Whether you’re looking to start a new business or grow your existing one, one thing’s for certain: referrals are the most effective (and cheapest) way to bring in new clients.

It’s no secret that referrals are a powerful tool for bringing in new clients. A Nielsen study showed that 77% of people are more likely to purchase something when learning about it from friends or family.

By incorporating a referral program into your wellness business, you can directly influence the number of new clients coming in, and keep them around for longer than any traditional marketing could hope to do.

Referrals Cost You Less and Are Worth More

Ultimately, referrals are the best form of marketing. Your clients talk about their great experiences at your business, and their friends trust them (Nielsen also noted that 92% of people trust referrals from people they know).

Because of this inherent trust, the new people that you’re bringing in through your current client base are more likely to really want to make a purchasing decision with you.

What’s more: word of mouth costs you almost nothing. The only budget that you need to consider is any sort of referral offer that you want to include for those new clients. It could be a free class, 50% off a spa service, or even a free consultation. No matter what you choose as your referral offer, you’re still saving money on advertising and spreading the word by relying on your clients to be your best marketers and ambassadors.

Referrals Can Be Made Fun and Rewarding

The best way to bring in more referrals? Gamify the process. Whether you have an automated rewards program or run a referral program completely manually, you can increase the number of referrals coming in by creating an incentive for your clients. If they see inviting their friends as a benefit to them, they’ll be more likely to bring people through your door.

If you have a rewards program, and you’re looking to boost referrals, a common best practice is to make referrals worth the most points. For example, if you’re rewards program offers five points for attending a class or booking online, make a successful referral worth 100 or 200 points. The large difference between these two types of earning activities helps to further incentivize your clients to go the extra mile and bring in one of their friends.

You can even further gamify your referrals by offering extra points or incentives for those clients that are acting as ambassadors for your brand. For example, you could offer an extra 100 points or a free class to any of your clients that bring in five new referrals in a given month.

By giving your customers a nudge toward referring their friends – and making them feel like they’re really earning something because of it – you can bring in new clients that really want to be there.

Referrals Help Your Clients Create Their Tribe

Referrals aren’t the only money makers in this situation – retention is also at play. When your clients invite their friends to experience a hobby or part of their lifestyle that they deem important, they inevitably create a “tribe” around that. You’ve certainly seen this in your gyms, studios, or spas, where your clients have their go-to group of fellow gym buffs, yogis, or self-care aficionados that join them for each visit.

By creating a space for your clients to spend time with their friends, family, and acquaintances, you’re actually helping to increase retention in your business as well.

It becomes a cycle of sharing the wealth. Your clients bring in their friends, making them more comfortable and at home in your business, meaning that they stick around longer. Then, those friends become your clients and begin bringing their other friends into the space. This continues as your client base grows and retention remains high.

By helping your clients create a tribe and by offering them an incentive to do so, you’re not only boosting your client base and your new customer numbers, but you’re also increasing the lifetime value of those customers.