I listened to Daniel talk to someone about his referral program and heard a lot of the same things we’ve been hearing as we’ve coached people through their own campaigns. Here are five common rookie mistakes to avoid:
1. Having a team (or other unnecessary) section on your website
Unless you’re starting an escort service, nobody cares who you are, what you look like, or what your LinkedIn url is. They want to know what product you’re selling and how it will help them.
The problem with including a section like this, or any other superfluous information is that it dilutes your core message and call to action. Focus on what you want the visitor to do and eliminate anything that doesn’t directly impact that action.
2. Collecting anything other than an email address
We’ve seen a few people ask for an email address plus some ancillary information like a zip code or name. Don’t.
If you want your campaign to go viral, it’s vital that you have high conversion rates. Each step you add in the sign-up process decreases conversion rates, so don’t add anything unnecessary. Adding a step that lowers your conversion rate from 35% to 32% doesn’t seem like a big deal, I know, but that 3% drop gets compounded each time a signup shares your page, creating an aggregate effect that can turn out to be massive.
So keep it to the point, and only ask for an email address. You can get additional information from them later if you really need it.
3. Requiring users to share with too many people
The guy on the phone today wanted his users to drum up 100 referrals in exchange for a free pair of sunglasses. Not going to happen. Here’s a histogram of the SpringSled sharing to give you an idea of what most people are capable of:
If a user signs up and you tell them they have to share with 100 people – even 20 or 10 people – to earn your reward, it’s likely that they won’t share at all, because it seems like (and is) an unattainable number.
So give them something that’s within reach (5 or less).
4. Giving too little in return
Here’s an extreme thought experiment to help clarify this: will more people share your link if you offer:
B. a free car
Obviously, the car. Between those two points, there is a gradient of things you could give and attached to it, the amount people will share to get those things. So if you want people to share, give them something they value!
5. Ignoring conversion rates
I talked to someone yesterday who told me he had a pretty low sign up conversion rate and then kept asking me how many initial sign-ups he needed to get the ball rolling. It’s irrelevant! If your signup conversions are low, the ball will never roll very far. But he didn’t want to hear that. He thought he could power through it with a huge amount of seminal signups. You just can’t.
A truly viral referral program is a numbers game, and you have to be really good at the right numbers otherwise the campaign won’t be strong enough to take on a life of its own.
So, lastly, and most importantly, pay attention to your conversions. The SpringSled home page converts at 35-42%, and 15% of people get at least one referral. Those are crucial numbers. Priority one is getting your conversions up so that when you push people through the system it has a long-term impact.
Hopefully this saves you from making some rookie mistakes!