How to use marketing automations after a referral to increase sales

Referrals are an essential part of e-commerce sales growth, but what happens after you've received one? That's where the magic of marketing automation comes in.

January 5, 2024

Imagine that someone has just referred a new customer to your online store. It's an opportunity, but the real challenge is to exploit it effectively.

Marketing automation is like a toolbox designed to nurture these referrals, transforming them from one-off interactions into lasting customer relationships.

In this article, we'll look at how you can harness the power of marketing automation after a referral.

We'll discuss strategies for engaging customers immediately, tailoring your communications to their needs, and ensuring that these potential customers don't just visit your store, but become loyal customers.

Understanding the role of referral

Why is referral such a hot topic?

In e-commerce, referral programs are worth their weight in gold.

When a customer recommends your company to someone else, it's not just a potential sale, it's also a seal of approval.

It means that someone has been impressed enough with your products or services to recommend them to others. That's a big deal!

The impact of referrals on sales and trust

Referrals are powerful because they are accompanied by intrinsic trust.

Think about it: are you more inclined to try a new coffee because you've seen an advertisement, or because your best friend, who knows your tastes, recommended it to you?

The same principle applies to e-commerce.

A referral carries more weight than any marketing campaign because it's rooted in genuine customer satisfaction and trust.

Referral: more than just word-of-mouth

While referrals often begin as word-of-mouth, they extend far beyond that.

Referrals can come from social media shares, customer reviews, referral codes, and much more.

Each of these channels extends your brand's potential reach and opens up new avenues for sales growth.

Why do referrals deserve special attention?

Referrals are a sign that you're doing something right, but they're also an opportunity to do even better.

When someone recommends your brand, they give you access to a new network of potential customers who may have similar interests and needs to you.

By focusing on these recommended customers with the right strategies, you can create a more personalized shopping experience, increasing the likelihood of conversion and customer renewal.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is about using software to automate your marketing activities.

It's like having an assistant take care of routine tasks so you can concentrate on what's important.

Marketing Automation

The power of automation in marketing

Imagine having to send a personalized thank-you email to every new referral, or a follow-up message to every potential customer who visits your site but abandons their shopping cart.

Doing it manually for every customer can be tedious, can't it?

That's where marketing automation comes in. It automates these tasks, ensuring that every customer receives a timely, personalized response, without you having to lift a finger for every email or message.

More than just email automation

While email is an important element of marketing automation, it's not the whole story.

Marketing automation can encompass a whole range of activities, from social media posts to campaign tracking, customer segmentation and data analysis.

It's all about creating a seamless, integrated experience for your customers, no matter how or where they interact with your brand.

Why use marketing automation after a referral?

Capitalize on initial interest

When a customer recommends your brand, he's basically sending you a pre-qualified prospect. 

This recommended person is already interested, thanks to the trust transferred by the initial customer.

Marketing automation enables you to act quickly, capitalizing on this initial interest.

Automated welcome emails, special offers and an introduction to your brand story can be sent instantly, making the most of this critical window of opportunity.

Build a personalized journey

Every referral brings a unique individual to your door.

Marketing automation helps you tailor the customer journey to these individuals.

By tracking their interactions, preferences and behavior on your site, automated systems can deliver personalized recommendations, content and offers, creating a tailored shopping experience.

Maintain engagement consistently

Consistency is key to maintaining customer relationships.

Manual follow-up, verification and engagement can be tedious.

Marketing automation ensures that every referred customer receives constant communication, updates and attention, which is essential for converting their initial interest into a loyal customer relationship.

Use resources efficiently

Marketing automation is a resource-saving approach.

Instead of allocating human resources to repetitive tasks, your team can concentrate on more strategic initiatives such as product development, market research and improving customer service.

This efficiency not only saves time, it also saves money and allows you to better allocate your budget.

Collect and use data

One of the underestimated benefits of marketing automation is its ability to collect and analyze customer data.

Every interaction a referred customer has with your automated systems provides valuable information.

This data can be used to refine your marketing strategies, develop better products and even improve your referral program itself.

Expand your efforts

Finally, as your brand grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain personalized relationships with a growing customer base.

Marketing automation adapts to your business, handling larger volumes of customers without losing the personal touch that makes your brand stand out.

6 reasons to use marketing automation after a referral

8 automation ideas after a referral

1. Welcome campaigns

Create a series of automated welcome emails that begin with a heartfelt thank you for the referral. 

The first email can introduce your brand and offer a unique welcome discount or gift as a thank you. 

Follow-up emails can guide them through your product range, share customer testimonials and offer tips on how to get the most out of your products or services. 

Remember that the tone should be friendly and welcoming, so that the referred customer feels valued and part of your community.

2. Educational content series

New referrals may not be very familiar with your brand. 

Develop a series of emails that educate newcomers about your brand. 

Start with your brand story (why you started, what you stand for and what makes you different). 

Later messages can focus on best-selling products, behind-the-scenes information and user guides. 

This email sequence helps establish a closer link with your brand and informs customers, helping them in their decision-making process.

3. Personalized product recommendations

Use customer data to create personalized product recommendations. 

These can be based on their browsing history, the purchase history of the person who recommended them, or general trends among similar customer profiles. 

Automated emails or in-app messages containing these recommendations can help customers discover products they like, increasing the likelihood of a purchase.

4. Re-engagement campaign

The key to effective re-engagement communications is timing and relevance. 

For example, if a customer has viewed a specific category but not made a purchase, you can send an automated email a few days later featuring popular items in that category. 

Similarly, for cart abandonments, a reminder email with a gentle tone, perhaps offering help or a small discount, can encourage them to complete the purchase. 

Regular but not too frequent content updates, such as new blog posts or product launches, can also be shared to keep your brand fresh in their minds.

5. Gathering reviews and feedback

After a purchase, schedule an automated email to ask for feedback on the product, ideally shortly after they receive it. 

See this post about ​​how to ask for a review

Personalize the message by including the product name and a direct link to the review page to make it as easy as possible for them. 

Encourage honest reviews and assure them that their feedback is crucial to improving your offerings. 

Then respond to all reviews, whether positive or negative. You show that you value customer feedback and are committed to providing them with excellent service.

6. Referral program reminders

Don't forget to loop in your own referral program.

Use automation to periodically remind your customers of the benefits of the program.

This can be done via a newsletter, a banner in their account dashboard or a pop-up in your app.

Share stories or testimonials from customers who have earned rewards through referral to motivate others.

Consider creating special occasions, such as a double bonus day, to add excitement.

7. Milestone celebrations

Automated celebrations of milestones can be a pleasant surprise for customers.

For example, on the anniversary of a customer's first purchase, send an automated email to celebrate their "One year with us" and perhaps offer them a special discount or small gift.

For more frequent customers, celebrate their 5th, 10th or 20th purchase with exclusive offers or access to limited products.

These gestures make customers feel appreciated and reinforce their decision to choose your brand.

8. Exclusive offers for referred customers

Treat referred customers like VIPs by offering them exclusive deals.

These can include early access to sales, special bundles or products not yet available to the general public.

You can automate the sending of these offers a few days or weeks after their first purchase, to ensure that they remain loyal to your brand.

Exclusive offers not only reward referred customers, they also encourage them to return for all the unique experiences your brand has to offer.

8 automation ideas after a referral

10 tips for effective automation campaigns

Understand your audience

Before launching a campaign, it's essential to understand who your target audience is.

Gather as much data as possible (their preferences, buying behavior and demographics).

By tailoring your campaigns to your audience, you'll dramatically increase their effectiveness.

Segment your audience

Not all referred customers are the same. 

Segment your audience according to different criteria such as how they were sponsored, their interests, their age or their position in the customer journey.

This enables more targeted and relevant communication, which is more likely to lead to engagement and conversion.

Personalize your messages

Personalization is key. Use the data you have to personalize your campaigns, whether that means addressing customers by name or recommending products based on their previous behavior.

Personalization goes a long way towards making customers feel appreciated and understood.

Test and optimize

Always test different aspects of your campaigns, such as email subject lines, content and delivery times.

Use A/B testing to see what works best with your audience.

Ongoing testing and optimization are essential to improving the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Keep content relevant and engaging

Your content should be both informative and engaging.

Avoid overly salesy language.

Instead, focus on how your products or services can solve problems or improve the customer's life. Engaging content can be educational, entertaining or emotionally appealing.

Adopt a multi-channel approach

Don't limit your campaigns to a single channel.

Combine email, social media, SMS, in-app notifications, etc. to create a complete campaign that reaches customers wherever they are.

But make sure your message is consistent across all channels.

Monitor and analyze campaign performance

Regularly monitor the performance of your campaigns.

Track indicators such as open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates and ROI.

Analyze this data to understand what's working and what's not. Use this information to make informed adjustments to your campaigns.

Read this post to learn the 7 KPIs to track to improve your referral program

Maintain a consistent brand voice

Your brand voice needs to be consistent across all automated communications.

This contributes to brand recognition and trust.

Whether your brand voice is professional, friendly, quirky or serious, make sure it's reflected in all messages and across all channels.

Don't overwhelm your audience

Watch the frequency of your communications.

If you bombard your customers with too many messages, they risk disengaging.

Find the right balance between maintaining contact and respecting their space.

Add feedback requests

Encourage customer feedback in your campaigns.

This can be opinions on products, the buying experience or the marketing messages themselves.

Listening to your customers and adapting to their input can dramatically improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.

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