Word-of-mouth marketing is potentially the most valuable type of promotion a company can receive. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called it “the Holy Grail of advertising”, while his counterpart at Zócalo Group Paul Rand has claimed that a positive recommendation from a friend is the biggest factor in over 90 per cent of product purchases.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Made of Gold
Word-of-mouth marketing is free, effortless, and highly likely to lead to new conversions. Unfortunately, it’s also a hugely challenging and endlessly moving target. There are many pitfalls en route to achieving a recommendation from a delighted customer, though some techniques are proven to increase your word-of-mouth marketing. Essentially, they all boil down to ensuring existing customers are sufficiently satisfied to stake their own reputations on recommending your products or services to their friends and associates.
Deliver what You Promise
Generally speaking, customers simply want a company to honour its promises. Successfully attending a pre-arranged appointment or ensuring that online stock levels are accurate might sound simple, but it’s surprising how often meetings are missed and ‘in stock’ items become unavailable once an order has been processed. The first step towards achieving word-of-mouth marketing is therefore delivering on claims or promises that are realistic, yet enticing.
There are significant risks involved in using sub-contractors, whose reputations aren’t on the line to the same degree. While it’s tempting to splash “guaranteed next day delivery” across your ecommerce website’s homepage, that’s a dangerous policy if your preferred courier company has a track record of erratic delivery schedules. It’s crucial that external agencies consistently do their utmost to support your business model, even if maintaining your own service levels means finding alternative partner organisations.
Social Media Frequenters Are Key!
While every customer is a potential source of favourable reviews, people who are regularly active on social media carry particular influence. If your company is able to focus on specific individuals, these are the people to impress with above-and-beyond service – or even freebies. An antiseptic manufacturer in China provided 48,000 free samples to four thousand influential mothers, recording a five-fold rise in brand awareness and an 86 per cent sales increase within two months. Always track the people who’ve recommended you before, since they’re statistically more likely to do so again.
Encourage Customer Feedback
Social media provides another platform for encouraging word-of-mouth recommendations, since consumer feedback is more likely to end up here than anywhere else. Companies committed to brand building should actively encourage communications, responding quickly to negative comments with sympathetic responses and proposed resolutions. A bad experience can quickly be transformed into a positive one, while the reward for exceptional service can be glowing Facebook and Twitter testimonials that remain online indefinitely. Testimonials on your own site are also valuable, alongside product ratings and reviews.
Everyone Likes a Freebie!
Finally, don’t be shy about offering discounts, freebies and exclusives to people who recommend you. From gift vouchers to discount codes, an unambiguous call to action in a marketing email or social media post can generate significant levels of enquiries. New custom will far outweigh any costs incurred in encouraging people to tell a friend…