How to use digital marketing to grow a traditional referral-based business.

December 1st, 2022

Traditional Referral-based Businesses

Referral-based businesses thrive on a good word from prior customers, friends, and families. Traditionally, these businesses have done very well based on word-of-mouth alone. However, even if most of your business comes a referral marketing strategy, you may not want to overlook digital marketing.

There are certainly some situations where a referral business has more work than it can handle, and they are not interested in expanding. But, for everyone else, developing variety in your marketing efforts can help take your company to the next level. Below we provide some suggestions on how to grow a referral business through digital marketing.

How can I improve my referral business?

When your business relies solely on business referrals, you are losing the opportunity of being seeing by users on the internet. Most users tend to look for information about a business through internet prior to visiting the physical store. If you want to expand your marketing efforts beyond a strong customer referral program, you should make sure that you are implementing digital marketing strategies. Let us mention some strategies you can use to transition from referral marketing to digital marketing.

How to Grow Referral Business: Getting Referred Customers Through Digital Marketing

Email Marketing

While email marketing can seem somewhat primitive, it can be very effective for a referral-based business. Many companies that rely on customer referral programs are already sending out emails to their existing customers. However, they may not be doing it enough—once a year for the holidays is often not enough to continue to engage with your clients on a regular basis.

Many companies don’t want to send emails because they don’t want to seem like they are bugging their customers. They don’t want to seem spammy or end up in the junk pile. But, there are a few email marketing strategies that you can use to avoid making your email seem like spam.

Some customers may even want more emails if you use effective email marketing. By adding value to customers, you communicate with your clients on a whole new level. Make sure you nurture your relationship with them through email campaigns by providing valuable information, promotions, benefits, and an exceptional customer service. A satisfied customer represents more referrals for your business.

How often should I email?

At a minimum, you should be emailing customers one per month, which is far more often than the average referral-based business is using email now.

Social Media Marketing

While social media marketing is often focused on ads, as a referral-based business, you may not need to spend time and money on social media ads. Instead, you need to focus your social media marketing on simply getting in front of your target audience.

Opening a business page on Facebook or Instagram comes with a certain number of followers as a starting point. This is because the social media platform suggests to friends and family that they should like or follow your page when it is created. You can take advantage of this “built-in” audience simply by posting things on your social media page.

How often should I post?

Posting at least once per day is a good rule of thumb, but there really is no “too much” when it comes to social media—if you are adding value.

Video Marketing Strategy

Video marketing is an excellent way to increase brand awareness and drive leads. In fact, video marketing can triple a website’s conversion rates and increase revenue by as much as 20-30%. Video marketing also has the power to engage viewers more deeply than any other type of content you could use online. If your business is looking for a digital marketing strategy that will bring in new customers and keep them coming back, consider using video marketing. Besides, it is easier to get customer referrals when you post content in shareable format such as videos. Your most loyal customers can then resend the video to their contacts recommending your business to other users.

How often should I SHARE VIDEO CONTENT?

Post from 2 to 3 videos per week and share it across your different channels such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and any other social media platform in which your business is present.


SEO is a proven method to improve your website’s ranking and increase the number of people who come across it. One step you can take is to optimize your website for search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. This will help bring more people to your website and make it easier for them to find what they are looking for. Each time you create content that reflects this strategy, you’ll see a positive impact on your site’s rankings. But creating content isn’t enough. You also have to ensure that your posts are seen by the right audience. Do some research on what queries is your target market typing in Google

Create a Blog and Publish Valuable Content

Creating a blog will help you portray your business as an expert in your industry by providing customers with valuable information. Blogs are an excellent way to gain significant traffic to your website. Besides, satisfied customers can share your blog entries with other people which will help you build brand awareness, relevance, and authority on internet. This a great way of getting a successful referral while implementing digital strategies.

Create an Online Referral Incentive

Create online contests, ruffles, or social media challenges for your business. In this way, you’ll be generating engagement and spread online presence of your business, which will drive more traffic to both your social media pages and website.

Adding Value through Any Marketing Channel

As long as you provide some kind of value with your social media, email marketing, or video marketing most of your clients or potential customers will enjoy what you have to say.

Some examples of “value” that you could add might include things like:

  • Information and knowledge
  • Entertainment
  • Tips
  • Music
  • Visual entertainment
  • Sharing success stories

Put yourself in the shoes of your potential client. Is that person going to get some kind of value from your post? If not, skip it. In this way, you’ll learn the best strategies to learn how to grow a referral business.

Get Marketing Help from RealTop Digital Marketing

REALTOP Digital Marketing Agency Owner

If you could use some help developing digital marketing efforts so that your business does not rely mainly on a referral program, REALTOP is here for you. Contact us today and get a Free Marketing Plan to learn how to grow a referral business.

Best regards, Nik Tsoukales, CEO

Direct Line: 617-315-1138

Main Line: 617.741.9972

Skype: nikitastsoukales

Email: nik@realtop.com 



What are the disadvantages of referrals?

The most significant disadvantage of having a referral program is that referrals might be biased, such as people recommending businesses as they are bonded by relationships such as friendships or family. You can’t rely only on this type of client as you might not get a neutral perspective of your business. That’s why besides having a referral marketing program, you should invest in digital marketing strategies to ensure you are getting leads genuinely interested in your business products or services. Additionally, keep up with the market trends so that you are constantly informed on the best practices on how to grow a referral business.

How can I improve my referral business?

There are several ways you can improve your referral business, both in terms of the quality of customers you are getting and the overall performance of your business through digital marketing. Some of them include the following:

  • Creating a strong community in social media
  • Offer incentives to current customers via email
  • Optimize your website to match users’ searches through SEO
  • Publish valuable content
  • Engage with customers and actively answer their concerns
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