Let’s go, sales! Here we go, response! Give me an R, give me an O, give me an I – what does that spell? ROI!
Okay, so your customers may not be chanting and sporting pompoms and spirit fingers, but they’re still your best cheerleaders. Yes, customers make purchases and drive sales, which are results of your brand’s marketing strategy, but the customer-brand relationship is based on more than just numbers. It’s a two-way street that supports long-term brand value – brands provide customer service and continue to offer products and services that please their customer base and customers offer their recommendation to drive foot traffic and boost brand reputation.
If you’re unveiling a new product, opening a new location or simply want to promote your brand, word-of-mouth can be crucial to your marketing plan. Although digital and traditional advertising have their advantages, an unbiased, genuine and honest recommendation from a happy customer can work wonders for your brand. Real-world recommendations are valuable because they are 100% genuine – the customer is volunteering this information without profiting from it, which makes it all the more trustworthy. According to Nielson, 83 percent of people across 60 countries consider recommendations from friends and family to be the most trusted form of advertising. Word-of-mouth marketing is so impactful, there are associations, courses and research completely dedicated to the practice. In fact, a survey sponsored by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and the American Marketing Association (AMA) uncovered that 64 percent of marketing professionals consider word-of-mouth marketing to be more effective than traditional marketing. So, what is word-of-mouth marketing exactly? Well, the name says it all – it’s promotion fueled by conversation, more specifically, customer conversations.
As we delve into word-of-mouth marketing, we have to mention influencer marketing, which is a hot commodity in the world of marketing today. Influencer marketing service MuseFind notes that 92 percent of consumers “trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement,” which opens up a huge opportunity for brands. If your brand matches well with the look and feel of an influencer’s online profile, this form of marketing can effectively introduce your products and services to a new audience of potential customers. Before you ask, yes, many influencers get paid to endorse products, but they also take the time to carefully select which products to promote. First and foremost, influencers are cultivating a brand that appeals to their followers, which makes them a trusted source for product recommendations. More trust means more brand loyalty and higher likelihood of purchase, so it’s not surprising that brands spent approximately $24 million on influencer posts in 2017.
In this day and age, there are plenty of ways customers can spread the word about your company. Social media platforms are prime real estate to engage customers and start a conversation about your brand. In 2016, 90 percent of consumers claimed to have used social media as a means of communicating with a brand, and 34.5 percent preferred engaging with brands on social rather than using phone or email. With so many people on social media, brands are expected to expand their customer service presence to these social channels – or else. Sprout Social notes that 36 percent of people have used social media to shame a company for subpar customer service and 30 percent will switch to a competitor’s product if the brand doesn’t respond to their social media inquiry at all. Alternatively, those brands that choose to excel in social media customer service are reaping huge rewards, with a whopping 70 percent of users claiming to be more likely to use that brand’s product or service and 75 percent stating they are more likely to share that positive experience on their own social profile – now, that’s word-of-mouth marketing at work, folks! If your interested in taking the social conversation further, consider incentivizing engagement and strengthening your social following by displaying social media posts from customers on your website and sharing these posts on your brand’s social media account.
In addition to social media, there are plenty of review-based websites that promote word-of-mouth recommendations from happy customers. Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor and Angie’s List put customer reviews front and center, and, if your brand is providing top-notch products and services, it can really shine. The trick with review-based websites is that (in most cases) there’s no hiding a negative review – a customer may choose to shine a spotlight on a less-than-great experience with your brand. However, many of these websites allow companies to respond to negative reviews, which can be redeeming to the public eye. Moreover, having a presence on review-based websites is really becoming an industry standard – as of 2017, there are approximately 4 million claimed local business locations on Yelp alone. That said, with great risk comes even greater rewards. An average of 132 million users visit Yelp every month and business owners that advertised with Yelp saw an average of $23,000 in annual revenue from that specific marketing channel. Looking at these numbers, it’s clear that review-based websites offer an excellent way to build your brand’s reputation while earning dollars.
Lastly, we’re going to talk about customer testimonials – quotes, videos, case studies and beyond. Customer testimonials are as authentic and straight-forward as it gets, and they have proven to generate response. According to an infographic published by MultiVisionDigital, “more than 3 out of 5 consumers will spend at least two minutes watching a video that educates them about a product that they plan to purchase.” Video is a captivating medium that educates while establishing a personal connection with customers. Plus, video can be shared across multiple platforms, heightening the chances of your content going viral. As a best practice, find your most loyal (and vocal) brand advocates, keep the video short (preferably around two or three minutes to really keep the users attention) and keep the content genuine and unscripted. These techniques will ensure your video is attention-grabbing and resonates with the average consumer. Once you get your customer testimonials, be sure to repurpose the content by including quotes from customers on your company’s website and in case studies.
When you satisfy a customer, you don’t just get cash in hand – you get brand loyalty and powerful, word-of-mouth marketing. Customers are more than conversions, they’re cheerleaders who can boost your reputation, grow your following and contribute to the long-term value of your brand.