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Mention Me on the uniqueness of referral engineering and how to embed it into your strategy

All marketers want to create a brand that gets talked about. But the ultimate goal for any ambitious marketer is to create a brand that becomes a key part of their customers’ lives, intertwining with their daily interactions and conversations.

For almost a century, cereal brands Kellogg’s, General Mills, Nestlé and Weetabix – some of the biggest names in FMCG – have fought to win pride of place on the breakfast tables of families in the markets they serve.

Marketers of such dining-table staples crave the status that comes from being part of their customers’ most intimate family moments and experiences.

That position of prominence is no longer exclusively reserved for the established and unassailable giants of packaged consumer goods.

Brands from any sector, take note. If you’re ambitious enough to dream of the sort of ‘insider’ status boasted by the likes of Weetabix – present in around half of UK household kitchen cupboards – and if you’ve got the product or service to justify such grand aspirations, there’s an additional marketing channel to plan into your 2022 budget.

Referral – “word of mouth on Red Bull” as our client DB calls it – is not traditionally seen as a marketing channel. Not a reliable one anyway, not without being able to measure or exploit it. If you can’t track an activity and figure out how to make it valuable, it can’t really be a line on your marketing plan, right?

We get it.

But then, we’re not talking about ‘Referral-Crossing-Your-Fingers-And-Hoping.’

We’re talking about Referral Engineering.

A data-driven approach to referral marketing, Referral Engineering enables brands to capture, harness and capitalize on their best customers’ positive sentiment at scale.

The success of Referral Engineering is the result of a combination of expertise in referral psychology and the relentless tracking, testing and application of data.

In the background, the Referral Intelligence – the first-party data and customer insights generated by a continuously optimized referral program – can enhance and activate your channels across the rest of the marketing stack.

For customers, however, it helps lift e-commerce ‘off screens’ and into their real lives and conversations. E-commerce is entering a third era – with the first being when websites were solely used as online shop windows and the second being when everything was focused on optimization, personalization and automation.

AI and automation is still right there as a necessary influencer of e-commerce, as is the design of the customer journey and experience.

But organic, offline, peer-to-peer conversations (and referral) will have a new and significant role to play in your e-commerce success – whether acquisition, retention or greater AOV. And it’s the heavy lifting of your data, science and expertise – and your engineering – that will allow for that capture and value.

So your most effective media channels and marketing moments will include the occasions that mean most to your current and future best customers: picnics and pub nights, weekend walks and barbecues, Sunday roasts or quick bites between meetings at work.

Referral Engineering isn’t like your other marketing channels. It doesn’t interrupt or beg for attention or engagement. It’s innate and rooted in those you want to get close to. It’s the pubs and picnic advocacy captured, tracked, valued and rewarded.

You don’t need to get involved or try to find ways of skewing your brands into your customers’ conversations or relationships with one another. All you need to do is set up a Referral Engineering program that underpins and uses those interactions to grow your customer base.

Back in the ‘real world’ – where these conversations are taking place – your referrers strengthen their ties to you with the psychological effect that advocating for you has on their sentiment toward your brand. And those they refer tend to not only spend more on their first purchase (11% on average) and represent greater lifetime value than your existing customers, but they’re five times more likely to refer onward than others.

This is a marketing channel that’s about more than just customer acquisition. This is a channel that puts people at the heart of marketing, letting you connect with your potential customers through a medium they’ll always trust: the recommendations of people they care about.

Mark Choueke, marketing director at Mention Me.

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