Win A Steady Flow of Leads with a Referral Campaign

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How to Win a Steady Flow of Leads with a Referral Campaign

Word-of-mouth referrals are an invaluable source of business in the propane gas industry. A referral from a friend or neighbor goes a long way because people trust people they know.

It’s brilliant! Your current customers help you find new customers, and you can just sit back and watch as the leads come in, right?

Not exactly. Waiting on a quality referral to come in is a waste of your time. You want to increase the pace of referrals, so you can make quicker financial gains.

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Instead of waiting, generate leads through a referral campaign.

Do you have customers who love your service? Then, help them help you!

Tap into your customer base to find happy customers that are willing to spread the good word about your company. Then, ask these customers to help you find new business.

A referral campaign will change your business not only by bringing you new leads, but by bringing you better quality leads who will more likely turn into customers.

A proactive referral campaign will make it easier for you to…

Talk to more prospects that trust your business

Or they at least trust their friend or neighbor’s recommendation. With that baseline of trust, you have a head start on making the sale.

Increased trust between prospect and your propane company will also…

  • Speed up the sales process.
  • Make price objections less common - they will trust your quality over slight price differences with your competitors.
  • Increase your closing ratio - most companies close at 10-30%, but referral-based sales close at 50-70%.

Because of these advantages, leads coming from referrals are 4-10 times as valuable as regular leads.

One more benefit to you, the leads cost less per lead than traditional marketing methods.

Now let’s discuss what you can do to generate more referrals online.

The Anatomy of Your Referral Campaign

A true referral campaign is more than a polite nudge to recommend your business to a friend. You need to make it easy for your customer to give you a name, and for your sales team to follow up on that lead.

There are two main components of a referral campaign:

  • The Ask
  • The Response

1The “Ask”

This is an effective example of the "ask" of a referral campaign because it has a simple message: refer a friend and you'll get $50 in free fuel. You know exactly what to do and what you get in return.

When you ask for a favor, it’s nice to offer something small in return. That’s why it makes sense to pair an incentive with your “ask” for a referral.

In the “ask” of this referral campaign, the propane company offers the advocate $50 in free fuel as an incentive for a referral.

The incentive doesn’t have to be big, but it is important. Otherwise, people might not take the time out of their day to bring you new business.

In fact, 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience—yet only 29% actually do. Incentives can increase the number of happy customers who actually take the extra step to refer a friend.

While monetary awards certainly work (like a gift card), non-cash incentives are 24% more effective at boosting performance than cash incentives.

For example, your propane gas company could offer a free tank installation, or some other industry-specific offer.

Or a silly hat!

Case in point, the company New Pig and marketing professional Jeffrey Johnson used a novelty, such as this crazy pig hat, to get people excited about sharing the New Pig brand with their friends and family. Who wouldn't want to wear a hat like this?

Check out this article for more examples of successful referral programs with incentives that can convince your current customers to attract new business to your local propane company.

2The “Response”

A customer will more likely provide a referral if you make it as easy for them as possible. So, it’s your job to take care of the little details that might keep your current customers from handing you the name of a referral.

An online form on your website will make it easy for your customers to provide you with the name of a prospective new customer. With just a dash of their fingers they can refer a friend, no need to walk out to the mailbox.

In this example of the “Response”, the propane company asks for some information on the current customer and the referral. But they are also adding a lot of friction: many of us don’t know our checking account number by heart -- much less the account number with our propane company! Don’t ask for these. This propane company can make this work with just a name and a phone number.

Online forms not only help the customer, they help you keep tabs on who referred whom. With better online tracking, you can make sure you show appreciation to the right customers for their help.

Finally, online forms can give you data so you can track progress and make changes to your campaign. For example, you can track how many leads are coming from social media vs email, and up your sharing on the more successful avenue. It's important to know how your marketing effort is influencing your customers

Promoting your Referral Campaign

A great place to start promoting your referral campaign is through email. Email clickthrough rates have been shown to be about 6x higher than Twitter, and generate 5x more impressions than a Facebook post to the same sized audience.

You do trust your clients to open your emails don’t you? If not, give us a call.

Beyond email, you should reach out to more customers by promoting your referral program on your website and through your phone conversations. To be successful, your customers will need to be reminded several times that you have a referral program.

Amplify the Voices of Your Advocates

We have seen this many times...companies come to us for marketing because word-of-mouth referrals aren’t helping them grow. But, that doesn’t mean these companies should give up on referrals altogether. You can fill your pipeline and win a steady flow of leads if you amplify that referral process.

Promoting your referral program on your website, email, and social media pages can increase the number of referrals, which in-hand increases the number of leads for your sales team to close.

Not only that, but these leads are more likely to close because they have a foundation of trust with whomever referred them.

By bringing in more valuable, trusting, leads, a referral campaign can help you grow your propane gas company.

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About the Author
is the Lead Strategist of Bright Orange Thread. Reach him at hfrancke@brightorangethread.com
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