followers are generating. That way, you can return the favor, showcase someone else’s profile, get them more followers, and show your appreciation, all in one fell swoop.

Final Thoughts

Referrals may seem like an unreachable holy grail, but they’re actually not as hard to inspire as you may think. All you have to do is offer products or services that are worth a recommendation, be pleasant toward your customers (even when they’re not satisfied), and strive to help as much as you can.

And that should already be something you’re working towards anyway, referrals or no referrals.

Sarah Kaminski is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She works with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content.

Referrals stock photo by metamorworks/Shutterstock