Referral Marketing Trends to Look For in 2017

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At the rate of which things are shared on the web, it’s no wonder why referral marketing has made its grand entrance onto the scene. Referral marketing isn't anything new, but the way in which it's done has been updated.

Back in the day, people used to use word of mouth to share their favorite brands with friends and family. Along with that, you may remember the exchange of referral cards. While those are still effective and used today, referral marketing has really turned digital, and for a good reason. The world turned digital. Social media and email became the norms of communication, so it’s easy to see why referral marketing took the digital path. It followed the movement.

Now that referral marketing has entered the world of digital marketing, what makes it so popular? Its ability to improve customer acquisition is a major factor. Many studies (Neilson, for example) have found that people trust their friends and family’s recommendations above all other forms of advertising. So, when a company utilizes their existing customers to spread the word, an influx of new customers happens. This influx happens because the referred people are hand chosen for a specific product. People refer their friends and family that would truly benefit or like the company or product.

Referral marketing is the next step of word of mouth marketing. Typically, referral marketing uses incentives (i.e. coupons, gift cards, swag) to help encourage sharing.  Non-monetary referral programs have also been successful in creating new customers and leads. No incentive programs are still easy to share, which is why these types of programs can also work well. Allowing customers to share with a click of a button can sometimes be a good enough reason to share.

Referral Marketing Trends

Now that referral marketing has a booming online presence. What are some new, upcoming and already beloved trends to look for?

Mobile Compatibility

It’s not just about the web anymore. More and more businesses are seeking mobile-friendly websites and apps. Many people use their mobile devices to check their email, social media pages, shop and share. Since referral software has allowed users to share via social media and email, creating a mobile friendly referral program has been increasingly fitting to the demand.

In fact, without a mobile friendly referral landing page, a decrease in conversions is common. This also goes along with how appealing the page is. An unappealing mobile page may provoke the user to decline the referral program. Simplicity, in this aspect, is key. Providing a clear call to action and key elements of the program can turn a mobile user into a customer.

Luckily, many referral software platforms, like Referral Rock, allow for easy mobile use too.


Analytics are one of the biggest buzzwords out there. This makes sense since we live in a data-driven world. This means generating insights to data is important, this includes referral data. A lot of the referral program software out there offers its own form of analytics. Which is helpful because it determines what factors are making or breaking a referral program.

Businesses that use analytics are getting ahead in their niche, and that includes referral marketing. To make something better you need to have quantifiable data to move forward from. This is exactly why referral analytics have become more popular. In fact, you may have noticed that Google Analytics includes a referral report.  

But why are analytics important for referral marketing software? Well, these types of software allow you to track who is coming in and where they are coming from. This information helps build a strong referral program. As we all know, data visualization makes it easy to measure what is going on. When a business can see a dip in program views or referral sign ups, it allows them to focus on that specific aspect of the program and make necessary changes. Having analytics built into the software also helps a business keep track of top performers as well as see who is not doing so well.

Social Media Options

Who isn’t on social media? Having the option to easily share on social can be a determining factor of whether something will be shared. Let’s face it, the easier something is, the more likely someone will use it. This is exactly why referral marketing has made itself as social media friendly as possible.

Referral marketing software is based off the sharing of links and it has all the best sharing methods built right in.  Of course, a person could just copy and paste their link anywhere they want.  But to top that, referral software allows a person to select how they want to share their link. Meaning, a person could simply click the Facebook button and their link would turn into a post that contains a message and an image. Using referral software also allows a business to create the perfect posts making it a one click wonder for their customers who are in the referral program. This means, instead of someone posting a random link, with no insight - they will post a descriptive message that directs a lead to the referral program or website (and automatically ties the lead to the referrer).

The use of social media can make thing viral, so to have built in social media options is a must for this day of age. Everyone has went digital, and honestly it makes referral marketing so much easier.

Intuitive Dashboard

To go along with the digital theme, a major trend in referral marketing is having an intuitive dashboard. As mentioned previously, the easier something is, the more likely it will be used… Meaning the more likely a referral program will succeed. Referral marketing has allowed businesses to easily follow along with their referral programs by creating simples dashboards that provide all the tools needed to make, run and maintain a referral program.  What makes this easy for a business is having a de-cluttered and maneuverable dashboard that allows for any component of the referral program to be easily found and used.

Referral marketing software didn’t just focus on the business's dashboard. The whole user experience was taken into consideration. After all, the customers are the ones who are going to be using the program. So creating an intuitive program user dashboard is essential. A user dashboard should provide the user with easy sharing methods. This is exactly what referral marketing has done. It’s helped create a way for users to easily share their referral link and track their own referral statistics and rewards.

Reward Automation

Managing reward distribution can be a big hassle. Referral marketing has literally taken every step of the referral process and automated it, including reward delivery. Don’t worry, if you want, you can choose to manually deliver rewards. Referral software will help track that information and let you know when you need to deliver a reward or it can automatically deliver it.

A business can now set up a reward system that fits their needs, like a tiered reward, or a multiple stage reward system, the options are almost limitless.  Many referral marketing software companies even offer a library of rewards to choose from, making setup a breeze. The cool thing about reward automation is that for things like gift cards and money rewards, things like Tango Card, PayPal, and Amazon are easily implemented as a reward option and delivered to the user. Reward automation is a major factor in referral marketing, as rewards are typically what drive someone to refer. By automating the process, there is less room for mistake and rewards will be delivered in a timely fashion.

Referral Tools and Software

Referral software provides businesses with all the necessary tools to run a program that is fit for today’s customer. Being able to easily manage, build and share are some of the main deciding factors a business has when they choose to use referral marketing as a source to bring in new customers. Need some ideas? There is referral marketing software that offers a free trial, so go out and test some to see how they can work with your business.

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