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Getting High-Quality Referrals: A Process that Works

Marketing Ideas

Getting High-Quality Referrals: A Process That Works

Getting High-Quality Referrals: A Process That Works

Interview with Liam Austin

Referrals are a great way to grow your business but getting high-quality referrals can be difficult without a proper strategy. We talked with Liam Austin, Co-Founder of Entrepreneurs HQ, who helps businesses grow their leads and sales through referrals and sign-ups.

Liam has hosted over 15 Virtual Summits at the time of this interview, where he brings together successful entrepreneurs and marketing experts to extract their top tactics.

He’s used this information to create a process for getting referrals that works. By implementing these tips, you can use referrals to get leads and sales on autopilot.

Turn your Audience into Ambassadors

The key to getting high-quality referrals is to turn your audience into ambassadors for your brand.

Whether it be existing subscribers, customers, or prospects, your audience offers unlimited potential for promoting your product. It’s best to target your audience for referrals because:

  1. There’s a viral effect. The average ambassador sends three to five referrals. If each person that signs up refers you three to five people, and those people each refer you to three to five more, your message will spread virally. Audience referrals spread extremely rapidly and your number of referrals will grow exponentially.
  1. It’s cost effective. Audience referrals can cost you nothing, so it’s a no brainer when it comes to targeting your audience! Even incentives for referrals can be free, such as a PDF download or fact sheet.
  1. They generate high-quality leads. The great thing about referrals from your audience is that they produce high quality leads. Your product is recommended to a potential customer by someone they know and trust (a friend, colleague, etc.), therefore they’re much more likely to convert. Plus, that also means no cold calling!

If you have an opt-in form and you’re getting subscribers, then you should be looking at how you can leverage them and turn them into ambassadors for your business.

If you have 10,000 email subscribers that offers a potential 10,000 referrals, not to mention the viral effect that can stem from those.

Incentivize your Audience

It’s important to encourage your audience to make referrals. By providing well-thought out incentives, they’ll be more motivated to share.

Follow these steps to create incentives that will encourage your ambassadors to give out high-quality referrals:

  1. Get them onboard. The first step to incentivizing your audience is getting them onboard. Get your audience familiar with what you offer, including your brand, services, and products. If they don’t value your product, they won’t be motivated to share it.
  1. Understand why they’re signing up. It’s important to know why your audience is coming to you so you can offer a meaningful reward. Rewards are often used as incentives for referrals. If your audience is not interested in the reward you’re offering, it will not be incentivizing and you’re less likely to convert.
  1. Offer something free initially. Give your audience free access to a portion of what you offer before selling them your product. Once they get some of your product they will want to buy more.
  1. Increase the reward for more referrals. Upping the reward will motivate your audience to send more referrals. Liam gives his audience more access to his summit when they refer more people. For example, “If you refer 4 people, we will give you the top 5 recordings from the summit. If you refer 10, we will give you the audio of all sessions. Refer 25, and we will give you an All Access Pass.”
  1. Encourage users to refer via email. There are many types of referrals, but an email share tends to be the most effective. About 70% of Liam’s leads come through email shares. Because email has a higher conversion rate, it’s best to encourage people to share invitations via email. When it comes to formatting the email, keep it simple, short, and text based so it looks like it’s coming directly from a friend or colleague.

Track your Referrals

Tracking referrals is crucial to incentivizing and ultimately motivating your audience to make referrals. Finding the right software for tracking referrals can be difficult, and after researching many options, Liam recommends EarlyParrot.

EarlyParrot is simple to use and works behind the scenes for you. It’s as simple as filling out a form and adding their code to your opt-in page. No coding necessary. It typically takes about one hour to complete, so you can get started in no time. Furthermore, EarlyParrot doesn’t disrupt your existing forms and there’s no external branding.

Another benefit to EarlyParrot is that when users go to refer your page, EarlyParrot opens their contacts for them. They simply click to select who they’d like to share the page with. That way, they don’t have come up with contacts on their own. This was a big selling point for Liam because it decreases drop off that occurs when users must to come up with their own contacts.

Run Referral Campaigns

Referral campaigns are a great way to encourage your audience to become ambassadors. For example, a campaign could be used to reach out to your email list and incentivize them by sharing a new offer.

The following tips are recommended when running referral campaigns:

  • Use dedicated emails. Dedicated emails are the best option for referral campaigns. Dedicated emails’ sole purpose is to get a referral (versus those that simply mention the referral at the end of the email). According to Liam, one dedicated email can have double the effect of multiple emails that aren’t dedicated.
  • Build trust and credibility first. Always offer the audience something exciting before asking them to share. As the saying goes, don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. When Liam’s audience signs up for his summit, he gives them an exclusive sneak peek before asking them if they’d like to “bring a friend along”. Offering something of value first builds credibility and trust, which will get you higher conversion rates.

Use a Referral Funnel

A referral funnel is a series of dedicated emails that are used to incentivize your audience. Liam uses a referral funnel to encourage referrals for his Virtual Summits. Periodically, he follows up and reminds his audience to share his product with others. As an example, the emails Liam might send for his referral funnel are:

  • Email 1. Sent shortly after the initial registration. This email explains that the audience member can get five videos from the summit if they make a referral. It also explains why the videos are something they would want.
  • Email 2. Sent one week after the initial registration. This email talks about the videos and reiterates why they are important, which further encourages them to make a referral.
  • Email 3. Sent one month after the initial registration. This email offers an all-access pass if they send additional referrals, which is designed to avoid redundancy with the first two emails and increase incentives.
  • Email 4. Sent three months after the initial registration. This email is a final ask for referrals that also reiterates the benefits of doing so.

When creating a referral funnel, it’s important to highlight the quality of the incentives throughout multiple emails. Be sure that all incentives are related to one another and are important to the audience. If it’s not something the audience wants, they’re less likely to share.

Avoid Common Mistakes

According to Liam, the most common mistake he sees people make when setting up referral programs is that they fail to align their rewards with their product. If the reward is not well-aligned, the message becomes lost. Not only will people fail to see any reason to make a referral, but they’ll also be confused.

To avoid this mistake, the reward should be well-designed for maximum effectiveness. Consider questions like, “What do people want?” and “What’s the next logical step?”. Liam offers a reward that is a free ticket to watch all recordings from his Virtual Summit over a 5-day period. If they don’t have time to watch in the allotted time, then they might be incentivized to get unlimited access to the recordings. This could be the perfect next logical step.  

Another common mistake people make is failing to consider the value of their rewards. The reward value should be chosen based on the goal you want to achieve. If your goal is simply to get email sign-ups, perhaps a low value reward ($10 – $20) is all you need. If you’re looking to generate more sales, then the value of the reward should be in line with what you are asking of them.


Before ending the interview, we asked Liam, “If you were to go back in time to when you first started, what would you tell your younger self that you know now?” Liam responded that he’d tell himself to “learn from others and model what others do. Make sure you find the person that you aspire to be. Look for someone in the industry that’s where you want to be and determine the steps they took to get there. There is a proven path. You can ‘tread in the footsteps of giants’ and avoid the mistakes that so many people have made.”

Referrals are a great way to increase your leads and sales, but it’s important to follow the correct steps to maximize their effectiveness. Specifically, turn your audience into ambassadors, incentivize your audience, track your referrals, run email campaigns, use a referral funnel, and avoid common mistakes. As Liam stated, follow the path that has been proven to work and you’ll get the high-quality referrals you’re looking for.

To learn more, please visit Entrepreneurs HQ at or contact Liam at [email protected].

Have you had success with getting referrals? We want to hear! Tell us in the comments below.



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