Word-of-mouth marketing is by far the most successful (and cost-effective) tool to convert potential customers. All it takes is a happy customer who feels compelled to share his or her story.
But can you control it?
Nearly 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above online reviews, emails, TV ads, print advertising or paid ads.
If you can create an army of loyal followers based on quality products and service, all it takes is a nudge from the right marketing strategy to make their approval public.
Here are five ways to start tapping into your “free” marketing base starting today:
Create shareable triggers
Email marketing copy and the graphic design surrounding your brand are created to encourage your audience to take action.
Want to get people to sign up to receive your new ebook? Write with this in mind.
Are you encouraging people to Buy Now for your bi-monthly flash sale? Design and display “clickable” images.
Why not encourage people to refer your business to friends and family?
Small businesses often leverage promotional emails to offer prizes, merchandise or tickets in exchange for email referrals.
If email copy isn’t the most persuasive platform for your business, you can take visual cues from IKEA. They were among the first retailers to embrace Augmented Reality when launching their app, and they received over 1.4 million views on Youtube with shares across multiple channels.
Do something new (or epic)
While an AR app may be an obviously unique and “shareable” experience, it’s also possible to create buzz by simply marketing your business or product in a revolutionary way.
For example, Dollar Shave Club upended an industry known for hyper-masculine Old Spice and classic packaging by offering subscriptions to monthly grooming packages with men that looked more like Seth Rogan than David Beckham
In fact, their self-deprecating humor helped them gain 12,000 new customers within 48 hours of this first YouTube video in 2012. It now has over 25 million views.
Encourage user-generated content
We call this social proof — pictures, stories, status updates and comments created and shared by users to show love for a business (or product).
Think of it like a public stamp of approval.
According to an Adweek study, 85% of social media users find user-generated content more influential than brand photos or videos.
Good products and great service can trigger social sharing without much marketing effort.
However, you can also encourage UGC by offering discounts for posts that meet certain criteria or running an ongoing social media competition using your own hashtag.
Campaign for ratings and reviews
Some customers are just not likely to make public declarations of affection for a product on their social pages or to refer all of their family and friends.
But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a great experience. And it certainly doesn’t mean that their feedback can’t convince a “researching” customer to buy.
Consumers read an average of seven reviews before trusting a business. And while a personal recommendation may earn the most trust, 85% of consumers trust online reviews with equal merit.
That’s why it’s important to incorporate both review submission tabs and honest star ratings on your e-commerce product pages, marketplaces, websites, social media posts and everywhere customers may look for a quality review.
Create an official referral program
We’ll take to heart the old adage, “You don’t get something for nothing.” Marketing can be a hustle, and one of the ways to encourage personal referral networks is through quid pro quo campaigns.
A referral program isn’t going to make up for poor customer service, ineffective products or poor user experience and site design, but it may just nudge a happy customer into spreading their approval.
While 83% of satisfied customers say they are willing to refer a product or service, only 29% actually do.
That means a gentle push in the right direction can come in the form of systematic order discounts, gift cards, or bonus gifts in exchange for referrals.
Popular “Invite-a-Friend” programs are most effective when located on the top bar of a website with the customer benefit clearly displayed in large, bold type.
You may even consider providing a pre-populated message to make sharing easy via email and social media.
It doesn’t matter how many consultants you hire or how many growth hacks you try, it’s ultimately a quality experience and product that inspires loyalty. But combined with intentional strategy, you can inspire your loyal fans to shout your name just a little louder.
Want more marketing insights? Contact our digital marketing experts at RLC Media to start growing your business today.