How to make sure your referral program is at the top of the mind of your consumers: 7 Steps

Referral programs are the best tool you could use to encourage your customers to share your business to people they know like friends and family. But what can you do when they forget to do so?

Happy customers that tell you they would refer you usually don’t.

When you are building business that’s successful, you would need a strong product and you need to make sure your customers are happy. But these factors aren’t always enough. Your customers might love your products, they might even be buying often, and even promise to refer you to the people they know. Sadly, there’s a high chance it’s all words and they won’t do it.

Studies done by Texas tech study show that as much as 83% of your customers would be more than willing to refer your brand, but only 29% would actually be able to do so.

  • So, why aren’t your customers referring you even if they say they would?

Majority of them forget to, most people forget half of what they see after 20 minutes.

Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist hypothesized what influences the rate of our forgetfulness:

  • The complexity, meaningfulness, and how memorable the information actually is.
  • Concrete ideas are easier to visualize compared to abstract concepts, so a birthday party is easier to remember than fairness because of the way the information is represented.
  • Stress or fatigue could also be factors

Remember these factors because if you want your customers to remember to refer you to their friends you have to put in some work in order to make sure they remember your business for a long time.

We’re too loaded with information to actually make action

Today, customers are sent a lot of marketing messages on a daily basis, they even see it all around. Too much is not good and we haven’t evolved to handle so many information, thus the reason why it becomes difficult for us to manage getting bombarded with too much information effectively.

How can you encourage referrals by keeping your referral program at the top of the mind of customers?

1) Start by making sure your product has a ”WOW” factor”.

There would be no reason for people to remember your product if your product has no difference with the alternatives found in the market. This fact would hurt people who have worked hard for their products but it’s the truth. You have to have products that are somehow unique, or is way better than the ones available in the marketplace. You have to make sure your product is working for them, and is better than the alternatives. If your product can do that then people would remember it, if it can’t then they wouldn’t remember it for long. Now, how can you tell if your product is a “WOW” product? You can literally ask your customers for their honest opinion. You could also use a net promoter score survey as it has been proven to be very effective.

2) Make use of memorable messages to make your customers remember you

Let’s say you have a “WOW” product but the name is hard to pronounce so a fan might have a hard time finding it when they want to tell their friends about it. If you need to compete with other brands and get the attention of consumers, you have to make sure that your brand is memorable.

Here are some tips to make sure your message sticks into your consumers head by Chip and Dan Heath:

  1. Make it easier to absorb by stripping it down to its core elements.
  2. Delight your customers with great value by doing something unexpected for them
  3. Make sure you use concrete terms because this will appeal to people’s senses and they will remember it better.
  4. Make sure that you prove you are credible
  5. Make sure you appeal to the heart and not just the mind.
  6. Make use of stories to deliver important messages.

3) Make sure you feature your call to actions on your touch points and site.

Just like the famous adage, “out of sight, out of mind”. If you want people to remember something make sure they see it all the time.

4) Make use of popups after purchases to encourage people to share before they even forget.

Again and again, people are forgetful, people are also loaded with so many marketing information everyday. So the best time to do it is when they are in the right emotional state. There trigger moments where customers are more likely to say and do something nice for a company. Best moments to ask for a referral is when:

    1. A customer just finished completing their purchase.
    2. Right after they receive their product.
    3. When a product helps them solve a problem.

From these three, as a retailer you have the most control over the first one. When they are still on your site, a post purchase referral popup would definitely do wonders.

5) Send out referral reminder emails so customers won’t forget.

Some deliveries could take longer than the others and in those times there could be a lot of opportunities worth taking. You can send them periodic emails so you can refresh your customers. But remember that you should be referring, not spamming them because there’s a very thin line between those two. The key here is to think about your customers, what could they get from it?

6) On social media make sure you are relevant, useful, and interesting.

The more often your customers have an encounter with your referral program, the more likely it is for them to keep it in mind. Social media is a good place to ask for referrals because you never know, you might actually be interacting with someone really interested with your brand.

7) Make sure you use variable rewards with periodic offers.

One good example for this would be Uber, on holidays, they usually double their rewards to get $20, give $20 instead of $10. This strategy has been proven effective even if it’s used in different ways. In order to give your customers a nudge, increasing your rewards for a limited time once in a while is totally worth it.


It’s important to make sure that your customers really remember your referral program because they are the key to running your campaign successfully. Their referrals are more trustworthy and influential because it comes from their experience. But, sadly, not everyone keeps their promise to refer you. So here are 7 steps to take to make sure that you are on top of your customers mind and they don’t forget to refer your business.


5 Response to "How to make sure your referral program is at the top of the mind of your consumers: 7 Steps"

  1. Comment From Kathrina Niladrin

    I got to agree you have to be relevant all the time

  2. Comment From Peter Shmuck

    This is the truth! More people should read this.

  3. Comment From Anthony Quickoy

    These are good strategies.

  4. Comment From Harold Peterson

    This one is an eye opener! Great article!

  5. Comment From Hannah Malferrari

    I will definitely check out your other articles!

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