A referral link is a type of URL which is provided to a customer who has agreed to partake in a website’s referral program. A referral link (also known as an affiliate link) could be given to a variety of different promoters of the website, including affiliate websites, social media influencers or brand ambassadors.
Unique identifiers are incorporated into each referral link in order to ensure that it is unique to the individual or campaign. It is designed to enable a company to track the success of the marketing efforts that these individuals have made on behalf of the company.
A referral link is different to a referral code. Referral codes can be used by a business in a similar way as a referral link. Instead of using a specific link to access the page, a referral code can be entered by a customer at the checkout stage.
Referrals links can be used by a company to promote their website, or to bring attention to a specific product or service.
When promoting the website, an ambassador can provide their audience with the unique referral link that they have been assigned. This unique code makes referral links trackable. The number of individuals that have accessed the website as a result of seeing this influencer’s marketing promotion can then be measured.
In addition, marketers can then calculate the number of leads that this ambassador has generated through their campaign. The website owner can do this by tracking different steps of the referral program. For example, this could be the number of customer sign ups, successfully sent referrals, or converted leads, which took place through the unique referral link.
The affiliate of your company will then be provided with a commission based on how many leads that they generate, or how much traffic their campaign brings to the website.
In addition, this method of link sharing is also often used as a component of an online customer reward program. These links work by encouraging customers to recommend your website to people who they know. Then, if someone makes a purchase on your website as a result of this recommendation, then the individual who made the recommendation can be rewarded by the business. This reward could take the form of discounts or special offers, for example.
When creating a referral link, it is essential that each link contains a unique referral code. This code can be achieved by creating the unique affiliate ID for the URL. Then, you can insert the ID onto the end of the URL (this URL could be to your home page or a product page).
This can be done by using a piece of specialist online referral software. The link can then be provided to the affiliate or customer. This software also has the capacity to track the referrals links, and notify you when the link has been used.
Once the referral link is sent to your affiliate or customer, they can share it amongst their audience. Sharing a referral link can be done in a number of ways, but the most commonly used methods for doing this are:
- TV adverts
- Social media - for example, Instagram stories
- Through a YouTube video
- Distributing the link via text.
It is essential that using and sharing this referral link is as easy as possible for your customers.
Referral program examples
In the case of a referral program that is targeted at customers, the program is far more likely to succeed if the customers are enthused by the reward that they will be provided with if they bring another customer to your store.
As mentioned above, if you are using a piece of referral software to assist you with this process, then this will notify you when the link or code has been used, and you can then send the reward to your customer in an email.
If you are not using this software, you could find out when referrals have been successfully made by, for example, using referral codes instead. For this, you will need to ask the new customer to enter this referral code during the checkout process.
A typical referral code may look like this: Johnson10
A referral code should be easy for the customer to remember and use. In this example, the influencer’s surname would be Johnson, and the offer is 10% off the customer’s basket.
Typical rewards for using the code are monetary. It could be, for example, that they get a 20% discount from both the newcomer and the recommending customer’s next shop with you, or get a £5 voucher to spend in your store. Alternatively, you could issue them a small free gift. Often, the more people a customer shares this code with, the more rewards they are eligible for.
When using referral links as part of an advertising strategy with an affiliate marketer, this process will need to be conducted slightly differently. They will create the campaign which is designed to encourage customers to visit your website on your behalf.
The affiliate will be paid at a rate which is proportionate to the number of times that their referral link is used. A piece of referral software will help you to monitor how often the referral link has been used, and you can use this figure to calculate the payment owed to the affiliate.
Importance for Online Marketing
Referral marketing is a highly successful method of online brand marketing for a number of reasons.
Referral links are designed to be incentive-based, and encourage a higher rate of conversion, as a higher proportion of website traffic results in sales.
Furthermore, from the perspective of a new customer, this type of campaign is perceived as more trustworthy than if they had been made aware of your business via an advert that you had created.
By receiving a recommendation from a friend, family member or associate, or an influencer who they are interested in, they are far more likely to be interested in finding out more about your business.