Consumers now spend most of their Internet time on mobile devices, according to a recent BI Intelligence report. However, marketers are far behind the curve in effectively reaching those consumers. On mobile, CPMs are low, ads are often intrusive, and the landscape is fractured by operating system, wireless carrier, device type, and more.

Moreover, mobile also lacks the technical consensus to seamlessly deliver ad targeting, delivery, and measurement.

Put simply, mobile advertising spending and tactics haven't caught up with the upswing in mobile usage.

What's important about the rise of mobile is that it allows people to evade digital advertising, which means marketers will be looking for new ways to reach consumers. The answer may lie in making an old dog more mobile by teaching him some new marketing tricks.

Referral marketing isn't a new concept, but with smarter execution and optimization it makes up for some of mobile advertising's shortcomings. Referral marketing allows for precise consumer targeting on a level difficult to achieve using current mobile ad technology and for multiple delivery options, such as email and social. With referrals, personalized recommendations for a brand or product areinjected directly into a user's pocket—wherever a user happens to be.

How do you revitalize your old referral marketing dog to make him fit for mobile?

Here are some referral marketing tips that marketers should consider when targeting mobile users:

  • Kickstart your campaign. At the program's inception, start with an offer structure that's unique to referrals and richer than other offers, and promote it across online and offline channels. That excites customers about the program and gets them sharing with their friends. It also establishes a baseline to measure against when you boost or reduce the offer in the future.
  • Don't forget about email. Email shares produce the highest conversions, making it one of the most effective ways to promote referrals. Test which option nets the best results to see whether your customers respond better to promotional, transactional, or welcome-based emails.
  • Do an on-site promotion with various calls to action. Some customers respond better to header images; others may be triggered by something on a product page. Optimize and test various placements to see what garners the best results.
  • Stay dialed into Facebook. Mobile consumers use social channels, so having a dedicated referral program tab that you can use on its own or in conjunction with Facebook ad campaigns is important. It can drive up to 15% of referrals!
  • Retarget. Retargetting is effective across all channels because it keeps the program top of mind for customer advocates, so they'll continue to share again and again.
  • Layer in episodic campaigns. Evergreen referral programs work best in conjunction with episodic campaigns. Whether weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually, remind your customers of their and their friends' opportunities to earn rewards.

As with any campaign, how you promote your program is just as important as optimizing each step of your user experience and the incentive offer. By testing and optimizing, marketers can learn how their customers respond on mobile devices and make their referral campaigns as effective as possible.

To find out more about how to bulk up your referral program, check out the following infographic:

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How to Bulk Up Your Referral Program [Infographic]

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Chris Duskin is the vice-president of marketing for Extole.

LinkedIn: Chris Duskin