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Referrals from existing clients are one of the best ways to gain new customers. Because when someone you trust tells you to check out a product, you’re almost certainly going to give it a shot.

So how can businesses encourage their e-commerce customers to refer friends online? We asked 12 business owners from YEC just that. Their best answers are below.

Offer Kickbacks

Brooke BergmanOffering something as small as $5 off their next order is an almost surefire way to motivate customers to refer friends online. Make the referral process as simple and straightforward as possible and they’ll have no reason not to refer friends.

– Brooke BergmanAllied Business Network Inc.

Use a Customer Referral Program

nicole mOne way to encourage customers to refer their friends is to use an incentive program such as Referral Candy. Referral Candy is an opt-in program that creates a unique permalink that tracks a referral all way to the point of sale, at which point both the person who made the referral and the new customer get rewarded. All the original customer has to do is share a link with their friends!

– Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now

Create Great Content

Brett FarmiloeShare great content with your customers who know and love you, and they’ll share your amazing content with their friends. Think of Dollar Shave Club and their video. Or Bonobos and their open letter to Jim Harbaugh. By creating content just for your customers, they’ll introduce your brand to friends and leave a positive first impression.

– Brett FarmiloeMarkitors

Encourage Bragging

Nicolas GremionA simple way to encourage referrals is to offer social media sharing options on your order confirmation page. So after a person has placed an order online, they are presented with something along the lines of “Let your friends know you’re the proud owner of a new blue widget,” along with social media buttons that’ll post just that for them. After all, isn’t social media centered around bragging?

– Nicolas

Create a Contest

MilesPlain and simple: people want to win something. Whether it’s a free trial, a service, or the lottery, customers will do what it takes to win for themselves. So, how can you encourage e-commerce customer to refer friends online? Offer a contest incentive! Something along the lines of “Refer your friends and have them use your name while ordering in order to win a $100 gift card, a Groupon, etc.”

– Miles

Gamify the Process

Dalip JaggiGamification is commonly used in several different environments. Depending on what you’re selling, an incentive for your clients to either earn points which they cash-out for prizes, products, or maybe even just cash itself will be enough to have them refer clients and have fun while doing it. I prefer the point system because a single point can weigh more in your world then a simple dollar.

– Dalip Jaggi, Devise Interactive

Sell a Great Product

mark sammuelSimply sell a great product and you won’t have to ask the customer to share. They should love it so much they want to share anyway.

– Mark SamuelFitmark

Create Exclusitivity and Hierachy

Cody McLainCreating a “tribe” is not only limited to marketing – it’s great business in general. If you create a social media movement (using hashtags) that shows how your products are being used by others, it creates content reciprocity. Take advantage of this very early by creating hierarchy within this new community – the ecosystem will start to take care of itself from then onwards.

– Cody McLainWireFuseMedia LLC

Put a Referral Card Inside Their Order

Pablo PalatnikA method we used that was successful, which we plan to launch again, was a customer referral card inside all orders. This let them give the card to another potential customer with a unique code. If a new customer used that code, we knew who it came from and would monetarily credit the customer who referred back to the card used to place the order.

– Pablo

Create Share-Worthy Experiences

Vivek SharmaPeople crave experiences, not products. Can you create an experience that someone feels compelled to share? It could be a retailer such as Indochino inviting you and your friend to build custom suits. It could be a company such as Finish Line telling you about a local event such as a Tough Mudder or marathon. The worlds of commerce, content and real-world experiences are colliding.

– Vivek SharmaMovable Ink

Offer an After-Sale Promotion

Andy KaruzaIt can be very effective to prompt your customers to share upon successfully completing an order. It’s also a good idea to offer them an incentive, redeemable later of course, so you can encourage the customer to shop with you again. It’s a win-win and hopefully the start of a long-term relationship, something every business wants. Try something like Punchtab to automate this process.

– Andy KaruzaSpotSurvey

Publicly Thank People Who’ve Referred Customers

kofiSometimes your best customers want to feel like they’re part of the company as opposed to just consumers. So publicly thanking the ones who do offer referrals, and reminding the community that their individual success/satisfaction with your company is the ultimate marketing plan, can go a long way.

– Kofi