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Growth hack, marketing strategy, user acquisition or whatever you want to call it — there are a lot of products using referral programs to reach more users. It’s kind of a way of stimulating word-of-mouth marketing, forcing or reminding users to share your product and spread the word.
It is always a good practice to simplify user interactions, especially when it comes to sharing your product. You want to make this share action as easy as possible (share buttons, copy link shortcuts, social network integrations, etc). But why does a business need to incentivise and reward sharing? Why do people share stuff all the time even when they’re not getting a benefit out of it? The answer is simple: people like to share “remarkable” stuff. If your product is remarkable, then people will naturally share it with a smile, without needing any type of reward besides the social interaction that comes from sharing.
Creating a referral program requires time and resources that could be better spent on improving the product. The best way to spend your time (and resources) is on making your product remarkable.
Okay, Leo, but what is a remarkable product?
The word remarkable means “worthy of remark” — something that is worthy of being mentioned to others (or shareable, in product language). People share things that are extraordinary, uncommon, new. If a product does the same thing in the same way as other products, it becomes invisible, unremarkable. It’s simple: no one shares something that everyone already knows, even with a referral program.
So to make something remarkable we need to do something new, something people haven’t seen before. But just being different is not enough. If you create something unique but useless, you end up being one of those products that gets buzz for two weeks on every kind of media and then dies without anyone noticing (do you remember Ello?). So here is the hard part: you need to make something unique but that also creates value by solving a real problem and building an emotional connection with your users.
When you focus on offering a unique experience that goes beyond making something that just works, you will create something special, something remarkable. These are the products that transform a user into someone who loves to share the experience and tells everyone about such a remarkable product (and without a referral program!).