Whether your company is a Fortune 500 company or a “ma and pop” shop, word of mouth marketing is critical to your company’s success. Word of mouth marketing is free and trusted advertising for your company. In addition to being its own source of advertising, word of mouth marketing can bring more traffic to your website, which means the potential to increase SEO.
Let’s look at a quick example to show why word of mouth marketing is more important today than ever before:
Carena: “Hey Bella, I’m so excited! I’m going to that East Sushi tonight. It is brand new.”
Bella: “I went there last week. It was ok, but you should try Corner Sushi. Every sushi roll I’ve gotten from there has been phenomenal.”
Carena: “Ok, thanks for the recommendation. I’ll switch my reservation.”
In a matter of two minutes, after Carena gets the same aforementioned recommendation from her friend, she proceeds to:
- consult thousands of Yelp reviews
- view the restaurant’s post on every form of social media
- look up another friend’s Instagram post about her experience there
Carena shoots a text to her group chat: "Let's go to Corner Sushi instead!”
Post meal: Carena's post on Yelp’s page for Corner Sushi: “Corner Sushi is the best sushi in town, hands down.” This post is now visible to thousands of Yelp visitors.
Importance of Word Of Mouth Marketing
Word of mouth advertising is an ancient practice. Today it carries a more significant influence because of the Internet and the platforms it supports. Thoughts, opinions, and ideas can now be shared through the Internet and social media instantly, and these thoughts can reach thousands of friends and even strangers. In the present-day sushi example, Carena was able to consult the Internet and social media for additional feedback on the restaurants which provided credibility in her decision to switch the restaurant. Then, she shared her thoughts on her experience on a social platform (Yelp), which reached thousands of other users.
Word of Mouth Marketing-- A Double-Edged Sword
Notice how East Sushi lost a customer from word of mouth marketing and Corner Sushi gained a customer (and potentially many more from the positive review on Yelp).
Negative recommendations can taint your company’s brand image while positive recommendations can cause a line to form out of your front door.
Know what your customers are saying about your company through customer feedback and external company review platforms. Is it positive or negative?
Earning a Positive Reputation through Word of Mouth Marketing
The best way to earn a positive image in the eyes of your customer is to please them, also known as using a customer-centric marketing strategy.
Successful marketing has evolved from a push to pull strategy. “You should buy this product because...” has turned into “we heard you, here it is.” Provide what the customer wants by using customer reviews and social media as a digital focus group.
Customer Reviews On Your Company’s Website
Customer reviews are a form of word of mouth marketing. In fact, 50% of consumers think that reviews are the best peer-to-peer contribution to trust. Allow customers to post reviews to your website. Good reviews give credibility to the quality of the product or service your company is providing. Poor reviews... well, yes they’re bad, but don’t remove them. Customers may become skeptical if your site is void of any negative reviews. Your customer review section earns credibility by having a large response population size in addition to positive reviews. Still worried about poor reviews? Respond to them. Let your customers know they’ve been heard and you’re working on making improvements. (And then actually do it).
Let’s take a look at a company that has a very popular customer review section.
Zaful, a clothing website known for its low prices, has a heavily utilized customer review section. Since the clothing is low price, shoppers are sometimes skeptical of the quality. Therefore, shoppers resort to using customer reviews to see what people who brought the clothing item think. The reviews that rate the clothing item as high quality build the brand’s image.
Customer Reviews on an External Review Platform
Review platforms such as Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. are alternative forms of external review platform that allow users to give ratings, feedback, and even see ranked lists based on submitted reviews. Again, bad reviews hurt your brand image, but use these improve your product or service. What are customer’s saying they didn’t like? How can you improve these criticisms to serve your customers better?
“Do”s and “don’t”s of customer reviews on your company’s website:
Do: put your review section on a page that receives a lot of traffic
Do: respond to reviews
Do: use reviews to improve your product or service
Don’t: remove poor reviews
Don’t: ignore poor reviews
Don’t: respond if an unhappy customer seems to be trying to pick a fight
Social media, when used properly, is a remarkable way to drive user engagement and customer feedback. Make your company’s social media something worth talking about.
Ways to Increase User Engagement Through Social Media:
1. Post meaningful content: know your customer and what they want to see on their feed. Make a buyer persona to figure out what type of content you should be posting.
2. Re-post customer’s posts: encourage followers to post using your product or service and tag you or use your hashtags for a chance to be featured on your Instagram. Re-post high-quality posts.
3. Customer service: encourage customers to comment questions, concerns, and opinions on your social media. Respond to them as soon as possible.
4. Crowd source product ideation: utilize Instagram polls on stories to gain customer feedback on new product possibilities. Ask customers to comment or direct message new product ideas (encourage this with giveaway competitions)
Let’s take a look at a company that excels in social media user engagement (User’s profile pictures and usernames have been hidden for privacy):
Allbirds is a sustainable shoe company that makes shoes out of wool to be especially comfortable. The customer service they offer through social media is uncanny.
Take a look at a user who gave a suggestion in the comments section on their picture:
Look at that same day response. Nice!
On Allbirds’ Instagram story, they offered a q&a box. This is an amazing way to increase user engagement and make customers happy.
Allbirds uses customer’s ideas submitted through social media in making new products.
Allbirds tagged customers and re-posted or retweeted their posts. This shows proof of happy customers and increases engagement with followers.
Not all comments on Allbirds’ social media are positive. However, the company now knows what they can improve on.
Try adopting some of Allbirds’ social media techniques to fit your company’s to improve your follower engagement on social media. Tweak them to fit your company.
Ways to Use Allbirds Social Media Strategies for Your Company’s Social Media:
- Encourage followers to comment questions and concerns in the comments section and respond to them
- Allow customers to suggest new product ideas or improvement ideas through the “type something” sticker
- Use polls in Instagram stories to increase follower engagement
- Post videos up to 60 seconds to showcase your company, product, or service
- Re-post followers posts that tag your account or use your hashtag