By Michele Swetesich-Leon

Asking for Referrals Online

In a world of digital communications asking for referrals is easier than ever.  So where and when do you ask for online referrals?

The when is the same regardless whether you are asking online or not.  Whenever you’re providing value or whenever people respond positively to your product or service you should be asking for a referral.

As for the where, here are the 5 most obvious and overlooked places.

1st – Everyday Emails

This is a no-brainer, and in my experience the most overlooked opportunity to ask for a referral.  It’s as simple as including a “PS” with your email signature.  Your PS might say, “Do you know anyone who needs assistance with _______ (fill in the blank with your service)?  Share this link with them.”  Include a link that goes to a web or landing page specific to that service.

Another option would be to ask for a review.  Remember in part two of Ask And You Shall Receive I talked about testimonial referrals.  A review falls in that category.  In this instance your PS might say,

“PS  Let us know how we’re doing.  Click the ‘Review Us’ button.”

Review us icon

Link the button to a custom survey you’ve created with specific questions or to a review site where they can write a review in their own words.  It’s a good idea to limit the number of characters allowed for each response to around 300.

2nd – Blog/Website

Including SHARE buttons with your blog posts and on your web pages allows people to easily share things they like.  While you may assume people will do this without asking them don’t count on it.  Always include a Call to Action (CTA).  Here’s an example of a simple CTA:  “If you enjoyed this post, share it!”  Make sure to include share buttons to various social media platforms as well as an option to share by email.

3rd – Online Workshops/Webinars

You’ve likely signed up for a webinar and the person promoting it included a CTA asking you to share the event with others you know who would be interested.  They included share buttons to make it as simple as possible for sharing.  They may even have offered an incentive to get more shares.  For instance, a common tactic is offering an incentive to those who get a certain number of people to register.  This can be done by using a referral tracking program.  I’ve seen incentives as basic as a free copy of an e-book to more extravagant things such as free travel and accommodations to conferences.  The incentive doesn’t have to have monetary value for it to be valuable.

Whether you’re offering an incentive or not you should always have a CTA to share your events, even if the event itself is not online.  When someone does share your event it’s an impersonal endorsement, and yes, it is a referral.

4th – Co-Marketing

Creating and alliance with companies whose products/services compliment you’re products/services is a great way to extend your reach and credibility.  When patrons of one company see that company co-marketing with other companies, it’s comparable to a personal referral, which carries a lot of weight.  Obviously, before you get in bed with another company, you’ll want to do your due diligence.  Getting in bed with the wrong company could do more damage than good.  “Always look under the covers, between the sheets and under the bed before you agree to co-market with another company.”  And yes, that’s a tweetable.

5th – Email Newsletters

It’s common practice to send a confirmation email when someone subscribes to your newsletter.  If you’re not doing this you should be.  The confirmation is a way to thank people for signing up.  It’s also a perfect opportunity to ask for a referral.  Here’s a sample message a bakery might send after someone signs up for their newsletter.

“Thanks for subscribing to our weekly newsletter, Fresh Out of the Oven.  As a subscriber you’ll receive special offers, baking tips, recipes, and other treats.  If you know someone who would be interested in receiving this information please share this sign-up link to them.

Thanks again for subscribing.

~ Bon Appetit”

Why didn’t I just say:  “Thanks for subscribing.  Do you know anyone who would be interested in signing up?”  Because I wanted to reiterate the value of signing up to motivate them.   I chose certain words to achieve that, which is another topic altogether.   I could have offered an incentive such as, a free loaf of bread for signing up three friends.  Keep in mind, if you decide to offer an incentive make certain it has value to your audience.

Every newsletter you send can have some CTA to get referrals.  If you include a personal introduction include a PS with your signature.  Always include a ‘refer a friend’ option with your email newsletters.  You can also ask for specifics like an online review on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Yelp.  Always make it as simple and easy as possible to act on your request by including links and buttons.

Remember, happy customers are happy to help you.  So, Ask And You Shall Receive.

PS  If you enjoyed this series on referrals, please share it!