Gaining the trust of potential customers has always been a problematic aspect of running a business. People tend to have a hard time believing that a brand has its best interests at heart when they also know that, ultimately, the business’ sole objective is to receive a payment.
When someone we trust points us towards a company they tested at some point, however, something interesting happens.
The paradigm shifts as we instantly begin to trust the brand. After all, someone credible with no real interest in lying to us recommended them so they must be worth the time and investment, right? Basic human psychology at play.
Businesses should do everything in their power to leverage this subconscious phenomenon – and who better to rely on here than customers who are already familiar and satisfied with your brand? Getting your customers to spread the word about your business should be at the very top of your professional to-do list.
In fact, if you’re not encouraging your customers to become ambassadors for your company, you’re missing out on what can arguably be called the most potent marketing strategy there is.
If that’s the case, no worries – today, we’re going to teach you how you can convert consumers into proud spokesmen, willing to speak out on your behalf. Before that, let’s make sure we’re on the same page on why word of mouth is such a crucial aspect of growing a business.
Try not to take it too personally when we say that your customers know that your ultimate goal is to get paid. No matter how much you sugarcoat it, people are very aware that you’re expecting to get paid for your service, so it’s only natural that they feel a bit wary about you at first.
With word of mouth, however, this factor is suddenly taken out of the equation. The quiet voice of doubt becomes altogether silent. We become a lot more open to the idea of actually handing over our hard-earned money. Why? Because we figure there’s less risk involved now that we got to hear about what we can expect to get first-hand.
This is exactly why word of mouth is considered to be the Holy Grail of marketing and why you’ll find it at the end of nearly every high-end funnel professional marketers put together.
In fact, there’s a stat out there that credits word of mouth with 20 to 50 percent of buying decisions, which obviously speaks volumes about how powerful this form of promotion really is.
In our opinion, there are three universal spheres of marketing every business should focus on – customer acquisition, customer retention and instigating word of mouth. All three are incredibly important, but the word of mouth is the only one that has a monetary ripple effect and that’s why focusing on it the most certainly makes a lot of sense.
So, how do you actually get customers to become active advocates of your brand? As you can probably imagine, this isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do, but we’re going to arm you with a total of five tried-and-tested tactics that have given a significant financial boost to numerous businesses around the globe.
Before you decide to put anything into motion, though, you’ll need to do some leg work and set up the foundation of your word of mouth campaigns.
You want to have a strong understanding of your customer’s mindset and you need to know precisely what makes them tick. This means you need to put together buyer personas and define detailed customer journeys; doing these two things will help you get the most of the tactics you’ll find below, as well as help you set up some important metrics and KPIs that will be necessary for keeping up with the campaign unfoldment.
Another thing you need to understand is that, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to turn every single customer into an advocate of your brand.
Despite all your efforts, some customers will discover you, make a purchase, and you’ll never cross their minds again. Some will even become regular customers but will do next to nothing to benefit your brand. You have to understand that that’s okay. What you’re really targeting is only a handful of people that are willing to advocate for you and are able to have their voice heard far and wide.
However, even they will not do what you want out of thin air, so let’s see how you can go about giving them a reason to become your advocates!
Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that referral programs are among the most powerful customer acquisition channels ever devised. They work like a charm because they directly incentivize your customers to sell for you, which means you get to tap into customers who have large peer groups with the same interests.
The effectiveness of referrals is, of course, hardly a secret by this point – some of the biggest businesses in the world already offer rewards and bonuses to users for referring them to their friends and family.
What makes referral programs complicated is that they come in all shapes and sizes. There’s no one-size-fits-all program that will work tremendously for everyone, but all the best referrals share a few things in common.
The best referral programs typically have 1) a targeted promotion, 2) they use incentives that actually mean something to their target groups, and 3) they go after very strong advocates.
One of the most widely praised referral programs is the one Dropbox came up with a few years ago. Once the company saw that traditional marketing wasn’t doing the trick, the Dropbox team decided to give extra storage space to both the referrer and the referred friend who signed up. The rest, as they say, is history.
While you can certainly learn a lot from Dropbox’s example, you may have to think about what kind of a model will work best for you. So how do you figure out what rewards to give in a referral program? Should you go with discounts, cash, free subscriptions or something else?
The general rule of thumb is that, if your customers will likely make repeat purchases, give discounts or free subscriptions. Google Apps, for example, lets referrers earn $15 for every successful referral that comes through them. Payoneer has a very similar model in place.
On the other hand, if a product is something that your customers will only buy once in a long time (like a car or a piece of software), opt for cash rewards.
Promoting your brand through customer-generated content may not be as effective as referrals, but it certainly is close. No matter how you slice it, in the eyes of potential customers, this type of content is much more impactful than biased brand marketing.
Furthermore, customer-generated content is a perfect tool for raising brand awareness, which is also a huge factor.
When people read customer-generated content of any kind, like a testimonial or an honest review, they move through your marketing funnel with a sense of trust that they did not have before.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post, podcast, video or a social media statement – as long as the content is created by an unbiased, third-party user, you will be reaping the benefits.
There are lots of different ways to encourage customers to start developing content for you. Look for ways to give people the visibility within your industry, for instance by having them write guest posts for your blog section or creating case studies with them. Not only will that highlight the benefits of your product or service, but it also highlights your customer as an expert voice, which gives him or her a good reason to share the post on their social media profiles.
Similar to referral programs is affiliate marketing. While referrals work best with B2C models, affiliates tend to fit B2B styles of business better. Why? Well, referral marketing, on the one hand, works great when spreading the word amongst friends and family of your customers. Affiliate marketing, on the other, gives people a reason to go after as many customers as possible. It’s much more of a number’s game.
At its core, this form of marketing means you’re paying the affiliate customer for every sale that they’re directly responsible for.
Digital marketing agencies, for example, do this all the time. When they work with a satisfied client for a while, they often encourage them to spread the word about their services with hopes of attracting new clients.
The best part about affiliate marketing (and why so many businesses opt for it) is that you only pay when a sale is complete. This means we’re talking about a very lean, cost-effective way to scale without ever running the risk of overpaying.
Organizing contests is a great way to indirectly get your name heard across social media.
People adore contests and, if you come up with a good concept and the rewards are worth the effort, you can expect the word about you to organically spread like wildfire.
One of the most popular contest models out there is launching a campaign that requires followers to share a certain piece of content in order to become eligible to win. It’s been done a million times, and it continues to be the go-to contest model to this day.
Nothing’s stopping you from being more creative than that, of course – there really are no rules to what kinds of contests you organize. The more original and worthwhile your contest is, the more people will share it with their peers. Think outside of the box and, who knows, you just might go viral.
Too often, the relationship between the customer and business is focused on the conversion when, to truly stand out, you need to recognize that the real relationship starts to form after the sale took place.
Showing customers that you value them is the best way to instigate organic word of mouth your business needs to take itself to a new level.
Don’t come off as a faceless, profit-driven business. You want to be known as a brand worth the time and investment, that takes care of its customers. Add a personal dimension to the relationship between you and your customer. You can go about doing that in a few ways, like:
1 .Know the customer’s name and use it whenever the two of you are communicating
2. Create reasons to communicate with the customer, like asking for feedback or an opinion
3. Be relevant to their pain points
4. Address them on the channels they indicated as their preferred choice
5. Reach out on special occasions ( birthdays, holidays, promotions, anniversaries)
As you can imagine, if you have a big customer base, nurturing relationships with all of them entails a lot of hard work. Fortunately, OutreachPlus can be a valuable asset in this as it can allow you to automate the personalization process through the smart use of emails. Just insert the necessary data, organize the outreach, set a schedule and let the tool do its magic!
As you can see, your best sales force may not be the people you have hired for that specific job. It’s not your sales people, nor your copywriters, nor the ad agencies you pay a retainer to.
If you do your job the right way, the best people to sell your products are, in fact, your customers.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, while you can’t directly control the word of mouth effect, what you can control is the encouragement of passion and loyalty within your customer base. That’s where the tactics above come into play as they can be frameworks around which you can build something really special.
Just combine what you learned here with a high quality of service, and your customers will shout your name of the rooftops!
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