Using low-cost digital rewards to transform everyday people into your marketing team – incentivized referral marketing for authors & brands from Grabbr CMO Herman DeBoard– AMA

Jun 21, 2018

My name is Herman DeBoard and I am the CMO of social referral marketing platform Grabbr. I have over 25 years’ experience in marketing, technology design, and development with public and private companies as well as government agencies. I have an MA in Communication Studies with a focus on Computer-Mediated Communication along with Ph.D. studies in Education with an emphasis on Adult Learning Methodologies.

I have built and tracked some truly amazing marketing campaigns for both large consumer brands and companies as well as independent authors and musicians. Each campaign I’ve worked on has been designed to generate maximum impact through social referrals using low-cost digital rewards as a consumer incentive. I consider myself an out-of-the-box thinker who understands the mind of the consumer and what will spark their interest in engaging with a marketing campaign and sharing the messaging within their own networks.

I find new ways to leverage low-cost digital rewards to engage audiences across the world, whether it’s an independent author trying to boost exposure of their new book through a free download, or a large publisher looking to promote a new addition to their author roster, I’ve created programs that work for any size customer that wants to leverage the power of consumer referrals.

Incentivized referral marketing is an approach that transforms everyday consumers into brand marketers, leveraging the power of ‘word of mouth’ by having interested consumers share a brand message with their network of friends, family, and connections who trust their opinion and recommendations. In exchange for shares with their networks either through a shared post on social media, text or email, consumers receive a reward that is of little to no cost to a brand, such as a free download, a coupon or an entry into a sweepstake.

I look forward to answering your questions and helping you.

About Grabbr:

Grabbr is a social referral marketing platform that uses ‘social currency’ to market businesses while revealing exactly where their advertising dollars have the largest impact, and which social channels they should be spending their time on to engage followers. With access to 195 social sites and an email portal that can send campaign invitations to a marketer’s entire email list, the platform enables marketers to deliver digital incentives to a broader range of audiences while accumulating real-time analytics and ROI measurements.Grabbr has worked with companies, authors, and brands including:

  • Independent Author - Laurie Weiss
  • Global Brand - AT&T Global
  • Global Publisher - Simon & Schuster
  • National Brand - Skyrunner
  • Best Selling Author - Michael Hyatt
  • Global Retail Book Distributor - Readerlink
  • Global Retail Book Distributor -  Ingram Content Group
  • Independent Author Publisher & Distributor - Author Solutions
  • Shogun Hibachi Grill
  • Regional Cadillac Automobile Dealers
  • National Non-Profits such as Go Bowling


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How is Grabbr different from other PPC target marketing platforms?
Jun 23, 2:59AM EDT0
How did you go about developing your Grabbr 8 step process? What variables came into play?
Jun 22, 7:17AM EDT0

The 8 Step Process listed on the website is simply the steps required to build, launch and track your campaign. For the customer experience, we actually have it down to two steps until the share is verified and the reward is granted.

Last edited @ Jun 27, 11:17AM EDT.
Jun 22, 2:28PM EDT0
When are you launching Campaign Blockchain? Do you thing this could be a game changer for your platform in terms of analyzing customers’ behaviors/trends?
Jun 22, 4:51AM EDT0

After filing our patent for campaign blockchain, we integrated it onto our dev server and began testing. Our current goal is to roll this out to clients in 4th quarter. We do believe this will be a game changer in many ways. In addition to analyzing customers' behaviors/trends, our enterprise clients will be able to mine past campaigns to determine where their biggest ambassadors are. As you can imagine, this will enable our clients to create highly targeted and extremely effective campaigns.

Jun 22, 2:41PM EDT0
Do you have plans for expanding the touchpoints to increase consumers’ engagement?
Jun 21, 11:18PM EDT0

We actually have several touchpoints already including 198 Social Media Sites, Text Message, Email, QR Codes, Bluetooth Beacons, Shelf Talkers, ecommerce intergation, and NFC tags. We are always on the lookout for new touchpoints, especially if they will help our enterprise clients spark initial engagement from the first generation customers.

Jun 22, 2:26PM EDT0
What is the ROI of referral programs?
Jun 20, 12:36PM EDT0

Referral programs have some of the highest return on investment (ROI) of all marketing channels.

  • Dropbox’s referral program helped them grow from 100,000 to 4,000,000 users in 15 months.
  • PayPal achieved 7-10% daily growth in the early 2000s with their referral program, even without social media

Your ROI depends heavily on the perceived value of the reward you are distributing. If you are a musician giving away a $.99 song in exchange for sharing a link to the store where you can purchase their album for $10, the ROI would depend on the engagement numbers generated by the reward.

Our average increase in post engagement at this point is 500% and as of this morning, our highest campaign engagement increase was just over 22,000%.

Last edited @ Jun 20, 2:01PM EDT.
Jun 20, 1:35PM EDT0
How does referral marketing work? What businesses benefit the most from referral programs?
Jun 20, 11:53AM EDT0

How does referral marketing work? - For our platform, we make referral marketing easy. You simply login and create a new campaign. The campaign is simply a message, video or image that you want people to share. You then upload a reward such as a coupon, ebook, audio file, video, image, or any other digital file with a perceived value. Grabbr then locks up the reward. Next, you spark your campaign by sharing it on social, sending it via email, SMS, in print via QR codes, or with our bluetooth beacons. When people see your message and want your reward, they must engage with it by sharing it via social, email or SMS. Grabbr then verifies and validates the share and delivers the digital reward to the fan. 

What businesses benefit the most from referral programs? - Literally any business that wants to turn customers or foot traffic into social ambassadors for the business. We have retailers using shelf-talkers to spark the referral/reward process, we have indie authors using a portion of their book to spark the referral/reward process, and we have c-stores using coupons to spark the process.

Jun 20, 1:29PM EDT0
Why would you choose referral marketing over other marketing strategies?
Jun 20, 4:27AM EDT0

People spend countless hours cultivating their friend base on social media, text and email. There is a true underlying value to this inner circle for marketers. When you combine this with our belief that the most powerful way to motivate buying behavior is through the recommendation of a friend, this is why I would choose referral marketing over other marketing strategies.

Jun 20, 9:10AM EDT0
What is the difference between referral and affiliate marketing programs?
Jun 20, 1:17AM EDT0

To answer this I would like to add the word 'recursive' to your question. For most affiliate programs, a user shares a link or another asset with a friend, but that friend then must make a purchase before the referring user gets any sort of reward. With Grabbr, we are using recursive marketing at the base of our referral platform. This allows us to use your social share as a sort of currency to purchase the reward being offered by the marketer.  So you are instantly rewarded just for being a social ambassador no matter if the friend you referred makes a purchase or not.

Jun 20, 9:07AM EDT0
When should a brand consider implementing a referral program?
Jun 19, 5:06PM EDT0

That's an interesting question. We have very established brands such as c-stores and major retailers using Grabbr's Rewards-Based Referral Platform, and we also have startups, independent authors and musicians who are also successful. In all of these cases, each client had an established list to spark their campaign to (social media, email, text and sometimes postal). So from our experience, as long as you have a good reward with a high perceived value and a good list to spark your campaign to, it can be very successful.

Jun 19, 5:26PM EDT0
Should you A/B referral programs? Why or why not?
Jun 19, 8:07AM EDT0

The most successful clients on Grabbr definately A/B their referral campaigns. Because we use a reward for referral system, our clients test different rewards to see if they will get higher engagement values. So far, the stats are showing that the higher the perceived value of the reward, the higher the engagement numbers go and the campaign goes multiple levels deep as well.

For example, an author may test giving away 3 chapters of their versus 50% of their book both in exchange for sharing the link to the online store where the fan can purchase the full book. In this example, offering 50% of the book as a reward has a higher perceived value to the fan and thus generates higher engagement numbers.

Jun 19, 8:29AM EDT0
What are you most optimistic about for incentivized referral marketing in 2018?
Jun 18, 10:59AM EDT0

I would have to say analytics and blockchain. Let me explain...We have built in blockchain to create a ledger of engagement and reward distribution as the referral system unfolds. Post-campaign, brands can then mine the data to locate their biggest and most effective ambassadors. This enables future campaigns to be more targeted and less expensive.

Jun 18, 11:45AM EDT0
Which social networks are the most important in your project and why?
Jun 18, 7:01AM EDT0

Once you have built your campaign and locked your reward inside, marketers can spark their campaign on a number of social networks or via email, bluetooth beacon, QR Codes, or SMS. Fans or Grabbrs as we call them, can then choose to SHARE your post on any of 128 social networks, via email, or text message. Grabbr then tracks the engagement to determine which of your networks have the highest level of engaged fans.

So to answer your question, to date, email engagement is leading all social sharing with text message coming in second. That means more fans are choosing to engage with marketing messages by sending emails and text to friends versus posting on social media such as Facebook or Twitter.

We track results individually for each campaign and collectively so we expect these numbers could change over time.

Jun 18, 9:33AM EDT0
Are there any early 'growth hacks' or tactics that you feel may contribute to your success?
Jun 17, 1:00PM EDT0

I am not certain if this question pertains to me personally, or to Grabbr, so I will answer it for Grabbr with a little of my own history thrown in.

I have been in marketing tech for nearly three decades working in various sectors such as financial, government, high tech, education, construction and more. I purposefully got my Masters Debree in Communication Studies and a Ph.D. in Adult Learning Methogologies so I would have a more complete understanding of how humans learn and communicate. This experience and education gave me the ability to assist in building the Grabbr Platform as a Growth Hacking Platform while writing algorithms to make the platform stronger. Essentially, we wanted to build a platform that would give marketers the growth hacking tools they need for true organic growth.

With Grabbr, you start by building a campaign that contains a post or message of some type that you want people to share. You then upload a reward that has a fairly high perceived value, which Grabbr will lock up inside the campaign. The next step is to SPARK the campaign on social, or by sending it out to your (or our) email list. Grabbr also gives you the ability to spark your campaign via text message, using bluetooth beacons, QR Codes or Short Codes and SMS.

Your first generation of contacts will be given the opportunity to GRAB your reward in exchange for sharing or engageing with your post or email. This sparks a second generation of potential GRABS, which sparks a third generation, and so forth.

With Grabbr, and a very small budget, you can growth hack your way to more fans, more customers, and increased sales.

Jun 18, 9:27AM EDT0
Can you provide some figures to show the impact caused by Grabbr?
Jun 17, 6:30AM EDT0

Off the top of my head, we have worked with a Global Telecom Brand who has seen a 480% increase in engagement using Grabbr versus similar measurable social posts.

We have seen an independent musician use Grabbr to reward fans with a free song in exchange for sharing a link to his album purchase page. This musician got an increase in engagement of over 16,000%.

And we have seen an independent author with almost no technology skills almost break the internet with a >20,000% increase in engagement by giving away a portion of her book in exchange for fans sharing the purchase link for the same book.

Jun 18, 9:12AM EDT0
What’s unique about your platform and why do you think companies should use Grabbr?
Jun 16, 10:26PM EDT0

We believe the most powerful way to motivate buying behavior is through the recommendation of a friend. Grabbr is a social recursive marketing platform that seamlessly facilitates the recommendation of a friend digitally. What makes us truly unique is that we have built our reward distribution feature on a patent pending blockchain backbone that verifies and validates that a share (engagement) has taken place via social, text message, or email prior to delivering the reward in real time. This creates an irrefutable ledger of engagement that our marketers can then use as a new analytic to see where their "Super Fans" reside and what types of rewards they react to.

Jun 18, 9:08AM EDT0
What do you think the future of marketing will be like?
Jun 16, 6:44AM EDT0

I think it will be driven by the devices that are invented. 

Jun 16, 11:03AM EDT0
How are your customers using Grabbr? Can you share a few different user cases?
Jun 16, 5:13AM EDT0
  • We have authors using the platform to distribute a portion of their books as a reward for sharing the link to the store where it is for sale. One specific indie author got a, 8,000% increase in engagement and a huge lift in online sales.
  • We have musicians giving away a free song in exchange for sharing their music video link. One indie musician got a 16,000% increase in engagement with his song.
  • We have major brands using the platform to get a lift in sales from store shelves using shelf-talkers that drive customers to a strategic grabbr campaign turning foot traffic into digital ambassadors
  • We have C-Stores using Grabbr to drive traffic from the pump to the store and from the store to app download and engagement
  • We have sports teams using Grabbr to drive ticket sales, especially focusing on the perishable goods issues (an empty seat at a game can never be resold)
  • We have restaurants using Grabbr to promote coupons and increase foot traffic
  • We have politicians using Grabbr to distribute books and promote their platform digitally
  • Their are dozens more examples but this will give you a good overview
Jun 16, 11:02AM EDT0
Do you have any core metrics that you measure constantly and are super important for you?
Jun 16, 4:44AM EDT0

I can answer this question for myself and Grabbr. Since I was part of team that built this platform, all of the metrics collected by it are also important to me. During the creation, I personally wrote and filed a patent for our MAX Algorithm that tracks the monetary value of fans on social media platforms and on email. Essentially, you want to try to determine where you most valuable fan base is so you can spend more time there, and you can spend more money growing fan bases that are not as valuable from an enagegement standpoint. For me personally, I am not all impressed with likes and follows. I am far more impressed with engagement such as comments and shares.

Jun 16, 10:54AM EDT0
How does your referral program work and how do you go about developing referral programs and social competitions?
Jun 15, 9:29PM EDT0

We have spent millions of dollars developing an enterprise level control panel that gives you, the marketer, the ability to build your own custom campaigns, for any product or service. On it's basic level, the platform works like this:

  1. Business creates a marketing message such as a post or email and attaches a locked digital reward
  2. Consumers must share the post on social, via SMS or email to unlock the reward
  3. Consumer‘s friends share post to unlock the reward
  4. Consumer and friends redeem the reward

We allow the marketer to decide what type of campaign they are running. For example, they can choose coupons, ebooks, music campaigns, video campaigns and even sweepstakes.

Some of the secret sauce lies in our patents with blockchain for verifying and validating shares prior to distributing rewards. This provides solid analytics for our marketers.

Jun 16, 10:50AM EDT0
What was the reason behind building Grabbr?
Jun 15, 2:56PM EDT0

Initially, we uncovered a simple problem where businesses wanted fans to share their products and services online but customers had no incentive to do so. As we got into our Alpha tests, this problem became far more complex to solve.

We believe the most powerful way to motivate buying behavior is through the recommendation of a friend. Grabbr is a social recursive marketing platform that seamlessly facilitates the recommendation of a friend digitally. We built Grabbr to provide customers with an opportunity to be rewarded instantly by becoming brand ambassadors while giving businesses verified and validated proof that engagement has indeed taken place.

Jun 16, 10:43AM EDT0
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