If you want to increase sales and grow your customer base, it’s time to look to your customers to help you. Creating a customer referral plan might be what you need to increase foot traffic in your business and bring in new shoppers and clients.

Let’s look at how you can launch and grow a customer referral plan for your brick-and-mortar businesses – and why you should start this strategy today.

Why Do Customer Referrals Matter?

Customer referrals are a powerful way to attract new customers for a few reasons.

People trust recommendations. A Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report found that 83% of people say they trust the recommendations of friends and family. People look to their family and friends to guide them toward great products and services.

People like to experience what their family and friends experience. When people see their family and friends having great experiences – whether it’s showing off an amazing new piece of clothing or sharing a photo of a beautiful meal out at a restaurant, it creates FOMO. The fear of missing out drives people to want to have experiences for themselves.

Customer referrals are an inexpensive marketing tactic. Word-out-mouth has and will always be a powerful marketing tactic. And, the cost of referral marketing is usually only as expensive as the offers you give to customers to send new business your way. It’s often less than new customer acquisition costs associated with other marketing tactics.

How to Boost Customer Referrals

Now that you see how a customer referral program can benefit your business, let’s look at a few ways that you can find the most success with your plan.

1. Create a customer referral program.

First things first, create a true customer referral program. Don’t just ask your customer or clients to send in a friend. Lay out a detailed plan for how your program works, how you can track referrals, and what you will give as referral incentives. Referral incentives (such as free coupons, discounts, and free items) can go to the referrer, referee, or both parties.

2. Track your results to see what works.

Part of why it’s so important to have an established customer referral program is because it makes it easier for you to track results. Tracking results is just as important as outlining your plans because it allows you to go back and look at what specific tactics, customers, and program led to the best results. This insight allows you to stop strategies that aren’t working and ramp up strategies that are.

3. Make it easy for both parties to participate.

As you lay out the plan for your program, repeatedly ask yourself, “is this easy for everyone involved?” You want to make the system simple so referrers can easily promote your program, referees can easily claim their benefits, and your staff can easily manage the process. If it’s too confusing or difficult, none of the involved parties are going to work to make it work.

4. Encourage customers to share their experience on social media.

Sometimes you don’t need customers to even know that they are helping you with referral marketing. When customers share their experience related to your brand on social media, it’s like they are actively engaging in referral marketing, even if it’s not intentional on their part. So encourage your customers to share their experiences on social media. This helps get your brand in front of your customers’ family and friends, and it triggers FOMO that can lead new customers to your business.

5. Highlight and feature your top customers.

Another way to get your customers to put your brand in front of their family and friends is by giving the customer something specific to share on social media. Create a piece of content that features or highlights them as a top customer. The customer may be so excited about being featured that they share the story through their social channels – introducing your brand to their family and friends.

6. Host a “plus one” event.

Get customers to bring a customer referral with them the next time they visit your business by hosting an exclusive “plus one” event. A plus one event is an in-store special occasion where you invite your loyal customers to come in and experience something exclusive (like a special sale, extended hours, or immersive experience) and bring a family member or friend. The event allows you to serve loyal customers while making introductions with new potential customers.

7. Promote your program to the right people at the right place at the right time.

To get the most customer referrals, focus on promoting the program to your most loyal customers. They are the people most likely to refer others to your brand. Also, promote the program when customers are most likely to participate. Highlight your customer referral program during check-out, and follow-up with customers after their purchase through email marketing.

8. Exceed customer expectations.

Finally, if you want to get customers to refer their family and friends to your business, provide an exceptional experience. Customers who love your brand will refer your company even without incentives. So focus on giving every customer a memorable and stellar brand experience they will want to talk about.

For tips on how to engage and impress your customers, get our free ebook How to Create Exceptional Customer Experiences. It explains how you can uplift and improve your in-store experiences to leave lasting positive impressions on shoppers and clients.

Using these tips you’ll be able to create a branded experience that customers can’t help but share with their family and friends.