Word of mouth is such a powerful marketing tool and is increasingly relevant in today’s digital world.
Any time a customer mentions your products or your store to a friend or family member, they are giving a word of mouth referral. Therefore if a customer really loves your products and shares your store details with others – you’ve got your own informal sales force. Just think, if every customer just tells just a couple of friends and the odd family member or so (odd as in occasional, but odd in personality would work equally well :), you could soon see your customer base expand.
Word Of Mouth and Social Media
Word of mouth has always been important, however the advent of social media has increased its importance as today, a quick tweet or Facebook post by a customer who loves your product could be seen by many other people around the globe, so many more than could be achieved by simply talking to a friend face to face. Word of mouth endorsements are important marketing and promotion tools.
Of course, the corresponding also holds true. Someone who feels let down by your product also has a very wide audience to vent their disappointment to. It doesn’t take much to provoke a social media storm!
How to Encourage Word of Mouth Referrals
Obviously the best way to encourage word of mouth referrals is to give such mega-amazing customer service and create such super-fantastic products, your customers can help but tell their friends and family. But of course, you can also encourage them to share the word too.
- Ask! – Don’t be afraid to ask people to share the word. Don’t be too pushy, but in any customer newsletter emails you can suggest that people might like to forward the email to friends who might be interested in your products or share your social media details.
- If you have a Facebook group or page, you can invite people to share your details with other. Facebook groups allow members to invite others (assuming that this is how you have it set up), therefore you could ask people to invite their friends and family to join the group. However, this is something I am personally wary of and I believe this should be done with caution.
- Remember to send business cards with any orders. Send a couple so your customer can keep one and they can hand others out – and again, suggest to your customer that this is what they do!
The best and most valuable word of mouth referrals are completely genuine and are given through love for your products. However if this doesn’t happen naturally, you can also consider rewarding referrals.
As a business owner you could consider rewarding and encouraging word of mouth referrals by creating your own referral or affiliate marketing scheme. These schemes can work in a variety of ways, from simply giving a discount code to people who post a review of your product through to schemes run on platforms such as Referral Candy.
You could also consider voucher schemes, for example giving 20% discount to customers if they and their friends purchase a product. Depending on your customer base, this could be easy enough to manage by hand, or you may need to look at software to help you do this.
Pinning or posting photos of your products is another way you can encourage customers to share your details. You can invite people to send you a link to a page where they’ve posted a photo of a product they bought from you and in return you will send them a discount code.
The type of referral scheme that is best for you will depend on your business model, customer base, products and profit. Because you are essentially rewarding your customers for referring your products from your profit, this type of scheme works best for products with a strong profit margin – otherwise you are losing money. If margins are tight on some of your products you could consider taking these out of any affiliate or referral scheme.
One way to fuel word of mouth endorsements is to consider using brand ambassadors. These are people who love your brand and will take photos to post on social media of your products in action – in return for products or discounted products. You need to ensure that if you take this route, you and your brand ambassadors are transparent with your dealings and you adhere to the FTC code of conduct.
Word of Mouth Referral Schemes and Disclosure
While this is an accepted form of marketing, remember that any time you influence someone to talk about or review one of your products you should ensure that you both adhere to the FTC guidelines. These say that any time a blogger is incentivized to review a product, a form of disclosure must be made. Here’s some reading that may be useful.
However whether you are considering old style word of mouth referrals or participating in a scheme, there’s no doubt that this is an important marketing opportunity for a small business.