How A Referral Program Increases Customer Retention

Retain profile

Samantha (00:45):

Hii everyone. I'm Samantha, and I'm the head of customer success at Friendbuy. So for those of you who aren't familiar with, Friendbuy we power referral programs for some of the hottest companies in eCommerce, including things who has joined us today to discuss how their referral program has helped improve their customer retention efforts. So I'm really excited to be talking to Taylor Raritan, who is their senior manager of life cycle marketing. So Figs is a mission driven company that designs highly modern and super comfortable scribes for medical professionals. I actually know firsthand how much these medical professionals love Figs. Cause I'll tell you a little funny story. So late last year I actually went to the dentist and noticed that the dental hygienist was, wearing fake scrubs. So I complimented her on her scrubs and she immediately responded, Oh my God, they're called Figs. I'm obsessed with them. And I need them in every single color. So then I thought to myself, wow, this, this woman really needs her own referral. Like, so she can start getting rewarded for talking about how much she loves the brand. So then I asked her, Hey, did you know that Figs has a referral program for every friend you refer, you can actually get $20 off your next pair. You can also give your friends $20 off their first order. She got so excited. She immediately whipped out her phone and I showed her how to get to the referral program right then and there, luckily things made it really easy for her to get to the program really quickly. This is a perfect example of how referral programs work IRL in real life. So I'm really excited to be talking to Taylor and, you know, in response to COVID actually fixes donated over 30,000 scrubs has given away 25,000 K and 95 masks and sent care packages to medical professionals all around the country. So Taylor, it's a real pleasure to be engaging with you in this discussion and talking about how fix things about customer retention, the customer life cycle and customer advocacy. So I think this will be a really great learning opportunity for us. So Taylor, why don't you just briefly mention how long you've been with Figs a little bit about your background and how you got into digital marketing and retention.

Taylor Brereton (03:05):

Yes, absolutely. Thanks Sam. Thanks for that great intro. , and Hey everyone, thanks for tuning in. I'm really excited to be here as well. Talk about all things, Figs and retention. I'm Taylor Brereton. I head of retention marketing at Figs as a senior manager of customer life cycle. I work alongside our performance and brand marketing teams to develop customer engagement strategies for awesome bigs community of medical professionals. I also manage all of Figs retention channels, including email referral, mobile app engagement, SMS, et cetera. I have a multifaceted background in life cycle content and performance marketing, but my true passion as a marketer is in customer retention. This is where I can develop engagement and content strategies to drive world class, customer loyalty and advocacy. Sam, you gave a great intro to Figs. Thank you so much. I thought I'd also kind of give my little 411 on the company for those of you who aren't aware of Figs.

We are a direct to consumer e-commerce medical apparel company. So before Figs medical professionals from doctors, dentists, nurses, you name it, didn't have access to scrubs with fit and function, that looked good and that really supported them in their everyday Workday cause that's what we do, we're also a female founded company. We were founded by two extraordinary women, Trina spear and Heather Hassen who founded Figs in 2013, as well, we have a give back initiative called threads for threads, where we donate medical apparel to healthcare professionals in need around the world. I've been at Figs for over two years now. The company has grown like crazy, even since I've been here. So it's been such a blast to see the company grow, work on such a talented team and ultimately serve medical professionals in the world, through our products and our brand.

Samantha (05:14):

That's awesome. So before we talk about referral, can you tell us about how you think about retention overall and what are the different tactics and aspects that you have to think about on a regular basis when it comes to retention?

Taylor Brereton (05:26):

Yeah, so overall our customer retention is amazing, super healthy. We have a really highly engaged community of customers. And this is really because we put the customer first in everything we do, that philosophy, is our philosophy. Every team member, every individual has it, every department has it and just throughout our business, on a super high level, when it comes to retention marketing at Figs, I'm always thinking about ways to acquire high quality customers that will go on and advocate for a brand and rewarding our loyal customers for their advocacy and ultimately understanding our customer. So we are delivering on the best brand experience at every touch point in their life cycle. So for example , we provide what we call “core scrub styles” in core colors all year long, and this is just a part of our business model, but we also offer limited edition scrub styles and scrub colors throughout the year. We've been doing this for as long as the company has been around and our customers love it. They love the new styles. They love the new colors. So this model naturally helps with purchase frequency and delivers on that amazing experience And then they (our customers) come back and just keep buying. So where I spent a lot of my time is looking for creative and successful ways to increase, purchase frequency, and keep our customers engaged with our products and brand beyond just this business bottle we engage with our customers in so many ways, through video, I'm sure some of you might've even seen like our billboards, and we have a variety of marketing channels we use. But all of this starts, with putting our customer at the center at the heart of our marketing of our products, of everything. An example of this is we have an incredible group of people called our Figs ambassadors. These are real medical professionals who love Figs. They love what they do and they want to be a part of our brand and our mission. So we highlight their stories through our marketing and through our brand. We highlight their journey through medicine. Our marketing team is like a content creating machine. So we make sure we're authentic in our messaging and in our marketing. And we do this by staying close to our customers. At this time in the world with the COVID-19 pandemic, the relationships we built with our customers have really helped us show up for them and support them in the most authentic ways. We shifted our entire marketing strategy and immediately got to work on making sure we could provide our community with PPE. This kind of all goes back to that idea of understanding your customer and their needs and being the kind of brand that's trustworthy and supports and encourages them as, as medical professionals.


That's amazing. You guys are clearly doing amazing things during this time, so thank you so much. Wow. So, what were some of these opportunities that you were considering to enhance your retention efforts?

Taylor Brereton

As a business, and my philosophy, it honestly starts with having a great product. Our great product is scrubs. Everything that we design and manufacture and sell,, we put so much thought into it. We have a proprietary fabric called fine annex that ensures our scrubs are comfortable and functional. So we're quite literally designing for the medical professional and their needs for their everyday work day. So when I think about enhancing our retention, I'm looking for ways to build long lasting relationships with our customers to create the best brand experience beyond just purchasing our products and then to turn that group of passionate customers into our advocates. So how do we do this? I can sum it up in one word and that's personalization. We do this through delivering personalized, relevant and engaging content that not only drive sales, but it will also drive brand affinity. So think about the right products at the right time for the right person. We're able to do this as part of our strategy is just leveraging our data and our customer insights. So we're connecting with our customers and engaging with them in a way that resonates personally. And that's when Friendbuy became a no brainer for us, we wanted to make it easy for our best customers to share an advocate for a brand and we wanted to reward them for doing so. The added benefit is that it also gives us a way to acquire quality customers who will then go on and be advocates and spread the word and share Figs. Then it becomes this endless amazing cycle of rewarding our customers and then acquiring new ones.

Samantha (10:43):

That's great. I love this idea of, you know, it's really kind of the Holy grail of customer retention and growth getting your new customers to then become advocates and that creates that network effect. So, I think that's incredible. How does a Friendbuy helps with these efforts. What are some of the things that you're doing to incorporate the referral program as a way to deliver an amazing customer experience?

Taylor Brereton (11:24):

Friendbuy is one of many awesome tools we use to retain and delight our customers, but has really proven to be successful in terms of growing our customer base and rewarding our customers. Building a strategy around how we communicate our program, as well as how to integrate it into the customer experience has played a huge part in the success of our program and Friendbuy is really helping with that. I guess to get a little bit more granular, the first way frien buy helped with this is through customer journey mapping with referral. This platform really made it easy for me to strategically incorporate referral throughout the whole Figs customer experience from awareness to engagement. Once they buy Figs, they have an opportunity to easily refer, post NPS review , email, as well as post product review. So I'll kind of break those down a little bit to explain how they kind of show up. For email, this is a really strong and successful marketing channel for us, in regards to retention. So I wanted to use this channel and understand when is the best time to target new customers with the program. So what I did is played with segments, and timing kind of played into this. I found that targeting customers who signed up and did not make a purchase within like the first seven days, that was the most successful point in the journey in terms of customers engaging with the program sharing, actually converting on their first purchase was through the program. So that was a really great point in the life cycle, as well as NPS. So, for those of you who don't know what NPS is, it's a survey you can send your customers that gauges the likelihood of them referring to your brand or product. So for any customer who provides us a nine to 10 score, we provide an opportunity on that followup. It is kind of a no brainer opportunity there, but has been really successful. And then there is post product review. We have a lot of purchases on our website, we have a ton of traffic, so we have a lot of customers buying. So in addition to wanting to get their feedback on our products, we also present them an opportunity to refer a friend and post a good product review, and that has been a great moment too. So that's kind of a summing up customer journey mapping referral, which has been so great. Secondly, just the ease of use of the program, not just from onboarding and setting it up, but it is super easy for our customers to refer their friends, to Figs through this program. And that's important to our customers because if you're thinking about who our customers are, they're medical professionals, they're working long shifts, they're busy, they're curing diseases and saving lives. So making sure that programs are really straightforward and easy to use is important. And then lastly, the ability to optimize our email messaging has been an amazing perk of this program. So I'm able to test email, subject lines, and referral program messaging incentives. This is important to me because I want to make sure our content, our messaging really resonates with our customers. What this turns into is higher open rates, higher share rates, conversion rates, and then ultimately a higher yield in revenue through the program.

Samantha (15:25):

That's great. Talk a little bit about what, what results have you seen through the program?

Taylor Brereton (15:30):

Yeah, it has been a year now since we've launched the program and we have seen some amazing results, one of which is really strong purchase metrics on orders made with the referral code. We've seen a crazy spike in referral programs or referral shares and coupon redemptions, and just engagement with the program in general, during our big promotions and our big product launches, which happened a few times during the month. So that means that our best customers who are coming in buying during these promotions and new product releases are also sharing Figs with friends. In addition to having our customers come back to our site and buy, we're also acquiring new customers through our best customers, which is perfect. Lastly, we found customers who are acquired through the referral program have exceptionally high LTV. They purchase more frequently. They have high AOV, low CPA, when compared to our general customer segment over the past 12 months, which is amazing, because it's exactly what we wanted the program to do, from a retention perspective. So it's been really great to see those metrics and see such high performance and just in general, our customers engaging with the program and it actually adding value.

Samantha (17:07):

That's so great. You know, there's this adage that I first heard from our founder CEO Maneesh that I think about all the time and it's, it's that companies at the end of the day, they, they really want two things, right? Number one, they want you to buy from them. And number two, they want you to refer friends to buy from them.

And that's really why I think a referral program, you know, is table stakes for a company to acquire customers and then encourage their existing customers to keep coming back to purchase. So I think I'm excited to hear that, you know, the results of this program have really been what you, what you expected. So for those of you who are interested in seeing what referral program looks like, I have a couple of slides to show you. So let me share my screen here. So what we've seen really is that the keys to a successful referral program are awareness, ease of use and accessibility, and all of those components lead to this idea of an impulse referral. So what we have here is Figs has included a primary call to action in their mobile menu. So when I can, when I'm chatting with my friend and I want to refer to Figs, I can easily get to the program. And then when I click refer a friend, I can see that all I need to do is enter my email address to unlock the sharing functionality. And then I can share it through a number of share channels, email, SMS, Facebook messenger. I can also grab my personal referral code if I want to share it on Instagram or on a blog. So say for example, I wanted to share things with my friends via email and if my friends actually don't take any action within three days, then an automated reminder email is sent to my friend to say, Hey, Samantha is giving you $20 off your first order at Figs take advantage.” Once my friend receives this email and they decide to click, my friends will enter their email and then Friendbuy will actually send them an email with their incentive included. So there's a coupon code here that my friend can use toward their first order. And the advantage of having this email copy for widget is that now Figs can acquire the email addresses of these referred friends and then can easily add them to their ESP, to remarket to them. Once my friends then go on to purchase, Friendbuy will send me a reward email with my $20 code that I can use toward my next order at Figs. So Figs acquires the customer at a low CPA, and then I continue to purchase at Figs because I get rewarded for introducing my friends. So it's really a win win. Then Taylor had mentioned how they're incorporating the referral program within their customer life cycle. So I wanted to show you some examples of those assets as well. So here's a couple of examples of the dedicated referral emails that, Taylor ascending or Figs ascending to drive awareness of the program. And as she mentioned, she's testing these two different types of emails, but both of these emails are really meant to drive awareness of the referral program. In this case, new customers who have not made a purchase will receive this email seven days after signing up for the referral program.

Here's an example of how Figs incorporates the referral program with their NPS tool. They're currently using delighted to power their net promoter score surveys. And since the actually has an integration with the lighted where if somebody rates Figs, uh, with a score of either nine or 10 from, I will automatically provide a link to allow people to share, because they're showing the intent to share with their friends and family. This is a great way to also give an opportunity to share once people provide a positive review. So in this case ,a fixed customer who has provided a product review 30 days after their purchase will receive the thank you message and then an opportunity to refer. And then what they can do is click the link that says, refer a friend, and then it will direct them immediately to that dedicated refer a friend landing page.

I guess I have one more question to ask, what advice would you give people who are thinking about implementing a referral program and using a software like Friendbuy or even building it internally? What, what would, what advice would you give to them?

Taylor Brereton (23:01):

Yeah, that is a great question , in terms of giving advice on building out a program, the first advice that came to mind is just making sure the program makes sense for your customers. There's so many different ways to incentivize, to market it, so you know, this can start with testing and actually talking to your customers. , I actually called some of my customers about a year ago, and ask them about , just what were sort of rewards that they would enjoy as one of our customers and just got a resounding feedback that was like “we want to be able to easily refer friends,” which was a huge catalyst into looking into Friendbuy. There's really two reasons we decided to use Friendbuy to power our referral program. One being the simple process to get the program set up and running, as well as the amount of creative control we had over the look and feel of the program, our brand is really important. So we want to make sure it has it, it has the consistent brand look and feel for all of our channels. And, secondly I'd say we really take our time to vet out the vendors we work with. We want to work with vendors that value our business that understand our main objectives, our KPIs, and become more like strategic partners than just a service platform. And that has been such a huge value add for us and, and has been really enjoyable over the last year to be able to track the program, optimize it, and then be able to kind of celebrate together a year later and to see these great metrics around the program.

Samantha (24:54):

Excellent. Well, Taylor, thank you so much. This has been a really engaging discussion, so really appreciate your time and excited to, to continue the partnership and continue to grow through referral.

Taylor Brereton (25:09):

Thanks Sam. And thanks everyone for joining.

Samantha (25:12):

Yes. Thank you so much. , if you have any questions, please feel free to email either myself or Taylor. My email address is [email protected]