How to Use Email to Boost Your Referral Campaign

How to Use Email to Boost Your Referral Campaign

Who doesn’t love referrals?

I love them. When Happy Grasshopper gets a referral, someone is out there recommending us, telling people how good we are and vouching for us. When someone refers me, it certainly makes me feel good, but that’s not why referrals are important. What’s significant is that potential buyers of my service will put more stock into the recommendation of a client, friend, neighbor or relative than they will any direct sales or marketing effort on my part.

The question is, how do you get people to refer you?

There are a few things you can do to boost referrals. You can ask people face-to-face – an inefficient (but effective) way of getting people to refer you. You can generate referrals through social media. And you can create emails that boost your referrals.

I won’t get into a discussion about your face-to-face efforts because I’m all about both effectiveness and efficiency, and I’ll focus on using social media in another blog post.

In this blog post, I’ll teach you how to use email to boost your referrals.

First off, I must emphasize you shouldn’t ask for a referral in every email you send. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient of the email. Would you want anyone sending you message after message only asking for referrals? You’d probably think all this person wants to do is use you. (And you would be right.) Soon, you’d simply start to ignore the messages, you’d send them to spam, or you’d opt out of receiving any messages from the individual. Not the outcome you want.

(Some people have had success in asking for a referral in every message by putting the request in a P.S. at the end of each message or adding a line about referrals to their signature. These may still be off-putting to some, but most will not mind it because it’s not the focus of every message. However, after seeing a referral request in every email, the P.S. or signature line message will soon be ignored.)

A more effective approach

I recommend incorporating referrals in a continual email campaign that is sent to your sphere – your friends, family, vendors you’ve worked with, and past clients. These are people who know you and what you do. They are people who would be happy to refer you, but don’t want a request for referrals to be the only communication you send to them.

At Happy Grasshopper, we write fun and friendly messages our members can choose from to send to their sphere every three weeks. If an occasional referral message arrives among the others to remind them you’d like them to recommend your services, they’re more likely to take those messages to heart because you’ve been keeping in touch and building your relationship with them.

So, what should the actual messages look like?

Subject lines

First, let’s look at the subject lines and what should not be there:

  1. Click off the “Caps Lock” button on your keyboard. No one likes to be shouted at, and ALL CAPS is the equivalent of shouting.
  2. Avoid exclamation marks! The subject line should have enough emphasis to open the email; the exclamation adds no value. Periods and commas are okay, but usually unnecessary. Question marks are the most common punctuation mark you’ll use, because asking a question is an excellent way to get people to open an email.
  3. Check your spelling. It’s especially important that you spell check the words in your subject line. You also don’t want to use “their” when you mean “there,” “are” when you mean “our,” “our” when you want to use “hour,” and “then” when you mean “than.”
  4. Watch out for “trigger” words and phrases that get a lot of emails thrown into spam. A “100% Guarantee,” something that’s “Free,” can make you “big $$$,” and has “no obligation” and is definitely “not junk mail” are a few of the words and phrases that can appear to be “spammy” to your email’s spam filters. I’m not sure if anyone has developed the unabridged list of all spam-triggered words or phrases in subject lines, but this link will show you some of the more common ones: https://www.simplycast.com/blog/100-top-email-spam-trigger-words-and-phrases-to-avoid/#post.

Your subject line should neither be too short nor too long. One word subject lines are rarely effective. Lengthy subject lines tend to bog readers down, and you don’t want them falling asleep before they open your message. What’s the “Goldilocks” – just right – length of an email subject line? That’s the wrong question. If you get into the kind of metrics that demand X number of words or XX number of characters in the subject line, you’ll not be focused on the right thing.

The right thing is what is going to get your potential referrer to open the email. An intriguing question. An offer or reward. A call for the recipient’s help. Something that contradicts common wisdom. A straight-forward “I’d Like Your Referral”. Any of these could work. Just remember to avoid those “trigger” words that make you sound like spam in a can.

Greetings and salutations

You know the kind of email I will either completely ignore or immediately hit the “unsubscribe” option? It’s the one that greets me with “Dear dan@happygrasshopper.com.” No way is this email appealing to me. I also don’t react well to “Dan Stewart” or “Daniel Stewart” or Daniel. I’m Dan (unless it’s a relative writing to scold me).

And “Dear” should be left for love letters. When you’re emailing a friend, a relative and others in your sphere, a “Hi Dan,” “Hey Dan,” or “Hello Dan” is more appropriate.

When you send out referral requests to your database, you must make sure the first name is the name the person prefers. Because the people you’re reaching out to are people you know, address them the way you know them. If William is known as Billy or Bill, use Billy or Bill. If you’re addressing Elizabeth and you’ve always called her Elizabeth, that’s what you use. But, if it’s Betty or Beth or Liz or Lizzy, you should always use the moniker the recipient prefers.

What’s in the body?

Again, we come to the Goldilocks issue: How long should your message be? Again, wrong question. You obviously want the recipient to understand what you are asking for – referrals. You also don’t want to sound curt by being so business-like it doesn’t sound like you’re talking to someone you know. And you don’t want the recipient to look at paragraph after paragraph of copy that never seems to end.

Mostly, the content of the body must satisfy the headline by either answering a question or completing the information promised in the headline. Generally, people will be able to see the first few lines of the email without ever opening it. Those first lines don’t necessarily have to completely satisfy the premise of the subject line, but readers should see that the first few lines are leading them in that direction.

Our standard keep-in-touch messages usually conclude with a “call to conversation,” as opposed to the sales pitch “call to action,” or “ask for the business” closing. When you are requesting a referral, however, you must provide a call to action. You can’t be ambiguous. You might state:

“So, (FIRST NAME), when a friend or acquaintance is contemplating the sale of their house or is looking for a home to buy, I’d appreciate it if you’d ask them to call or text me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX. I promise I will provide them with the very best service available.”

If you separate past clients from others in your sphere, you might give their messages a bit of a twist:

“So, (FIRST NAME), when a friend or acquaintance is contemplating the sale of their house or is looking for a home to buy, I’d appreciate it if you’d ask them to call or text me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX. I promise I will provide them with the same great service you enjoyed.”

I hope this will help you get more referrals. And, if you know someone who needs help with using emails to boost their referral campaign, have them call our sales department at (727) 877-8300. I thank you in advance.

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