Are referral widgets just a vanity application?
Widgets have become a widely adopted approach for businesses so you may feel like this is the best path to launching your referral program. But unless you’re an ecommerce company concerned with only tracking a single transaction and not interested in generating repeat referrals, widgets fail when applied to referral programs.
In fact, when widgets are applied to most referral programs they become more of a vanity application than anything else. Like vanity metrics, widgets’ trending popularity in the technology sphere might make you feel like adopting the widget strategy keeps your business current and relevant, but beware that being fashionable can lead to failure as widgets fail to prompt and capture repeat referral action and data which is essential to a successful referral program. While a widget makes it easy for customers to make a referral, it only does this by dramatically reducing the amount of valuable information you acquire.
A full referral program however, captures customer and partner information in order to build a mutually beneficial relationship and increase the value of referrals, generate and close a higher number of referrals, and obtain repeat referrals from the same costumer.
Check out these 7 questions to help you decide if a widget is really what you want or will just act as a vanity application.
7 Questions to ask when considering a referral widget
1. Will a widget inhibit referral program data collection?
Yes. With a widget, there is no referral program registration. Program registration provides deeper understanding of your advocates and repeat referrals. The information you collect at the time of referral using a widget is usually the bare minimum necessary to track and fulfill a reward. Typically this is just an email address. The gathered information is more concerned with delivery of the gift card than creating a relationship with your advocates.
2. How does qualifying leads change with a referral widget compared to a full referral program?
With a widget no advocate profile is created, which means that you cannot see top advocates (other than email addresses). Additionally, there is not enough information to pass into Salesforce to match up with a contact. Therefore, no advocate data exists in Salesforce. That also means no Advocate name listed on the referral lead so you can’t contact them to prequalify the lead.
3. But wait, can’t we just collect the name and create a profile each time a customer or partner use the widget?
Sure, but then you are forcing them to register each time and they might change their contact information so you have no way to ensure that their data will be combined properly. Furthermore, this would eliminate the fundamental advantage of the widget that it is a simple process. Once you add registration, you might as well not use the widget.
4. Hold up, if it is an SSO system, can’t the widget talk to that system and get the info?
This is possible, but only with so much dev effort that it eliminates the value of the widget being easy to drop in. One company I talked to about this strategy attempted to do this and had to develop an entire page solely focused on supporting their new widget. It took so much dev time and effort that they never were able to implement the widget on any other page.
5. Does adopting a widget based strategy introduce any security concerns?
Yes. Another issue with widgets is that they open up your website to the potential of getting hacked. More specifically, your website is at the mercy of the security processes and standards of the company developing the widget you are adopting. To avoid this issue marketers should make sure the widget goes through a comprehensive internal security review to avoid introducing any security risks to their web properties.
6. But widgets at least are always available and visible to a website visitor right?
No. Another limitation of widgets is that they don’t always work when a web visitor has ad blocking turned on. About 20% of web users today utilize ad blocker technology, which means 20% of your visitors won’t be able to refer.
7. So how do widgets keep customers or partners engaged in the referral program?
They don’t. Another issue with the widget is that you can’t accumulate rewards. Since the widget tracks the single referral and not the advocate, you can’t use reward structures such as monthly commission checks. This also discourages repeat referrals.
So, a vanity application? Or do widgets add value? You decide!