The best time to ask for a referral is when your customers are most delighted.
The problem is that this is not always the easiest time to get your customers attention. Getting your customers attention is not easy and so taking advantage of those points is equally valid. Raising awareness of a refer-a-friend progamme is important and you should take advantage of opportunities to do so when you know that you can get your customers' attention (and without getting in the way of a purchase flow).
The most obvious point to make someone aware of the scheme is therefore immediately after a purchase and at Mention Me we strongly recommend using this point.
We'd also recommend including it prominently on the site (preferably the home page) and in regular email newsletter so as to keep it top of mind.
However, the ideal point ususally comes after the order confirmation. When someone buys from you it is likely that they like you or your site (otherwise they wouldn't have bought in the first place). However they are likely to be at their most delighted when they have received some or all of the value they expected from buying. In a normal e-commerce retailer this is likely to be after they've received the product in the post (assuming they receive a good delivery and customer service experience). In a subscription business it is likely to be after they've received some of the value they expected from subscribing. Messages delivered either as a letter with a delivery or in an email at this point and shortly afterwards are likely to convert best.
There are other points that are also worth considering as good options for asking for referral. These include:
- When a customer voluntarily suggests that your product or service is incredible.
- When a customer sends an unsolicited testimonial.
- When a customer has filled in a customer survey or review and said that they would recommend you.
- When a customer refers someone (this is the perfect time to ask for more).
- When a customer is renewing a product or service.
- After the customer has returned something (if they have received good customer service).
When embarking on setting up a refer-a-friend program it is important that the marketing team think through all of these options.