bronto: Best Practices for Running Refer-A-Friend Campaigns

Kristen Gregory on July 17, 2009

Refer-A-Friend campaigns can be tricky territory. The basic premise of a Refer-A-Friend campaign is that a contact is signing up a friend to receive something from your company. The reality is, though, that the contact could be barking up the wrong tree and that friend will want nothing to do with your company.

Let’s be very clear: just because someone gives you the email address of their friend does not mean you have permission to email them whenever you want, as often as you like. You need permission from the friend – straight from the horse’s mouth, if you will.

Here are my suggestions for setting up the most effective (and ethical) email touches once a “friend” has been referred…read on
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Any good ESP, will tell you that if you do have access to the friends’ email addresses you cannot do anything with them. Most ESPs will most likely hide the friends’ email addresses unless that already are opted in or until they opt-in, I know mine does (Pure360). Seth says that the best people to do your marketing for you are your frequent interactors – this can be people who click everything, already send to a friend, leave comments on-line, contact you, spend money etc. etc. If you can pick these people out and motivate them to be inclined to share your emails more, you will get a good class of subscribers coming in. Some times you need a ‘carrot’ to incentivise people to share – a prize or prize draw for sign-ups, purchases etc. It is a slightly more complex way of doing it and you do have to worry about people spamming their friends like chain-spam (emails which say ‘share with 5 friend and have good luck for a year’ etc. – they really annoy me, mainly cos my parents and their friends send loads around to each other I end up on all of their ‘share lists’ cos they just forward from their Hotmail, Aol, Yahoo and ISP accounts).
Again this comes down to profiling your contacts and the quality of reporting from your Email Platform. If you have a lot of data and really need to do something consistently good, it is often cheaper to buy something than have it made – I recommend FastStats from Apteco, it does everything, it is affordable, it is the must have thing for publishers at the moment and it also has full loop integration – lists in and reporting back – with Pure360. I’ve played with it and it is great!