The appetite for goods and services has changed over the last decade. With over 4.4 billion users on the Internet, customers are increasingly relying on their friends and family for reviews and recommendations.

Word-of-mouth is the leading force of all consumer choices by 20-50%. More millennials rely on recommendations from friends than from traditional TV advertising. 84% of customers go for referrals from friends before buying. Customers are 50 times more likely to buy something when a friend or family suggests a brand.

To capture these consistent referrers, you can turn them into loyal advocates for your brand. Here is how you can go above and beyond to capture their attention and engage them to utilize your referral program.

Making it about the customers

As a brand, go the extra mile for your most loyal advocates. Make sure that your email messaging, social posts, and other marketing channels reflect the benefits that your customers get for referring people to your company.

A referral program is about adding importance to them in fostering your brand’s community of fans. You are encouraging people to be your supporters by balancing the value of benefits with incentives. It makes it enjoyable and rewarding to introduce members to the community.

When you talk about a referral program, stay away from talking about what’s in it for your business.  Speak more about the incentives and benefits for supporters who make referrals and the discounts available for people who become referrals.

Show consumer testimonials or spotlights that your customers can get excited about and will want to share with their friends and families. These also serve to create trust among your current customers which can increase loyalty and repeat business. Spotlight loyal advocates as thought leaders. If you make your top customers feel special, they will be lifelong supporters. If you like any of their ideas, make the most of them and give credit when it is due to both obtain their loyalty and improve your product or services. The more you focus on your customers, the more referrals and repeat business you’ll get!

People love surprises

Another thing you should do to keep things exciting for your clients is to randomly drop new deals or discounts. Using these to incentivize your top advocates can be a powerful way to keep your brand top of mind for people with a history of sending you referrals.

For those in the referral program, you can send them an exclusive discount or access to a portion of the business not available to most customers. Special promotions, early access to new products, or limited-edition releases work as well. You can make the referral program more interesting by giving them some sort of special incentive around their birthday so they see you as a caring business.

Regular communication is key to staying top of mind

Often, businesses are worried about being annoying or hitting people with too many emails. This can be a problem if you’re really over the top, but as long as you use common sense, regular communication can be extremely powerful.

No one wants a brand that is not authentic. To be frank, more brands need to pull back the curtain. Creating a personal relationship with customers is not as difficult as most people seem to think it is. A business that communicates in an authentic way will appeal to its biggest advocates and will create excitement whenever those emails arrive.

By communicating consistently and frequently, you’ll see how critical their loyalty is to your business. Not only do you have to communicate on a regular basis, but you have to be accessible and responsive to incoming messages. Letting your customers reach your company by phone, email, text message, video chat, website, application, and social media is easy and convenient for them and makes them feel more welcome to come to you with any issues or problems (and to send referrals your way).

Conclusion

As a company, every interaction with a customer is important. By personalizing the customer experience, giving incentives, and coming off as human to your customers, consumers are not only going to be loyal; they are going to be brand champions.