Word-of-mouth marketing is not something that happens by chance. Different than naturally-occurring word-of-mouth, this form of marketing is prompted, guided and encouraged by businesses. How can you encourage word-of-mouth recommendations that will help you to reach your marketing objectives?
You’re already familiar with word-of-mouth—it’s a means by which information travels among individuals, groups of people, and larger social circles. The word-of-mouth communication you want happening around your business is that of happy customers, emphatic social media followers, and avid blog readers recommending your business to others.
Word-of-mouth is up to your target audience and customers. Word-of-mouth marketing is up to you and your business. This type of marketing focuses on publishing content, providing services, and creating experiences that your target audience will naturally want to share with others.
Word-of-mouth marketing happens more than you may realize. It can take many forms, such as:
• Online customer reviews (here’s how to get them)
• User-generated content
• Social media shares
• New customers referred by current customers (here are some referral program ideas)
As we just mentioned, word-of-mouth marketing takes many forms and can be driven by a number of different activities. Yet no matter which tactics you choose to use, you should always stick to the following four best practices.
More specifically, know where to find your audience. What channels does your audience currently use most? Where are they most likely to engage? Encourage word-of-mouth through those channels for the maximum results. You can compare social media channels here for help.
By building a community and interacting with everyone in it, you promote loyalty and trust—both of which are very necessary to be successful at word-of-mouth marketing. Instead of having a one-way conversation as you would with an audience, start two-way conversations within your community. Encourage members of your community to engage with each other. After all, it is through their engagement that the word-of-mouth about your business spreads.
To be unique is to be memorable. To be memorable is essential. After all, if no one can remember you, how can they talk to others about you? Besides, who likes or respects copycats and knock-offs? No one. Find your own lane and be you. A custom hashtag might be a good starting point.
As you encourage people to share their testimonials, prompt them to describe the problem, how you solved it and what the outcome was. Storytelling will help people to understand what you offer better and, ideally, they’ll relate to what your customers describe. It will also make it easier for your customers to share information about your business to others.
So how can you encourage your target audience and local community to spread the word? The short answer is to first give them good word to spread in the first place, and second to make it easy to do so. Let’s dive into the details of these two concepts below.
Social media is word-of-mouth marketing personified. It’s where people share content from and comments on brands that matter to them.
To become one of those brands that matter, you need to create interesting, valuable content that’s worthy of being shared. Whether a blog post, infographic, video or anything else, being shareable is a plus. The more shares your content gets, the greater your reach.
As with tactic #1, your business needs something worth talking about. This could be an upcoming event that you’re building anticipation for, excellent customer service, a touching story or something immensely useful for your audience.
Community members might provide written testimonials, photos or even video demonstrations of them using your products. Showing love to users by spotlighting their content can make them more excited about your business. Also, others who want the same privilege will be motivated to jump on the word-of-mouth bandwagon.
Encourage user-generated content by holding contests in which followers submit a photo of them using your product and tag a few friends to enter. Then, pick a winner and offer a prize such as a discount. This is a great way to engage your followers and spread the word about your business.
The more positive reviews you have, the better. Recommendations from others are trusted sources that greatly impact consumer decisions. They also influence SEO, increasing your business’ visibility.
However, unless asked, many people won’t review your products or services. Therefore, it’s wise to use calls-to-action. Ideally, you want positive reviews. If you do get a few negative ones, though, you should respond politely and professionally to those just as you would to positive remarks.
Create and promote a referral program. Make sure to offer desirable rewards that will motivate people to spread the word. In addition to rewards for referrers, you might also reward those referred, which might move them to continue the cycle.
A blog full of relevant information can be promoted using social media and shared by your followers, as well as boost your business’ SEO. When your business is more visible, more people can find and support it.
Micro-influencers are very active within very specific niches and, while their audiences only number in the tens or hundreds of thousands, they have very high engagement. Connecting with and gaining the support of relevant micro-influencers can grow your community and increase engagement.
If you partner with an organization, that organization will no doubt promote you. In turn, supporters of that organization may also contribute to your word-of-mouth marketing. Similarly, if you back a noteworthy cause, those who side with you won’t hesitate to pay their respects by talking about your noble deeds.
By referring customers to non-competing but still relevant businesses, those businesses are more likely to refer customers to you.
As you can see, there are many ways to get a conversation going about your business. Once you do and if you follow best practices, you can expect to see an upward trend in followers, prospects and customers. Are you ready to take you word-of-mouth marketing to the next level?