When you’ve been in sales for a while, you start realizing the truth: it takes a lot of work to get a customer. Prospects need to be exposed to your business multiple times (some say up to 7 or 9 times) before they’re even willing to talk to you.

The simplest way to continually expose them to your business, and establish your business as the solution to their problem? Referral acquisition and customer retention. In other words, get them to sign up to stay in touch with you – by joining your email list or downloading your app. Then, you’ll be able to consistently send them helpful messages, no matter where they are.

There are many ways to get prospects to sign up to receive your messages. Here are some of our favorites at the most common touch points.

How to Increase Referral Acquisition and Customer Retention During One on One Interactions

Business owners spend a lot of time interacting with clients and prospects one on one. Asking someone straight out to download your app can be as scary as asking for a referral, but there are ways to make the pitch easier.

Offer a Sweeter Deal in Exchange for Referrals

Signing contracts? Congratulations! Now that your prospect is convinced that what you offer is worth a try, ask her to refer a friend or three. Determine exactly who would be a qualified enough lead. If your new customer refers them, offer her a free extra product or a discounted complementary service.

It doesn’t have to be a product or service you provide. You can partner with other professionals who are interested in generating leads, and use this system to send referrals to one another.

Encourage Them to Download Your App to Get Educated Before the Purchase

When a prospect comes to you directly with a question about your product or service, never say, “Here, click these links, read this 10,000 word guide, and all your questions will be answered.” That’s just bad customer service.

However, many prospects will be looking to educate themselves, especially before big purchases or when making big changes.

Home buyers, for example, have a lot of questions when they try to decide which neighborhood or city to choose. If your app has detailed information on neighborhood stats, real estate prices and trends, and neighborhood amenities – not to mention photos or videos – they’re going to want to download your app.

That’s a great opportunity to improve your referral acquisition and customer retention, which lets you keep track of the information that interests prospects, so you can offer customized solutions.

Invite Prospects to Exclusive in Person Events

Prospects who communicate with you directly might not know others in their situation. A woman who buys a condo in a new city will probably want to meet other locals her age. You might consider organizing local events and announcing them exclusively in your app.

Similarly, if you run a real estate investment company, you could offer exclusive events for businesses in complimentary industries like construction service providers, banks, or lenders. The mere invitation to the event can be perceived as the equivalent of a referral, so businesses will more inclined to work together, grow each other’s income, and have more money to invest in your services!

But to know about these events, they need to download your app.

Conduct a Giveaway

Give prospects and past clients a reason to download their app.

While everyone around you offers a free report, you can offer an actual product or service for free to one lucky participant. That’s a great reason to call or email people who might need a reminder that your business exists, and ask them to make referrals if they know others who can benefit from what you have to offer.

Make it a personal call or email, and you’ll probably start conversations that will keep you on their minds for longer periods of time.

How to Increase Referral Acquisition in Person

If you own a small business with a retail store front or meet with your customers face-to-face, there can be a lot of guess work at play. Do they have the time and patience to hear about your app? Do they even care about your online presence?

Here’s how to make it beneficial for them to download your app:

Give Buyers Incentives for Making Purchases through the App

More and more people are buying online, and while you want to keep your brick-and-mortar store strong, you want to make sure that those who buy online still buy from you.

When customers visit your store, prioritize client acquisition with mobile so you can stay in touch with them. Encourage them to sign up for a member account with their mobile number (so you can text them promotions later!) or invite them to download your app by offering coupon codes and special sales that only work for purchases made in your online store or through the app.

If you provide a service and don’t sell merchandise, you can still invite your clients and business affiliates to sign up for your app or other mobile marketing efforts. For example, if you run a law firm, prospects and partners will benefit from your blog that gives helpful checklists, information about what new clients can expect from working with you, or bid calculators to determine the cost of some common services provided by your firm.

Refer in-Store Customers to Product-Specific Content

Not every customer is interested in everything your business has to offer, especially if you serve multiple sectors. Referring each customer to your website or app lets them chose their own adventure. That allows you to provide your best service to them and keeps those leads engaged for the long haul.

If you’re an auto sales profession, for example, a woman interested in a race car won’t be interested in downloading an app that sends constant notifications about the safest cars for families. This customer is going to want an app that celebrates the rush of the race and connects her with fellow women racers.

If you serve both audiences, be sure to speak to both audiences: safe families and race car drivers — and recommend each one to relevant customers who walk into your dealership.

Partner with Complementary Businesses

The best leads are prospects who were referred from a source who they already trust — whether it’s a friend, a trusted brand, or a service provider who worked with them in the past. Want more referrals? Get to know complementary businesses and help each other increase client acquisition.

For example, if you operate a local gym, you can partner with online and local stores that sell athletic apparel, equipment, nutritionists, healthy restaurants, adventure tours, or even local outdoors clubs and meet up groups. Either you each recommend customers to download the others’ app, or you recommend that customers download your own app, but you feature the others as recommended partners in your app.

Your partners can even advertise special offers on your app, and vice versa, to encourage referrals and purchases across your network.

How to Increase Referral Acquisition through Social Media

At first glance, social media is the best place to get referrals, because it’s all about human interaction around common interests. But getting heard in the noise, with competitors constantly pitching your audience, isn’t easy. You’ve got to pique prospects’ curiosity.

Give Social Media Followers a Sneak Peek

Some social networks let you generate leads right from the platform, with features like Facebook’s sign up form app and Twitter’s lead generation card. But that’s not enough to increase referral acquisition and customer retention.

Instead, add images and videos that give followers a sneak peek to what they can get when they sign up for email or in-app updates. Make sure you provide sneak peeks to highly valuable content, like tips that solve big problems your followers experience.

Host Live Online Events and Give Full Access to App Downloaders

Social media is a great way to host live events that teach your audience skills, let prospects ask questions, or feature an industry expert or brand advocate who your audience won’t want to miss.

To increase referral acquisition and customer retention, keep part of the event available to everyone, so they can be exposed to a wide audience. However, don’t give full access without having prospects sign up to your email list or download your app.

For example, when hosting a brand advocate, only allow for questions to be submitted inside the app. If someone doesn’t have your app, they can follow the event live and see what the brand advocate answers, but they can’t submit their own questions.

Alternatively, allow question submission on your social media channels, and post the answers inside the app, so prospects who’ve followed or participated in the buzz will have a reason to download your app.

Creating a buzz on social media is a great way to get referrals, because all people have to do is click the “share” button.

How to Increase Referral Acquisition on Your Website

Your website is your online home, and as such, you have a lot of freedom when it comes to what you put on your virtual walls. Here are a few great ways to spread the message about your app without annoying your visitors.

Encourage App Downloads on All Your Top Pages

Most website visitors will visit your home page and about page, but there could be additional popular pages on your website, especially if you have a blog.

Check your Google Analytics, find your top performing pages, and encourage app downloads. You can generate referral acquisition and customer retention with a banner, or by linking to it from the text when appropriate. Only add a link when it fits naturally into the content, so it won’t look like you’re over-selling your app.

And don’t forget your sidebar. Keep your sidebar clutter free, so the 1-3 calls to action you do add there stand out.

Create Content Upgrades that Require Downloading Your App

Your blog is your best place to build an ongoing relationship with your target audience by providing pitch-free value on a regular basis, and establishing yourself as the authority in your field.

However, it’s OK to ask for something in return from readers who want to go deeper. Write a blog post that can stand out on its own, but offer even greater value in a related free report, that prospects can only access through your email list or app. It’s called a “content upgrade,” and it’s a simple way to increase your referral acquisition.

For example, if you write a blog post that teaches parents about the best practices to keep their kids safe online, provide a free report that includes actual scripts parents can use to talk about the topic with kids without scaring or alienating them. Parents who need these scripts will download your app.

Add a “Free Resources” Section

Once you’ve developed a few content upgrades, create an entire section on your site dedicated to free resources, and add a tab for that on your main website menu. You can either provide a one-click access to the entire library, or allow prospects to choose which resource interests them and download that.

Either way, ensure that downloading requires signing up with their email address or give access to resources only to those who download your app.

Take It Step at a Time

Customers are everywhere and they expect businesses to be everywhere too. When business owners understand this, they do their best to show up on every possible platform and end up spreading themselves too thin.

The result is often low quality content and service, not the kind that has a positive impact on client acquisition or generating more referral leads. To succeed and grow your business, you’ve got to take it step by step.

Master one platform, integrate it into your daily operations, and only then step out and start establishing yourself in another platform.

Don’t let the fear of missing out on trends run your business. Focus on quality, and you won’t miss out on clients.