Marketing • Business
Rumour has it: word-of-mouth marketing is your key to boosting B2B and consumer sales People have been spreading news and sharing knowledge by word of mouth since we first started speaking. It’s always been an effective referral technique for businesses and consumers alike, and our go-to method for finding our family, friends and colleagues the products or services they need, in a hurry.
With 74% of consumers and 91% of B2B buyers influenced by word of mouth when deciding on a purchase, it was only going to be a matter of time before businesses stopped waiting for the magic to happen and started directly influencing it. Assisted by the ubiquity of social media and one-click social sharing, word-of-mouth communications now reach further than ever before—and faster.
Here’s what you need to know:
Word-of-mouth marketing is only as strong as the evidence you’ve got to back it up. There’s no point seeding a campaign to get people talking about you if no one’s got anything positive to say. Say one of your customers retweets an image of your newly released product line and adds the comment, “I just ordered all three colours. Can’t wait!” How will they respond if someone asks the question, “How’s their shipping?” Will they have a great story to share?
So that’s your starting point: make sure your fans always have something to say by giving them a memorable customer experience every time they contact your brand. That involves taking steps like:
These positive experiences generate an organic buzz about your retail brand. And now you’re confident they’ve got something good to say, it’s time to amplify that buzz and really get them talking.
Word-of-mouth marketing is what happens when you blend word-of-mouth promotion into your marketing strategy. (I know—who would have guessed?) There are many different approaches you can take, both online and offline, and many can be combined to give an additive effect. Here are a few to get you started:
Your loyal fans may already be telling their social media networks about your great service, but it’s unlikely their posts will be shared far and wide. That’s where your expertise comes in. You already know what works on social media: interesting photos, catchy titles, links to read more, and something worth sharing. Or get really creative, and share an animated video, interactive map or simple game. Just be sure to give your fans something worth sharing, by posting exciting content on a regular basis, which they’re 40 times more likely to share through their personal referral networks.
If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you’ve probably already got social sharing buttons on your online store’s product pages and in your transactional emails, and you’re already collecting customer reviews. The next step is combining the two—encouraging your fans to share their positive reviews with their wider network, using those social sharing tools. Your customers will start pro-actively sharing their experiences instead of reacting to their friends’ questions: “Who do you recommend?” and “Why?”
You can further motivate your customers to talk about you by offering them a small incentive. This could take the form of entry into a competition for liking your Facebook page and sharing your post, or perhaps a credit towards their next purchase when a new customer uses their referral link or discount code.
Social media influencers have a much broader reach than your average customer; they’re also trusted by their followers, and they have a whole lot of experience in creating engaging social content. So getting an influencer to recommend your ecommerce brand can be an effective way to kickstart your campaign. The key here is being authentic: there’s no point paying for a celebrity to promote your product if no one actually believes they use it.
It all comes back to that memorable customer experience we were talking about earlier. Customers are more likely to speak up about your brand if you make them feel special. Try adding a freebie to their order, or make wrap their purchases in beautiful packaging so they feel like they’re opening a gift—anything to make your delivery stand out.
One of the most valuable benefits of word-of-mouth promotion is its versatility. You can add it onto literally any of your marketing campaigns to boost your reach and build your brand trust. And the effects can be significant: word-of-mouth amplifies the effect of paid media by 15%. So don’t be shy about asking your customers to share their stories.
If a customer shares negative stories by word of mouth, it can feel like a slap in the face and a real step backwards in your campaign. But don’t panic—critical feedback is just another part of doing business, and this is just another opportunity to show everyone how you handle a customer complaint. Try to solve your customer’s problems with a minimum of fuss, or explain how your processes have changed since their experience, and offer an incentive to try your online store again.If you earn a reputation of handling complaints with respect and understanding, your customers are more likely to approach you directly, rather than complaining behind your back.
Offline word of mouth may have a much smaller reach than social media, but it also has twice the business impact, so it’s worth looking for ways to stay front of mind all the time. You might host a real-world event where your customers can meet each other and get excited about your brand—something they’ll talk about with their friends the next day. Or you could do something as simple as slipping a new-customer gift voucher in with each order, encouraging your happy customer to pass it along to a friend and creating a talking point at the same time.
With word-of-mouth promotion driving 13% of consumer sales, it’s time to stop waiting for your fans to talk, and time to start making it happen.Neto is a leading ecommerce platform designed to help your business grow across multiple channels. With inbuilt analytics, mobile-responsive themes, fully flexible navigation, customisable shopping carts, and a wide range of add-on integrations, Neto lets you create a perfectly tailored customer experience. If you want to know more about understanding your customers so you can tailor your marketing strategy, check out our blog post on defining your ideal customer.