Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Is it time to replace influencer marketing with referral marketing?

By Courtney Wylie, VP of Product & Marketing, Mention Me

Which channel is more effective for new customer acquisition: referrals or influencers?

The majority of marketers believe the latter — but the numbers disagree.

Mention Me’s latest report, ‘Referral Marketing: Are You Creating Customer Advocates?’ (created in conjunction with the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) reveals marketers are underestimating the power of referrals for new customer acquisition.

37% of consumers discover new products and services via recommendations from family and friends, compared to 3% via influencers. Yet just 23% of organisations currently have referral programmes in place for customer acquisition.

Interestingly, two-in-five marketers believe word-of-mouth recommendations are one of the best ways to build trust. But this hasn’t yet translated into referral marketing programmes that transform happy customers into brand advocates — essentially creating free promotion from a valued source.

And, as our CEO Andy Cockburn explains, it’s not just referral marketing being overlooked:

“Interestingly, many brands also misunderstand what matters most to consumers,” he says. “As presented in this report, marketers frequently overlook the brand values and ethical behaviours their customers really care about, instead focussing on the push marketing and brand loyalty often disregarded by target audiences.”

Rachel Aldighieri, Managing Director at the DMA, sums it perfectly:

“Rather than trying to use influencers or asking customers to review your products and services, a good strategy lies in combining the two. Why not ask your customers to be your influencers?”


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