As referral marketing becomes an even more prominent and established part of the partner marketing ecosystem, we have witnessed more advanced technology coming from this space. To better illustrate this, Director of Partnerships at Partnerize, Jessica Henig recently had the opportunity to sit down with the Chief Commercial Officer at Soreto, Ricki Jones, to hear his thoughts on how referral marketing has evolved, and best practices for retail marketers around the world. Rick has more than 15 years of experience in the performance marketing space and as one of our globally integrated partners, Soreto is well-positioned to shed light on industry trends that give us insight into how marketers can incorporate better customer advocates, and leverage referral marketing and social sharing to fuel customer acquisition.
Jessica Henig: Let’s start with the basics, how does referral marketing help affiliate programs?
Ricki Jones: Essentially, referral marketing is a marketing channel that enables clients to harness the power of word of mouth and generate new customers by utilising existing ones. By incentivising customers who are advocates of your brand, clients are able to not only drive social media reach via these customers, but also generate sales from customers who have not previously purchased from them.
As we work with affiliate networks and work purely on a CPA, it can be an excellent addition to a clients affiliate/partner program and (as far as I know), Soreto is the only partner of its type that works with affiliate networks/SaaS platforms.
JH: In light of current events, and especially in a post-COVID ecommerce world, how has this channel evolved in the last few years?
RJ: The biggest change we have seen in this industry is, due to the fact that this type of activity is predominantly online, customers are much more likely to shop on the internet, particularly as in some territories bricks and mortar stores have been closed for some time. In addition, as the markets in most territories generally have suffered as a result of the pandemic and the disposable income people have is squeezed, consumers are keen to hunt out a discount or some form of reward on their purchase, which is a big part of what Soreto does.
On a more general note, we have seen a big change in clients who are willing to run referral marketing activity compared to when we first launched in 2018. It seems like a much better understood channel now, although we do understand that some clients won’t be aware of this channel in detail. We have an incredibly strong and detail oriented tech team and they are continually adding/launching new products and features – we also have something game changing coming later in the year, so watch this space!
JH: What’s the growth opportunity for retailers through Soreto? How can marketers leverage their best customers to drive new ones?
RJ: The basic premise is to offer some form of reward to customers who have just checked out on a clients website – this message is displayed in an overlay that displays once a customer lands on the confirmation page. The reward can be anything, from a %/$ off discount on their next purchase, a gift card, or some value added products or service (for example, free delivery). It can even be something as simple as promoting a client’s standard offers, although the share rate and conversion rate will be dictated by how strong this offer is. Basically, the more compelling the reward, the more likely customers are to share the reward with their friends and family – with an average share rate of 10% and a conversion rate of 20% across all of our 200 clients, it is clear to see the benefits of having a referral scheme. We also work on a pure CPA for most clients, so it’s extremely cost effective.
Soreto handles the entire process, from building the overlay/emails we send/landing pages to direct customers through to – of course, we work closely with the client to ensure everything is signed off prior to launch, but aside from signing off the reward to run with and integrating tags, the client doesn’t need to do anything else to run a campaign with Soreto.
JH: Is there a minimum or size of current customers that a brand should have before they work with you?
RJ: We will work with most clients on a pure CPA, although for some smaller clients we do charge a nominal monthly fee. We suggest that, in order to give the campaign the best chance of success, a client needs to be generating 1,500 sales online per month. The more customers that are checking out and seeing the referral message, the more people will be sharing (and therefore purchasing) so the more customers a client has, the more exposure the message will get.
JH: What are your top 3 best practices that you would give to marketers who are just beginning to look into referral marketing technology?
RJ: Firstly, try and make the reward for customers as compelling as possible. It’s important that you try and incentivize the customers to share with their friends so make the reward something they are excited about sharing. Secondly, don’t over complicate it – you don’t need to put unnecessary barriers up when putting something together. Make sure that it is easy to understand and to follow. And thirdly, make sure you test different offers with your customers and split test different rewards and creative/copy to find the sweet spot of what works best.
Also check out our definitive guide on affiliate marketing.