To market effectively we must rest our “Marketing professionals hats” for a second and put on our “Consumer hats.” We’re all in the consumer market and having this personal insight as part of our toolbelt can be invaluable when coming up with marketing strategies. Think back to your own shopping experiences…what kinds of products/services are you most attracted to – those that you saw in an advertisement for or those that your friends or family members told you about? Probably the latter, right?
That’s not surprising considering that 90% of shoppers will trust and purchase from a brand that a family or friend has recommended. Sometimes the recommendation doesn’t even have to come from someone they know. For example, user reviews are an extremely influential driving force behind purchasing decisions as hearing advocacies from real people rather than mere marketing mumbo-jumbo helps to build trust between consumers and brands. These are just a couple of examples of word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, but you can already begin to see just how powerful they can be.
Organic WOM has always existed, but today, marketers also use Amplified WOM via the internet and social media. The difference between the two types is simple; Organic happens when someone naturally raves about a recent purchase or experience, whereas Amplified stems from a marketing campaign that is designed to encourage people to become advocates for a product/service in online communities. As you can see, the two types’ goals are the same: create real-life, unbiased promoters for the brand. The two types inherently overlap as well. An effective Amplified WOM campaign will cause an increase in Organic brand ambassadors, and similarly, if a business has a strong existing base of Organic WOM then the uptake of Amplified campaigns will be much more successful.
WOM accounts for 13% of all consumer sales and drives about 6 trillion dollars of consumer spending. Those are pretty impressive numbers, especially when you think of the very little spend that goes into this type of marketing from a business’ perspective. This is just one of the many reasons marketers love WOM. Another reason is that word-of-mouth is incredibly effective. The online impressions made from WOM marketing result in 5 times the sales than paid media impressions. It’s no wonder why 64% of marketing executives consider this method to be their most powerful tool for driving revenues. A third reason that word-of-mouth is so attractive to marketers is that the campaign doesn’t end after one interaction. If your offering is deemed ‘worth it’ by your target audience, it will have a viral effect where one person tells another, that person tells a handful more, and those people further spread the message about your brand farther than the marketing team could have ever reached alone. Without a doubt, this method of marketing needs to be maximized to the fullest by any business that provides a product or a service, especially within the B2C realm.
Setting up your WOM strategy
Setting up a word-of-mouth marketing strategy that works takes some thought though. The foundation of the strategy should be built from creating the most exceptional experience that surpasses expectations for every single shopper that interacts with your store. It is these experiences that elicit the desire in consumers to share with their network.
When it comes to building the strategy from the Organic WOM side of things, a customer’s overall interaction with your brand can be positively influenced in a few ways. First, go above-and-beyond in your customer service. When someone says something about your brand online, whether good or bad, reply and acknowledge their opinions publicly. A good review is simple…basically you say thank you and move on, but bad reviews need to be handled a little more delicately as these are the ones that actually contribute to the customer’s experience. Being respectful and apologizing is implicit, but you need to go little further. Explain exactly how you will rectify the situation, offer some sort of complimentary product/service/discount and thank them for helping you improve your offering. Coming across as humble and appreciative of the person’s opinion speaks volumes to everyone who reads your response and thus contributes towards building a sense of trust in your brand. Secondly, reward your loyal customers; let them feel their importance to the success of your business. The rewards can be discounts on future purchases, free products that are similar to their previous orders, featuring them on your website or social media sites, and more. When people feel like they’re put on a pedestal, they’re much more connected to your brand and are likely to pass on a good word to their network. Lastly, incentivize customers to encourage referrals. More savings for more referrals is often the route businesses go, and these can be effective but they’re highly overused. Get as creative as you can with the referral rewards to stand out from the crowd, and these will surely get people spreading the word about your brand.
Taking a look now at Amplified WOM, there are a few important steps a business can take to increase their reach and get people talking. The bread and butter of this portion of your general WOM strategy is related to the strength of your online presence. To start off, you need to constantly create new and engaging content. It isn’t just about sharing content from other sources but actually making it with your customer base’s interests in mind. For photo product businesses, this could be something like sharing a list of best apps for photo filters, inspirations on using photos for home décor items, information on protecting photos in cloud storage accounts, etc. This gives your business an expert voice, provides useful information for your customers and creates fresh content for better search rankings for more viewings. If the content really hits home with the audience, they’ll surely share it further and further! Secondly, put time into your social media strategy. Share your amazing content regularly to get it in front of people and keep a special eye out for posts about your offerings. Directly connected to the customer experience, as mentioned above, ensure that you thank and repost positive feedback and respectfully handle negative posts publicly as well as privately. Social media can also be used to create excitement about your brand by encouraging customers to create experiential posts about your product (like the #ShareACoke campaign) or by devising contests around new products/services with irresistible prizes for your target audience. These are highly effective ways to make your campaigns go viral and drive sales. A third step to devising your Amplified WOM strategy is to reach out to influencers. In every industry and sector, there are many respected online figures that the general public looks to for advice on products/services. Getting a few of them onboard with your offering and having them write/talk about your brand can super-boost your word-of-mouth strategy. You don’t have to go after the BIGGEST influencer with the healthiest following either – often the smaller scale influencers have more engaged followers that will interact with content more regularly. Do proper research on the ones you’d like to reach out to and make their interaction with your company unforgettable…then, let them do their thing and watch your traffic increase significantly!
All in all, word-of-mouth marketing is a great way to surmount all the barriers you usually would have in reaching new customers. Hearing about your brand through a trusted source, whether organically or via an amplified approach, automatically elevates the perception of your offerings in the consumers’ minds, giving your brand credibility where it wouldn’t have had before.
Are you looking to learn more about Building a Customer Connection? Download our free whitepaper here.