Regardless of how many new and high-tech marketing methods come along, there’s no replacement for old-fashioned word of mouth marketing for promoting your business! Today, we may speak of ‘referral marketing’ rather than ‘word of mouth marketing’, but the basic idea is the same. People trust their friends, family members, and even casual acquaintances more than they trust advertising and just about any other type of marketing. A survey by Nielsen found that referral marketing is trusted by everyone, across generations. Millennials, however, scored highest in this regard at 85%, with generations X and Z close behind at 83%. In other words, if you want to reach today’s customers, your best approach is to cultivate referrals.
Tips to Increase Referrals and Recommendations
Sometimes people will recommend your business to their friends without any prompting. While this is always nice, you can’t count on it. If you want to maximize the benefits of word of mouth marketing referrals, you have to take active steps to encourage your customers to spread the word on your behalf.
- Create an online community. If you want your customers to recommend you, it’s essential to engage with people on social media, your blog, and anywhere else you’re active. It’s not enough to simply post content. Ask questions and post surveys to learn what your audience wants. Monitor your pages consistently and promptly answer comments and questions. Post engaging images, memes, and videos that people are likely to share.
- Use influencer marketing. Influencers are people who your customers and followers admire and whose opinions they value. This is a contemporary version of word of mouth marketing where you leverage the reputations of people your audience trusts. The first step is to identify the right influencers for your industry and audience. You don’t need to find celebrities with millions of followers, as it’s very difficult to connect with such people. It’s often helpful to build relationships with “micro influencers,” people with thousands of engaged followers who are a good match for your business. Follow them, share their content, and offer to send them free samples of your products.
- Share reviews and testimonials. This form of social proof is one of the most powerful types of word of mouth marketing. Whether reviews appear on sites such as Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, or as testimonials on your own sales pages, they broadcast the message that others have tried and liked your products. If you want more reviews, remember to ask for them! Place links to your review site pages on your website and in a highly visible place such as near the counter or cash register if you have a brick and mortar business.
- Create a referral program. It helps if you give your customers attractive incentives to recommend your business. There are many ways to do this depending on your business model. You might offer customers a discount on your products or services every time they refer someone. For high-end products, you might offer cash rewards. Some companies offer Amazon gift cards in exchange for referrals.
- Offer outstanding customer service. While there are many clever techniques to encourage word of mouth referrals, there’s no substitute for offering great products and customer service. The latter is especially important, as it’s something that sticks in people’s minds and makes it far more likely that they’ll recommend you. Make sure all of your employees and customer service reps are polite and knowledgeable. It also helps to have strong customer-centric policies such as prompt answers to questions and unconditional guarantees on your products.
- Get involved in your community. This approach is especially good if you’re a local business with a physical location. Get involved with local events such as raising money for charity. Participate in community-building events. You can also do this with an online business. You might donate a portion of your profits to a worthwhile cause for holidays or for a special cause such as a natural disaster. In addition to doing some good, people are likely to share emails and social media posts that support causes they believe in.
Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing
Word of mouth marketing will always be powerful, even if it takes on different forms. Use these strategies and think of some of your own to encourage your customers to help your business grow.
Allison’s Alligator provides everything local businesses need to succeed online. To find out how we can help your business grow, contact us.