Are you struggling to find a way to give your online business or ecommerce store marketing a kick in the ol’ booty? Here’s an idea, why not put some extra focus on your word of mouth marketing efforts.
You know that I’m a huge believer in word of mouth marketing and customer referrals as a driver of business growth.
But it’s not just me!
The marketing world is finally starting to take notice. In fact, we might be on the verge of a renaissance of sorts for good old-fashioned word of mouth. In fact now that the big brains of the marketing world are starting to pay closer attention, we now know that great word of mouth, and online buzz can increase overall marketing effectiveness by quite a lot. To the tune of 54% improvement in fact according to AdAge.
So if you want to hop on the referral marketing bandwagon, here are 5 tips to kick your program into high gear.
1. Provide AMAZING service!
Let’s start with a stark reality.
Word of mouth marketing is all about having customers talk about you. That includes discussions about you with their family and friends in person, and also online where some of that chatter has the potential to go viral.
That being said, you want them to say GOOD THINGS about you and your business during these conversations. The only way to ensure this is to provide kick-ass service. Deliver experiences to your customers that are worth talking about; no that doesn’t mean having crazy big budget promotions and marketing. What it means is standing behind your products and promises. It means making things clear for customers in terms of the expectations they should have with regards to your products, shipping and return policies. And most importantly, it means responding in a timely manner to any and all questions and concerns.
In fact there is research out there from MIT that has shown that the BEST way to build loyalty and positive word of mouth is to help customers when they come to you with any issues. Because if you don’t, well they will talk about you for sure… but not in the ways that you want.
2. Reach out to influencers
Chances are you’re not blazing a brand new trail and creating a new market. That’s OK. Actually that’s a pretty good thing when it comes to community building. When you’re entering an existing market that means the market probably has an existing community of influencers somewhere.
While any great content marketing strategy should involve building your own reputation and expertise. You can give those efforts a head start by researching your existing market and developing relationships with existing experts and influencers.
Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find writers, journalist and bloggers who may already be highly influential in your world, and reach out to them. If you can convince them that your way of doing things is interesting, or you as a person are interesting, having them mention you, or talk about you, can go a long way in terms of building some word of mouth momentum for you and your brand.
In the old days of marketing, finding influencers meant securing expensive celebrity endorsements. Today, thanks to social media, the most influential people are often “regular people” like you and I, who’ve built their brands on YouTube, Instagram or Twitter. The great thing about these social media celebs is they are often just as, if not more, influential than their Hollywood counterparts, and are almost always much easier to access as well.
3. Be social
Customers want to talk to you through social media. I don’t know why, but some companies insist on fighting this trend. It’s convenient, it’s fast, and when you do it right it’s authentic. Consumers today are sick and tired of the faceless corporations of the past and want to be able to connect with real human beings online.
Real human beings are better at resolving issues (without reciting back a formal script), real human beings are better at answering questions, and real human beings are much easier to talk about . It’s these genuine and authentic interactions that can lead to the best stories spread through word of mouth.
Be a real person. In life and in business more than ever, authenticity counts.
4. Make it worth your customer’s while to talk
Arguable the best way to convince someone to do you a favor (customers included) is to offer him or her something. In the world of online retail that’s easy. Coupon and incentive programs are pervasive, and they are something that customers of all stripes will understand. Offer them a simple discount on their next purchase as a thank you or incentive to provide your business with some word of mouth.
For those of you who doubt the effectiveness of digital coupons. Well, the research says otherwise. In fact according to research digital coupons in many instances can be incredibly effective.
Here’s a great infographic proving as much.
5. Find and reward your biggest fans
We’ve already touched on the changing nature of who can be an online influencer. The great thing about that is some of those power-influencers might be right under your nose. Any loyalty and referral program activities should also give you clues as to who your super customers might be. These are the customers who not only consistently buy from you, but they are the ones who have also referred their friends or written positive reviews about your brand.
In the world of word of mouth, these customers are often referred to as advocates. Quantitatively, these customers are your “net promoters”.
Make these people feel like a part of your business, make them feel like they are your brand’s insiders. Doing so isn’t quite as daunting as you might imagine.
Start by creating a list of the customers who you feel might fall into this category. Then reach out to them! But do so in a structured way so that your activities can be easier to track and to manage.
Start by composing a basic “thank you for your business” email template you can start with. Keep the message short and simple. Short emails not only are easier to both compose and read, they feel more authentic as well. Give your customers a quick thanks, and then get to the point, tell them that they are being added to a special list of insiders that will receive company updates and other news first (and maybe even special incentives).
When you launch new promotions and products, offer this list of insiders a discounted rate or exclusive bundle ahead of the rest of the world. Small gestures like this can make these super customers feel more connected to your business. This is a great way to lay a foundation to encourage them to continue offering your business great word of mouth and referrals.
So there you go, 5 simple tips to help you make the most of one of the best type of foundational marketing. Word of mouth. It’s the oldest trick in the book for good reason. It works.
Let me know, in the comments below, if you think there’s anything I missed, or if there are any tips and tricks you’ve used in your own businesses to drum up great word of mouth.