Why Do We Trust Referrals?

MarketBeam Staff

September 11, 2018

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The Trust Effect

Recall the last time you ordered a product from Amazon. Did you check to see how many stars the product has, or how many customers reviewed it? What about the last time you browsed Yelp. Did you explore how many stars a restaurant received, how many reviews it has, or what about the most popular menu items suggested by customers?

Chances are, you've probably engaged in these behaviors, or the like, before purchasing a good or service. While the consumer buying behavior described isn't unique, it has evolved. With increased access to information, on average, 81% of consumers research options online before making a buying decision.

The Business Case

The typical consumer buying behavior process involves generating awareness, interest, desire, and action, commonly known as the AIDA Model, that highlights the cognitive process that consumers go through as they navigate the pre-purchase and purchase process.

During the awareness phase, consumers experience a pain point and recognize a problem. Then, consumers may begin to search for solutions, brands, and alternatives as they enter the interest phase.

Next, a consumer desires a product based on an emotional connection ignited by his or her engagement with the company on social media, live chat, or email. Lastly, when a consumer is ready to take action, they may download collateral, like an e-book or case study, or even make a purchase.

Entrepreneurs and professionals across business development, sales, or marketing know that in this digital age, buying cycles are longer. It's not that consumers these days care more now than before about a purchase.

Instead, what's happening is that consumers spend more time in the interest phase. They may expend time researching alternatives, seeking advice from experts, or consulting peers.

Implementing a Referral program

If you aren't integrating referrals and brand ambassadors into your marketing efforts, you could be missing out on a key component that could propel your organization forward.

Think creatively about how to infuse a referral program into your business. Perhaps you want to implement a partner marketing program, a refer-a-friend program, or an employee referral program.

Some helpful tips to keep in mind as you develop your program: What is the objective of your referral program? What metric will you use to measure the success of your referral program?

Employee advocacy is not limited to B2B or B2C companies, or enterprises. Other use cases include small businesses and individuals, such as authors and public speakers. All of these businesses could benefit from growing their network through referrals.

A referral can include asking employees or partners to share personalized content on social media related to his or her experience with your company.

The Double-Edged Sword

As with any information that is influenced by an individual's' network, referrals are also subject to bias. According to Investopedia, "the halo effect is a term for a consumer's favoritism toward a line of products due to positive experiences with other products by this maker. The halo effect is correlated to brand strength and brand loyalty and contributes to brand equity."

For example, a consumer has a positive experience with a product from a company. Then they infer that undoubtedly any other product from that company will yield the same outcome. Seemingly positive, this could be detrimental if the consumer's experience isn't so rosy.

With a tool like MarketBeam, creating quality content, scheduling posts, and sharing content across social networks is simplified. To learn more about employee advocacy and how to drive brand engagement, take a look at our blog post, Five Steps to Use Employee Advocacy to Drive Brand Engagement.

Webinar registration:

If you're interested in learning more about employee advocacy and why we trust referrals, join us on September 25, 2018 at 12 pm Pacific Time as MarketBeam's founder and CEO, Pushpa Ithal, shares how to integrate employee advocacy into your business strategy. Webinar hosted by WITI (Women in Technology International). Register at www.witi.com/webinars.

MarketBeam is an AI-driven personalized social marketing platform that utilizes untapped executives' and employees' social networks to dramatically increase reach, elevate brand, and nurture leads beyond the usual corporate channels. Gamification encourages content sharing on social networks, while building executive branding and individual employee thought leadership. AI-driven analytics constantly learns and identifies top influencers, popular content, and social networks to maximize marketing ROI.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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