Referral Program Benchmarks: What's A Good Referral Rate?
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91% of marketers agree that a company’s brand voice should be a core part of its marketing strategy, and 90% say that having a strong brand voice is important to a business’s overall success.
Your brand voice is how you talk to your customers and the persona your brand takes on in its marketing messaging. It should be visible in your web copy, email newsletters, blog content, social media posts, and any other customer-facing copy. Ensuring you have a documented guide for your brand voice helps your team remain consistent, leading to a stronger brand voice.
But how do you get started finding your voice and making sure it translates through your marketing copy? Throughout this article, we’re going to address the importance of having a strong brand voice, how to create one, and five ecommerce brands that are killing it.
Let’s dig in!
At this point, you might be wondering why. Why does building a strong brand voice matter? Why bother aligning your marketing strategy around one singular voice? Who’s going to notice if your posts follow a similar voice?
Well, your audience will. At least subconsciously.
Your brand will stay top of mind with a strong brand voice. Your customers will recognize an established brand voice that resonates with them. 46% of consumers say a brand stands out on social media when it does a good job of engaging its audience and 39% say it’s due to memorable content. Both of those can be accomplished through your voice.
Having a strong brand voice helps your audience relate better to your brand, making them want to buy from you. It gives you another way to appeal to your audience than the unique selling point of your products alone.
Furthermore, having a strong brand voice can ramp up your word-of-mouth marketing. If your marketing messaging and social media content are resonating with your target audience, they’re going to share your content—or at least mention your brand—with their friends and family members. Especially because relatable content can have a big influence on how people perceive your brand.
A strong brand voice helps to build trust and create connections with your customers. But you have to make sure the voice and persona you build meshes well with the audience you’re trying to reach.
Co-founder and CEO of Tortuga, Fred Perrotta shared that a strong brand voice matters to him because it’s the root of how the brand differentiates and positions themselves. “Our brand voice is meant to be a knowledgeable (but never snobby), well-traveled friend. In our case, the voice is also consistent with how we design and market our products. Our bags should show that we’re know what travelers want and need. Plus, the voice supports our blog of packing tips and gear reviews, which is a major part of our marketing.”
Ready to start building your own brand voice? We’ve got a quick five-step guide that is perfect for brands starting from scratch and brands that are simply trying to strengthen their existing brand voice.
What are your brand’s overall goals or objectives? Why does your brand exist? Keeping this information in mind is going to have a big impact on your brand voice.
For example, a company whose mission statement revolves around creating self-care products for improving self-image and mental health likely wouldn’t want to take on a sassy and sarcastic brand voice. That kind of persona doesn’t translate that mission well. Instead, the brand would probably want a more reassuring and soothing voice that better represents its values.
Let’s take Madcap Coffee as an example here. On their about page, we’re able to get a glimpse into their story and their passion for their product:
We’re able to feel their excitement throughout their brand voice, and it comes through on their social media as well.
Your brand voice doesn’t have to be anything extreme. You just need to know what traits you want to present, how you want your content to be perceived, and what will best resonate with your audience.
This brings us to our next point.
Another major step in creating your brand voice is knowing exactly who your target audience is. Who are you aiming to reach with your content, and who is most likely to buy your product?
An important part of any business or marketing plan is to create a buyer persona or ideal customer profile (ICP). With this, you’ll be able to build a profile of the type of person who might need or be interested in your products.
Your persona should include information like:
By compiling all of this information—either by analyzing existing customer data, interviewing customers, or estimating based on what you’re selling—you’re able to make more informed decisions for your marketing plan and your brand voice.
Let’s take razor brand Billie as an example here. Their target audience is millennial women, and they make that obvious in their brand voice, as showcased in the below the Instagram post.
”Spring break szn” is a popular millennial statement, helping this brand resonate well with the generation they’re trying to target. Using a common language makes the company more relatable and their customers feel more motivated to buy from them.
Take a look back at the content and marketing copy your brand has already created. Which social media posts get the most engagement, which blog posts get the most comments/shares, and which landing pages get the most traffic/conversions?
Using this information can help to guide your existing brand voice into a more established voice and persona. By paying attention to the content that is currently resonating with your audience, it takes a simple analysis to then pull the main traits from these popular posts into a documented brand voice.
Take a look at this tweet from Sour Patch Kids:
If they were basing their brand voice off of this well-performing tweet, they would realize they should use more humor in their content. Apparently, their audience enjoys the jesting tone of voice.
Pay attention to the more popular tone of voice in your own posts so you can work to replicate that for all of your social content and marketing messaging.
There’s another way you could go about getting an answer to which brand traits matches your brand the most. And it’s to pose this question to your loyal customers and get them to tell you exactly what they think about your brand.
It’s a surefire way to make sure that whatever information and traits that you’ve previously identified from your social content, are aligned directly with the brand perceptions by your target audience.
The next step is to choose your actual brand traits. Some of these may come from the previous step, while others may come from a voice you want to create.
You’ll want to come up with three main brand traits that will emulate your overall brand persona. So for a brand that wants to help their customers learn how to do something with their product, their three brand traits might be:
With those brand traits, your voice or persona would be upbeat, positive, and provide helpful tips and advice that ensures your audience is able to easily learn how to complete a task or use your product.
Consider what outcome you want your brand voice to help your customers with. If you’re simply trying to entertain or build awareness, a sassier voice might be a great idea. If you’re working with a more complex industry, a softer approach (i.e., a friendlier tone) is likely better.
The last step is to document your brand voice. By compiling all of your traits, brand values, brand personality, and similar attributes in one place, you can ensure that all marketers, salespeople, and copywriters on your team are able to adhere to a consistent voice in all of your marketing messaging.
Let’s say that you’re building out your brand voice documentation for your healthy eating subscription box. Your documentation might look something like this:
We are NOT:
Use the above as a template to input your own brand voice details so you and your team can align all of your customer-facing content and create content your audience loves.
There’s nothing better than learning from examples, so we’ve pulled five strong examples of unique brand voices that can help you get a better idea of how to create and execute your own voice.
The Sill is an online plant shop with a handful of retail locations in a few major cities across America. They have a calm and neutral brand voice that helps them connect with plant lovers of all ages, genders, locations, and preferred plants.
They also use very decorative and poetic language, which fits well with the type of product they offer. Right on their homepage, we see the tagline, “Spruce up your patio with lush, bright-light plants and element-friendly decorative planters.”
Due to the nature of their product—leafy green foliage—this flowery language makes a lot of sense and helps them appeal to their target audience.
Here’s an example of how this translates to their social media content:
They incorporate that same type of language when describing their products on social media that we’ve seen on their website.
Vacation is a self-proclaimed “excessively good sunscreen” brand with an 80’s vibe all across their brand imagery. As we can see right from the first section of their website, their brand voice is very exaggerated.
This comes through in the very next section as well, when they have the gigantic line, “The World's Best-Smelling Sunscreen.” More than that, we also see it all over their social media.
Take a look at this tweet and its all-caps introduction:
While this might look like a one-time major company announcement, it’s not. In fact, almost every single one of their tweets starts with the “IMPORTANT COMPANY ANNOUNCEMENT” introduction as a way to grab attention to each of their social posts.
Three Wishes is a cereal brand that creates gluten and grain-free cereal. Their overall voice has a humorous edge to it, as we see in their product descriptions and on their social media posts.
For example, their cinnamon cereal has this quick descriptor: “We've put a healthy twist on a classic cinnamon cereal favorite (wink wink), so please grab a bowl and spoon…or just stick your hand in the box like we do.”
And interestingly enough, their social media voice has a similar vibe but uses no capitalization. Here’s an example from their Instagram:
They have fun with their brand voice and keep their overall messaging very lighthearted. As a healthy cereal option for families, this voice works well for their brand.
Frank Body is a skincare product with a really unique brand voice. They’ve personified their brand so that everything is spoken in the first person. When browsing their website and social media, we see verbiage like, “my acne-fighting body wash” and “my new rosehip body duo.”
Having this first-person brand voice gives them a lot more freedom to play around with their marketing messaging. It also helps their brand stand out from the crowd by taking this unconventional angle.
They also incorporate some sass into their brand voice, and they use a lot of modern slang and shorthand in their content.
This tweet shows off a great example of their brand voice in action:
Oatly is an oat drink brand with a bold brand identity and voice. Not only do they rely on big, bright, bold illustrations to get their point across, but their brand voice also works just as hard. Their website is just as unique in that it scrolls to the side, rather than from top to bottom.
They use a bit of light humor in their brand voice, but they also rely heavily on visuals to tell their brand story. These are anything from illustrations to graphics using big, bold fonts to videos they share on social media.
This tweet shares a fun video that uses their brand voice:
Pulling their brand voice into a number of different outlets gives them even more ways to connect with their audience through various types of content.
Time to take your brand voice to the next level. Whether you’re looking to standardize your current brand voice or create a brand new persona, building a strong voice is a great way to increase word-of-mouth and brand awareness.
Follow along with our guide to build your own brand voice and create even better relationships with your target audience. Start increasing engagement and growing your business with a documented and streamlined brand voice.
There’s a brand that I buy 99% of my clothing from, called Dynamite.
The sizing fits me perfectly, the styles match my aesthetic (business-casual), and I can easily shop on their mobile app if I don’t feel like going to the mall.
I’m also a VIP customer, and because of that I sometimes get personal treatment.
What do I mean by personal treatment? It’s a part of Dynamite’s customer appreciation strategy. Here’s my story…
It was a Thursday afternoon when I got a call on my phone, and the caller ID said, Dynamite. “Did I forget I ordered something?” I thought. Confused, I answered the call.
It was a sales associate from the brick-and-mortar store closest to my house. She told me they recently brought in new styles and was wondering if I wanted her to put some aside for me to try on.
Being a writer in the retail and ecommerce industry, of course, I was intrigued. It’s research, right? I said yes.
When I arrived, they brought me to the back where they had an entire clothes rack filled up with styles they personally selected for me based on my past purchases.
At this point, I thought to myself, either I’ve spent too much money with this brand, or they really know how to appreciate their customers. Honestly, the answer is both.
Dynamite made me feel like a celebrity. Not only did I purchase a lot that day, but it’s an experience I’ll never forget. In fact, they’ve had my loyalty for 10 years.
And that’s the power a good customer appreciation strategy can have for your brand.
There’s a reason why companies with a customer experience mindset drive revenue 4-8% higher than the rest of their industries. Not only that, but these experiences are why people share brands with their friends and family.
I know not all ecommerce brands can personally invite customers to a physical location, but there are many ways you can spice up your customer experience to leave shoppers feeling the same way I did with Dynamite. I’m going to show you how in this article.
If you ask any customer experience or retention marketer, they’ll say a difficult part of their job is proving ROI. Creating unique and memorable experiences isn’t always measurable.
However, success can be tracked over time in a few ways. This is how Erica Aarons, the Retention and Engagement Manager at Rumpl (a brand selling blankets for any occasion), thinks about it:
“Engaging with our customers is the bread and butter of my role. I want our customers to trust our brand enough to give our products as gifts, share our brand with their friends and family, and be their go-to when it comes to blankets.”
So what exactly is the ROI of customer appreciation? Here are a few benefits to doubling down on a customer appreciation strategy as an ecommerce brand:
Did you know that 73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalty? Additionally, when customers do become loyal to your brand, they’re five times more likely to purchase again and four times more likely to refer a friend.
You can’t argue with that data.
It’s simple math—memorable experiences make customers want to continue supporting your business.
According to Erica, “A customer appreciation strategy leads to a better customer-to-brand connection. When a customer feels supported, they’re more likely to spread the word about your brand and spend more money over time.”
Essentially, what Erica is saying is that when you have a loyal customer base, it’s easier to implement word-of-mouth marketing strategies. This includes loyalty programs, ambassador programs, and referral programs.
These programs are the most successful when you already have customers who adore you, and customer appreciation is a big part of making that happen.
Here’s the part about customer appreciation most execs don’t understand: a good customer appreciation strategy can actually drive acquisition at the same time build loyalty.
For example, here’s a consumer who came across personal stories from shoppers who purchased from the pet brand, Chewy. In the tweet, Kushaan explains how even though he doesn’t personally own a pet he will shop at Chewy when he does in the future.
This idea is also something Eli Weiss, Senior Director of CX and Retention at Jones Road Beauty (previously at Olipop), spoke about with DTC Newsletter. The article explains how paid advertising channels don’t always keep CPG customers long-term—usually because they don’t understand the benefits of the product or brand.
Since positive customer experiences make people excited to share a brand with others, they’re a useful strategy for acquiring new shoppers. If you’re a follower of Eli or Olipop on Twitter, you know how shareable these unique experiences have been.
“The cheap customers aren't always quality customers,” said Eli in the article. “What people post on Twitter [about Olipop], nobody gets paid to do that. And the reason why people are doing it is because we broke the script. They expect an average experience and we elevated it.”
Shoppers will gladly support pricier brands that they feel positive about. In fact, a report by American Express found that American consumers will pay 17% more to purchase from a company that has a reputation for great service.
Brands that are prioritizing CX are finding this to be true. Here’s a great example from Jones Road Beauty, where the team’s support was so helpful the customer came back and purchased an extra $500-worth of products.
That seems like a pretty clear ROI, right?
In the wise words of Erica Aarons, “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to appreciate your customers!”
But what can you do instead? Luckily, there are tons of ecommerce brands to pull inspiration from, so let’s dive into 10 ideas that won’t break the bank.
Sometimes, even little things can go a long way. Erica is showing that with hand-written notes she’s sending to customers with their orders.
“This year, I’ve been writing handwritten and personally addressed Thank You cards to some of our top customers to let them know that their support hasn’t gone unnoticed,” she said.
In Rumpl’s Facebook community, shoppers are calling these notes out:
“This helps us connect with customers, and shows that there are actual people behind the brand… No selling—just pure appreciation.” - Erica Aarons
Every founder wants people to talk about their brand in a good way, but nobody will recommend a brand if they have a bad experience.
Maybe the shipping was super delayed, the product arrived damaged, or the shopper didn’t get all the items they asked for. Whatever the situation is, everyone makes mistakes—it’s how you handle those mistakes that matter to customers.
Without taking accountability or helping the customer fix the issue, you’re creating the wrong kind of shareable situation… The one where people write bad reviews about you on Twitter. Yikes.
At the bare minimum, fix the issue for the customer quickly: resend a product, help them make a return, or track the order. But you can also level up these mistakes. Here’s an example of a shareable experience where Amber turns a bad situation into a play on humor (which is surely memorable for the customer receiving this).
A free gift doesn’t always mean giving away one of your products. Instead, you can get creative with what you send. Here’s an example from Chewy, which sent a customer a personalized portrait of their pet.
Do free gifts work? Yes.
A survey by Harris Interactive found that 90% of customers said a free gift with purchase helps increase their loyalty to the brand. Not to mention, 65% said they were somewhat likely to share their experience with other shoppers.
Considering this Chewy example was shared on a Reddit thread, those survey results must be true: free gifts can lead to organic word-of-mouth, especially when they’re creative (figuratively and literally in this case).
One way to surprise customers is to create personalized awards, certificates, and accolades that you can add to their order.
Buffalo Trace did a great job with this, giving a customer a certificate—signed by the CEO—making them an official “Friend of the Trace.” This experience even has family friends of the customer talking about Buffalo Trace online.
And here’s a close-up of the fancy certificate:
Does anyone else want to try Buffalo Trace after this one?
One of the best pieces of advice I hear about CX marketing is that the key to its success is having high emotional intelligence. In my opinion, customer appreciation is no different.
Learning to listen to emotional cues and coming up with creative ways to respond to them is exactly how you can create experiences that show customers just how important they are.
For example, an Olipop customer reached out to the brand to tell the team about how much their mother who has recently passed away loved drinking Olipop. After receiving this message, the Olipop team sent flowers and a personal letter to the customer.
You’ve probably seen brands feature customer photos on their social media accounts, but what about on billboards?
Starface, a brand selling pimple patches in fun shapes, took a tweet a customer wrote and literally stuck it on a billboard. The customer was so excited they took a picture and shared it on Instagram.
Featuring customers in these ways is a simple way to show off UGC and customer appreciation. It tells customers you notice them and care about how they talk about your brand.
And that doesn’t mean you always have to pay for a billboard.
“Just asking customers to feature their photos can be meaningful, plus Revel Nail uses UGC as product page images for different shades!” shared Evelyn. As you can see on Revel Nail’s website, all of this UGC is on their product page, showing off real looks from real customers:
Being featured on the brand’s website is definitely a cool experience for the customer, especially since Revel Nail is properly linking back to the original creator’s Instagram page.
Setting up automated emails based on specific triggers can show customers you’re paying personal attention to them—and that you’re not treating them the same as any other customer.
Alex McPeak, Content Strategist at Klaviyo, shared an experience she had with Who Gives A Crap: “I really loved this email I received after I placed my second order with the brand. It’s a really great example of how brands can use personalization to add a human touch and build relationships with customers!”
Since personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates, it’s worthwhile to set up advanced segmentation and email flows. Besides, these emails become hands-off once they’re set up, making them an easy win to show your appreciation.
Remember when Coca-Cola put people’s names on its bottles for the #ShareaCoke Campaign? People spent so much time looking through the bottles to find their names—or their friends’ names.
Well, here’s one brand that uses a similar strategy, but takes it to the next level: ADEA Jewelry actually names products after customers.
And, of course, customers then share the pieces that they were named after on social media, driving that organic word-of-mouth engine for the brand.
Clearly, customers love this approach. I mean, who wouldn’t want one of their favorite brands to name products after them?
One of my favorite examples of customer appreciation is from House of Wise, a luxury CBD and wellness brand. Once in a while, the brand will write about its customers.
For example, in this piece about Hanna Villarrubia, readers learn how she discovered the brand, how she embodies the qualities of a “Wise Woman,” what her self-care routine looks like, and how she uses House of Wise’s products in her daily life.
This is a great way to not just show customer appreciation but also educate shoppers about how they can use your products to improve their life.
Now that you’ve seen the impact of customer appreciation, are you ready to create lifelong memories with your shoppers?
Remember, “It’s difficult to personify your brand, but with a customer appreciation strategy, customers can connect with the people behind the brand,” said Erica Aarons.
If you successfully start nurturing customers using some of the ways mentioned in this article, you’ll build long-lasting relationships with people who are excited to refer your brand to their friends and family.
And when you get to the point of setting up a referral program to make this easy for them, you know who to talk to. Hint: It’s ReferralCandy. ;)
Referral programs. You know what they are, you know what they do but you still need a little more convincing?
We've previously discussed why you should get started on refer-a-friend programs, but only if your brand is ready for it.
To give you more reason to leverage referral programs as a new marketing channel for customer acquisition and customer loyalty, here are some inspiring brands powered by ReferralCandy.
Examples of Referral Programs powered by ReferralCandy
Fashion & Apparel:
We hope you've gotten some great ideas and inspiration from these referral programs to boost your very own. If you're looking for more information on how to get started, here are a few articles to read:
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