Top 6 Customer Referral Program Ideas for Your Business

My Customer Referral Program has been the Lifeblood of My Services Business, Here are 6 Ideas to Help With Referrals in Your Business

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I have been running a successful services business for nearly 2 decades. Through the dawn of the information age to now the mobile digital age where people are bombarded with ads and media constantly. 

Ads alone are no longer enough to get your customers to know and trust you. People are skeptical about advertising, as most have been burnt online a time or two. So who do people look to when they need advice on a product or in my case a service?

That’s right friends, family, and reviews!! This is better known as referral marketing and developing a customer referral program for your business is a strategy that will help you increase your customer base and your profits.  

You need to be aware of the trends happening in 2019 and beyond for an effective customer referral program.

Referral Program #1 Trust Pilot

Trust Pilot was founded back in August of 2007 and according to Google Trends they have had a steady increase of attention since around 2014:


I first heard about Trust Pilot in 2017 through my search engine optimization expert on my team, he suggested Trust Pilot as an alternative to Yelp. So far the service has been useful, it’s not cheap to the tune of about $300 a month per site, they might give you a discount on your 2nd site if you hit them up toward month end when they are trying to hit numbers. I was able to get a second site added for $100. Here is what the widget looks like on one of my sites.


Their system can be used to send automated requests to customers, or they can be sent manually. I personally prefer the manual way. That way, just in case we get a difficult customer I can filter them out from the option to review on Trust Pilot.   

Supposedly, Trust Pilot reviews were supposed to be counted as good as Google reviews when I was trying to hit the magic number of 150 Google reviews. That is supposed to be the number that you need to get the stars to start appearing in your ad words, this is known as a.k.a the rich snippet.  


We have 152 5 stars on the Bachelor Vegas Listing via Google and plenty of Trust Pilot Reviews, but we still don’t have the 5-star rich snippet on my Google Ads Listings, so I will have to look into.

Referral Program #2 Yelp

This San Francisco based review program has a lot of notoriety in the United States. Google seems to trust them as you will usually get the Yelp Listing when you google most businesses. I personally have a lot of experience with Yelp across multiple businesses. Some are good and some not so good.


Here is what I can tell you about Yelp. In some businesses their paid advertising works extremely well and others not so much. I personally, used their paid advertising with my Chicago based party bus company in 2012 to 2014 before I sold it and it was a great money maker. 

I think I had a package back then that cost about $400 a month and it would usually generate me about $1500-$2000 a month is sales, after expenses etc, I was still in the green. 

A buddy of mine in Arizona has a plumbing business and he told me that he drops about $3k or more a month in Yelp Ads and it has a great return on investment.

So their paid system definitely works for many businesses, however, it did not work well for me in my VIP Hosting Company in Las Vegas.

Over the years, Yelp has changed their paid program a number of times, in an effort to improve it and retain customers. It used to be 1 Year contracts with tiers and now they have moved more towards a PPC model without long contracts and it has been through a couple of iterations in between.  

I know because usually every time they change it up they send me some free credits to “test drive” the new program. 

The issue with my services business is that it just doesn’t drive the quality leads that I need for bottle services and party packages. Another issue that I have found is when you don’t pay them they tend to hide a lot of your reviews. 

In the example above with

We used to have over 100 5 star reviews showing when we were paying for advertising and not long after we stopped the Yelp Pay Per Click program, mysteriously 75% of the reviews simply vanished! That is a lot of hard work gone!

Good luck asking Yelp, they don’t seem to care you are playing in their sandbox, and if you would like to learn how I make money from Yelp without paying for PPC ads watch this Video:


Referral Program #3 Google Reviews

Google has a pretty solid review system now and it plays a role in a business’s local listing. 

Generally, people are on their phones these days and are busy and don’t want to poke around for the most part for reviews a quick “Google Seach” and they can get the info they need and nice rating system already ingrained to the listing. 

You should have a program in place to initiate positive Google reviews.

Referral Program #4 Social Media

It’s hard to find someone that is not on social media these days.  Social Media has become an integral part of our life, and to share, comment or click a customer referral can just take a matter of seconds.  People tag me all the time in posts of people looking to head to Las Vegas-Etc. 

According to Digital Information World, the average person spends about 1-3 hours a day on Social Media.


As a Marketer or Advertiser, we know social networks offer ample opportunities for customers to spread referrals.  Sharing offers, or just posting about a business in a positive way can drive referrals.

The Benefits of social media 

  • Easy Promotion through organic reach(which is less and less these days) customers can reach their contacts with posts and stories
  • Large Customer Base nowadays social networks are used to communicate with family and friends, business should incentivize the existing customers to invite their contacts 

Facebook also has a review system that seems to get some love in google results as well.

Referral Program #5 Chat Bots

Chatbots have become widespread and more and more businesses are using them including mine.  They are designed to improve the customer experience, reach a wider audience, and reduce costs

Facebook Messenger is by far the biggest, but rumors are circling that Instagram, Whats app, and Facebook Messenger could be in line next for a Consolidation into one system by 2020. Check out the article on chat consolidation

With 1.3 Billion with a “B” users worldwide you can expect plenty of opportunities to promote referring programs.

Many companies including big names like Uber use chatbots to request rides and refer customers.

Referral Program #6 Multi-Level Rewards

Businesses can provide multiple levels of rewards to customers that send more referrals.  The more referrals the larger the reward.  

Check out Tesla’s tiered referral program here for a great example of one vs. two referrals, etc.  For 2 qualifying referrals customers can choose a signature black wall connector or a founders series Tesla Model S for kids.



Grow Your Business Through Referral Marketing

Now you have some ideas about Customer Referral Programs, it’s time to build out a viable system that has your current customers driving in new customers and building up your online reputation through referral marketing. 

Thinking about becoming an affiliate, I have a great FREE course to get you started here: The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing