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Referral email marketing best practices you need to know

Use these referral best practices to improve your campaigns and get the results you know are possible.

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Digital marketing has long been moving toward personalization. Customers expect messages to be tailored to them and their interests, and they’re more likely to ignore messages that aren’t. Personal, tailored marketing speaks directly to a customer’s interests.

Email has always been a more personal platform. Customers receive a message delivered directly to them, a message they asked to receive from a company they are aware of and have decided to associate with. These customer decisions, combined with personalized communication, have made email an ideal format for generating customer referrals.

When a customer sees an ad on social media, they may or may not read it. When a friend posts on their own account, they’re more likely to look, but it’s not as though their friend was telling them directly, just talking about it, so it’s still a maybe. When a friend emails you, directly, with information about something they may be interested in, a customer will pay attention. Someone, they trust personally thought of recommending a service to them. Of course, they want to know more. There’s something compelling about being personally invited to check something out.

Businesses can’t control whether their customers refer their friends, but they can perform smart actions to make their marketing compelling and overcome the resistance customers may feel about sharing your message. Smart actions that make a difference include writing concise and personalized email subject lines, compelling body copy that gets to the point, and call-to-action buttons that convert.

How To Write a Referral Email That Converts

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Know who you’re emailing. Are you segmenting your email list? You want to speak differently to customers with a long history of loyally opening your emails, clicking your links, and buying your products than customers who rarely open or who are new to your list. By segmenting and writing tailored messages relevant to the customer, you create a higher level of personal engagement and a greater chance of success that your message will break through resistance.

Use Compelling and Concise Subject Lines

Your email marketing won’t go anywhere if people aren’t opening them. Your subject line should get the reader interested to know more and give them a hint of what they can expect when they open. If you want to improve and discover what your audience reacts best to, it’s always wise to do A/B split testing and use those results to improve going forward.

To get started, use powerful words that draw attention. Think about what order the words are in, since many users will be on their phones and only seeing the first few words of your subject line. Starting the subject with something like “Surprise!” or “New!” or “Deal!” can help grab attention.

Consider Mobile

As mentioned in the email subject, you need to think about mobile users when constructing your marketing. Your subject line will likely be down to 25 characters. Your email body will look different, too. Your newsletter provider likely has a “mobile preview” option. One of the best practices for moving forward in the digital marketing world is to always keep mobile users in mind.

Remind Them They Don’t Want to Miss Out

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Your marketing message should have some urgency to it. You want your customers to fear missing out. This will help them get past any resistance, like thoughts of “I can do this later”. No, they want to make it a priority and do it right now.

You can create this urgency by having an attractive offer and something that adds time to the mix, like offering an advantage to taking the offer within a certain time period. For example, our referral program normally offers you $20 off your next order, but referrals this month receive $25 off their next order. If they always thought they should refer your company, they won’t want to miss out on getting that extra benefit, so they’ll feel compelled to make it happen right away.

Write Concise and Compelling Body Copy For Your Emails

Okay, your subject line got them to open your email and begin to read it. They are likely going to scan this message before they fully decide to dig in and read the whole thing. This means you should take advantage of formatting techniques like bolding the most important words, phrases, or sentences. Don’t go overboard on this, but use it where it’s relevant. Make your paragraphs brief and easy to scan. Use bullet points where relevant.

Make sure that your first sentence or two gets directly to the point. Tell them the most important information right away. This may seem like it will stop them from reading on, but it will actually tell them why this email is important to them and make them want to read more to know the details.

Make your email something they need to read.
Write simple, concise sentences. Talk more about your customers than you do yourself. Tell them why your product benefits them. Remind them of their pain points and how your product or service solves them.

Use Incentives

One of the most important parts of successfully performing referral marketing is to have an incentive your customers want to take advantage of. That incentive breaks down a lot of resistance and motivates your customers.

A lot of successful campaigns use the 20-20 catch offer. This is where you offer an incentive to both your customer for referring you and the new customer your friend refers, so the referrer gets $20 off their next order and the referred friend also gets $20 off their first order. It’s easier to feel compelled to tell a friend about an offer when you can pitch them a deal like that, so of course, your customers will feel more comfortable referring their friends this way.

Use The Call-to-Action Buttons

Use strong verbs on your Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons. Get My Deal! Invite My Friends! The CTA should be a logical next step they are committing to taking when they click this button. What does your customer want to do next? Hopefully, your message has led them to an action you want them to take.

Keep A Schedule With Good Timing

Is it the holiday season? This is part of knowing who you are emailing. Think about your customers. If right now, they are thinking about a specific holiday coming up, mix your marketing message into the space their minds are already at. This is personalized marketing that reaches your customers and gives you a way to relate and emotionally connect.

Email Benchmarks To Strive For

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It’s not easy to write emails that are both opened and then convert into successful referral marketing campaigns. This is hard work. We know. MailChimp, one of the largest newsletter services, performed a study that found marketing emails have an open rate of 16.48% and a click-through rate of 1.74%. At Talkable, their customers’ open rate is 57.1% with an average click-through rate of 36.4%.

These numbers represent a lot of work like A/B testing, compelling copywriting, and understanding who we are talking to. Patience and smart tactics lead the way to referral marketing success.

Work on your subject lines, create urgency so your customers are motivated to move forward now, write smart, personal email messages, and use strong calls-to-action. Use these referral best practices to improve your campaigns and get the results you know are possible.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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