According to Google, 90% of online shoppers begin a transaction on one device and complete it on another, and expect continuity and consistency all along the way.

That said, the secret sauce of omnichannel success lies in finding that sweet spot where online and offline retail merges to create a seamless customer-centric experience; a strategy which ensures that your various interfaces and touchpoints are a natural extension of each other. Referral programs are a key component in this strategy.

Referral is all about incentivizing your customers to spread positivity about your brand, whether online or off. Programs modelled on a multi-channel approach further leverage marketers’ ability to convert customers into brand advocates, with exceptional results.

An omnichannel referral program can help you delight your customer from the discovery phase to transaction by consistently delivering your brand message at multiple touchpoints, online and offline.

The Refer-a-Friend app by ShopSocially generates high quality traffic; according to the New York Times, 65% of all new business comes from referrals. And Nielsen reports that 84% of consumers trust referrals from friends and family, and are four times more likely to buy if a brand comes recommended.

The referral program launched by 24 Hour Fitness gyms is a great example. The program allows existing members to share 3-day free gym passes using their social networks. 24 Hour Fitness then rewards its referring customers by surprising them with gift packages, uniting their online and offline presence.

Omnichannel programs approach the referral process from the customer’s point of view. For best results, embed your referral program across every channel and significantly increase its effectiveness using the following actionable strategies.

Online Strategies

  • Design a dedicated landing page for promoting your referral program via email, text, site popups, social outreach and other outbound messages.
  • A click-through option from a friend’s referral email or post makes your brand more accessible, further inciting potential customers.
  • The perfect time to capture user response is immediately after payment is confirmed, so embed a referral box prominently at the end of the online process or shipment notification email, or send text reminders with order confirmations.
  • Incentivize customers to share their purchase stories via social networks
  • Expand social outreach via messaging applications.
  • Develop a dedicated mobile app that’s compatible with your website and enables consumers to shop uninterrupted across numerous devices and browsers.

Offline Strategies

The link embedded in your offline referral reminders should be easy to remember or include a QR code for this purpose. And it should direct users to the referral program landing page.

  • Place a reminder sticker on the delivery box; include a flyer with the invoice and/or thank you card posted sometime later.
  • Place in-store promotional cards that track back to the original store and the sales associates who gave them out.
  • Insert a refer-a friend offer on your billing slips.
  • Have one of your call center consultants mention the referral program during post- purchase confirmation.

Marketing is undergoing radical changes with the focus very firmly on building an integrated brand presence across multiple channels. A successful omnichannel referral program will catch the consumer at strategic points in the shopping journey, and compel them to become brand ambassadors through exclusive incentives. A progressive omnichannel program ensures that wherever your customers go, referrals (and sales) will follow.