83% of customers are willing to refer but………

QUESTION – how do I maximise repeat business and referral rates?

THOUGHT – create evangelists

There are few people I try harder to avoid than religious, sporting, or political evangelists. Being sold on a God I will never believe in, a sporting team I will never care about, or a political grouping I don’t respect is monumentally alienating.

That said, in business, few things are more important than an evangelist, and there is much to be gained from having customers who are not just happy and repeat purchasing – but also singing the praises of the business – just like an American born-again Christian on television on a Sunday.

A recent study found that 83% of customers are willing the make a referral, but only 29% actually do. That is, while 83% of people have had an experience that warrants a referral, less than 30% follow through.
To quote the late, great Julius Sumner-Miller – why is this so?

It might be that some customers do not have an opportunity to refer. However, research suggests that the most critical issue is that customers don’t get around to it, don’t think about it, or simply forget. This highlights the potential impact of strategies designed to encourage the 83% to refer.

Research points to the importance of a referral marketing programme involving one or more of a range of tactics including:

  • Giving cash rewards to referrers
  • Offering discounts on future purchasers for referrals
  • Enabling referrers to look good by offering referees a special offer
  • Rewarding referrals with a contribution to causes customers support
  • Incentivising referrers or rewarding referees in some other way

There is also the growing potential to develop a brand community or tribe, which, in addition to rewarding and reminding referrers, offers another point of initial engagement for referees.

Some 61% of corporates in the United States have established or are in the process of building a brand community, a tribe with shared values and a common interest in the brand. These customers will become repeat purchases and active referrers to both the brand and the community.

In this regard, it is worth reading Tribes, by Seth Godin. Given effective leadership, shared values and effective ongoing communication, brand communities can drive repeat business and referral.


Don’t just rely on good customer experiences to drive referral and repeat business. Understand that most who could refer don’t – no matter how good the experience.

Consider developing a brand community or tribe with shared values. The community will be held together by ongoing communication.


Super Office, Shaun Buck, Saasquatch, Hubspot, ShareSomeFriends, Journal of Marketing, Nielsen, Texas Technical University, INC and Customer Experience Insight


MORE THOUGHTS – www.djohncarlsonesq.com 

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