If you are looking for the fastest way to grow your business, you should aim for word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, as much as 50% of sales are often generated through this. This may be due to the fact that people tend to trust personal recommendations. Statistics from SocraticsBC shows that as much as 92% of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends and only 10% trust brands without reviews. Since almost 70% of customers now read reviews before they buy anything, word-of-mouth marketing is now more important than ever.
Word-of-mouth marketing is valuable because of its effects. Not only does it have the ability to drive credibility up, it can also increase your business’ profitability. The effect is almost the same for both online and offline media.
What is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
Before we can appreciate what word-of-mouth marketing is, we must understand what it is and how it works.
Word-of-mouth marketing is known for other names. Some people call it ‘viral marketing’ or ‘buzz marketing’. It is called as such because of its ability to promote products and services in an exponential manner. This happens because the news is passed from one person to another which accumulates in time.
Here is why it is so effective. Imagine that there is one person who knows about your business. If he enjoyed your product or service so much that he cannot stop himself from recommending it, he will tell at least one person about it. When this happens, the next person will do the same thing. And so will the next, and the next, and the next… and the list goes on.
As more people know your brand, you gain more customers. Soon, you’ll have more than you can handle and that will give some handsome profits in your pocket.
Now, word-of-mouth marketing is not limited to the act of just telling another person about a product or service. There are different types. In fact, an online review can also be considered as a form of word-of-mouth marketing.
Below are the different types.
Family and Friends Recommendations
Family and friend recommendations is the strongest form of word-of-mouth marketing. This has something to do with the strength of the connection with the audience. Since family and friends are the closest, their recommendations are also the strongest.
This comes from experts who know what they are talking about. Out of their expertise, they may make personal recommendations on certain products and services. Though they may not be close to the prospect, the expertise and face-to-face engagement of the professional usually drive the sale home. It is often enough to convince the prospect to buy.
Website reviews offer a more impersonal (not face-to-face) approach. But it is still listed third because it is still very strong in convincing prospects to buy. Unlike blogger reviews, website reviews are located in the website of the seller. The reviews act as testimonials of the user experience usually giving the prospects a glimpse of customers’ attitudes and feelings towards the product or service.
While acquaintances may not be as close to the prospect as family and friends, it seems that it still has its power in convincing people to buy. In fact, as much as 42% of prospects will buy with some acquaintance recommendations. This shows how powerful word-of-mouth marketing really is. Closeness is preferred but not required to sell something.
There is a growing market for blogger reviews lately. It seems that consumers are now heading over to search engines and websites to look for reviews before they buy anything. I think that this may have something to do with the expertise that websites gain from writing about one topic over and over again. And it is a good way to have a glimpse of the user experience before the customer buys.
Last but not the least are celebrity recommendations. It may be at the end of the list but it is not the weakest. In fact, I think that it is slowly gaining more attention.
You’ll see this in some of the most popular celebrity profiles. Take Kendall Jenner for example. She has as much as 83.2 million followers and growing. Her recommendations mean a lot to her followers and they may even buy products just because she uses them. It is that powerful.
Now that you have seen the different types of word-of-mouth marketing, it is time to know why you should use it.
Why Should You Engage in Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Word-of-mouth marketing has been around for a long time for a reason - it just works. In fact, it works better than any other marketing strategy you know. It is the most simple yet it is the most effective.
But there is more to word-of-mouth marketing than how it works. Here are three of its main benefits.
You Get to Use its Exponential Power
As I have mentioned earlier, word-of-mouth marketing has some exponential power. As more people get to experience your product or service, more and more people will promote your brand. But this can only happen if you have a good product or service to begin with. You’ll learn more about this later.
It Gives You High Converting Exposure
Word-of-mouth marketing gives you more than a simple exposure. It doesn’t spam your brand to people so that they can remember you nor does it pop-up like ads. Instead, the recommendation is done in a personal manner. There is a human element in it and that’s the reason why it is often well received. Because of this, the strength of this form of marketing in generating conversions is often more powerful.
It Strengthens Your Brand
Word-of-mouth marketing can generate more than just sales. It can strengthen your brand. Think about how brands are perceived. As more people view a brand in a positive light or see a brand as a solution to their problems, the stronger the brand becomes. Soon, the brand doesn’t even need to do some new promotions. It just needs to retain its brand identity and that will be enough to make some sales.
You really cannot operate a real business without word-of-mouth marketing. In the end of the day, you are not dealing with numbers and money. You are dealing with people. The more people you convince, the better.
How to Use Word-of-Mouth Marketing in Your Business
Now that you understand what word-of-mouth marketing means and why you should use it, it is time to take some action and implement it in your business. I have several strategies that can help you do that.
1 - Offer Something Unique
Getting people to talk about your product or service is not easy. There are already millions of products all over the world competing for your customers’ attention. Getting their attention is already hard as it is. How much more if you want them to act by promoting your product to their family and friends?
The answer is simple. You need to provide something unique. You may have seen it in the viral videos online where they employed unique concepts just to get noticed. Take this simple prank for example. It has garnered as much as 67 million views.
This shows that people are often willing to share something unique. From here, it is only a matter of time until people talk about it and it becomes viral.
2 - Fulfill Your Promise...and More
Another way to get customers to talk about you is by stumping their expectations. This means that you have to offer more than what you promise.
Sure, fulfilling your promise is a basic businessman ethic. You may have read it in business books telling you that you should only fulfill promises you can keep.
But getting people to talk about you is a different matter. You need to give them more than what they are expecting. You have to blow your customers away literally and figuratively. Why? So that they’ll be so happy that they cannot contain the excitement to promote you.
What works here is the idea of returning the favor. People are more willing to help if you help them first. And if you go out of your way to help them, they’ll take notice and recommend you to their family and friends.
3 - Provide Exemplary Customer Service
If you don’t have the means to go another mile with your product or service simply because you are running low on materials and you need to break even quickly, you can still do something to get customers to recommend you. How? You can do it by providing exemplary customer service.
Customer service is not limited to phone calls and email. You can even assist your customers while they are in the process of buying. At the end of the day, it is all about user experience and how you make it better. Again, the law of reciprocation is at play here. This is where people are more likely to help you if you help them first.
4 - Give Your Customer Space to Give Thanks
Once you have your product or customer service in check and you have successfully designed a product or service that is designed to blow people’s socks off, it is time to give them a space to say thanks.
How? You should encourage user generated content in your website.
Believe it or not, we are living in an interconnected world. On top of this, people are sharing what they are doing as they do it. With this, user generated content is everywhere - Facebook, Instagram, you name it. So if you want to sell more, you should make sure to tap these technologies for reviews.
In your website, you can provide some buttons that can help people to easily share your products or services. You may even give them a space where their social shares can be shown. You can get creative with it.
5 - Let Them Rate You
See those 5-star ratings on some ecommerce product pages? These are more than just ‘designs’. Believe it or not, these can influence a prospect to buy a product or ignore it.
However, Smart Insights has an interesting study which shows that the amount of star ratings usually have an effect on how people will rate you.
If you only have a few reviews, they tend to give you lower ratings. But if you have a ton of reviews, customers would often hesitate to give lower than 3 ratings.
This shows that the mere activation of reviews in your website may be the key to word-of-mouth marketing. As more people rate your site, the higher your ratings will be.
6 - Don’t Forget about Customer Surveys
Another way to strengthen your word-of-mouth marketing is by conducting surveys. This helps your business in a way that it gives you testimonials but also gives you constructive feedback on how to improve your business. You may want to do this if you have done everything to ensure that your customers will promote you but they still don’t do it for some reason.
7- Record and Showcase Testimonials
Word-of-mouth marketing doesn’t only come from the act of telling others about a particular product or service. It also works for the product salespage in a way that products sell more when more people believe in it. It acts as social proof that your product or service fulfills its promise.
A good way to start implementing this strategy in your website is to start recording and showcasing testimonials.
You can do this automatically by adding a ‘review’ system like what Amazon has. In this system, you don’t even have to post the testimonials manually. It will automatically show once your customer submits them.
Vary Your Testimonial Formats
Some customers may be too lazy to write testimonials or reviews for your website. Because of this, they dismiss the idea of reviewing your product altogether. When this happens, you can provide different formats for their testimonials. This way, they can just record a video or audio testimonial. It is faster and most customers love it.
This is not encouraged but it is often done by businesses in their early days. This is where they look for ‘paid reviewers’ who will review their products for a fee. This is a great way to jumpstart the reviews for your products especially if you have zero reviews to start with.
8 - Build a Community
Want to automate word-of-mouth marketing? You can do so by building a community. This is where you do more than provide a good product or service. Instead, you also cater to your target market constantly through content marketing or blogging.
Here’s why it works so well. Content marketing or blogging allows you to create a community around your topic or industry. By constantly helping people through your knowledge, you also establish yourself as an expert in the field.
When this happens, people will start visiting your website for more than just your product or service. They will be coming to your site to read more about your niche as well. On top of these, these articles can also get indexed on the search engines where you can get thousands of visitors for every article.
With a community, word-of-mouth marketing comes naturally.
This is what Cassey Ho of Blogilates did when she launched her Pop Pilates community. She consistently creates videos and consistently help her target audience on top of improving her products and services. The result? She successfully made it to the top of the list of fitness experts in the entire world.
9 - Have a Referral Program
Another way to encourage word-of-mouth marketing for your business is by establishing a referral program. This is where you pay people or give incentives in return for referring people to your site.
This can come in different forms. The most common form is the refer-a-friend program. This is done by having an online form where people can key in email addresses of their families and friends to recommend a particular product or service.
Sometimes, every action is rewarded by points. Some online sellers would reward people a certain number of points for every person referred. This is true for mobile games.
Third, there are also the paid referrals. This is where the user is paid for every referral that makes an account. This is what PayPal did to grow their business and it was crazy effective. All they did is pay each user a fixed amount for each referral. That gave PayPal a base market to grow its business.
Fourth, there are also some eCommerce website referral programs. In here, users are often rewarded with discount coupons in exchange for a referral. Although discount coupons are not as attractive as real money, it still works in getting more exposure for a particular online store.
As you can see, referral marketing is the quickest way to encourage word-of-mouth marketing in your business. With it, your visitors or customers can instantly refer their family members and friends in exchange for a reward. And as you have learned earlier, family or friend referrals usually gets the highest response as it is personal and comes from a close relationship.
10 - Employ Influencers
A word-of-mouth marketing guide will not be complete without the power of influencers. In fact, influencer marketing is now one of the most sought-after online marketing methods that still work despite the drastic Google algorithm changes. As stated earlier, it may not be as effective as family or friend recommendations, but it is still a great way to get people talking more about your brand.
An easy way to get your foot inside the door is to look at what influencers are already sharing. There is an online application called BuzzSumo that can help you do that. This helps you uncover the most popular posts in just about every niche. In effect, you also get to know the influencers in your industry.
Searching in BuzzSumo is easy. When you go to its homepage, you’ll be greeted by something like this.
From here, you can search and uncover some of the most shared articles.
From here, you can record the influencers’ data on a spreadsheet and search for their contact information.
There are plenty of tools that can help you search for influencer email addresses. Here are some to name a few.
SellHack tops the list of applications that helps you uncover email addresses. Using it is easy. You just need to key in the name of your target person along with their website. Then, it will scour the Internet to look for that person’s email address.
Hunter.io is second in my list because I have not yet used it. But users claim that it works pretty much in the same way as SellHack. You just need to search for your target person and it will immediately give you the email address that you’re looking for.
This is a service that I recently found from AppSumo. I saw that they are having a deal so I grabbed it and gives me a consistent amount of credits per month without paying anything. What I love about it is that it has a lifetime deal. Unlike SellHack and Hunter.io where you have to constantly pay for credits to search for email addresses, the Appsumo deal allowed me to use a similar service without the hefty monthly cost.
But getting the influencer’s email address is just the first step. You should also learn some outreach strategies so that you can properly reach out and get influencers to respond. This is a vast topic that needs another guide so I will not be covering that here.
Are People Talking About You?
Are people concerned about your products and services? Do they talk about your latest deals and are concerned about your brand? If not, you have some serious work to do. You may need to start implementing some word-of-mouth marketing tactics above in order to finally grab the attention of your target market as well as get them to promote you. Trust me. There is nothing better and faster than having other people promote your products for you. But you can only do that if you give them a solid reason to do that.