Ready to give your eCommerce store a marketing boost? Have you thought of trying word of mouth marketing?
Word of mouth is the strongest form of recommendation, and spreads quite quickly too. If people are talking about your business, then you can be sure you'll get a big lift in your sales from new customers. According to a study done by Ad Age word of mouth can increase marketing effectiveness by 54%!
But wait a minute - word of mouth marketing? How can you increase the word of mouth about your own company?
Excellent question -- read this post to find out a 6 ways that you can actually get your customers to talk about your business!
What is Word of Mouth Marketing
Before we get into the different ways to promote word of mouth let's just quickly clarify what word of mouth is.
Word of mouth is any time someone talks about your brand. That can be in a conversation with their friends, it can be on social media, it can be in your own product reviews - essentially, it can be anywhere. So word of mouth marketing is the act of encouraging word of mouth about your brand.
With that in mind, let's get started!
1. Promote Word of Mouth by Providing Above Average Service
The very first thing you should look at when trying to figure out how you can possibly get people to talk about your company is actually just that - your company.
Ask yourself a few questions: Do you sell above average products? Do you provide above average service and customer support? Do you deliver an overall above average experience?
It might be useful to take a look at your company from the perspective of your customers in order to answer these questions.
If you answer no to these questions, then there you go, that is the first thing about your company that you need to change.
Think about it like a restaurant. If you go into a restaurant and the food is just OK will you say anything to your friends about it? Probably not. You will only feel the need to say something if the food was very good, or on the negative side, very bad.
If your products or services meet expectations exactly then no one will talk about them. It takes a little extra something to get people talking.
The same holds true of your service and support. Even if you sell relatively standard products, if you provide absolutely amazing service then people will definitely talk about you.
Need an example of amazing service? Take a look at L.L.Bean's satisfaction guarantee:
L.L.Bean is so interested in its customers' satisfaction that it is willing to exchange any item at any time if it is in any way unsatisfactory! Now that is customer service at its best.
If you can provide that kind of service and sell amazing products, you can be sure that your brand will get a hefty boost through word of mouth.
2. Connect With Industry Influencers
The idea of word of mouth marketing is that the more people talk about your brand in a positive light, the more people will be convinced that your company is good and that they should buy from you. Now when it comes to the "mouth" aspect of word of mouth, some "mouths" are bigger than others.
What do I mean? Well, if you sell soccer equipment, then getting Leo Messi to talk about how great your soccer equipment is will definitely have a bigger impact than if any regular person talks about how great your gear is.
The point is, if you can connect with influencers in your industry and get them talking about your brand, then people will listen. But not only will people listen, they will start talking about your brand too!
So by catching an influencer you are actually achieving double word of mouth marketing success - first you have an industry celebrity talking about you, then you have your customers talking about you too!
In order to connect with influencers, before sending them an email or calling them up, try to make yourself known to them first on social media or on their blog. You can post comments on their content, or mention them in posts on your own blog. That way, when you do contact them your company will be at least somewhat familiar to them.
3. Create a Core Group of Insiders
In addition to connecting with industry influencers, you should also look out for your "super customers." People who consistently buy from you, or who have written a number of positive reviews about your brand. These people can be converted into brand advocates - aka word of mouth marketing heroes.
How can you do this? Not so hard actually. What you want to do is to make these people feel like they are your brand's insiders. They are the ones who get to know everything first and get to try everything first, because they, and only they, are your company's best customers!
Here's a step by step process you can follow to do this:
- Put together a list of potential candidates
- Compose an email to send out which makes the recipients feel super special by informing them that they are being added to a small and exclusive list of insiders that will receive company updates and other news first.
- When you are releasing a new product, or if there is a product that you would like to give a boost to, offer your product for free or at a discounted rate special to your insiders, and in return ask them to write up a review for your blog or to leave a review on your product page.
Just by making the insiders feel special you will make them feel more connected on a personal level to your company, so that they will be not only willing, but excited to test out your product and write reviews.
Here's an example of an email I received from Razor Social after attending a webinar:
They understand that anyone who signed up for a webinar is probably a higher potential and higher quality customer than someone who did not, therefor they created a "VIP list" for those who joined the webinar with special and exclusive offers.
This is the exact technique you should use in order to draw in your core group of brand insiders!
4. Incentivize Word of Mouth to Get People Talking
It's not always enough to just provide excellent service and wait for people to start talking about your business, sometimes people need a little shove to get them going - why not give them that shove?
You can do this by simply providing an incentive for your customers to talk about your products. Offer a discount to people who leave reviews or give coupons to people who write a longer review for your blog. There's nothing wrong with a little bribery to get things rolling.
Another great way to incentivize your word of mouth marketing is with StoreYa's Refer a Friend marketing tool. The way Refer a Friend works is after a customer completes a payment, a screen will pop up giving them the option to redeem a coupon in exchange for referring their purchase to a friend:
As you can see, not only does the current customer get a coupon, but the referred friend also gets the coupon! This is a fantastic way to get positive word of mouth going, plus it will help you to bring in repeat customers.
Click here to get Refer a Friend for free!
5. Use Social Media to Create Personal Connections
As was stressed in tip 3, a huge aspect of word of mouth is the degree to which your customers feel they have a personal connection with your brand. The closer they feel to your brand, the more likely they are to talk about it.
Lucky for you, social networks are a fantastic medium for connecting on a more personal level with your customers. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that one of the main aspects of social media marketing is just that.
There are any number of ways that you can achieve this connection:
Respond to mentions of your brand: Use a tool like Mention to monitor mentions of your brand on social media and personally respond to comments and posts. When possible, you should respond with humor or in some other creative way. Here's an amazing example of how to respond from Kapost:
Use user generated content: Use your customers' own content as a way of giving them a shout out on your social networks. You can use their pictures for your profile, or publish a review which they wrote. Doing this makes them feel appreciated and needed by your company. Check out this example of using customer photos from Eggo Waffles:
Take a look at How to Use User Generated Content for more on this!
Post about company culture: Give your fans an inside look into what goes on at your company by posting pictures of your offices, your manufacturing process, company events, etc. in order to present your company in a more personal light to your customers. Buffer did a nice job of doing that with this post:
6. Publish Quality Content
You can also get people to talk about your company in a slightly more indirect fashion. If you consistently publish quality content on your blog, then you will naturally find your way into people's conversations.
What do I mean by this? Here's an example:
If you're business sells watches, and you publish high quality articles on your blog about all kinds of topics related to the watch wearing culture like: comparisons between brands, new watch releases, watch wearing fashion tips, etc. then people will read your blog and begin to think of your company as a thought leader in the watch industry.
A perfect example of a company that does this well is Virgin Atlantic:
Their blog is not related directly to their products, but rather to the culture surrounding their target customer.
If you can become a thought leader in your field then people will begin going to your blog, for example, for all the latest watch news, or for any questions that they have. Essentially, your blog will turn into an important resource for people interested in your industry.
Once this happens, the word of mouth will follow. People will start referring your blog left and right to all of their watch enthusiast friends. These new visitors will see your blog, check out your products, and, if they like what they see, they'll pass it on to their friends.
By becoming a thought leader in your industry, you can actually promote the word of mouth marketing for your products as well!
To learn more about blogging for eCommerce, check out The ABC's of Blogging for eCommerce.
Get People Talking!
Now it's your turn. Take these tips that you've learned and try to apply them to your own business.
It is true that it's hard to gauge the success of a word of mouth marketing campaign, but you can get a general idea by keeping an eye on what the online world has to say about your brand.
Don't let this difficulty discourage you though, because word of mouth is certainly the most effective referral your business can get!
Do you have any methods that you use to promote word of mouth for your business? Do you have any experiences you'd liked to share? We'd love to hear your questions and comments in the space below!