Word of Mouth marketing is an up and coming tactic businesses are starting to wake up about.
However, Word of Mouth marketing has been around for centuries. And probably even longer than that! It is, in fact, a natural occurrence customers have been performing for the brands they use the most without even thinking about it.
Even though it originated from people verbally talking to each other, it can easily be transferred over to the social chatting world. Especially in times of crisis when social distancing limits oral interaction in public.
This infographic shows you a bit more about Word of Mouth marketing:
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Everybody loves a good story!
You can't stop people from gossiping. For some it's a way of life. Just like harnessing wind and solar power to get electricity, companies can do likewise with their customers to market their products and services!
The power of conversation is natural and bountiful, especially if guided correctly in the right direction. People have been talking about businesses and what they provide for time immemorial, and a lot of credibility has been gained or lost as a result.
Now in the 21st century people aren't only gossiping in the street, they are doing it online. Word of Mouth marketing could originate from a variety of media, but if it is channelled as social chatting onto social networking sites, it transfers from a few to the masses!
Trust is extremely important for success
Businesses cannot survive without trust. It is the mainstay of their existence with their customers. If these people didn't trust the products or services to do a good job for them, they would not use them, let alone pass what they thought about it to others within their social circle.
People trust other people more than businesses. Even extremely popular brands or celebrated organisations. Advertising is not trusted, and therefore ignored. Marketing descriptions are passed over as corporate speak, as they don't use the words customers would use.
In fact research claims 92% of people prefer to trust what existing customers say about a product or service. This is rather than what the marketing department churns out, regardless of how clever their advert may be. People buy from people, which is why Word of Mouth marketing can be so successful.
Word of Mouth marketing thrives on recommendations
The research goes on: 79% of people trust testimonials or reviews from existing customers, and people trust a review 12 times more than a product description. It's all to do with the language. Customers are more honest and relatable about what they say, which is more easily understood and appreciated by others connected to them.
People who have experienced the brand and what this offer can help to bridge the gap between company and customer. If they are cultivated as loyal customers, and treated fairly, kindly and with due respect, they will happily start recommending the products and services to their friends and family in order to persuade them to buy.
What businesses should be doing is creating brand ambassadors, especially those who are socially active online. The idea is to get them to talk about the USPs of the products as naturally and positively as they can within their social circles. If the enthusiasm is infectious enough, this will be passed on from the recipients to their friends and followers.
Maintaining your reputation and credibility
Many businesses only focus on gaining followers on social media rather than connecting with them. Having large social numbers may look good in your end of year report, but how much do you know about these people you have so successfully gathered?
What is really important is connection rather than possession. Frequently communicate with these social contacts. Ask how they are using your products or services. What do they really think about them? Are they satisfied enough to spread the word in a way which is beneficial to your company?
If you want customers to talk about your brand, you have to trust them to do a good job. They need to perceive your company in an acceptable way before you let them loose on social media. Since your reputation and credibility are paramount, this needs to be salvaged by how you connect with your regular customers.
Time to start talking to your customers
There are various methods to communicate with your customers about your brand. One way is through social listening. This is when you keep an eye on your customers' online activities, find out what they are saying, and only weigh in to solve problems, answer queries or continue the conversation in the right direction.
Businesses should be focusing on increasing their customer engagement anyway. Try to be a permanent presence online, to get noticed as well as for troubleshooting reasons. You can learn so much from your customers, as long as you give them their lead and encourage them along the way.
Think about using social media as a form of community. Create social groups as safe havens where anybody can learn more about the brand. Invite your loyal customers to regularly participate by encouraging them to discuss your products and services. All this creates content which has the potential to become popular within their social circles.
Provide a good reason to perform Word of Mouth marketing
A customer which is incentivised is more likely to talk about your brand to their followers. Therefore think what you could give them which would encourage their continued support. Such as free products to use, contests to encourage user generated content, deep discounts, referral or affiliate programmes.
Your advocates need to have a good experience with your company. Get them to feel special and wanted by sending them insider knowledge. This also makes them feel important when they share this news on social media. And also helps to guide them into exactly you want them to talk about with their followers.
However, it is how customers express their usage and enjoyment the brand, and the words they use, which makes all the difference. You need to trust in what they say, as this has the most relatable influence on other potential customers.
Give your loyal customers more power
Make an effort to nurture your loyal customers, and give them what they ask for. If they prefer to receive the newest products for free to review, provide a public platform where they can post their responses and socially chat to the audience which gathers there.
Letting your customers try out new products is a good idea. Take note of their suggestions and incorporate these into the next phase of development. Make a note of their vocabulary and turn of phrase in what they say online. Since this will be totally free of marketing techno, it will be immediately acceptable and understandable by prospective customers.
Your customers need to know the brand really cares about them and what they say, by giving them incentives as rewards for good work. Allow them to give away discounts to their friends when they socially chat with them online. Send a monthly gift, not necessarily related to the brand, to thank them for their support and effort.
Focus on your customers' experiences
Customer service should be first and foremost in your business's processes, focusing on going the extra mile. You can increase its effectiveness through social listening (see above), by having a permanent presence online for troubleshooting or conversing with the public.
Or you could consider holding special events for your loyal customers. These could be online contests to share their stories in how they use the brand (resulting in user generated content). Or offline social events when you reward your most productive advocates in a glittering award ceremony.
All this is extra fodder to gossip about socially online. You could help hype-up the anticipation to the events, glamorously record the special day and contribute to the wind-down and follow-up during the aftermath. This could easily incentivise other customers to join your advocates and increase the impact of Word of Mouth marketing.
What Word of Mouth marketing do you do?
Taking advantage of your customers' gift of the gab is a smart move by businesses. They know the best way to promote your products or services, purely by relating their experiences. Also this helps cultivate various personalities with a far-reaching capacity in attracting more customers.
Businesses needn't suffer from marketing restrictions and short-sightedness. Using real reviewers, along with other influencers who are willing to promote the brand, can have a much better effect on getting noticed socially online.
Let us know in the comments below your experiences in using Word of Mouth marketing. How have you been successful in moving it online? What recommendations can you offer others thinking about it? Is there anything vital I've missed out from this post you could add? We look forward to hearing from you.