“The most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust.” (Nielsen)
Gone are the days of the biggest ad in the Yellow Pages winning business by default. We are squarely in an age of collective intelligence, where each experience and encounter matters, as it will be broadcast and shared. The way you leverage your active supporters is important.
When you think about it, the success of the word-of-mouth referral makes sense. In this age of social media and shared wisdom, it is completely commonplace to see postings asking for advice. “Does anyone have a good local plumber I can trust?” followed by responses with personal referrals and amazing testimonials.
“Ninety-two percent of consumers trust referrals from people they know, and 77 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family.” As such, it is critical to provide your valued customers with a platform from which to sing your praises. Keep in mind that you can’t incentivize product reviews. Take the time to set up your social media so that leaving a review is easy. Include a link for leaving feedback in every communication you send out. Take a moment to print little cards with your various platforms. You get the picture.
A review solicitation message needs to be more than a cookie-cutter, “how are we doing?” Encourage your customer base to leave a review (and make it easy for them). Once they do – follow up is key. THANK your customers for sharing their positive experience. Acknowledge their happiness and celebrate with them.
If the review is less than favorable, here is your opportunity to fix it in a public fashion. New customers are watching, waiting and learning from everything you do. If you get ahead of the negative review, fix it and turn it into a positive experience, the unhappy customer will then be willing to tell everyone just how much you care!
Create an Affiliate Program
83% of people polled by Nielsen said that they were more likely to trust the recommendations of family and friends. That is a huge bargaining chip. Do you have fans that are not only driving awareness of your brand but actually turning those friends into customers? Time to think about starting an affiliate program. Offer a kickback of 10% or a set dollar amount off of their next purchase when a current customer converts a friend. There are several affiliate platforms available that automate this process, making it easy to set the tracking and award fulfillment.
Start an Advocacy Marketing Program
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, having a strong advocacy marketing program works for you AND your customer base. By leveraging your supporters and housing them within an advocacy marketing program, you’re creating an amplification machine!
Your average fan is connected to around 500 people on their social channels. So, for every 100 people in your advocacy marketing program, you’re reaching 50,000 people!
Use an advocacy marketing program to:
- Build interest and awareness of upcoming offers
- Drive video views and content consumption
- Share customer testimonials and reviews
- Provide feedback or interact with the brand through online polls and surveys (easily done with SocialToaster’s built in survey functionality)
Don’t forget: Set Goals and Achieve Them
As Entrepreneur told us in the earlier mentioned article, you need to set measurable goals for your word-of-mouth campaigns. You should have an idea of how many contacts you want to make, how many shares you want to see and what kind of new business you need to pull in from any marketing effort. Leveraging your active customers and turning them into your greatest marketing tools should be part of your well-thought out marketing plan.
There are many ways to use social media, reviews, advocacy marketing and your existing customer base to continually grow your business. Not sure where to begin? Click here to start the conversation!