In our last post, we looked at how referral fees might be costing you more than they are worth. Between high fees, inaccurate fees, and subpar results, referrals and third party marketing programs may not be all they are cracked up to be. 

Referrals to your business, however, are not. In fact, one Nielsen study revealed that 92 percent of people trust referrals from people they know. That means that if someone thinks about and recommends your business to friends and family who need your products and services, there is a very good chance that those friends and family will turn into solid leads for your business. 

Personal referrals such as these are, because they are trusted so implicitly by most people, preferable to the referrals you get through businesses like Yelp. And, they are possible through the affordable strategies of digital marketing. 

Digital marketing earns you referrals by encouraging networking.

Digital marketing helps you earn those valuable personal referrals primarily through social media marketing. Social media marketing refers to strategies you use to promote your brand on social media.

Social media marketing is the ideal way to earn referrals for your business because it gives you access to not just your target audiences but also to their networks of friends and family. 

For example, say you run a jewelry store. You begin to post regularly on Facebook, and take the time to respond to comments from others and leave your own comments on followers’ pages. Eventually, one of your followers places an order for an engagement ring. When they post their engagement photos on Facebook, they tag you with a note of thanks for your prompt service and high quality jewelry. 

Now, everyone in their network can see your name associated with someone they know and trust. Next time they need jewelry, they are more likely to think of you. 

In addition, you may find that same customer, in personal conversations with others in their network, recommends your business. When their cousin is looking for engagement rings, for example, your customer might send them right over to you. The cost for all this brand awareness and activity? A few hours of posting and commenting. 

Digital marketing earns you referrals by providing a place for positive reviews. 

Personal referrals earned through social media marketing are not the only referrals you can earn through digital marketing. You can also earn less direct referrals through positive customer reviews. For example, Google, Yelp, Amazon, and other places allow customers to rate businesses and leave comments about their experiences.  

Positive reviews are viewed as very reliable by customers. One UK consumer report found that 84 percent of shoppers trusted these reviews more than even recommendations from friends and family. 

People will leave reviews, both good and bad, whether you engage in digital marketing or not. However, digital marketing allows you to use these reviews to your advantage. 

For example, if you build a website, you can include testimonials from happy customers on your site. You can even integrate product-specific reviews into your product pages. You can choose to include testimonials you solicit from happy clients, integrate Google or Yelp reviews, encourage people to check out your reviews on places like Google, and more.

Just remember: You cannot compensate anyone in exchange for a positive review. Allow reviews to be heartfelt and natural, and you stand a better chance of earning leads and customers from customers’ happy recommendations. 

Digital marketing lets you manage your referrals.

Digital marketing doesn’t just make it easier to earn referrals. It also allows you to manage your reviews, referrals, and testimonials.

For example, social media allows you to gain access to your target audiences and their networks of friends and family. This means that, if you impress your target audience, they are more likely to recommend you to their friends and family. 

However, you can also expect people to lodge complaints about your business on social media and review sites. These complaints can hurt your business if you don’t deal with them promptly. 

Having a strong digital marketing campaign allows you to deal with these complaints swiftly. For example, part of social media marketing includes responding to unhappy customers and directing them to a solution or to your customer service team. Answering negative reviews on Yelp allows you to assuage frustration and publicly demonstrate your willingness to make things right. 

As a result, a digital marketing campaign that actively handles and responds to reviews can improve how people view your brand, even when customers’ perceptions of your company are less than ideal.

Digital marketing has the potential to earn you reviews and recommendations for much less (and with better results) than third party services. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a digital marketing company like Distinct Web Design to craft a digital marketing campaign that helps you get people talking about you.