Boost your e-commerce sales by rewarding your customers-turned-advocates with a sweet referral candy
By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.
Image from LinkedIn
How ReferralCandy Works
ReferralCandy works by integrating it with your e-commerce store. Basically, they give each of your customers a unique referral link that they can share with their friends. Once they share it — whether through social media or text messaging — their friends who will click on the link will be taken to a landing page with the offered description. For instance, it could be a 20% off coupon code on your shop. When they complete a purchase with the code, ReferralCandy will track the whole referral activity and reward the customer who made the recommendation in the first place.
This referral program works best with what they call “DTC customers.” These are stores that sell their products directly to consumers and not through a marketplace such as Amazon or Etsy. If you have any commerce store on platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, or Magento, or if you have your own kind of custom store set up, you can integrate it with ReferralCandy and have your referral program running on autopilot.
Screengrab from ReferralCandy
The folks at ReferralCandy built the business with the image of an entrepreneur who might not have the resources — money, time, or access to technical people — to help them with the things related to their store. They built it in a way that it can be simply and quickly used to get their referral program up and running.
If you’re on major e-commerce platforms, all you need is to install a plug-in or app. Once you access their dashboard, you can start creating your referral program from scratch. The first thing that you will be asked is about the rewards you want to give your customers or advocates for referring you to their friends and family.
This reward can either be cash or coupon codes. For example, you could give your customers 25% off their next purchase for every friend they refer, while their friend will get a separate 25% discount on their first purchase.
Screengrab from RefferalCandy
All you need to do is select the coupon option, select the percentage (in the abovementioned case, 25%), and then ReferralCandy will automatically create the coupon codes for you inside your e-commerce platform. They will also take care of sending those to your advocates and their friends. You simply need to set some parameters on what rewards you want to give.
If you choose to give cash as a reward, they will be taking care of sending out the actual cash reward to your customers automatically through PayPal.
You can complete the whole process of creating your customised referral program in a matter of 10 to 15 minutes.
Why Invest in Referral Marketing?
Any entrepreneur needs to think about referral marketing from the very beginning — because it's one of the very few marketing channels that you can absolutely own without depending on a third-party platform.
Raul recently talked to an agency and the agency brought up a report by eMarketer. The report said that in 2021, e-commerce stores were paying more money to Facebook to cover Facebook ads than they were making themselves in net profit. It essentially means that Facebook is making more money out of e-commerce stores than e-commerce stores are making themselves.
Though this shouldn’t be normal, it’s unfortunately what is happening right now: e-commerce stores have a huge dependency on third-party platforms to acquire customers.
You can avoid that if from the start, you can create a system that automatically incentivises your customers to go out and sell for you — it’s a platform that you own because you own that customer base, you own those advocates, and you own the contact with their friends. If you’re using ReferralCandy and you end up moving to another e-commerce platform, you’ll still own it; nobody will be owning that data besides yourself.
Having a referral program is also helpful because, now, ad costs are going through the roof. It’s getting more and more expensive to reach new customers. Through ReferralCandy, you can have a performance-based channel wherein you’re giving rewards in the hope of acquiring customers. And you will only be actually giving them the reward once a purchase or a successful referral has taken place.
In the long run, a program like that can have a huge impact on the bottom line of your business.
How Much Does Having a Referral Program Cost?
ReferralCandy’s pricing has two components: A fixed monthly fee and a commission on monthly referral sales. The fixed pricing starts at $39 a month if you get the annual plan and $49 a month if you’re on the monthly plan. The commission on revenue generated through the referral program is anywhere from 0.25% to 5%, depending on your referral sales volume. Basically, you’ll only need to pay how much money you’re making from ReferralCandy. If you don’t make any money, then you’re only going to pay the base fee.
Screengrab from RefferalCandy
ReferralCandy’s best interest is to make sure that their clients are making money — after all, that’s when they’re making money themselves.
On top of this kind of pricing, they also don’t lock customers into contracts unless they choose an annual plan. If you’re on the monthly plan, you can cancel anytime. They also offer a 30-day free trial so clients can start using their platform and, hopefully, make sales even before they have to start paying anything to the company.
On Tracking and Reporting
The whole referral activity is tracked by ReferralCandy. Years ago, they used to rely on cookies. Due to new updates, they now have other ways to track how referrals are taking place.
One is by using the coupon codes they’ve created which are associated only with a particular advocate. Once they see who used the coupon code at the checkout, they’d be able to find the particular advocate because the code is unique.
In terms of reporting, the number one piece of data that they show to merchants is revenue. It’s the most important figure and one that will tell them how well the referral program is going.
What they do is track the daily revenue from the program, then compare it to the total amount of revenue that the store is generating. Using those, they calculate the so-called “referral rate,” which is the percentage of the revenue coming from referrals compared to the total.
Apart from that, they also report how many clicks have taken place and how much traffic has the referral program generated for their store. Another interesting feature for merchants is the ranking of their advocates. They can see who are the advocates who have referred the most friends.
Image from Unsplash
The Case of Branch Basics
One of their most successful merchants is a company called “Branch Basics.” And they’re operating in one of the most difficult markets that exist: the cleaning supply industry, which is dominated by massive corporations. What makes them different is that they have created cleaning organic products that are safe for people to use.
They also sell those products on a subscription basis. At the beginning of your subscription, you’ll get a set of bottles. Then every month, you’ll receive a powder that you can refill with water. With such a value proposition, they knew that their customers were going to be very engaged in telling their friends and family why they went with Branch Basics instead of buying a commercial brand.
They started using ReferralCandy almost from the beginning as they needed to get an edge in a competitive industry like theirs. They managed to get well over 10% in terms of referral rate, which means that every month, more than 10% of their sales are coming from referrals — even more, those are new customers that haven’t bought anything from the store before.
It was cheaper for them to acquire those customers than any other channel. And these customers are going to stick for longer because they have that social aspect of why they made it to the store: They made it to the store because a friend convinced them to do it. It's also likely that they're going to keep talking about it and they're going to show more friends what they've bought and convince more people.
Image from Unsplash
A Multi-Language Referral Program
All of ReferralCandy’s templates can be translated into any language. You can effectively run campaigns based on your language of choice.
Also, if you have a store and you’re using different versions of your store in different languages, the platform will be able to identify which customer is coming from which website. That way, they can send them a message in German, English, Spanish, French, and Italian.
Getting ReferralCandy Noticed
To promote ReferralCandy, they rely a lot on content marketing. They put out a lot of content that entrepreneurs can use to figure out how they can grow their sales using referral marketing. These blog posts get a decent number of views every month.
They also eat their own dog food. They run an affiliate program on their site and encourage people to go out and refer other potential ReferralCandy partners and get paid for it.
Additionally, they get in touch with podcasters because they love spreading the word not just about their business but about referral marketing in general, too. Because it’s a channel that’s often overlooked, they want to remind people that it exists and it’s something that entrepreneurs can take advantage of.
This article is based on a transcript from my podcast The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, you can listen here.