Referral Marketing Part One: The 3 Types of Referrals

Did you know that 74% of consumers consider word of mouth to be one of the most influential touchpoints on their way to making a purchase?1 For purchases big or small, consulting friends, family and others online before buying is something most of us do. So how can B2B companies take advantage of this buyer power paradigm?

The best way to encourage customers to recommend your products and services is to invest in referral marketing. In this two-part mini blog series, we’ll walk you through the different types of referrals and identify seven easy tactics to incorporate in your referral marketing strategy.

Let’s talk referral basics.

Here’s a breakdown of the three main types of referrals your business might encounter as you grow:

1. Experience-Based Referrals

This is the first type of referral that comes to mind for most marketers when looking to drive new business. Experience-based referrals are derived from direct experience working with your company. If your current customers value your services, your people and the work that you do, they might choose to share this goldmine with their friends and business partners. Carrying much more weight than the other two types of recommendations, experience-based referrals require a little more effort to secure. Some of your current and past customers may have a tough time getting their leadership to approve case studies and other referral takeaways that can live online or in print. But if you’re able to procure these resources or encourage word of mouth referrals, you’re setting yourself up for more qualified leads and beneficial partnerships.

2. Reputation-Based Referrals

When professionals are familiar with your business and its reputation but haven’t yet worked with you directly, they might still be likely to refer you to friends, family and other business professionals who could benefit from your offerings. Reputation-based referrals assume that your projects and overall track record are well-known to those in the industry or to the general public. Businesses that have a large reach are more likely to receive these referrals, but that also means that they most likely build up this awareness by regularly touting their successes and participating in their community through online and offline engagement. If you’re really looking to stand out among your competitors and acquire new customers through this type of referral, you’ll need to invest conscious effort into building brand awareness and maintaining good relationships with your audience.

3. Specialization-Based Referrals

On the flip side of reputation-based referrals lie specialization-based referrals. These referrals come from people who are aware of your specialization and general services but lack any real knowledge about your reputation. While not as powerful and often overlooked, recommendations based on pure presence in your niche can still put your brand out there in front of your desired audience. But be prepared to put some muscle into exhibiting your unique value to referral leads; they won’t know the level of service you can provide and won’t arrive with previous knowledge about your experience or industry standing.

Don’t forget to ask new leads how they heard about you so you can refine your referral marketing strategy and work on tactics to increase brand awareness. A solid marketing strategy takes advantage of all three types of referrals by investing time, energy and talent into these tactics.

Read part two for seven top referral marketing tips. Do you need help with referral marketing or other B2B marketing services? Schedule a free consultation with our B2B marketing agency experts to review your top marketing struggles and goals and get recommendations on the best tactics for your business.

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In this consultation, we’ll review your current marketing efforts, challenges and goals to provide our expert recommendations. Your takeaway will be a free Marketing Plan Summary delivered within one week of your session.

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1. Google, When the Path to Purchase Becomes the Path to Purpose