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If your agency isn’t all the rave with word of mouth referrals, I’m here to tell you that all of your digital marketing efforts is directly correlated to the amount of referrals your agency receives.  You may think that’s Ludacris, because traditionally speaking, having an outstanding “customer service” is what will drive word of mouth referrals. Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s not necessarily true; when it comes down to it, the customer’s overall experience, yes providing a rewarding customer experience for all of your customers and clients, is what truly drives word of mouth referrals for you and your agency.

Now, you may be thinking that is relatively similar, but providing good customer service and providing a rewarding customer experience are two different animals entirely. The customer service is a customer’s actual interaction with your agency. This extends to how they were greeted coming into your agency, how your staff treated and handled the customer, or how you helped the customer out with their problems. The customer experience is something different entirely; this starts from the moment that a prospect realizes they are in need of your agency’s service, and never ends unless you lose them as a customer. The customer experience includes why a customer reached out to you in the first place, how easy it was to find your agency when they looked you up online, or how you nurture the relationship with the customer even outside of the office. This client relationship nurturing heavily includes the use of digital marketing, especially social media marketing, where you can connect with your customers and clients on a personable basis. So let’s talk about the correlation between social media marketing and the amount of word-of-mouth referrals your agency receives, and how these two strategies are directly related.

Referral Based Marketing

Here’s something you may not have realized… 83% of satisfied customers are more than willing to talk about your agency’s products and/or services, but only 29% actually take the initiative to do so (statistic provided by  So that means, as an agency, we worked hard to make sure a customer had a fantastic customer experience, to the point where they are willing to talk about how great we did at servicing them, but there is a disconnect when it comes to them making the conscious decision to refer you to a family member or friend. Referral based marketing is where you can nurture your audience and bridge the gap. Referral based marketing is an approach to marketing where the purpose is to influence your audience in order to remind them to refer their friends/family or point them in the direction of your referral program.

The “How-To” Behind the Strategy

Like sales, referral based marketing can’t always be bluntly obvious; you can just hop on social media and ask referrals because that simply won’t work. If you have a referral program though, that can definitely come into play here. At our agency, Paradiso Insurance, my in-house marketers (I strongly believe every agency should hire marketing professionals to learn your brand and work for you full-time) develop engaging visual content for our digital marketing that reminds our customers of our referral program. For every referral that our agency receives, whether or not we sign the referral’s insurance policy, we always give the referrer a $25 gift card.  By providing an “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” situation for our customers, it makes them more willing to reach out to our agency to give us referrals (and believe me, a $25 gift card will go a long way with your customers/clients and will pay for itself with the amount of referrals you can earn that way). You have to push a little before you can pull.

Now, other than marketing with the direct, obvious intent of looking for referrals, you can be focusing your digital marketing efforts on tactics that will subconsciously remind your audience that your agency thrives on referrals. Referrals are the number one source of new business, to this day, so when I say that your agency thrives on referrals… I mean it; that’s a message that you need to convey to your audience though without sounding selfish or greedy. One way you can accomplish this is through consistent branding. Your brand is present in all aspects of your digital marketing if you have the right strategy going in. You should speak in your agency’s branded tone of voice, visually represent your brand in all of your visual content marketing, and even have branded videos, or your branded messages behind all of your posts. The thing about branding that’s so powerful is that it makes your interactions with your customers resonate with them, instead of just exist in the moment. Your brand allows your agency to sit in the back of your customers’ minds, so that when it comes time for Aunt Sue to get a new car and she needs to shop for insurance policy that’s right for her, your customers will think to refer your agency.

Your Social Attitude Matters

Another way you can accomplish referral based marketing is to have a positive social attitude in all aspects of your digital marketing. Your social attitude is any way that a customer, client, or prospect interprets their interaction with your agency online. They can either see you as being burden or annoyance if you push too much, a positive burst of energy to their day if you play your cards right on social media, or they could see your posts as upsetting and/or make them angry if you don’t have a strong approach with your social attitude/posts. You could also make your audience feel like they are speaking to a wall if you don’t give them a “like” or comment back when they engage on your posts, because they will feel like they were never heard in the first place if your agency doesn’t respond to them online. This is why the power of response is so important in the social world; if you don’t respond, it looks like your business is closed for business online, and that will hurt your social presence.

Overall, referrals are to this day still pushing the success of our agencies, more so than any other form of new business.  By focusing in on our digital marketing efforts, we can nurture the client relationships we already have to reach a number of agency referrals that we never dreamed of. Just to stress my point, I’ll share with you that my two in-house marketers have to reach a certain number of referrals as part of their bonus incentive, and they do nothing but strictly marketing for my agency. It is that important. Focus your marketing on nurturing client relationships and you’ll push your referrals, and heavily increase the ROI for your agency. Happy Marketing!