What’s the best way for a business to improve its marketing ROI (return on investment)? Simple: appeal to customers that are already satisfied with your product.
All businesses, regardless of the industry they operate in, are on a mission to find customers who like what they offer. Naturally, without asking everyone on an individual basis, a company can’t be 100% sure whether someone is into their service or not. Because of this, they have to take a scattergun approach to marketing. Or, to put it another way, they fire lots of shots and hope that at least a few of them hit the mark.
Although common practice, this strategy isn’t the most efficient way to find and, importantly, to retain loyal customers. Fortunately, there is a better way and the gaming world has known about it for a long time. Despite being a very specific part of the gaming spectrum, online casino and betting sites have been using something known as “refer-a-friend” programs for almost two decades.
Part of a larger bonus system where new and existing players can get something extra for their time online, the refer-a-friend system basically does what its title suggests it does: you bring a friend to us and we’ll give you a bonus.
Gaming Was Quick to Spot the Power of Friends
For example, if you’re a bingo fan and want to try playing via desktop or mobile, you can join Sun Bingo and £30 free when you spend £10. At this point, assuming you enjoy your experience, you can opt to refer a friend from your account page. Once that friend takes your advice, deposits and buys a set amount of bingo tickets, you’ll get £20 and your friend will get the same welcome bonus you did.
Where one sector of the gaming industry leads, others often follow and with iGaming (i.e. online casino and betting sites) showing the power of refer-a-friend programs, console game developers have jumped on the bandwagon. In 2015, Destiny creator Bungie announced that it was set to offer its own in-game refer-a-friend program. Similar to the one you’d see at a betting site like Sun Bingo, the system allows Destiny players to get some in-game extras from bringing their friends into the mix.
After buying a copy of Destiny: The Taken King, players can create a special refer-a-friend link by clicking through their game account and into Bungie.net. Once the link has been created, new players can follow this and it will connect their Bungie accounts. At this point, both players have to start the quest A Tale of Two Guardians and they’ll each earn exclusive rewards, including: the Sign of the Infinite, EV-34 Vector Infinite and High Five.
Great for Players and Brands
As you can see, from a player’s perspective, these sorts of programmes are fantastic. However, what benefits do they have for the company in question?
Well, instead of spending money on marketing which may or may not work, the company is tapping into a demographic that’s already satisfied with their service. To put it another way, if a customer is already happy with a product, then it’s likely their friend will be – or at least the friend will take the time to look at a product someone they trust recommends. Groups of friends often have the same tastes and preferences, so you know that spending a little bit of money to attract these people will likely have a much better return rate than if you simply targeted a general market.
Beyond this, the more added extras you can give to already satisfied customers, the more likely they are to stay loyal. For example, if a Destiny player was happy enough to refer a friend and get exclusive rewards, then it’s much more likely they’ll not only play the game a lot more but also be more receptive to any new products in the series. Similarly, if their friends know they can benefit in a similar way, chances are that they’ll also develop a loyalty to the brand in question.
Overall, when it comes to targeting the right people and building a loyal fan base, refer-a-friend programmes are perfect for gaming companies. Indeed, if you knew that you’d get access to special weapons when you made your friends play Call of Duty, you’d be more likely to buy the next release because you may have the ability to get something extra. So the next time you see a gaming company asking you to bring your friends along for the ride, just remember that it’s likely to be a great deal for everyone involved.