3 Things Word-of-Mouth Marketing Is NOT
How referable are you? Do you get referrals without having to ask? If not, there are a few steps you can do to increase your word-of-mouth marketing and be more referable. You might notice that just by having a good attitude and a little knowledge about what you are selling can work in your favor. You may have also noticed that putting in a little elbow grease has provided you with a few good online reviews. Still, you can do more, which you will find in this blog post. However, three common misconceptions are demystified first. Then, you will find six steps that can help enhance your word-of-mouth marketing.
3 truths about word-of-mouth marketing
It comes as no surprise that effective word-of-mouth marketing strategies are in high demand. The problem, however, is that much is misunderstood about turning a naturally occurring process into a plan of action. As usual, many of our holdups are rooted in old thought processes. Below, Gabbie Cohen attempts to help clear the smoke by highlighting three common misconceptions.
1. Word-of-mouth is market-y
Word-of-mouth marketing is not meant to be market-y in the traditional sense and marketers who treat it like typical marketing will not see the results they are looking for. In fact, these are absolutely opposing approaches and the rise of social media and brand advocates will continue to make gimmicks even less relevant with time.
The key to word-of-mouth marketing is to create opportunities for consumers, or brand advocates, to share about a brand’s products and services across all touch points, so they can share when and where they are inspired. By creating a convenient environment for them, consumers will be more willing to spread word-of-mouth marketing about a brand, and if given easy-to-use tools to amplify those messages, brands can see an increase in reach and awareness.
2. Word-of-mouth marketing is reserved for revolutionary products
While having a bang-up product or service certainly helps things along, it is not a requirement for effective word-of-mouth marketing. The real key to success here is answering a question. No matter what you have to offer, people will talk about it if it fills a real need.
3. Word-of-mouth marketing is a replacement strategy
While word-of-mouth marketing is certainly in the throes of a revolutionary breakthrough, it would not be wise to shift focus solely on what consumers are saying about you or your brand. Word-of-mouth marketing is highly complementary. If harnessed correctly, it can carry your messaging far beyond your immediate audience.
6 steps that can help enhance your word-of-mouth marketing
You may have word of mouth already occurring. That is great! But, you can do more. Megan Mosley gives you six steps that can help enhance your word-of-mouth marketing.
Step 1: Establish a foundation for word-of-mouth marketing
First, you need to create a foundation so that word of mouth can occur. Here are a few tips on creating a sturdy foundation.
· Focus on your customer service
The biggest thing you should focus on is your customer service. In fact, without good customer service, your business might suffer. If you are not doing well, you can guarantee that no one will want to refer you (in a positive way). Customer service matters because of social currency: a consumer’s willingness to share. If you want people to spend their social currency on you, you have to give them a good reason to do so. When your great product and unbeatable customer service pair up, people feel much more comfortable spending their social currency on you.
· Marketing is a team sport
Even in this digital age, where everything is easy to share, you still have to ‘work’ on being referable. What helps is to make marketing a team sport. When your whole team is involved, it is much easier to promote your best self.
A great way to build up your brand is to experience it with your front line. Better understanding the customer’s perspective and expectations can give you great insight into your brand and it will allow you to modify accordingly. Also, it will allow you to understand the problems your employees and staff experience.
To kick things into high gear, remember that your brand and culture come down from the qualities of the founder. So, if the leaders of the business are not portraying what is important from the top down, the whole ecosystem could crumble. But, if the brand values are funneled down, the overall experience should be better for everyone.
· Communication is expected
Communication will allow you to provide excellent customer service and it will help you truly make all your marketing efforts a team sport. People want you to be responsive. They want their questions answered and they want to know that you are evolving with their needs. However, they are not looking for mechanical answers; they are looking for conversational and personalized encounters, which may seem counterintuitive in this age of social media and the internet.
There are ways to personalize today’s preferred modern communication. For example, live-chat tools are the perfect way for you to increase your communication channels and be convenient for customers.
· Use social media
The easiest way to create a word-of-mouth channel is to use social media platforms. They allow the customer to easily and conveniently talk with you as well as share you. By being where your customers are, you are making it even easier for word of mouth to occur. And, if you are often communicating with your customers and sharing resources, jokes, updates, etc., you are making yourself referable. People refer who/what they like, so make yourself referable.
Step 2: Understand where your referrals come from and why people buy
Understanding your customers and their referrals can help you figure out why they buy in the first place. The basics could be the cost of your product, the quality of your product or even your customer service. That primary information is important but customers research your reviews and rely on recommendations too. So, it is important to ask for feedback when and where you can. Getting feedback from your customers can provide you with insight into what you should and should not be doing. This dialog will help you understand why customers buy and create a foundation of trust for others to become customers.
Step 3: Design your program with the user in mind
What can you do to make people spend their social currency? By designing your referral program with the user in mind, it is pretty easy to get open channels of communication. These two elements can encourage this:
The easier you make it for customers to refer you, the more likely they will. By providing them with templated messages, you are increasing your word-of-mouth potential. You simply create the message your customers will share with their friends. This can include imagery and a brief description of what your business is all about. You can even allow your customers the chance to customize the message.
You may notice that the reward can be the driving point for a referral. The user will always want to know the benefit of sharing. Regardless of how much they actually like your business, if there is no immediate need to share, the chances of you being shared might not be there.
Step 4: Promote, promote, promote
Like any other marketing promotion, your referral program needs to be promoted and fed into marketing channels. Promoting your program is important as it helps your program get seen. Promotion does not just mean making your program visible on your homepage. Anywhere you interact with customers can be a great touch point for referral program promotion. Here are two ways you can ask for referrals and increase your word of mouth.
- Use your email
You regularly communicate with your customers, partners, and employees through email. This means it is a great platform to ask for a referral. You can implement the ask as a fun image at the bottom of every email or you can ask for a referral and promote your program with a dedicated email.
- Social media
Between direct messaging, commenting, and posting updates, you have multiple ways to reach your audience. Plus, if the information about your program is already on your social sites, you are making it that much easier for people to join and share. Social media can also be a great way for you to increase your social proof, meaning people will have a much easier time spending their social currency on you.
Step 5: Automate and create repeatable processes
As with all good marketing, making processes repeatable is key to creating a good experience for users. It is easy to create new resources; the real effort is making everything consistent. This is because your brand image and tone are strongest when they are consistent across all channels. The same rules apply to your referral program. Just like other campaigns, it relies on communication cadence. You need to think of the right time to promote your program and ask for a referral.
Software is a great option for helping you automate the referral process. Not only can you automate the entire referral process, you can automate your referral program to trigger at certain points in your sales process and marketing campaigns.
Step 6: Analyze, monitor, and measure
After everything is all set up, all you have left to do is track and measure its success. This will allow you to see where in the process you need to approve.
Round 1: Establish a baseline to see where your word-of-mouth advertising should go
Before you start any marketing or advertising campaign, you need to set your baseline. Before you try to measure your growth, you need to understand where you currently are. The same applies to tracking your word of mouth. Your baseline may include tracking converted leads, web traffic, incoming phones or another very specific variable.
Then, you need to establish what your goals will be so that you can put a campaign into motion. This will be a great base for you to track and test changes. Plus, it can help you gain insight into what you should be asking your users. Listening to feedback and testing changes may be exactly what you need to determine your ‘perfect’ campaign.
Round 2: Go back to step 2
Go back to step 2 once a year and see what has changed. You may find that your ideal customer has shifted or that your old incentives are not working quite like they used to at getting people to refer. There are tools for this too.
Social media marketing
As you can tell, social media marketing is a big part of word-of-mouth marketing. Fortunately, I have recently released my ultimate guide to social media marketing, so you can learn more about this particular type of marketing if you need it. I also have an addition to this ultimate guide for you, which discusses adding translations to social media marketing. This is useful when you are operating in international markets.
If you want to repurpose content that you already have for an audience that prefers reading in another language, you should contact me. I am a translator, so I can help you (well, me or my contacts in the translation industry). You can reach me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.