Today, we’re going to focus on the effect of friction in the referral process.

We’ve learned, from running thousands of referral programs, that even a little bit of friction can kill a potential referral from happening.

As people running businesses, we can underestimate just how little friction it takes to distract a customer.

So what are some examples of friction in the referral process, and what can you do to reduce it?

1. Help your advocate identify the person she ought to share your product with.

A 2010 Advisor Impact study discovered that one of the main reasons satisfied customers don’t make referrals…

… is that they don’t know who they ought to make the referral to.

So tell them outright!

This is all about positioning and framing your product in terms of the ideal users.

This also helps us understand why, for example, baby products seem to have especially high referral rates – because it’s naturally obvious that great baby products should be shared with parents with infant children.

2. Incentivize both advocate and friend

Double-sided incentives are a great way to reduce friction in the referral process. It appeals to advocates’ self-interest and their social desire to be useful to their peers.

If you only reward one party, there’s going to be some friction on one side of the process. Rewarding both sides makes the entire process smoother.

Read next: How to setup incentives for your referral program

3. Capitalize on triggers.

In his book Contagious, Jonah Berger talks about how people share Rebecca Black’s Friday every Friday, and how Geico’s Hump Day ad spikes on YouTube every Wednesday.

The Hump Day video gets a spike in traffic every Wednesday.

If you can peg your offering to a trigger, you’ll be shared more.

4. Use good default sharing messages.

Help people put into words what they’re thinking. Upworthy is excellent at doing this with their headlines. Battle for the Net is also incredibly good at using powerful sharing messages.

We’ve put together a list of some of the best social sharing messages we’ve seen from referral links in the wild.

_____

Read next: How To Promote Your Referral Program