Talkable Partner Webinar: 5 Steps for The Ultimate Referral Program

Last year, we wrote a post about incorporating Referral into your marketing plan. We’ve learned a lot in 12-months and can’t wait to share the additional insight during a partner webinar with BounceX.

On Tuesday, September 6th at 11:00 am (Pacific Time), we’ll be broadcasting live from BounceX headquarters in New York City.

Register: 5 Steps for the Ultimate Referral Program.

What to expect:

  1. How to identify your primary value driving KPI
  2. Define your audience through segmentation
  3. Structuring the referral incentive using our methodology
  4. Learn do’s and don’ts for optimizing your messaging
  5. Test, test, optimize- learn how to ‘always be testing’ #ABT

If you cannot make the live session, it will be recorded for future viewing. Make sure you sign up to be notified as soon as it’s ready!

A Company’s Solution to One of Marketing’s Biggest Problems

Whether it’s Apple’s billboards scattered along the highway or L’Oréal’s pop up commercials before every YouTube video, everywhere you go and everywhere you click, a company is trying to sell you something. However, these endless advertisements may be doing more harm than good by annoying their audiences with products people are not interested in. In 2015, over 45 million Americans blocked advertisements. Out of people who did not block ads, research reports that the average person sees over 5,000 advertisements a day, yet only 12 of those advertisements make an impression.

How can companies fix this problem of constant irrelevant advertisements? By advertising to people who will truly be interested in their products. Companies can collect endless data about their market such as their gender, age, and occupation to target their advertisements to a specific audience, but they can’t know the whole story of what exactly customers want.

So, how can companies overcome this barrier? Through referral marketing—having your existing customers refer their friends to your company. Referral marketing is extremely effective because who knows what your potential customers want better than their friends and family? Once your current customers start using and loving your products, they will refer their peers who they know will like the product as well. This will allow your company’s advertisements to make an impression on those who see them. Research shows that 30% of people are more likely to respond to companies’ offers when they have been reposted by a friend. Referrals eliminate people’s frustration of irritating advertisements because customers refer like minded people who are more likely to engage into this form of marketing.


Image Credit: Shuttershock

Not only will your company be able to acquire more customers through these referrals and advertisements of your products, but referrals prove to perform better in the long run. Referred customers have a 16% higher customer life-time value. Your customer base will increase along with their purchases.

Ultimately, referrals allow your company to receive more sales and more pleased customers who receive advertisements that make a positive impression on them, instead of annoy them. So, out of the 5,000 advertisements someone sees in one day, make sure your company’s brand makes a positive impact.

Part 5: Building Your Marketing Plan, Inspiration from Thought Leaders

Our Talkable Handbook for Referral Marketing: From Science to Purchase has been available for just over a month now and the reactions have been incredible!

The Handbook proves Referral Marketing is more than just jargon, it’s a the method of how people persuade and influence each other in the decision making process. Written on a bedrock of comprehensive research- in-depth studies, referral-centric articles, and deep analysis- the Handbook has citations and references throughout.

We wanted to take a moment to mention a few of those thought leaders and subject matter experts. These bright minds have published truly thought-provoking articles. We want to thank them for inspiring us.

Hunter Walk @hunterwalk
Article: Referral Programs Power the On-Demand Economy

Our Take: We love how Hunter referenced referral programs that we engage with on a daily basis- Uber, Shyp and Munchery. He referenced that analysis of certain topics would make for a great tech blog post- how about an entire Handbook?!

John Jantsch @ducttape
Article: The Art of Referral Conversion. In Duct Tape Marketing

Our Take: John has a great way of describing the core milestones of a referral marketing program- a special lead, closing the cycle and appreciation. We took his process, added some meat and explained the five steps to setup a referral program that adhere to his requirements.

Aileen Lee @aileenlee
Article: Social Proof is the New Marketing

Our Take: Aileen’s experience investing in consumer internet ventures- if anyone understands the battle for customer attention in a crowded marketplace- it’s her. Her breakdown of Social Proof had a tremendous impact on allowing our team to understand the psychology of influence.

These thought leaders have written several articles about referral marketing in their careers. There are several others referenced in our Handbook. If you are curious to know why reading the Handbook is so essential, referral is the most powerful force in driving new business for online brands.

If you can think of an inspiring thought leader in the referral space that we may have overlooked, please reference it in the comments. At Talkable, we are naturally curious and eager to read new articles related to our marketing and industry.

Part 4: Building Your Marketing Plan from Scratch, Client Success Stories

With planning well underway on your marketing plan, you have likely started to envision success and are seeking some inspiration as you prepare to launch. Welcome to Part 4 of our series on How to Build A Marketing Plan from Scratch. Today, we will feature two success stories from our customers: Pura Vida Bracelets and Plastc Card.

Our Clients

Pura Vida crafts handmade bracelets. The company sought to achieve additional sales through referral while eliminating suspected fraud. Plastc Card is financial hardware company that offers a single payment card. The company was hoping to capitalize on the new product excitement and buzz through newly acquired pre-order customers. Let’s dive deep into both of these case studies and show you what success might look like for your business.

Pura Vida Bracelets

While partnered with another referral marketing platform, 10% of Pura Vida’s sales were claimed to be generated by referrals. However, this number sounded too good to be true… was fraud inflating these numbers? The point solution was unable to provide accurate reporting justifying these results. The team at Pura Vida grew suspicious of these numbers and needed a better solution.

The referral program was re-launched on the Talkable platform with the same offer. The Talkable fraud detection algorithm discovered several scammers were gaming the program and previous reported sales numbers were in fact incorrect. Talkable dramatically increased performance with the same offer with improved creative execution, higher campaign visibility, and optimization based on A|B test results.

Talkable also eliminated virtually all instances of self-referral fraud. Now, the Talkable platform is driving 12% of total revenue for Pura Vida. Since fraud is commonplace in the referral channel, it is crucial to protect your business by identifying a referral platform, like Talkable, that can ensure security against customer gamification as well as provide accurate performance analysis and reports.

Plastc Card

New to market with big excitement around the product launch, Plastc designed a pre-order referral campaign to generate sales as part of their go-to market strategy. Plastc sought out a referral partner experienced in pre-order campaigns and reward strategies with a solution-oriented philosophy. The clear choice is Talkable.

The Talkable Customer Success Team coached Plastc to design a compelling offer for their advocates, generate regular email reminders encouraging those advocates to continually refer friends, and leverage the Talkable platform to drive maximum campaign engagement as part of the pre-order strategy.

47% of Plastc Card customers shared the referral offer with their friends. And, 28% of those referred customers made a purchase on the Plastc website. Plastc achieved $5.2 million in pre-order sales during the first week, with Talkable contributing 36.8% to overall revenue. Campaign goals far exceeded client expectations as the Talkable platform was responsible for 36.8% of total revenue. The referral program and launch was a tremendous success. A strong referral partner coupled with a well-designed program can make substantial financial impacts for your business.

Now, It’s Your Turn!

In summary, both Pura Vida and Plastc have confidence in the Talkable platform and our Customer Success Team. They have achieved great success with a proven referral partner. At Talkable we empower our customers to launch, measure, test, and iterate your referral program in order to maximize marketing plan performance. We encourage data-driven decisions and solutions. We want to help your business find the perfect balance between the size of the offer and generated sales. We help good companies grow.

You’re rock solid in your marketing planning, your business objectives and your referral program…but do you also have confidence in your referral platform? The success Pura Vida and Plastc have experienced can be yours. At Talkable we are here to partner with you, help you reach your goals, and lead you down a path of continued success. Ultimately referrals are about happy customers and about using those happy customers to get more customers- we will help you do just that.

Part 3: Creating Your Marketing Plan from Scratch, Using Our Worksheet

By now, you have likely read through both Part 1 & Part 2 on Creating Your Marketing Plan from Scratch. We’ve discussed media categories, the channels, the objective, the target, the offer, advocacy and optimization and how it all works for your e-business. And with the release of The Handbook for Referral Marketing: From Science to Purchase you now have access to our template to help you build your action plan.

eBook Worksheet Banner

This Worksheet allows you to document and record your objective, details and specifics about your target audience, as well as the various referral incentives and the intended targets. This document is also a place for you to decide on your follow-up strategy, the details behind it, as well as integration tactics.

Ensure you have a follow-up plan for your referred leads. And, be sure you recognize that referred leads aren’t the same as leads generated from other marketing channels. See them differently, and treat them differently. Really consider each component of your plan. We did heavy-lifting to think through what you need to be successful from the start.

Access this worksheet on page 26 of the Handbook. Print it out, meet with your team(s) and start to put pen to paper as you detail out your Referral Marketing program. Remember, you need to choose an ambitious yet attainable goal that referral will solve for your business needs- including, customer acquisition and increasing the repurchase rate of your current customers.

We want to hear from you! Let us know how the Talkable Handbook for Referral Marketing has helped inform your marketing plans in the comments below. Have a question? Be sure to comment down below or reach out @Talkable and we’ll engage in conversation to help you through the process.

Why Did Talkable Publish This Referral Marketing Handbook?

If you haven’t heard, Talkable just published The Handbook for Referral Marketing: From Science to Purchase. I had the opportunity to sit down with Matt Belitsky (@thedataguy), Director of Marketing at Talkable, to ask a few questions about the publication and how it came to fruition. Read all the details of our discussion below and be sure to access your own digital copy right away.

eBook Banner Ad


Q: Why write the Talkable Handbook for Referral Marketing. How do you explain “Referral Marketing” to a novice?

A: In preparation for my start date at Talkable, I researched the referral marketing industry. I discovered the lack of content to why referral marketing exists, why it is important, how it came to be, and the history behind it. Our competition tends to focus on execution and tactical details to help marketers implement referral marketing programs, but none were able to express why referral marketing is relevant in the first place. Why should referral, as a marketing channel, be top of mind for companies that are looking to drive more revenue?

When you take a step back from the term “Referral Marketing” – you realize it’s is a jargony term. At Talkable, when we talk about client success, we’re actually referencing systematic measurement of consumer decision making. The handbook proves that referral marketing is more than just a term, it’s an outcome to how we interact as individuals to influence and persuade each other.

Our team wrote this e-book as a collective unit. We authored it like a scientific publication. We carried out comprehensive research. We read the most modern referral-centric literature, studies and performed deep analysis. You will see significant amounts of citations and references throughout. This is the place you start- we’ve summarized case studies and thought-provoking articles. This guide will allow anyone who is interested in researching the referral marketing space to get a foundational understanding. We are very proud of the research and excited to share it.

Q: Did the research behind this handbook provide you with the confidence needed to attain Leadership position in the Referral Marketing space?

A: The vision behind this publication was to describe the science of human brain in decision-making and show that when you are able systematically track, measure and evaluate- that is essentially a referral program.

By being able to articulate this, we have become natural leaders in the referral marketing space. We have explained the connection between people and the performance of referral as a marketing channel. You should now have the confidence in us to help you build the referral marketing program for your business.

Q: There are several handbooks out there claiming the be the “definitive” guide to various industries, what sets this publication apart from the rest?

A: In addition to providing a narrative of what referral marketing is, you will be introduced to the Talkable platform, our fun corporate culture, and our brand voice. We are personable, friendly, easy to converse with and absolutely committed to driving customer success.

We have incorporated personalities from our Customer Success Team to provide tips and tricks for you along the way. The handbook leads into a worksheet (on page 26) that can be used as a planning document for your referral program. This worksheet takes the knowledge of what you learned in the guide and gives you the tools to build it yourself. The research in the handbook is cited and fact-based. We did all the hard work of combing through the internet, we read literature, studies, journals, and we distilled the researched into a digestible narrative.

Most “how to” guides out there use stock imagery to depict scenes or add value to the narrative. We chose to depict our story through the use of illustrations. Instead of slapping together some images, we spent ample time determining the best way to communicate our story, as beautifully and concisely as possible. The craftsmanship of the layout and imagery in the publication speak to the passion our team has in making sure everything looks right, even down to the final details.

This publication tells you everything you need to know to justify an investment into the referral channel for your online business- you don’t need to look anywhere else. We created this as much as a resource for you, as for ourselves. We use the content from this publication during our sales and client on boarding processes.

Q. It’s obvious that lots of thought went into this handbook. Are there specific areas you want to highlight that may be overlooked at first blush?

A: Part of the challenge of why our competitors haven’t created a publication like this, is because it’s tough! It was really difficult to take thousands of hours of research and condense it down into a digestible document. It’s easy to talk about referral and why it’s working, but it is much harder to talk about what referral is in the first place. In fact, it can be downright overwhelming. We needed to write this publication to educate ourselves as to why we do what we do, and now we’re excited to share it with the world.

We welcome discussion and challenge. We put our best foot forward in trying to provide this information to from an objective point of view. Feel free to reach out @Talkable so we can have a engage in conversation. We welcome healthy, constructive debate and are confident in defending our research and approach. Progress isn’t made without challenge.

I also want to reiterate this was a cross-functional, team effort. The learning experience has solidified our confidence as the front-runner in referral marketing. Since we’re able to understand why referral is so effective, now we can empower our prospects and customers to embrace it. Our team culture to collaborate while challenging the status quo allowed us to work quickly and diligently. I want to personally thank our amazing team for their time, thought leadership, and effort to make this happen!

Get your digital version of The Handbook for Referral Marketing: From Science to Purchase »

Part 2: Creating Your Marketing Plan from Scratch, Incorporating Referral

Part 2

Take a seat and get comfortable, here comes Part 2 of our series: Creating Your Marketing Plan from Scratch. In Part 1, we discussed the media categories, the channels and how they can work for your e-business.

Today we are going to talk about how to incorporate referral into your marketing planning. And, as promised, we will keep it digestible, thought- provoking and giving you confidence as a marketer. In this post we will overview 5 simple steps that will help you leverage we the science in decision-making, formulate and execute a wildly successful referral marketing program.

The first 2 of these 5 steps, we are already touched on more deeply in Getting What You Want Defining your Objective & Target, but have also included them below. Sit back and relax, no need to flip back and forth – we summarized it all for you.

Talkable Action Plan

1. Define Your Objective

After the appropriate categories and channels have been identified, you will need to think about how best to incorporate referral into your program, starting with your objective. Your objective needs to be documented, written and measureable. It must make an impact for your business. Your objective and focus is key to building a successful referral program in your marketing plan. Do you want to drive new customers? Increase reach? Drive sales? Think about it. Your objective will single handedly inform how you design your call to action and the offer in your campaign.

2. Identify Your Target

Who do you want to be talking to? Once you have honed in on your target audience, go back to the media categories and channels and determine the best places to reach or talk to your target. Who are you talking to? Where you want to talk to them? You can best converse with your target when they are in the right place at the right time. Think about that as it relates to your daily life. Let’s say it’s Sample Sunday at Costco. You are starving, but there to buy your month’s groceries. You are offered a sample of homemade granola. It’s delish! You put the bag of granola in your cart and carry on with the rest of your shopping trip. As this relates to referral, consider where the customer is on your site or their buying journey. Capitalize on their mindset.

3. Arrive at your Referral Bonus or Incentive

Referral incentives are handled in a variety of ways. It’s challenging, right? You want to encourage advocates and customers to make as many referrals as possible. But you also you want to encourage referrers to maximize the quality of each referral. However, going back to the objective of your campaign, you want to avoid creating a referral program that motivates customers and advocates to supply a high volume of low-quality referrals. Create an attractive offer and make sure it fits your brand. Know your audience, their needs and wants and determine your referral incentives accordingly.

4. Turning Customers into Advocates

Establish that your customers actually are happy with your product and their experience. Then, offer them the referral incentive or offer you arrived at in Step 3. Reframe your referral offer as a way to help a friend. Be sure to give your customers/advocates a choice as to where to share the offer (most often this means on Facebook or by email). For more information on how to ask for the referral, see our post on How to Ask for the Referral and discover how to take the awkwardness out of the equation.

5. Track, Optimize & Convert

Track everything – each purchase, customer share, and reward advocates when they meet your defined campaign criteria. Always be optimizing. Test what works with your target. Experiment with different designs, text, and placements. Maybe even consider A/B testing to determine the best performing offer that meets your objective, resonates with your audience, and turns customers into advocates.

… and there you have it. Five straightforward steps to incorporating referral into your marketing plan. However, the most amazingly developed referral marketing program can’t help you if you aren’t creating a product that people want to buy. Aspire to create and deliver an incredible product or experience every single time. Be laser focused on building relationships. And, integrate wherever possible – wherever and whenever your customers engage with you or your brand be sure to include your referral program and you will be set up for success. Strive for excellence and Talkable will help you deliver against that goal. Any questions, just ask in the comments below.

Look Here! Perception is Reality in the Science of Decision-Making

Perception vs. Reality

What is perception after all? It is defined as a process by which individuals organize and interpret their impressions in order to give meaning to their surroundings and environment. But why is it important when it comes to decision-making? Well, because people’s behavior and decisions are based on their perception of what reality is- not on reality itself. The world that is perceived is the world that is truly important when it comes to marketing and referral. Perception is reality.

Let’s say you take a quick 36-hour trip to Vegas. You and your friends see a growing line for a club that is just off the strip- a club you haven’t heard of. The line is two blocks long. This must be the place to be. The bouncer commands you to hand over $50.00 and your ID. You do it. This place is going to be completely worth it. The line behind you is filled with attractive people, the cover is on par with the rest of the nightclubs, and people keep lining up. It’s Vegas.

You hand over your cash, your identification, make your entrance, purchase an overpriced cocktail, then discover that the dancefloor is completely empty. This place is nearly lifeless- there is absolutely nothing happening in this club at all.

The wait, the pretty people, the cover, the entire idea of what was to be expected inside did not exist. Your decisions, behaviors and actions were based on the perception of this being the new Vegas club, but reality is this just an overpriced, uneventful dive.

Your potential customers, advocates, and loyalists behave not just on the way their physical environment actually exists, but rather how it is believed to exist. Therefore, we tend to make judgments and decisions based on the validity of other people’s statements and credibility, as perceived in relation to our surroundings, just like our Vegas example.

Referred friends are more likely to “say yes” and accept a friend’s offer, recommendation or suggestion to purchase as the perception is that your friends know best. So when it comes to decision-making and referral marketing, people generally “say yes” and agree with to those they know and like. Referral campaigns benefit from this basic principle.

Does the person you perceive to be an expert, influencer, advocate or even friend have the relevant knowledge, education or experiences to make an accurate judgment? Do you trust their opinion? How similar is that person to you? Are you of the same or aspired social class? The more ‘yes’ responses we can answer, the more likely we are to be influenced by that person… and the more likely we are to make a decision that is influenced by that perception.

It is simple to see why our friends often have so much influence over opinions and purchases, since we often share similar traits with our friends. Perception really is reality. The quality of our connections and our sense of “liking” directly influences our conversion rate in purchasing decisions. Referrals are super effective because they leverage our existing relationships and trust in order to inform our buying decisions.

You will be able to read more in our soon to be released e-book available for download in early July. Stay tuned, and subscribe here to be the first to know when this publication is available for you!

What’s FOMO? Explaining Social Proof and the Fear of Missing Out

What's FOMO?

‘Hurry, only 1 left in stock. Order Soon!’ Think quick before it’s gone. In an instant, your brain goes into high gear, deciding do I or don’t I make this purchase? As mentioned in our article on Cognitive Fluency, we often rely on decision shortcuts, or ‘decision heuristics’, to help improve the speed at which we make decisions.

Another factor in human decision-making is social proof. According to Wikipedia, social proof is described as the psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect the correct behavior for a given situation…driven by the assumption that the surrounding people possess more information about the situation.

Think of a brand new social situation you experienced recently. Let’s say you’re the new person at work. The first couple of weeks, you observe, look to others to gather social cues on how to act, what to wear, and how to present yourself. Social Proof is not a new concept in human behavior, but a huge driver and powerful influence in consumer behavior and the science of decision-making. 81% of people say posts from their friends directly influenced their purchasing decision. Since we like our friends or peers and often consider them to be similar to us, we find it easy to use their recommendation to inform our purchasing decisions- a decision heuristic.

The psychological phenomenon known as “FOMO” (“Fear of Missing Out”) is a form of social proof. Naturally, we want things that are exclusive offerings, available for a limited time, or are in short supply. Something that is rare or becoming increasingly less available is always more appealing, and adds urgency to our decision to purchase. Many online retailers have been able to successfully capture the value of this perceived scarcity. Just a few sale items available, and the buyer goes from browsing to decision-making mode in an instant. As a result, making a purchasing decision in very short order. FOMO is a great forcing function on decision-making, as evidenced by the incredible growth of e-commerce flash sales.

Harnessing social proof is a powerful tool for any marketer. When understood it can be used to help shape decision-making moments for existing and prospective customers. Don’t miss out on other facts about how you influence others in their decision making, subscribe to our blog today!

Tap into Your Customers’ Social Web to Uncover Segments for Targeting


Referral Marketing programs allow companies to get new customers without huge financial cost, capture email addresses, initiate a relationship, and start a conversation. New customer acquisition is the top priority and biggest challenge for businesses today. Most marketers engaged in referral programs have two primary goals:

  1. Acquire New Customers: new purchases = increased revenue
  2. Collect Email Addresses: new subscribers = ability to nurture into customers

However, there’s another goal that most marketers are unaware exists: Capitalizing on Network Connections. Let’s take a deeper dive into what this means…

Who are your customers referring? Do you really know? Imagine you could get insight into the social networks of your existing, purchasing customers. What if you were able to tap into the social web of your current customers? Just picture being able to target your referral program in a more personalized way. At Talkable, we have identified a methodology for capitalizing on this network effect, by using referral as the next best thing to reading your customer’s minds.

Let’s look at an example. You are a New York-based online sunglass company. You are using a referral platform to convert new customers into advocates. Your customer base is primarily located near NYC, so you naturally spend in paid channels in the same geography.

Although, after taking a closer look at your customers’ orders, you notice that new Los Angeles-based customers, referred by NYC-based advocates, have an average order value 3x larger than NYC based customers. Until now, you never thought to pay for online ads for those located in LA. The power of network effect shows that a new audience, living in Los Angeles, is a new source for you to focus your marketing efforts.

Best-in-class referral platforms allow companies to leverage Facebook as a platform to share during the referral process. According to Digital Marketing Ramblings, the average Facebook user has 245 friends. As your advocates share your brand’s products and experience with their social network, you’re able to review transactions to uncover hidden segments- allowing you to spend against segments that already resonate with your brand and may have not been previously considered.

Even if you’re already receiving a steady stream of referrals, improving your referral conversion rate by 5 or 10% could dramatically impact your bottom line. How is your business harnessing the power of referral to reveal hidden segments, capturing these customers, and building scalable, sophisticated marketing programs to drive more sales? Share your stories with us in the comments.