TC50: Refmob gives customers a slice of the referral market

Refmob is a new company that encourages word-of-mouth referrals by handing users a slice of the revenue they generate for businesses by recommending them.

It launched at the TechCrunch50 conference today.

Refmob says referral programs are difficult to manage and promote for small businesses. For example, take the case where VentureBeat wanted to boost its next conference by giving people a discount for promoting it to their business contacts. On our own, it might be difficult to create and keep track of that.

Through Refmob, you log-in, give some basic information about your business and the promotion, for example the value of the discount. Refmob generates an e-mail for your clients that sends them to a landing page. When they click on a link on the promotion page on Refmob’s site, they can share it with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Refmob sends analytics back to the business including how many e-mail were sent and how many clicks where generated. On the consumer side, users can search for discounts or the bonuses they get if they generate referrals.

Refmob is also building an application programming interface that will make it easier for partners to use.

Some experts at the conference gave some feedback:

Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO, said the company seems like unnatural friend behavior. “If I started e-mailing the latest deals to friends too much, they would probably send me to their spam folders.”

Marissa Mayer, of Google: One way to get a lot of adoption is to go where people are going already. It seems that sites like Yelp are a great place to integrate this.