A Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Right Referral Marketing Platform: Part 2

by Friendbuy

November 10, 2020

If you’ve already read part one of our two-part guide to choosing a referral marketing platform, then you’re ready to dive deeper into the ins and outs of this crucial business decision. Let’s pick up where we left off and cover some more of the most important things to look for in a potential referral platform.

Easy Integration with Your Existing Tech Stack

A referral platform touches many parts of your tech stack. How that platform integrates with your existing technologies will impact not only its ease of use, but also your capabilities in building and managing a referral program.

Compatibility matters. The better the integration, the more value you will be able to drive from your referral marketing efforts as well as the connecting pieces of technology in your stack. Your business should look for a referral platform that offers seamless integrations with the following technology:

  • Shopping carts and subscription platforms to seamlessly generate, process and distribute offers and rewards (e.g., Shopify, Magento, Commerce Cloud, Recharge, Stripe)
  • Tag managers to easily pass transaction and tracking data (e.g., Google Tag Manager, Tealium)
  • Data warehouses to store and enrich your customer insights (e.g., Snowflake, Amazon RedShift)
  • Email service providers to grow your email list and integrate referral promotions and PURLs (personal URLs) in your communication (e.g., Klaviyo, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Braze, Cordial, Iterable)
  • Customer data platforms to easily pass customer data (e.g., Segment, mParticle, Optimove)
  • SMS platforms to grow your phone number list and integrate referral messaging (e.g., Attentive, Klaviyo, Postscript)

The right referral platform will also offer APIs/webhooks that create flexibility in how you move data around within your tech stack. This improves the value of that data and the potential uses you may consider.

See how Nuuly used Friendbuy to drive thousands of new subscriptions within  weeks of launch. >>

Fast Deployment with Limited Resource Requirements

Integrating a referral platform should be a company-wide initiative that earns buy-in from all key stakeholders. Before that happens, though, you’ll need to sell your team on the value of your chosen referral marketing platform and answer important questions about the process of integrating and maintaining this platform—especially when it comes to onboarding and maintenance.

As you evaluate your options, assess the tech lift required by each platform. This will help you determine what resources you may need to launch your referral program and whether the time and resource demands are feasible for your internal stakeholders. Be frank about your own resources available to commit to a referral marketing program. What does the onboarding process look like? What kind of acclimation period does the vendor forecast for your business? How closely will your referral vendor guide you through the process to ensure your success?

The faster you launch a program and start driving results, the faster you can grow your user base—and your revenue. Here’s how we recommend clients evaluate a referral platform’s onboarding requirements:

Define your referral program goals: launch date and performance expectation.

Review each platform’s integration documentation to fully understand estimated launch timelines. Make sure that your implementation strategy and performance expectations are compatible with one another.

Ask about technical integration support. 

Make sure the platform can offer recommendations tailored for your specific needs based on a referral flow that aligns with your business model and buyer journey. Ensure the platform provides full support throughout the integration process to implement these recommendations through necessary documentation and resources as well as through end-to-end testing and QAing. This process should include QA on the pre-production site as well as a thorough internal QA. 

Evaluate promised support throughout the integration. 

Does the prospective platform offer adequate documentation and resources to guide the onboarding process? What about end-to-end testing? Does the vendor conduct QA on a pre-production site? What sort of internal QA is required?

Make sure you can fully incorporate your brand’s guidelines and style guide. 

Assets should be fully customized and developed to match your current branding. Sharing channels, reminder emails, and other content should also be aligned with your brand. Your business should have the ability to add custom fonts, video, animation, new elements, unlimited screens, logic, different widget/email styles, custom CSS, and a domain shortener to ensure consistent branding across your referral program.

Once launched, the ideal referral program should have no ongoing impact on your internal technical resources. This means that the decision to add new widget placements, modify referral strategy, or initiate A/B testing on referral programs can be conducted without the involvement of your own internal developers.

Ongoing Support and Strategic Recommendations

Your business still needs support after your referral program is launched. No two referral programs are the same, which is why you need a referral platform that can adapt to your unique business needs.

Any technology investment requires robust support from the vendor. Your brand needs a team of specialists that can respond to any issues during or after implementation—including cases in which you modify your buyer journey, add new technologies to your tech stack that impact your referral flow, or simply want to optimize your existing referral program. Seek a partner with a customer success team that can offer strategic recommendations relevant to the e-commerce industry as a whole, as well as to your particular business goals.

A customer success team can also help you figure out the best ways to increase your investment into your program, including how you can invest more time to drive better results, and how to approach A/B testing to identify the most valuable optimizations.

As your referral success grows—for example, as you expand into new regions or grow your product line—you may decide to add new technologies to your martech stack. When that happens, you’ll be glad you chose a referral platform that can grow along with you, providing ongoing integrations that support growth and innovation rather than holding you back from greater success.

Don’t Settle For Less

When businesses make trade-offs on performance, they end up investing in referral marketing programs that become barriers to growth and greater success, rather than supporting scalability and innovation. Don’t fall into this trap. Find a referral marketing platform that offers everything your business is looking for, both now and years down the road.

Find out how Friendbuy’s referral platform lays a foundation for scalable referral marketing success—download our Nuuly case study today.

See how Nuuly's referral program generated thousands of organic subscriptions within weeks.