Did you know that 75% of customers don’t believe ads? However, 90% of them have confidence in brand suggestions from a friend or associate. That is a huge contrast between word-of-mouth referrals and directed advertising!

Word-of-mouth is the oldest and the most effective form of marketing and has stood the test of time. In fact, people are 4X more likely to buy when referred by another individual. The proliferation of cell phones, social media, email, and rapid expansion of the internet, has made it even easier for customers to share their buying experiences.

Digital Word-of-mouth Marketing has created some of the fastest growing and largest companies in history.

Top advantages of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

  • Brand Trust: The most significant viewpoint to create more deals. Informal or peer-promoting creates an automatic trust in buyers.
  • Cost Savings: Since word-of-mouth referrals are free, you can increase your deals without burning through cash on advertising. 

Here are 5 ways to get more word-of-mouth referrals

Offer an exceptional customer experience (CX)

People will talk about your brand for three primary reasons: 1) They hated the experience. 2) They got a great price. 3) They loved the experience!

If you provide average service, no one will talk about it. If you provide an unpleasant experience, people will talk, but you won’t get any referrals. However, by creating an exceptional, WOW-factor experience, you will get more word-of-mouth referrals and repeat business from your customers. You may also receive referrals if you are the lowest-price provider, but how long can you continue to offer an exceptional experience at low prices? Or how can you grow and scale your business if you can’t fund it? My experience has been that you can’t. Never compete on price alone.

User-generated Content (UGC) 

It’s important to know how your brand images, text, blogs, videos, etc. are being shared by others. You can use this knowledge to further the engagement, answer questions, identify influencers, and mitigate/resolve any negative connotations being associated with your brand. Positive user-generated content can also be shared on your social channels, and because it is authentic, it creates trust. Here are 3 ideas to spawn user-generated content:

  • Create short, humourous, heart-warming, and branded memes and videos
  • @mention influencers in your social channels
  • Create a one-of-a-kind slogan or hashtag and use it often
    • For example, Crocs uses the hashtag #ComeAsYouAre, and Nike uses #JustDoIt

Product and Service Reviews/Testimonials

79 percent of individuals showed that they look for and trust reviews and testimonials during their purchase decision. Video testimonials are especially effective when they are candid and not scripted. Ask for and provide opportunities for your customers to provide feedback on your products and services. Using third-party review sites such as Google Reviews is also beneficial for Search Engine Optimization as many of these websites will link back to your website.

Utilize Social Media as a referral Channel 

More than half of the world’s population is connected to the internet on any given day. Think about that. You have access to over 4 billion people through social, email, and websites. By connecting and engaging in conversations through social media, you can increase your network and thus your referral pool, exponentially. To use social media effectively, focus on two things. Number one is to have a complete profile that links to your products and services. The second and probably more important one is the relationships you establish and grow in your various social networks.

Don’t sell, ask! Whenever someone connects with me and immediately tries to sell me their product or services, I quickly remove them from my network. It’s like trying to have sex on the first date. However, if someone shares something relevant to my line of work, personal growth, or my interests, over time, I’m more likely to engage. Once you’ve established a relationship, be comfortable and concise when asking for a referral. You can also ask for referrals in your profile description. Here is an example: “… thanks again for visiting my profile. If you know anyone who needs a digital strategy or some online marketing, I’d appreciate a referral.”

Be Helpful and Engaging

Today in the relentless quest for status, money, and fame, people and businesses have forgotten the most basic of principles – sowing and reaping. Some also call it karma. If you do “good” to others, you will have “good” done back to you. The same is true in business. If you help your customers, they will remember you when they encounter someone else that requires your help, products, or services.

The key is to be “top-of-mind” (their first choice) when that time comes, so they will give you the word-of-mouth referral and not your competitor. To be the company and brand they remember, you need to build a powerful bond or be in regular/recent communication. Harvey Mackay has a great book called “Swim with sharks without being eaten alive” where he writes about knowing your customer better than your competitor does.

Here are some ways you can be helpful and engaging:

  • Join forums in and outside your industry and answer questions
  • Reply positively to all comments and remarks on social media
  • Post helpful content regularly 
  • Engage with individuals, particularly influencers

In Summary

  • “Wow” your customers by being exceptional
  • Build relationships and be helpful
  • Ask your clients for their input
  • Share good news and solve the issues
  • Be genuine when using the internet and social networking

Thanks for reading this post, please share the love (a.k.a. this post) and if I can be of any assistance to you, please let me know.

Also, leave a comment if you found this helpful or if there is a topic or question you would like me to cover.

Wishing you continued success,

Ken Gray
Digital Strategist