You’ve had a great sale, with a great customer. You sign the company up for your service, send them on their way, and spin the Referrals Wheel of Fortune…

Were you good enough to warrant a recommendation, or will you land on a “Bankrupt” space? It’s no secret that a good business relies on a variety of campaigns to pull in customers, but referrals are the “shiny new car” you could win at the end of the day. After all, referrals are shown to have the highest rate of closing for any B2B lead generation campaign, nearly twice as effective as social media or and almost three times as effective as paid search.

In order to increase the likelihood of getting referred by your existing customers, you need to do more than just play the part of the perfect game show host for your business. You have to master the finesse of subtly promoting your brand among your existing customers while also providing them with an exceptional level of service so they’re comfortable recommending to others.

This is all easier said than done of course – but luckily, marketing automation is the real-world equivalent to having all the answers to any game show. Read on to learn more about referrals and to make sure you don’t end up with a year’s supply of cup-o-noodles.

Speak the Language of the Web

No, we’re not talking memes. Instead, improve your outreach and engagement with customers by utilizing the social media features that marketing automation offers. For example, why worry about whether your clients have viewed your blog or Twitter feed when you can use automatic social updates to make sure that they have?

Your chances of getting referred are higher when your customers are well-educated about your product or service. They’ll feel more comfortable recommending your brand if they know exactly what you are doing (and potentially could do) for them, and they’ll also know right away if you fit the needs of any friends or colleagues looking for a similar product/service.

This is why engaging with and educating your customers is so important – and what better place to do it than through your blog? RSS email syndication makes this extremely easy by allowing you to link your blog to automated email campaigns. This means that whenever you post something new, the system automatically notifies your customers via email – keeping them updated and informed. You can also configure your social media presence to launch RSS emails.

Take It a Few Steps Further

Once you’ve attracted the attention of your audience through updates and feature releases, the process of keeping them interested can be tricky if you’re using traditional engagement methods. Luckily, marketing automation has a few tricks up its sleevethat can assist in the conversion of a stranger into your next customer.

  1. “Smart emails” – personalized, one-to-one emails that can be scheduled and attached to automation tasks or workflows – within SharpSpring allow you to attach forms (e.g., referral forms) to the content you send to your customers.
  2. Lead tracking lets you monitor when a customer does anything promising, like click the “share” button on your company blog. Your sales team gets notified when this happens, so they can follow up with those customers in a relevant and timely way and possibly start a discussion about referrals.
  3. Campaign tracking allows you to identify which parts of your website are getting the most attention from customers – shares, likes, forwards, etc. – so you can focus more of your efforts on the stuff that is really yielding referrals.

Communication Is Key

Studies show that salespeople who actively seek out referrals from existing customersearn 4 to 5 times more business than those who don’t. But even if you aren’t actively pursuing referrals, marketing automation can still be used to maintain a healthy relationship between you and your clients. After all, customers don’t want to feel like they are part of a machine, being pushed from one cog to the next within a sales hierarchy. The natural friendships and relationships forged throughout business transactions are valuable assets in making your customers feel comfortable enough to refer a friend in the first place.

Your sales team shouldn’t terminate communications with customers once the sales cycle has ended. Although your team might not have the time to personally follow up in a meaningful way with each individual, marketing automation fills the void by supplying the interaction needed to stay on top of post-sales correspondence. Even something as small as scheduling an annual automated check-in can be the thing that makes them say “Wow, these guys really care about me!”

Don’t Leave Your Referrals to Chance!

Marketing automation isn’t a substitute for loyal customers or for great teams within your company, but it can certainly help you in the referral generation process. By keeping your customers informed and updated and by following up on their experiences, you’ll strengthen your bonds with customers and provide them with more incentives to refer you.
Remember, you can’t grow your business by relying on fate to bring you the types of customers you want – so don’t leave your referrals to chance.

Kim Jamerson
Kim Jamerson
As Vice President of Marketing at SharpSpring, Kim heads up lead generation efforts through a variety of channels and processes. She has an extensive background in marketing and communications, ranging from TV news to enterprise software and healthcare.