How to Run a Year-Round Referral Contest

year_round_referral.jpgMaintaining a steady stream of new referrals is vital for any health club. Many clubs allow members to make referrals year round, but find that many of their referrals come in during contests. But what if you could run a successful referral contest every day? New technology makes creating a successful daily referral machine possible.

Here is how to run a successful year-round referral program.

Why do members make more referrals during contests?

There are three key factors of referral contests that make them more effective than passively asking for referrals:

1. Incentives

While you may offer incentives year-round, typically contests have a big prize like an iPad. The big prize entices more members to issue more referrals.

2. Pressure 

Contests only run for a limited amount of time. The time pressure encourages members who usually say "I'll do it tomorrow" to make referrals today. Also, during contests members are sent emails and see club signage reminding them of the contest’s time limit.

3. Easy access to referrals 

During contests clubs make referral paperwork highly visible at the front desk and put up signage about how to issue referrals online. When a contest isn’t running and the signage goes away, members often have to ask staff or figure out themselves how to make referrals.

The key to running a successful year round referral program is to find a way to leverage these three factors at your club every day. It’s impossible to do this with old contest methods. How would you pressure members to take action when there is no time limit? But if your club has a mobile app with referral and rewards features, you can create an effective referral generating system.

How new technology makes a year-round referral contest possible:

1. Easier ways for members to make referrals

It all starts with offering your members an easy way to make referrals. With a club mobile app, referrals take just a few taps. Through your app, members open their contacts list and tap on the people they want to refer. After that your app handles the rest, by sending the chosen prospects a text message with a link to download your app and a mobile guest pass they can use to check into your club. The entire process only takes a few seconds, so members are much more likely to make referrals on the spot, instead of having to look up information or do it at home.

2. A smarter incentive structure

A mobile referral process that takes just a few seconds is powerful. Combining it with a mobile referral program can supercharge your referral numbers. Your app’s mobile rewards feature automatically tracks and awards members points for club-friendly actions such as checking in or registering for a contest. Members can redeem their reward points for prizes such as free PT sessions or club merchandise.

Your club should set referrals as the action that earns the most points. Earning big rewards points is a smarter system than offering contest prizes. Before you were offering an iPad that only one member could win. This drove away some members from participating, because they assumed that another motivated member had already issued more referrals than they ever could. With a rewards system, members are always encouraged to participate because they are guaranteed points, that they can use to pick out the exact prize they want.

What prizes members earn also matters. Most reward prizes get your members more engaged with your club, such as free classes or club merchandise. An iPad may make your winner very excited, it doesn’t engage them like a free PT session does.

3. "Impulse Referrals" and other new ways of applying pressure

Even though the contest time pressure is gone, you can still create pressure in other ways using mobile technology. You can send push notifications to members’ smartphones with special referral offers. One club sent a push notification inviting members to bring friends to a free bootcamp that weekend. 26 members brought their friends and ultimately the club earned $9,600 in new revenue.

The rewards point structure also creates “impulse referrals.” If a member is just one chunk of reward points away from the free class they really want, they can issue a referral in just a few seconds. It’s a win-win situation that no regular contest could ever create.

By combining mobile referrals with a mobile rewards program, your club can create the same environment of a big referral contest every day. One club who used this system had 90 new referrals in their first month. If you use new technology to make referrals easy, create a smarter incentive plan and apply pressure, your club can create a referral-generating machine that basically runs itself.

Want to start generating year-round referrals at your club? Learn more about how a Club Mobile App can earn revenue for your club in the Mobile Marketing Manifesto: 


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