5 Word of mouth marketing tips to get customers buzzing

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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.

 

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Forewards Introduces Deep Analytics for Referral Marketing

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Toronto, Canada (PRWEB) January 27, 2015

Forewards announced today the launch of a new version of their word of mouth marketing platform for Shopify.

Forewards’ new advanced analytics dashboard and configuration wizards provide busy online business owners with the tools they need to amplify their word of mouth marketing, increase customer referrals, and quickly respond to trends with data driven decisions.

“Our goal at Paul Evans is to build a global brand that changes the way men look at their shoes. Word of mouth and customer perception is integral to that,” said Evan Fript, Co-founder and CEO of Paul Evans. “From install to setup Forewards is one of the easiest marketing tools I’ve ever used and gives us a great way to engage with our customers to help us increase our word of mouth”

This latest Forewards release includes a variety of features that help improve referral program performance over time including:

  • Deep analytics including historical analysis and trending allowing businesses to understand and respond to referral trends over time
  • Improved customer engagement tracking with message touch point configuration
  • Additional campaign editing options, allowing brands to white-label their customer referral program

Research from Neilson has found that consumers overwhelmingly trust referrals and word of mouth over all other forms of advertising. In fact 84% of consumers polled indicated that they trust recommendations from people they know.

Forewards allows small to mid-sized ecommerce businesses to quickly tap into the power of online word of mouth to organically grow their brands.

“Winning the hearts and minds of consumers is the hardest part of building a brand.“ says Peter Lee, CEO of Forewards “Your brand is no longer what you tell consumers it is; your brand is what consumers tell each other it is. We built Forewards to allow even the busiest store owner to tap into the power of word of mouth in seconds.”

Forewards with these new features is available for download from the Shopify App Store

You can read the full news release here

 

You know what’s cool? 2 Trillion Dollars

2018 global ecommerce forecast

A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool?

A billion dollars.

It’s one of the best lines in the movie The Social Network. In fact I’d wager that Justin Timberlake’s performance is one of the most lasting memories many people have of that movie. Looking back I’d argue that the scene is even cooler because it’s Spiderman that he’s delivering it to. But I digress.

Timberlake

You know what’s even cooler than a billion dollars? Try 2 Trillion dollars!

That’s the size of the opportunity we’re all staring at when it comes to ecommerce and retail online. The chart above from the folks at Marketingcharts and eMarketer shows what some might argue is a pretty conservative growth forecast for the global ecommerce market over the next few years.

2013 was a watershed year for online businesses, as that was the first time when global sales online surpassed the 1 Trillion dollar mark. But the research shows that ecommerce isn’t set to slow down any time soon. The reality is that $1 Trillion only represented just over 5% of all of retail. This past year that number climbed to just over 5.9% of all of retail and over the next fews years as that number continues to climb, by 2017 we should be seeing well over 2 Trillion dollars spent annually online around the world.

The question is… are you ready?

 

 

10 retail technology predictions for the coming year

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I’ve peered into my crystal ball, and without further ado here are my 10 retail technology predictions for 2015!

1. Mobile consumers

2014 was a tipping point where more consumers shopped mobile vs desktop. That trend will not slow down. If anything faster smartphone adoption and bigger screens with better mobile user shopping experiences will speed the move from desktop to mobile. Retailers shouldn’t shy away from this and need to embrace things like responsive design and even native mobile apps in some cases.

2. Rise of the consumer (good)

Word of mouth and advocacy will finally become a priority for marketers.

The days of articles and blog posts speculating if Facebook and Twitter have a future are gone. This has occurred for good reason. Consumers around the globe have embraced social media and in many cases see social as their primary communication channels. These socially empowered consumers are able to broadcast opinions and recommendations to increasingly large audiences at the drop of a hat. Social’s maturity might finally push word of mouth marketing to the top of the to do list for retail marketers.

3. Rise of the consumer (bad)

Viral videos and stories of the terrible experiences some consumers have with brands will no longer be news; they will be an everyday occurrence. Empowered customers broadcasting their grievances to the world is the new reality. Brands need to be aware of this and learn how to deal with it. Those that don’t will be risking a huge blow to their reputations by ignoring their customer experience.

If they aren’t yet, this means that retailers must start to embrace the concept of social business to stay in their customers’ good books.

4. The ugly stuff behind the scenes matters

Startups are disrupting the old stalwarts of retail with great marketing and lots of buzz. What they haven’t perfected is the behind the scenes logistics that the old guard has perfected over time.

Shipping, warehousing, and payment processing and immature retail logistics and operations will show that some retail startups might still have work to do when it comes to not only growing their brands, but also creating the foundation for the next retail giants of tomorrow.

5. One (or more) of the hot retail startups will falter

One or more of the hot retail startups will falter and be dealt PR blow because of lack of preparedness when it comes to their operations.

Even the most disruptive idea can’t shield you from having to deal with inventory issues and mishaps, user hacking, shipping nightmares, etc…

6. The old guard will begin to win the war online

Established retailers will become the “new” startups online.

Much of the ecommerce innovation will be driven by old established brands, finally making online a priority, in strategy AND budget (big ones at that).

7. Social selling

Someone will finally buy something from a Facebook or Twitter “buy now” button and the world will overreact

8. Instagram monetization

Now that the active user base of Instagram has passed Twitter, an Instagram “buy button” will be the talk of the town… for a week.

9. Return of the old advertising formats

Online video sharing and consumption will appear a new renaissance in TV advertising. Video is the most shared content online; a TV is still the best way to consume it…

10. The rest of the world catches up to the US

Global consumers, consumption habits and channel distribution will begin to mirror American’s much more closely. And for that, those of us in the ecommerce world will be very thankful!

 

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The 2-ingredient recipe to guarantee great word of mouth

Delicious ingredients

Great word of mouth, customer referrals, friend recommendations – These are the building blocks of every great business. The great thing about organic word of mouth marketing is that every business cannot only benefit from it, but every business can leverage it.

Even though research has shown the benefits of customer referrals and getting great word of mouth marketing, it’s sadly something that remains a bit of a mystery for many online businesses.

Don’t take your reputation for granted. There are a number of steps you can take as a business owner to ensure that your ecommerce business is getting the most bang for buck out of every customer mention.

In fact, here’s a simple 2-ingredient recipe to guarantee a foundation of positive word of mouth for your business.

Ingredient 1 – Great Products

As a business owner you no doubt have a tremendous amount of pride in the products that you sell. That’s for good reason; great products are at the core of every great business. Great products, and great experiences with products are also at the heart of every great referral and recommendation.

While they’ve become a cliché of business over the years, Apple still stands at the forefront of the business world when it comes to building awesome customer loyalty and word of mouth by delivering great products.

Steve Jobs always understood this, and built a culture at Apple that obsesses over amazing products. That culture is something he instilled in the company from the company’s early days too. In fact here’s a great quote from back in 1983.

“We have an environment where excellence is really expected. What’s really great is to be open when [the work] is not great. My best contribution is not settling for anything but really good stuff, in all the details. That’s my job — to make sure everything is great.”

While not everyone can be (or wants to be) Apple; Taking pride in delivering great products to your customers should be a priority for every business – Especially for those who want to build their business through great word of mouth.

Ingredient 2 – Be Responsive

If there’s one element of your business that you can make an argument is even more important than your products, it is your customers’ support experience. Specifically it is how you deal with your customers not only before they buy from you, but how you treat them AFTER they buy from you.

In fact, there is some amazing research from MIT Sloan that showed that, it’s that customer support experience that makes the biggest difference when it comes to the word of mouth you get. Not only the positive word of mouth you get, but more importantly the negative word of mouth.

Their research showed that a staggering 97% of online complaints occurred after a “double deviation” event. That was defined as a customer having an initial issue with the business’ products or services, followed by an inadequate, or lack of response from the business to address the issue.

It’s an experience that we’ve all (sadly) experienced. Something goes wrong with a product we’ve purchased, and for some inexplicable reason, the company refuses to do anything to fix it. That’s a double deviation. And research shows those double deviations are the root cause of almost every online complaint.

So the message is clear – Respond, and respond well to the issues… or else.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. It turns out that businesses that DO in fact take steps to address customer issues also take advantage of a tremendous opportunity to build customer loyalty, and also build and increase their word of mouth as well.

Thinking about the referrals you get from your own friends and family for a minute. Sure, many of them are probably along the lines of “you should get a mac it’s great”, but I will bet that just as many, if not more of them sound like “you should get a mac, mine broke once and all I had to do was take it to the Apple store and they fixed it for me for free”.

That’s the power of great customer service. And it’s that great customer service that can be an amazing foundation for great word of mouth referrals as well.

The final piece of the puzzle is putting together a formal customer referral program. While providing great products and delivering great service is no doubt the cornerstone of your business’ reputation, a formal customer referral program can take that reputation to the next level.

As your business grows, you’ll no longer have the time to personally reach out to each and every customer to ask for a referral (although there is no harm in trying). Structured referral marketing programs save you time, and money by automatically soliciting referrals from all of your customers.

That type of automation, and the tracking and metrics that go along with that, can help you take your business to the next level.

Have any interesting customer word of mouth stories yourself? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.