Use Word of Mouth Marketing to Grow Your Business

Are you more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend or a salesperson?

Like most of us, you’re probably willing to trust the opinion of someone you know well, which is why many brands tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing to boost their sales.

With the prevalence of social media, word-of-mouth marketing has gone online. People can post about their experiences with a business within seconds, which can make or break that business’s reputation. If you want to use social media to your advantage, here are some ways you can create an effective word-of-mouth campaign.

Why word-of-mouth marketing is a must

As a consumer yourself, you might read online reviews and check out a business’s Facebook or Yelp pages before you decide to spend your money there. This is precisely why cultivating a positive online presence is so important.

Word-of-mouth marketing taps into our natural inclinations to share experiences, seek advice from people we trust, and (for better or worse) follow the crowd. According to iMPACT, 75 percent of people don’t trust corporate advertising. At the same time, 92 percent trust recommendations from friends, based on a report from Nielsen. Adding to those numbers, Inc. reports that 84 percent of people trust online reviews and testimonials just as much as they trust personal recommendations.

These statistics point to one thing: what people say about your business online can make a huge difference in real life.

How to use word-of-mouth marketing

If you want to launch a word-of-mouth campaign, try some of these tactics:

Tap into customer loyalty

Your loyal customers are usually the most willing to help. Put up signs around your business that ask customers to share their positive experiences on social media, and to tag your business’s social media pages in their posts. This will increase your visibility among their followers, encouraging new customers who come across your page to actually visit or make a purchase.

Incentivize your customers

Incentivize loyal customers and new patrons to post online by offering discounts. For example, you could take a small percentage off their next purchase, or provide a free sample when they make a minimum purchase.

Contests centered around user-generated content (UGC) are also powerful word-of-mouth marketing tactics. Photo contests or product naming contests are convenient, as they don’t require much effort from customers. For example, if you own a local bar, you could ask patrons to post their cocktail name suggestions on Twitter. The type of contest you run will have to match your business model, but as long as you have a unique, easy-to-remember hashtag that also incorporates your branding, you’ll be able to review all your UGC and reward the winners.

Treat them well

The best word of mouth marketing tactic is also the most fundamental: provide excellent customer service. No matter how much time you spend developing a positive online presence, it can all go to waste if your customer experience is lackluster.

Make sure that every customer who visits your brick-and-mortar or online business feels special. Offline, this can include ensuring that your staff provides timely service and is attentive to requests. Online, this means streamlining your site’s user experiences, verifying that all your site links work, and making sure that it’s fairly simple for customers to make purchases, locate the information they need, or contact your business for help.

Put these tips into action to make people feel good about supporting your business. Doing so will lead to positive recommendations that can boost your business’s reputation.

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Satta Sarmah Hightower

Satta Sarmah is a writer, editor and content marketing manager who launched her first personal website a decade ago — on WordPress, of course.

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