Guest Blog Post Courtesy of Phil Singleton
Word of mouth referrals have always been and will continue to be one of the best sources of leads for businesses. Yet, with the ubiquity of the Internet, the referral sale process has changed in one very important way: very few business owners will make a final decision to buy based on a referral alone. These days, if someone recommends a product, service or company (while the recommendation from a trusted source is extremely important) most B2C and B2B buyers are likely to “Google” the referred company and investigate the business a bit more.
This means that your website and Internet presence may play a bigger role in referral marketing that you may have imagined. If you do not have a strong web presence, referral marketing may still be your top source of new business – but you could be leaving money on the table. Here are some tips that may help you significantly improve referral marketing conversion rates:
1. A Professional Web Presence: Virtually any potential client, via a referral or by other means, will almost certainly visit your website before making a final decision. If you have a dated site or one that is not relatively modern, professional or mobile-friendly responsive website, you may not be able to capitalize on every referred prospect. There is nothing that pours cold water on a hot referral faster than a weak or unprofessional website presence.
2. Organic Search Engine Rankings: Organic search engine rank, i.e. popping up first on Google, conveys merit, reputation and trust. If a referral Googles your product or service and sees that you come up on the first page, it immediately implies that you are a player in your niche and helps to affirm the referring partner’s recommendation. You may need research more about what is search engine optimization and why SEO important for your business, but in general SEO can be a great investment and compliments referral marketing very well.
3. Online Reviews & Testimonials: Appearing at the top of Google search results AND showing a deep list of positive reviews is the Holy Grail of online marketing. If you are referred a new client, and that prospect sees a professional website with first-page organic rankings backed by a strong history of positive online reviews, expect that the prospect will be bring their contract signing pen and checkbook to the initial meeting! Well maybe not every time, but you get the point. While getting reviews posted on Google, Yelp and other online review sites is key, be sure to prominently display some of your best customer reviews on your website as well.
4. Blogging: An active blog on your website demonstrates your expertise and authority in your niche. When referred prospects see great educational content being regularly added to your website, it virtually guaranteed to help improve your conversion rates.
5. Video: Website videos are very complimentary to referral marketing. When your business is referred by a referral partner, nothing makes a better impression than an effective introductory video. A personal recommendation coupled with a personal message where the prospective client can hear your voice, helps to establish a relationship before you have even met. The referral and the video helps people feel like they already know you before you’ve ever talked on the phone or met in person.
While referral marketing is often perceived as an offline marketing strategy, you can actually improve referral conversion rates by weaving your website presence into your referral marketing efforts.
About the Author: Phil Singleton is the owner of KCSeoPro.com, a full-service online marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other Internet marketing services, and KCWebdesigner.com, a WordPress web development firm specializing in custom SEO-friendly websites and custom web applications. Phil is also a Duct Tape Marketing™ Certified Consultant and provides small businesses in Kansas City with marketing products and services at KCMarketingAgency.com.