For many businesses, word of mouth can be a big source of incoming leads. In fact, any of your customers have the potential to use word of mouth to bring in leads.
If you’re providing a good experience, your customers will likely do this without you having to ask. This may just seem like a small gesture, but it should be worth noting that word of mouth referrals tend to provide you good ROI, they are budget-friendly, and they typically turn out to be loyal customers.
Let’s dive into word of mouth.
What exactly is word of mouth?
The literal definition of word of mouth is someone telling another person something. When we use the term in marketing, however, we’re talking about customers telling or referring their friends to your product or service.
Think of an instance where you found something that you really liked, and you couldn’t wait to share it with your friends. This is word of mouth (WOM). This is one of the most organic forms of word of mouth, and if your business is good enough you’ll get this to happen naturally.
Word of mouth marketing doesn’t necessarily have to be a direct conversation either. In today’s app and internet world, word of mouth can come from online reviews, social media posts and messages, and even affiliate links.
There are even ways you can increase your word of mouth and encourage it to happen by using digital marketing. For instance, a referral program or utilizing a survey.
Is word of mouth marketing really worth it?
There is a ton of evidence out there that proves how effective word of mouth is. Let’s talk about a well-known study done by Nielson. They found that 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know over any other source of advertisement.
There are plenty of other studies that allude to the same findings. In a recent survey on word of mouth, it was found that most marketers believe that customers who come from word of mouth tend to be high quality and also tend to become a customer much faster. At least when compared to other channels used for getting leads.
The average rated quality of a word of mouth lead was 4.28 on a 5 point scale.
With that being said you can see how word of mouth can be an influential form of advertising for you. So let’s take a look at some ways you can boost your word of mouth.
Tips for boosting your word of mouth
Getting word of mouth to happen for your business doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few tips for boosting word of mouth that won’t cost you an arm or leg.
1. Have a great product, to begin with
There might be many businesses just like yours out there, so what are you doing to set yourself apart? One thing is to make your product or business the best in its niche. This is the selling point your customers will use to share you with their friends.
For example, if you’re a digital advertising agency and you promise to have an easy to use platform, easy image ad optimization, and a reliable statistics dashboard, that’s what customers are going to expect.
If you fail at one of these, they might lose trust in your company, they might think your service stinks, and worst of all they might spread their subpar experience with others.
How do you prevent this?
First by making sure your service really is set up to match these claims. If your product is all that it’s been cracked up to be, you have built a great channel for word of mouth to ensue.
Remember what you sell is the bread and butter of your business, and without it, there would be no business for customers to share at all.
2. Provide exceptional customer service
Bad customer service can have a detrimental effect on your business. In fact, many people base their buying decision on their overall experience.
Think of it like this… if you’re a SaaS business, you might offer demos. This demo is a great opportunity to show off your customer service as well as your product. Even if the lead isn’t quite a fit, they will have respect for you and your business if you’re on your best behavior. Because of that, they may meet someone or have a partner business they refer to you down the line.
If you can offer exceptional customer service, you are priming yourself for word of mouth to occur. A happy customer is a customer who will happily recommend you. Take a look at how this customer tweets about how happy she is.
In fact, a study by American Express found that 33% of Americans will consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. The same study also found that “Americans tell an average of 9 people about good experiences and tell 16 (nearly two times more) people about poor experiences”. If you’re lucky, your customer will share you online with all their friends, exposing you to a large group of potential leads.
3. Work on getting more online reviews
Adding your business to a few review sites can help you increase your word of mouth. A review is, in fact, a form or word of mouth. It’s someone sharing their experience with your brand to others.
A review is also a great way to build up your trustability, and increase your social proof and visibility. All of which can be beneficial in building good word of mouth.
Think of it like this, when a person recommends a business, their friend is likely to do a little research on their own. This lead is then exposed to the word of mouth of others by reading your reviews.
Think of all the people who aren’t given a personal recommendation to you, they are using the reviews they find online to help them determine which business to choose. If you have a ton of good reviews, a lead would feel pretty comfortable in choosing you. If you have a ton of bad ones, that could deter them from choosing you.
Take a look at both of these Google searches. It’s clear to see both businesses are highly rated. But, if you look closer you’ll see the one with a higher rating has a ton more reviews, which might make a potential lead feel even more comfortable choosing them.
Handle your bad reviews too
Another thing to note, is people are looking to see how you handle your bad reviews. If leads see that you offer a solution or apologize to disgruntled customers, you can redeem your trust factor and turn bad reviews into a positive form of word of mouth.
4. Ask for a referral
Referrals are the effect of word of mouth happening in the first place.
If you ask for a referral, you are simply encouraging word of mouth to occur. If you make it easy for customers to refer, or make asking for a referral part of your marketing strategy, you are setting yourself up to be a word of mouth marketing machine.
You can supercharge this strategy by starting a referral program. Running a program by using referral marketing software will allow you to easily implement ‘asking’ into your existing marketing strategies. Plus, it will be a lot easier for your customers to refer, since most referral software options offer easy sharing buttons, as well as allow you to create a prefilled message for sharing.
If you feel like straight-up asking isn’t your thing, you can definitely disguise it. Add a CTA or a fun image to your existing emails or completion pages to get people to sign up for your referral program.
Take a look at this email receipt. It, of course, covers all the typical information you’d expect, but there is a bonus too. It informs the recipient that they can earn a reward for helping spread the word.
There are a variety of ways to promote your referral program to get customers to sign up and promote your business. Take a look at these referral program examples to get ideas.
5. Use surveys to grab attention and pluck out quality leads
For word of mouth to happen, people need to talk, and others need to listen. That starts with you, the brand.
With digital media in place, word of mouth can travel quickly. The internet and the speed of which things travel is the main reason businesses must keep up with trends and needs of their customers.
One of the easiest ways to understand your customer is to simply ask them what they like, want, and even expect from you. Using surveys can help you understand what you need to do and can help you respond accordingly. This will then increase your customer’s happiness and motivate them to share you with others?
You can actually supercharge your email marketing with surveys, to help you get more information about your customers. Thus helping you create a customer first business. Which can be a big way for you to finetune your customer service and earn even more word of mouth.
Summing it up
As you can see there are a variety of ways to boost your word of mouth. It really starts with providing a product or service that people want and need. As well as providing customers with a great experience.
You can further boost your word of mouth by using other digital marketing tactics, like surveys and referral programs. Both of which are still inexpensive compared to other marketing strategies, and both of which can provide good ROI.
About the author:
Megan Mosley is the marketing specialist at Referral Rock where they believe every business has the potential to increase their word of mouth. When she’s not working, she enjoys sipping on coffee and hanging out with her dog, Mollie.