Word-of-mouth marketing: How to make it work for you
When it comes to business success, good gossip has always been marketing gold. Get people talking about your product and you’ll convert mere shoppers to customers. Loyal customers. So, if your current customers are happy with your product, how do you capture the power of these opinions?
The best gossip is word-of-mouth (WOM)
Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) is your superhighway for spreading the good news. If your product is so good that people can’t wait to tell their friends about it, encourage them to do just that. Then capture the magic of that chatter – via podcasts, marketing emails, social media campaigns, and viral videos.
Find out more about why social media and word-of-mouth marketing are not the same thing
The consumer trust generated by deftly deployed WOMM tactics is critical to your business’s long-term growth. It starts a chain reaction that expands your customer reach, enhances brand loyalty, and sparks even more buzz. You can’t manufacture it. People trust WOM buzz precisely because it did not come from you or your marketing team. But you can create campaigns that expand and amplify it. Here are some tips for making that happen.
Tap into the power of user-generated content
You’ve already experienced the impact of user-generated content (UGC) if you’re an Amazon customer. After you’ve skimmed the manufacturer’s product descriptions, you probably head for the reviews and make your buying decision based on what past customers said. Those candid commentaries and multi-star rankings are the user-generated content that can make the sale. One study found that most consumers will hold out for a four-star (out of five) rating. They are not alone.
A survey conducted by Referral Candy found that 85 percent of consumers felt that their product decisions were influenced as much by a good online review as by an organic WOM recommendation. Most of them read an average of seven reviews before making a purchase.
Get happy customers to attract happy customers
If your customers are happy with your product, give them a platform to boast. Request their comments, rankings, and testimonials in every place your business has a presence: online ads, social media posts, emails, the company’s website, print ads, trade show booths, PowerPoint decks, promotional events, and your product packaging. Then, post their praise in the very same places you solicited it.
Here are some suggestions for soliciting effective copy:
- Ask new customers to rate their product satisfaction at the point of sale, when their enthusiasm for that new purchase is highest. Saleshandy has created a guide that can help you draft a follow-up email.
- Ask all customers to use an online rating service like Yelp to rate their experience. Then, ask them to post that comment on their social media platform, along with a link to your website.
- Consider a referral incentive program. Offer free merch, a future discount, or entry into a sweepstakes in exchange for an endorsement or ranking that you can include in your marketing materials and website.
- Partner with a review aggregator, like Yotpo that can automate a customer feedback/commentary email for you.
Remember: No matter how glowing that customer’s review is, ask for permission before you repost anything. People like to be asked.
Cultivate social media influencers
Social media influencers are uber-popular social media personalities whose opinions on niche subjects are taken as gospel by their followers. They are the creators of new fads and the identifiers of new trends. You won’t need to give them a platform to get the word out. They communicate on multiple channels. Your job is to get them to talk about your product.
The good news is, they’re kind of waiting for your call. Influencers maintain their iconic position by continually delivering relevant insights, trustworthy advice, and entertaining content to their fans. Product endorsements are a part of that value proposition.
In return, you can expect some of their love to rub off on your business. A survey by Hubspot found that 71 percent of consumers said they were more likely to purchase a product if it was endorsed on social media. On the other side of this investment, more than 70 percent of marketers surveyed by Mediakix found social media influencer marketing outperformed other sources of advertising.
How do you find a good influencer?
This is where research pays off. Your ideal influencer candidate will be wildly popular with your target audience and highly likely to use and endorse your product. Overlook the latter condition, and you could run into trouble. An influencer who doesn’t like your product can use their platform to say exactly that. Ouch. You can verify an influencer’s credibility by checking to see if their opinions have been reposted on other social media platforms or adopted by user groups. Google them to see if they’ve been quoted by print media, television news, or blogs.
Should you budget for a social media influencer?
Many social media influencers make a decent if not luxurious living from their trade. Before you approach your candidate, find out if their endorsement requires payment, merchandise, or both.
Minimally, you will be expected to deliver inspiring product information and multiple product samples. But you might also offer them the opportunity to expand their messaging platform: an offer to speak at an industry trade show, an interview on your company’s YouTube channel, or a Q & A piece on your company’s website. Find out more about how much a social media influencer costs.
Not ready to plunge in that far? Matchmaking services like Insense can introduce your business to thousands of already vetted social media influencers who are ready to take on new clients.
Whether it’s a longtime customer or an Instagram icon, encourage your endorsers to be colorful, original, and specific. An authentic testimonial video or heart-felt blog can easily go viral. The trust they generate will pay you back again and again. Some suggestions:
- Ask for social media posts that include original photos or videos. In addition to producing eye-catching content, this can boost your conversion rate. A study conducted by PhotoSlurp found that a user-generated image is five times more likely than a stock photo to turn online viewers into paying customers.
- Ask your posters to be specific about which attributes made your product so compelling. Did they love their new sports car because it got them from point A to point B? Or because it hugged hairpin turns on the coast of Corsica and went from zero to 60 in five seconds? A vivid description will differentiate your product from the competition. It will also give potential customers something to savor.
- Encourage your endorsers to use your business’s online identity (@yourbusiness) and hashtag (#yourproduct) to maximize the impact of their posts.
Make sure your product – and customer service – are buzz-worthy
Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool, but it can backfire if you don’t do your homework. Before soliciting endorsers, make sure you’ve done your research. Does your product address a problem that people are itching to solve? Does it have a strong market, historically? If your product’s not worth the buzz you are trying to generate, the internet will let you know about it.
Likewise, your customer service can help you make the sale or it can become a prime target for online critics. A 2020 report published by Salesforce found that 71 percent of customers had made a product decision based solely on the level of customer service they received. And 78 percent said they’d forgiven a poor product performance based on a stellar customer service experience. More than 90 percent said a positive customer service experience made them consider repeat purchases.
E-commerce businesses are not immune to these customer service problems. If your website loads slowly, has confusing navigation, or a lethargic check-out process, your would-be customers will notice. And talk. Check out this primer on e-commerce basics.
At the end of the day, the passion, energy, and persistence you pour into your business are its most critical components. Keep those qualities in good supply and you’ll be ready to identify new marketing challenges and opportunities as they arise. In the meantime, Hiscox is ready to back you up with general liability and professional liability coverage that can give you peace of mind you need to stay focused.