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Buzz Referrals rewards those that get customers talking

Buzz Referrals rewards those that get customers talking



I have a TiVo Series 2 that I purchased in 2001. I own it because one of my co-workers said it would change how I watch TV. I own a Simmons Beauty Rest Mattress because my father said it was one of the best mattresses you could buy for the price. I convinced my friend to switch from another rum to Captain Morgan and Coke. Yelp reviews can make or break a restaurant. Amazon reviews can make or break a product.

Companies know influencers can play a critical role in building a brand. Combine that with the reach and pass along potential of social media and marketers are chomping at the bit to tap into their loyal customers to spread the word and reward their devotion. One such company is Buzz Referals.

We had a chance to chat with Jonathan Kelley, co-founder of Buzz Referrals, to hear how they’re addressing this challenge.

How did Buzz Referrals start?

I was a co-founder of a company called Element Bars, which makes custom energy bars. We weren’t very good about asking our customers to tell their friends about it, so we were looking for ways to get them to talk. My co-founder, Jordan Linville, was thinking about how to help companies create their own referral programs. We joined forces and used Element Bars as the first customer. We scaled it as soon as it was working.   



Who’s your customer?

Our ideal customer is a midsize, business to consumer company that has a marketing budget, is active online and is executing campaigns to reach and acquire more consumers.

Why is Buzz Referals important today?

The big challenge is that everyone knows that social media is very important and they want customers to spread the word about a product they love, butthey struggle to activate customers because they lack the time, software tools or in-hour expertise to identify the most share-worthy parts of the business that are really valuable to others.

The net result of social media is that it’s incredibly noisy out there. If you’re on facebook or twitter you know there’s tons of noise about companies and products and a lot of it. There’s also banner blindness, so creating a really compelling campaign, not just a referral offer.

There’s a lot of interesting analysis on what a promoter is doing and what that says about the brand and how well the brand is motivating and exciting those promoters. Some will have a handful of promoters that are rabid fans. They do tons of sharing and that’s the Holy Grail for word of mouth marketing is getting the people that really love your brand to keep referring friends. A handful of really great promoters can drive phenomenal results. In addition to a general purpose referral campaign, we’re good at helping our clients identify and motivate those promoters.



How does Buzz Referrals cut through the clutter?

We have two pieces – the software and consulting.

The front end is what consumers see and is a typically referral program or sweepstakes where there’s a campaign that people are joining in and sharing. The software delivers that to clients and customer.

Our software is trackable. It lets us reward customers for participating and sharing. We can identify who the best promoters are and engage them in a deeper way to get them to do a lot more sharing.

On the back end analytics, we look at all that data and figure out what’s working and where can we pull levers to get the right people.

The expertise is partly promotion design – getting the right campaign, the right story set up. Typically, our clients see a referral program on someone else’s site and want something similar. We help them see there is bigger potential just beyond a traditional referral offer that will perform a lot better. That’s where we bring in some expertise to see what parts of brand are shareable, how we can connect a referral offer and deliver it in a way that’s really sharable.

With our larger clients, we go into a media or a marketing agency role to determine our client’s most important goals and create different promotional offers.

How do you reward the promoters?

If you’re an e-commerce store, we look at in house rewards. That’s what majority of rewards look like.

We typically use digital rewards (Amazon, Starbucks, iTunes gift cards) because it’s the quickest way to reward the customer customer for achieving a successful outcome.

We also look for more exotic and unique ties to a brand. Those are the ones that are the best stories - when you make it connect to the brand. But not all companies have that.



Where can I expect to see a Buzz Referals campaign?

Most of our promotions work though facebook, Pinterest and twitter, but we’re expanding based on customer needs.

We have a handful of B2B customers looking for linkedin support, so we’ll be adding that soon.

For custom promotions, we often will do Pinterest or Instagram. We’re flexible for custom promotions.

What makes Buzz Referrals unique?

We tailor the offer and campaign so it ends up having a good result. If you’re not driving ROI, the customer is going to leave.

We find that a lot of our competitors use a fairly standardized model, so they rinse and repeat for every customer. The normal program was a standard referral program that drives some results and provides a bump for the business, but the ROI isn’t as good.

It’s hard to standardize a creative referral program, so it needs that level of expertise and creativity to make it really work well.

We’re in performance marketing for our clients, and if we’re doing our job, our clients get an ROI.



What next?

As we develop really great custom campaigns, we’ll look to make those more reusable – so if do a campaign for a fashion brand and its phenomenal, we’ll look to repurpose across more companies.  We’ll standardize into a word of mouth platforms for general use, even for agencies that do what we’re doing as well or for clients.

We also have a business called Bellafind, which is social reviews for parenting products. My co-founder and I both had our second child in the last 60 days, so we’re very much in the parenting zone. With a lot of referral programs, we know best promoters tend to be moms, so we want to help moms identify and share the products they love with friends and help other moms not have to go through the research gauntlet that is products. We’ll create a marketplace that will help moms discover new products and get the right answer for their families. We had a soft launch earlier this year and will share more in the next month.

What keeps you up at night?

Making sure that we’re getting good results for our clients. It’s the number one thing. what can we do to help them get better results. Have to deliver the result or else it doesn’t work. Create that edge for every client because that's the key to our long-term growth.


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