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How to Add Referral Marketing to your Content Distribution Strategy - For Free!

Have you ever followed a recommendation from a friend or loved one advising you to watch a movie, buy a product, or subscribe to a new service? If you did, the message you received advising you to do so falls under the category of referral marketing.

Typically, online marketers use referral marketing to promote a specific product, either digital or physical.

As it requires complex referral software integration, referral marketing is hardly ever considered when building a content distribution strategy.

Content Distribution Strategy’s Elements Today

Content Distribution Strategy

Until today, content distribution channels fell into three categories:

  • Earned: That is, purely organic. Organic content distribution is the holy grail of content producers but hard to achieve on your own, as your content is competing with a gazillion articles and posts. Unless you already have a substantial following, or an influencer happens to see your content and share it with his or her audience, odds are, your content will only ever reach a minute number of readers.
  • Paid: Today, as far as content distribution is concerned, your options are PPC channels such as Google Adwords, paid ads on social media, or paid content distribution channels such as Outbrain or Taboola. Aside from requiring you to master the ad bidding strategy, each of these come with numerous issues, ranging from fraudulent clicks to low engagement. 
  • Owned: This is content distribution to an audience you already own, either through your publication and/or email list or prominence on social media channels.

Both the “Earned” and “Owned” category are free, if you discount the time it took to reach the “Owned” category. As current referral marketing software caters mainly to the sale of digital or physical products, it is usually not included in the “Paid” category when formulating a content distribution strategy.


Why Referral Marketing?

Free referral marketing product

Before the advent of mass media, the best advertising channel was word of mouth. People would recommend products or merchants based on their experience. It relied exclusively on patrons volunteering to talk about their experience and could not be bought. As such, it was highly reliable.

With the advent of mass media, advertising took over, taunting the value of products and services from newspapers, then radio, and then TV, in a one-to-many format, de facto removing feedback from individual experience from the equation. Outlandish advertising claims had to be curved by legislation to protect consumers against deceptive and untruthful claims.

As the Internet became interactive with the advent of Web 2.0, people regained the ability to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction about products or services through reviews. Now, fake reviews are almost outnumbering real ones, and their perceived reliability is declining.

Word of mouth remains the most reliable advertising medium, preferably the old-fashioned way from face-to-face communication or through recommendations from friends and loved ones through digital communication channels.

Referral marketing is short for incentivizing people to recommend your product or service to their circles. And statistics amply demonstrate that it comfortably beats all other paid channels by a wide margin.

Yet, if you have an existing “Owned” channel, a referral software requires several integrations, such as integrating with your ESP, sync with your sales channels, and set-up a reminder funnel, just to mention the most basic ones. And of course, the cost of purchasing the program, whether you are using a software or a SaaS referral marketing tool, will increase the referral marketing program overall cost, as incentives usually consist of coupons, limited-time free access, and other financial incentives that you will need to pay for.

This means that, until today, referral marketing is reserved to technology-savvy users with a marketing budget.

In addition, referral marketing solutions are limited to a direct share from the referrer, limiting its reach to a single layer of recipients.

What is 2key SmartLink Referral Marketing?

2key SmartLinks are the product of the marriage between blockchain technology and 2key founders' ideal of redistributing the Internet wealth to Internet users while fairly rewarding collaboration, transparency, and honesty.

2key SmartLinks referral solution differs from traditional ones in many ways:

  • Zero integration
    The only thing you need to create a SmartLink is the ability to copy-paste a URL.
    No need to buy any referral marketing software or SaaS. 
  • Multiple layers of referrals
    Unique in its ability to reward entire referral chains, 2key SmartLinks distributes reward to each person upstream a referral chain that generates a click.
    This means if Bob shares a SmartLink with Alice, Alice shares it with Claudio and Claudio with Dominic, Bob, Alice and Claudio will all be rewarded for Dominic’s click.
    This is only possible thanks to 2key protocol that leverages blockchain to enable such a feat.
  • Reputation building
    2key unique reputation-building program measures the effectiveness of referrers by measuring their conversion rate, which reflects the care they take in sharing SmartLinks with the relevant audience.
    Conversion rate only factors in approved clicks, eliminating repeated clicks from the same person, as well as fraudulent and bot clicks.
    Both referrers and SmartLink creators earn Qi points for their activity and build their overall reputation overtime.

Qi points yield  2KEY tokens carrying monetary value and tradable on major crypto exchanges.

In the near future, 2key referrers and SmartLink creators will have the option to display their score on the SmartLink preview window as a badge celebrating their reliability.

  • Built-in anti-spam measures
    2key's technology adds blockchain capability to advanced existing fraudulent and bot clicks. Users attempting to game the system through unsavory means see their reputation score and their rewards slashed and risk seeing their account suspended or frozen.
  • Free referral marketing
    The minimum amount to pay to refer any link is zero. For example, the three links referred to in the previous section “Why Referral Marketing?” are SmartLinks, created in 30 seconds and at zero cost. Yet, should you click on them, they will generate a reward for the link creator, and should you share them further and generate a click downstream, you would also earn a reward.
    This is due to the structure of
    2key tokenomics, again leveraging blockchain technology.
  • PPC referral marketing option
    To further increase the incentive to share their content, SmartLink creators can add rewards to those earned from Qi points.
    This is done with just a few clicks, and the SmartLink creator keeps full control of the Cost per Click (CPC), eliminating the complex ad bidding system underlying almost all PPC platforms today.
    No lock-in, no monthly fee, no complex budget to manage, no keyword analysis, no ad text to write. Simply set and forget!
  • Embeddable Refer & Earn button
    Publishers can now embed a Refer & Earn button directly on their site.
    This has a double benefit:
    - It adds a referral campaign to each selected article or page
  • It increases readers’ fidelity as they can earn a residual income from sharing your content.
  • It adds a stream of passive revenue to your publication, since, as a SmartLink creator, you earn Qi points when your SmartLink gains an approved click.
Embeddable Refer & Earn button
  • Advanced analytics
    At a glance view of your SmartLink results, including a visual map of your SmartLink content distribution across layers of referrers.

For insights on best practises to selecting the right content and maximizing your SmartLink impact, check our 7 tips

So, start using referral marketing today by creating a SmartLink with any of your URLs, share it with your immediate audience, and watch its reach expand.
Then, think about including 2key SmartLink referral marketing in your content distribution strategy.

2key is a Layer2 solution to Ethereum Blockchain, that transforms today’s HTTP links into Tomorrow’s Decentralized Web. Creators of the SmartLink.

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