Word-of-Mouth (WOM for short) marketing is an important part of any business’s marketing mix. However, for small and medium businesses, WOM is downright super critically important, A+ necessary, don’t you dare think of ever stopping, profit-churning, you better get you some, magic bullet amazing.
According to Kissmetrics, small and medium businesses get 60% of their sales thanks to word-of-mouth and referral marketing. The writing’s on the wall if you want to grow sales: start by implementing a better word-of-mouth marketing strategy.
What Exactly IS Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
Word-of-Mouth marketing is an umbrella term that pretty much covers any online or offline conversation between two or more people that doesn’t include your brand. A couple examples:
- A friend asking another friend in-person for a recommendation on what brand of earplugs to go with
- Someone Instagramming their latest shirt and giving a shout-out to the local merchant who makes or sells them
- An employee humble-bragging about the latest award their marketing firm won
- A brand advocate posting your latest blog post to their Facebook feed for their friends and family to see
- Every. Single. One. Of your Yelp, Facebook or Google reviews
Think back to your weekend, did you throw out the name of a restaurant or bar to go check out with friends, answer a question from your mom on social about what Alexa model to go with, or brag about where you got your outfit when someone shouted from across the street, “Girl, those shoes look good!”?
All examples of WOM marketing at work.
And These Types of Interactions Help Drive Sales?
- People pay 2x more attention to recommendations from friends. – Global Web Index
- 92% of customers trust recommendations from people they know. – AdWeek
- 67% of consumers believe that they are likely to purchase items that have been shared by their network on social media. – Nielsen
People trust another person’s recommendation before they trust anything a brand or a brand’s advertising campaign says – even if everyone is saying the same thing. If you want to drive sales, it’s important that you create opportunities that encourage and empower your current customers to share their positive brand experiences with their friends and family in an (keyword) authentic environment.
How Do You Encourage Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
Take an honest look at your business and remember that no one is going to recommend a brand that didn’t provide a top-notch experience. Some larger companies can survive with a less-than-stellar customer experience due to massive marketing budgets and PR dollars, but small and medium businesses don’t have access to those resources. It must end and begin with the customer experience. After all, anyone making a recommendation is risking their personal reputation. Too many misfires can leave a person socially ostracized or worse, deemed of having poor taste!
Make recommending your brand a no-brainer by:
- Providing an amazing product or service
- Exceeding customer expectations
- Giving high quality customer support
- Being authentic
- Making your customer feel valued
Everything else in this blog post is going to be useless if you don’t have the above already in line.
1) Create Opportunities for Customers to Talk About Your Brand
Say what you will about his movies, but Woody Allen was right when he said that 80% of success was just showing up. As a marketer, you know that the best opportunity to sell your product is the moment your customer has a need for it. The tricky part is knowing exactly when that need is.
True story: for the past few years, I (the author) have exclusively used a particular website to buy my dog food (I have it on auto-ship). Earlier this year, we moved and the following month had a baby. While we were in the hospital, we ran out of dog food, so I processed an order – but with my old address by mistake. This company’s customer service overnighted a bag of dog food to my new address for free AND sent my family a “congrats on the baby” bouquet and card! The bouquet and this compay’s praises were Instagrammed, Facebooked and Tweeted to our friends, family, and extended networks, who were introduced to a new place to shop for their pets.
Did I originally have any intention of preaching the glory of this company? Nope! But their goodwill provided the springboard to multiple brand interations. Anytime a fan or customer shares your latest blog post, branded video or Instagram with their audience, they’re creating an opportunity for someone to engage in conversation with them about your brand.
You can foster branded conversations in the real world as well, by giving your top customers logoed t-shirts, stickers, hats, frisbees, koozies, desktop zen gardens (be the envy of everyone at your office), etc.
Pro Tip: Don’t expect most of your fans to stop their busy lives and, on their own, go to your blog, find your latest post, and share that post to Facebook. Instead, encourage your fans to join your advocacy marketing program. Once they’ve joined, you’ll be able to email them your latest content, so that they can easily share that content to their social feeds. For more information on how to make sharing your latest content insanely easy, check out how SocialToaster works.
2) Get All Praise in Writing
Any time you have a customer write you an unsolicited thank you email, or tell you at the cashier’s register how much they love coming to your store, ask if you can quote them! Use their testimonial on your website, your social campaigns, and your email list. Those words of recommendation are powerful, regardless of whether they’re spoken in real time.
Better yet, ask the customer to post those words of praise directly to your social channels or preferred review site. 70% of consumers will leave a business review if the brand asks. Be sure to make it easy for your customer to take the requested step by linking to the right pages and giving some guidance on what they should talk about (the location, their experience, what they purchased). The more hurdles you remove, the greater the response.
This is also a great opportunity to drive your new favorite customer into your advocacy marketing program!
3) Reward Your WOM Advocates
If you want to keep your WOM advocates talking, be sure to show your appreciation. No one likes to feel like they’re being taken for granted. A simple sign of appreciation can go a long way to fostering long-term WOM greatness. A couple of ideas to get you started:
- Send personalized emails or letters of thanks to your top advocates
- Give shout-outs and praise on your social channels
- Award branded merchandise like t-shirts/hats (SocialToaster makes it easy for brands to gamify their advocacy program – advocates can earn points when they share your content.)
- Start an affiliate program that rewards with cash
Paypal, Dropbox, and Uber all owe their astronomical growth to the power of WOM and affiliate marketing by giving kickbacks to their loyal fans. Don’t be afraid to borrow the same tactic as well.
SocialToaster Helps Drive Word-of-Mouth
Word-of-Mouth marketing is a powerful tool for driving sales. It’s up to you as the brand to create conversations and opportunities that get your customers talking!