Word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways to gain attention for your business. In fact, 90 percent of people are more likely to trust a brand if it comes recommended by a friend. The problem is that word of mouth is up to the customer — or is it? Traditional word of mouth marketing did require just one person talking to another. However, modern word of mouth marketing involves encouraging your customers to relate their experiences and taking direct action to generate referrals.
There are several ways you can add word of mouth to your strategy.
1. Have a Clear Brand Image
Customers are more likely to recommend you if they understand what your brand stands for. Furthermore, if you lack a clear brand image, your customers may end up creating one for you — and it may not be in line with your mission. For this reason, it’s important to develop an image that includes your values, considers what you do for people, and shows what makes you different from other people.
2. Tell Your Brand Story
You’ll also make it easier for people to connect to your brand if you tell your story. Talk about what inspired you to start your business or share your success stories, your vision for the future, and interesting facts about your company. All this will give customers a reason to feel passionate about your brand — and they’ll want to share this passion with others.
3. Figure Out How to Be Better Than Competitors
Check out what your competitors are doing and decide how you can offer something better. Read their reviews to find out about the shortcomings of their products, services, and customer experience. Determine how you will do better and highlight what makes you different in your marketing (you can do this without explicitly mentioning competitors).
In addition, look at your marketing. What channels and tactics are competitors neglecting? By showing customers you understand them and by reaching them more effectively, you’ll develop a name for yourself and gain more recommendations.
4. Establish Your Brand as the Expert
No matter what the competition is doing, you’ll stand out if you establish yourself as the industry expert. Create infographics, blog posts, videos, and whitepapers that answer your customers’ most pressing questions and show off your knowledge. Stay on top of your industry news and release timely insights into trends. This will enable you to create the kind of content customers want to share and develop a sense of trust with your audience.
5. Ask for Reviews
Word of mouth marketing today goes beyond receiving recommendations from friends and family: online reviews are also important when coming to a decision about what to buy. Instead of just waiting for customers to review you, actively ask. Send customers an automated message after they’ve received your product or used your service.
6. Respond to Negative Feedback
The downside to asking for reviews is that some will be negative. However, don’t let this dissuade you — just respond to negative feedback appropriately. In some cases, you may be able to use a negative review to your advantage. For instance, acknowledge where you slipped up and explain what steps you’ll take in the future. This shows that you’re listening, you care what customers think, and you’re always striving to do better.
7. Offer Great Customer Service
Unprompted, people are most likely to talk about your brand if they have a horrible experience. They are second-most likely if they have a great experience. Make sure your customers fall into the second category. This means focusing on the customer service you provide and making sure all your clients are satisfied with the attention they receive.
8. Create a Loyalty Program
Retaining customers is not only cheaper than acquiring new ones; it’s also critical for your word of mouth marketing. One of the top ways to retain customers is through a loyalty program that rewards them for continuing to patronize you. An extra perk is that they’re likely to recommend people they know.
9. Offer Incentives for Referrals
Give customers an added reason to recommend you to friends with a referral program. Provide each of your customers with a personalized URL or coupon code. When someone uses the code to make a purchase, the customer receives a reward — this could be store credit, a discount, or a gift.
10. Ask Employees to Spread the Word
Small businesses, in particular, have employees who are passionate about their company and its mission. Actively encourage your employees to talk about your business, such as by sharing content on social media. If you are a large company, you could even start a reward program that allows employees to accumulate points for every like, share, or comment on social media and blog posts.
11. Be Interesting on Social Media
Both your customers and your employees will only want to engage with your business on social media if you are posting interesting content. Steer clear of purely promotional posts and allow your personality to shine through. Be funny, insightful, thought-provoking, outlandish, shocking — whatever fits best with your brand voice. Just make sure people feel some kind of emotion when they see your content.
12. Start a Hashtag Campaign
When posting on Instagram or Twitter, always add a branded hashtag. Either incorporate your business name or use a term or phrase associated with you. Other people will start using the hashtag when they want to show off that they have one of your products or that they’re using your service. This will allow you to gain more visibility on the platform.
If you find a particularly great piece of user-generated content associated with your hashtag, ask the user if you can share the post. You can also actively encourage people to use the hashtag and to create content by offering incentives like discounts or a prize for the best post.
13. Join In Conversations
When someone comments on a post or mentions you on social media, respond. Simply showing users this acknowledgement will make them feel more warmly toward your brand. Sometimes, a simple reaction to a comment is enough. However, queries about your offerings call for a proper answer.
14. Use Influencers
A uniquely modern word of mouth tactic is influencer marketing. This costs more than the other tactics, but it’s a great way to reach a large portion of your target audience. Plus, it gives you some control over your word of mouth marketing. Choose a micro-influencer who specializes in your niche or local area. This should help you stay within your budget. All the same, influencer marketing should be just one small part of your word of mouth strategy — otherwise, your strategy will not be organic and it will be too expensive to maintain in the long run.
15. Use Affiliate Marketing
Another paid strategy to try is affiliate marketing. This involves striking up a partnership with an affiliate marketer, who will promote your offerings in blog posts, on social media, or through email newsletters. You’ll only pay the affiliate marketer if someone clicks on a unique link to your product and makes a purchase. There are a few different methods to find affiliates, including recruitment agencies, freelance marketplaces, and affiliate networks.
16. Be Exclusive
If you are yet to launch your offering, consider starting out as an invite-only service. This will create a sense of exclusivity and intrigue users. If users think your service sounds worthwhile, they’ll go out of their way to find a recommendation. One of the most recent services to try this is the Clubhouse app — and it has gained a large amount of attention using the tactic.
17. Turn Customers into Insiders
If you already have customers paying for products and services, there are still ways to create a sense of belonging to a special group. One option is to ask customers for feedback on what you’re doing well and where you could improve. You can ask informally on social media, send out short surveys, or have interviews with your most committed clients. Another option is to give loyal customers sneak peaks about upcoming changes at the company or allow them to be the first to try out new services. Finally, you can invite customers to events to celebrate milestones at your company.
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