Twenty years ago, the reach of an average person was relatively small; for the most part, referrals were made face to face or over the phone. Today, with social media and review websites, the average person’s audience is enormous. They can reach hundreds if not thousands of friends and acquaintances in a matter of minutes with a simple Facebook post, Yelp review, or other public-facing review.
But with referral marketing, all the targeting is magically and perfectly done for you. Many of your clients will recommend you are amazing products and services to those friends and family members (and social media followers) that WANT it and NEED it the most. So you see? Your targeting can’t get any better than this (and without any efforts on your part whatsoever!).
You’re probably already getting referrals and don’t even know it. Google Analytics has a whole section on referrals that can help you pinpoint other sites that are linking and referring people to you. This report can be can be broken down to not just visitors but customers as well, giving you a deep understanding of which of the referring websites are the most qualified.
Advertisers have a wide variety of ways of presenting their promotional messages, including the ability to convey images, video, audio, and links. Unlike many offline ads, online ads also can be interactive. For example, some ads let users input queries or let users follow the advertiser on social media. Online ads can even incorporate games.
Individual sellers and companies offering products or services have to deal with their consumers and ensure they are satisfied with what they have purchased. Thanks to the affiliate marketing structure, you’ll never have to be concerned with customer support or customer satisfaction. The entire job of the affiliate marketer is to link the seller with the consumer. The seller deals with any consumer complaints after you receive your commission from the sale.
'The influencers in order to communicate marketing messages to the audiences you seek to reach'. In business, it is indicated that people prefer interaction with humans to a logo. Therefore, it seems that influencers are on behalf of a company to build up a relationship between the brand and their customers. Companies would be left behind if they neglected the trend of influencers in viral marketing, as over 60% of global brands have used influencers in marketing in 2016. The influencer types come along with the level of customers' involvement in companies' marketing. First, unintentional influences, because of brand satisfaction and low involvement, their action is just to deliver a company's message to a potential user. Secondly, users will become salesmen or promoters for a particular company with incentives. For example, ICQ offered their users benefits to create the awareness of their friends. Finally, the mass reached influencers are those who have a huge range of followers on the social network. Recent trend in businesses activity is to offer incentives to individual users for re-posting the advertisement messages to their own profiles. A common type of an incentive puts all the re-posting users into a random draw for a valuable gift 
In 2004, Murphy launched an affiliate marketing program on the ShareASale platform with the goal of developing a diversified revenue stream for her business. At the time, the majority of her web traffic was coming in through search engines. As of 2012, the company still relies on search engines, but they have developed additional (healthy) revenue streams.
Amazon Associates – while not strictly an affiliate network (Amazon both maintains the program and sells the products offered there), it is worth a separate mention for the sheer scope of its offers and operations. AA was one of the pioneering affiliate programs, created in 1996 to enable affiliates to advertise millions of offers from the Amazon e-commerce platform. Advertisers can earn 2-10% commissions on referrals, depending on the type of product they are promoting. It is worth keeping in mind that there are different Amazon Associate programs based on geographical locations.
Affiliate-related spending accounts for 16 percent of all online orders. Research shows consumers will spend more cash when following an affiliate’s recommendation for a purchase compared to buying an item of their own choosing. Statistics from CJ Affiliate’s (formerly Commission Junction) Affiliate Customer Insights reveal affiliate marketing customers spend more than the average buyer:
A satisfied customer is your best marketing executive and therefore a company could tap into its rich customer database to utilize them by giving incentives for referrals. Citibank gives Rs 2000 per referral for credit cards to its existing customers, while Google has announced $7.50 per referral to its account holders for promoting Adwords campaigns. Many top-selling magazines such as Readers’ Digest, The Week, India Today have all used referral marketing over the years to boost business. Sometimes, the incentive may be a collection of best articles that have already appeared in the magazine since inception or it could be a useful booklet that the reader can keep as a reference.
Why should you bother with referral marketing? You wouldn’t even think to ask that question if you were running a small brick-and-mortar store on your own: You’d just do it, or lose out to others that did. Nobody had to explain to Balthazar the Blacksmith why he should reward his customers for bringing friends in- the value is self-evident. You make your customers happy, you make their friends happy, you get more business. Win-Win-Win.
Probably the largest and best known online affiliate program is the Amazon Affiliate program. You can see below that they have changed the name of the program to “amazon associates” because the word affiliate has earned a nasty reputation over time. This is primarily due to the tactics that individuals will deploy in order to earn cash when referring a product they don’t use.
Ice Bucket Challenge only asked participants to pour a bucket of ice-cold water and donate. The objective was kept simple and clear, and challengers were not required to put in much effort. It is important for you to keep your message direct and simple as customers don’t have the time and patience to go through a lot of content to grasp the crux of your message.
Marketers must also plan the procedures for crediting referrals, the number of referrals needed to claim the reward, and any other tools for proving that the referrals actually happened. For example, phone service company Vonage offers two months of free service for each successful referral, and one month free for the new signup. To track which customers should receive referral credits, the company provides a separate signup link for the Refer-A-Friend program, and new customers enter the phone number of the person who referred them during the signup process.
The main risk coming from the company is for it to target the wrong influencer or segment. Once the content is online, the sender won't be able to control it anymore. It is therefore vital to aim at a particular segment when releasing the message. This is what happened to the company BlendTech which released videos showing the blender could blend anything, and encouraged users to share videos. This mainly caught the attention of teenage boys who thought it funny to blend and destroy anything they could; even though the videos went viral, they did not target potential buyers of the product. This is considered to be one of the major factors that affects the success of the online promotion. It is critical and inevitable for the organisations to target the right audience. Another risk with internet is that a company's video could end up going viral on the other side of the planet where their products are not even for sale.
You may use both cash or non-cash incentives for referral marketing example, but a Chicago University study found that non-monetary incentives were more effective than cash benefits by 24%. It is also better to not confine referral to customers or employees alone, referral marketing websites can also be used to new customers and lure them into referral marketing programs.