If you are a user of Uber or Ola, chances are you tried the platform for the first time because of a message you got from a friend telling you that the first ride is free if you use a code the friend sent. This is referral marketing and is one of the most effective user-conversion tools used by Uber, Ola and others like Dropbox. But, the Indian e-commerce industry--poised to cross the $100-billion mark over the next five years--was largely indifferent to such campaigns. This was when Anmol Batra and Rajat Goel came up with the idea of referral marketing for e-commerce platforms.
These engineers observed that there were hundreds of e-commerce websites, but no end-to-end plug-and-play referral marketing tool available for them. While working with Bain & Company, the duo started ideating and built and tested their product performance before deciding to quit the company.
In March 2014, Anmol and Rajat launched Refiral, a SaaS-based marketing tool for online businesses. It's a plug-and-play referral marketing suite to engage customers on a website, resulting in increased conversions, social branding, and customer acquisitions. It enables e-commerce websites and online businesses to run fully-automated, personalised referral viral marketing campaigns.
E-commerce platforms that sign up on refiral.com decide the offers they wish to extend to their potential customers, and personalise the design templates to match the feel, colour and the content of the website. The set up takes 15 minutes, followed by pasting a short snippet of code on their existing websites. From there, the campaign should run automatically on the main e-commerce website and will start generating referrals. Additionally, Refiral appoints a dedicated campaign manager for each website to regularly measure and analyse the progress and optimise the content, design and offers regularly to further boost the performance. The founders say the platform has one-click integration with over 30 e-commerce platforms globally and works well with self-developed, custom-made websites as well.
“Through Refiral we have been able to touch all the pain points of an online businesses,” says Anmol.
He adds that they are running campaigns for over 700 online businesses across 10 countries, including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, United States and Hungary. Refiral has customers in e-commerce domain across over 15 verticals, ranging from fashion to food to education, and has clients like Bata, Lemon Tree Hotels, Jabongworld, Provogue, Haldirams, Printvenue, Babyoye, and Arihant Books, among others.
On Refiral, Protik Basu, Head-Digital and Rewards at Lemon Tree Hotels, says, “The campaign is showing good results even in a short time. It’s a pleasure to work with the team as they adapt very quickly to your business needs and are able to innovate quickly. This is especially important for clients like us, who are ever-demanding.”
The platform experimented with multiple pricing models to suit the needs of its clients before zeroing in on a fixed pricing model. The platform sells fixed quarterly, semi-annual and annual plans.
“We are trying to partner with various platforms based out of other countries. Around 25-30 per cent of the total revenue comes from our top 10 clients. So far, we have a generated a GMV of Rs 7 crore across clients,” says Anmol.
Funding and growth
For the first six months, the venture was completely bootstrapped. In January 2015, it raised angel round of $330,000 from Cogent E services. “We have invested the amount across product side, marketing and platform partnerships,” says Anmol.
He adds that after a platform revamp in November, the daily self sign-ups has increased from eight to 10 to 13 to 17. “We are aiming at getting more than 2,000 clients by the end of next year by touching a GMV of Rs 50 crore across clients.”
On partnerships, Anmol adds, “Partnering and working closely with e-commerce platforms is key to our growth strategy. We have partnered with over 30 key e-commerce platforms in India and are actively looking to partner with all key platforms across the globe.”
Anmol says that the demand of quick results from clients is the biggest challenge. The clients need immediate results, within days of launching the Refiral referral campaign, but referral marketing is a form of marketing that picks pace over time, he adds.
Market and competition
Referral marketing is a $10-billion industry across the globe. Currently, there are more than two million e-commerce websites globally with a market size of $1.6 trillion, growing at 20 per cent annually.
Referral Candy, Get Ambassador and Invite Referrals are some of the platforms that are working in the same segment.