Small business owners should always be on the lookout for the best ways to reach new audiences. Having a well put together website with some search engine optimization is a start, followed by building a decent social media presence. Many people are attracted to small businesses that do right by their customers. They love hearing testimonials and success stories from people who have used your products and services. Sometimes, they feel so overjoyed and compelled by what your brand has to say that they tell their friends and family.

These are what we call referrals in the digital marketing industry. They are a tremendous sign that your business is doing all the right things and treating customers with respect. In a time where more people are skeptical of big corporations, a small business that leverages referral marketing along with the other big digital marketing techniques is sure to win over audiences.

In this article, we’ll dive into the basics of referral marketing and give you several reasons why you need to take it seriously. You will get lots of positive comments and more motivation to ramp up the digital marketing for your small business with our winning advice.

What is Referral Marketing?

There’s nothing too crazy about referral marketing to get at first glance. All referral marketing is when people spread the news about your business via word of mouth. It’s a little bit like search engine optimization in that much of it happens organically, but requires a little bit more of a push to get the ball rolling.

SEO is great for initially attracting traffic and potential customers, but referral marketing uses the existing customer base you already have. It involves using social media to encourage people to tell their friends and family about your business through special offers and incentives.

It also extends to providing exceptional customer service over the phone and by email. Anything you do that spreads a positive message about your business is fair game in making full use of referral marketing.

On our blog, we’ve often discussed the importance of social proof which is giving your customers concrete reasons and evidence as to why your product is the best. You back up your claims with customer testimonials, statistics, case studies, and white-papers typically. People feel more comfortable and trusting of your company.

Therefore, they will take action, and if they like your product and customer service well enough, word will spread. Referral marketing is all about establishing that level of trust and authority and giving your customers the best experience.

It’s also easy to see why referral marketing is a must for any small business to survive. Consider these following statistics from Nielsen:

• 85% of Millennials trust companies that have received glowing recommendations from people they know.
• Two-thirds of people shopping online trust online opinions about the services they buy.
• Referral marketing performs vastly well among all the big demographic groups.

Want more reasons to take referral marketing seriously? Here are some other statistics that will blow you away!

Leads from referrals perform up to 3x better for meeting revenue goals than other methods used (Influitive).
20-50% of all purchasing decisions were made because of referral marketing (McKinsey & Company).
85% of all small businesses rely on word-of-mouth marketing to survive and find new leads (Entrepreneur).

In a way, digital marketing is the path to optimizing your results with referral marketing. It’s always important to have a steady flow of referrals, but this takes time as you’re getting your feet wet in your niche. Referral marketing should always be something to strive for at any phase in building your business online.

How Can I Take Action With Referral Marketing?

Hopefully, you have a clearer understanding of the importance of referral marketing for small businesses. Tapping into the word-of-mouth will be what will ultimately keep your business going for the long term. Now, here are some ways you can increase the number of referral leads.

1. Create a Referral Program with Incentives

Many customers need incentives to tell their friends and family about your business. Outstanding customer service and a good product are still valuable, but people always like a bit of a gentle push. That’s where your incentives will convince them that they’ll be getting something in return. It’s rare for anyone to do something without some reward. You can take inspiration for your referral program by seeing how more prominent brands in your industry do it.

There’s all sorts of ways to create an active referral program. You can try using a points-based system where customers can rack up bonus points from referring a friend. Look at what your business is selling and get into the minds of your customers to know what they want. Maybe they would appreciate a gift card or a 10% discount.

Whatever you decide to go with, you should stick with it and see what happens. Use email marketing and social media to tell everyone about your program and make the necessary changes to your website to reflect the push. Create thank you pages with these incentives mentioned too.

2. Encourage Customers to Create Reviews

Part of what makes referral marketing work is proving to new customers that your product works. Customer reviews give people greater reasons to trust you. Conduct customer satisfaction surveys and ask your customers to leave a review of your product or service after use. They can write reviews on your Google My Business listing, your Facebook page, Yelp, and your BBB listing too! Google indexes these websites, so there’s no doubt that people will see them.

3. Connect with Top Influencers

With a strong social media presence, you can also kindly ask top influencers on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to endorse your product. Pulling this off may take some time, but the results will be more than worth the effort. It helps to gradually establish a relationship with the influencer of your choice by engaging with their content and sharing it on your social media. Then, you can reach out to them and ask if they’d like to try out your product or service and sponsor it.

4. Add Links to Your Referral Program on Your Site

This one’s probably one of the easiest ways you can get more people to share your business with others. Make sure you have social media links and icons on each page of your website in the navigation bar and footer.

Create a landing page for your referral program and details your customers should know. You want to make it as convenient as possible for others to share your products and services. Go as far as promoting your referral program in blog posts, thank you pages, your contact page, and any other place you know people will browse heavily.

5. Promote Your Website As Often as Possible

Above all, you need to find ways to promote your content and business as often as possible. Advertise your referral program using paid ads on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There’s not much of a point in having a referral program if you’re not doing all you can to tell everyone about it. You may need to do some experimentation to see what works here. It’s not always easy picking the brains of your customers at first, but we’re confident that with time, you’ll hit the sweet spot and get the ball rolling.


Referral marketing is responsible for much of the leads small businesses receive. It’s often the aftermath of strong digital marketing, content promotion, and outstanding customer service on the part of the company. Don’t expect referral marketing to take form without some intervention on your behalf.

Through a strong website design and aggressive digital marketing efforts, increasing your number of referrals is more than possible. For more information on digital marketing, keep reading our blog. Call us at 470-440-3434 or email [email protected] if you’d like to get a free consultation.