Boosting Online Word-of-Mouth in 2019by Nicole Michaelis
Anybody that has ever attended a basic lecture on Marketing will have heard of the term “word-of-mouth”. Ever since the beginning of time, people have shared experiences around products with each other.
In today’s digital age, we still have the same need to share our experiences and read or hear about other people’s opinions, yet a lot has changed.
Social Media has impacted and evolved the principle of word-of-mouth dramatically. Companies now have the opportunity to tailor marketing to use digital word-of-mouth to their advantage, while at the same time being exposed to the potential harm of it.
How can you best deal with and benefit from online word-of-mouth?
Why word-of-mouth is more powerful than ever
According to Leadpages’ national entrepreneurship survey (2016), 49% of the 1,000+ U.S. entrepreneurs claim that referral marketing and word-of-mouth are their most effective marketing tools.
This means, that by tailoring your digital marketing efforts to support positive online word-of-mouth, you can have the biggest impact on consumers. Digital marketing has many tools in store to scale referrals and recommendations in order to increase your growth.
Recommendations are the core of positive word-of-mouth. While they’re difficult to measure and predict offline, there are many ways to positively influence them online. The most common way to boost recommendations online is offering discounts to customers for referrals or good reviews.
This, however, leads to slow growth. There’s more efficient ways to drive word-of-mouth online.
How to boost your online word-of-mouth
Include a referral request in your email workflow for new customers.
When customers sign-up for your service or order a product on your page, you most-likely already are enrolling them in an email workflow to update them on new products. If you send a referral request early on, customers are more likely to act on it and spread the word about you - especially if you offer them a reward if they do.
Give out exciting rewards.
Connecting to the point before, as most customers today are already getting spammed with referrals requests, you need to make sure to offer them a proper reward. This could be a discount for their next order, a free product or a point-collection system.
Especially the ladder, a cumulative reward system, will help you activate customers for on-going referrals.
Find your Micro-Influencers.
While all of your customers will have some kind of network, there are surely some among them that have:
a) bigger networks and
b) are renowned for recommendations in a specific field.
These are recently termed and referred to as Micro-Influencers.
A study discovered that consumers with small to medium sized followings created the greatest engagement around product referrals. Users with less than 1,000 followers recieved engagement on their posts 8% of the time, compared to 1.6% of for users with more than a million followers.
Once you’ve found your Micro-Influencers, you can prototype different ways to activate them, building on the rewards you give out to all customers for referrals.
Spread the word about your happy customers.
You’re receiving great reviews?
Make sure people see them. Share reviews on your website in a Testimonial section or regularly post them on your social media. This will not only help you spread the word and brand yourself, but also create trust for potential clients.
You could even add reviews to your email campaigns or make them part of different pages on your website, instead of bundling them in one place.
Attracting the individual, but aiming for the group.
Online word-of-mouth is an efficient way to attract individuals, but you can also use it to reach groups. A good example of this is when offering someone a personal discount, giving them the opportunity to also share this discount with a friend.
You could also give your customers the possibility to invite friends to special offers, services or rewards. You can easily integrate this approach buy building a post-purchase Landing Page that thanks your current customer and encourages him or her to share with friends.
Make sure that social sharing buttons for all popular networks are highlighted!
Another way to get started with this tactic is by adding a “forward this to a friend” option to your emails. This simple addition can be enough to remind your readers of their friends with similar taste.
When trying out any of the above tactics, you’ll notice that they rely heavily on storytelling. The stories you create around your customers, their experiences, your products and your brand are what creates emotional bonds with customers, encouraging them to spread the word about you.
The benefits of boosting your online word-of-mouth
Online word-of-mouth marketing has an exponential effect that is strengthened by our network economy.
It’s directly linked to a company’s presence on social networks. Today’s increase of social media use and the speed at which messages and news are being shared allows word-of-mouth online to have a big potential.
You can reach a lot of people quickly. Working with improving your online word-of-mouth is much cheaper than many other marketing tactics, as the tactics introduced above illustrate.
As many companies are trying to become more client-focused, online word-of-mouth is an extremely important tool.
As word-of-mouth only occurs between people if they want to share something, recommendations shared this way are much more powerful than regular advertising messages. Another reason, why Micro-Influencers are a great tool to boost sales and credibility.
However, to get consumers to want to share the word about you, you must ensure that you provide them with interesting content around your products and brand.
Even though online word-of-mouth cannot be fully controlled, it can be managed to some extent.
Most parts of word-of-mouth happen outside of your control, however with the correct messaging and a combination of the tactics mentioned above, you can manage it.
For example, you can not only highlight positive word-of-mouth (such as referrals and testimonials) but also try to resolve and limit negative word-of-mouth. By offering unsatisfied customers a special service or rewards for changing their reviews, you can limit the risk for negative word-of-mouth.
Looking at your digital marketing from a Word-of-Mouth Perspective
Word-of-mouth directly impacts sales. Marketer George Silverman even went as far as saying that “all forms of marketing, advertising and communication should be seen as possibilities for generating word-of-mouth” (The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing, 2011).
Silverman advises to look at all marketing from a word-of-mouth or referral point of view. By this, he says, companies can better tailor their activities to customers needs.
Online word-of-mouth directly impacts your customers’ decision process, as it provides opinions that either build or destroy trust in a product. Hence, acceleration in the purchase process can be a direct impact on sales growth.