When it comes to marketing, every business owner knows, there is nothing that beats real people telling others about their experience with your brand. Simply put, word-of-mouth marketing is the best marketing available – even in the digital age.
In the digital realm, your online reviews and reputation is the next best thing.
Maintaining a stellar business reputation is critical during the age of the internet. It can make or break a company. An outstanding online reputation can increase foot traffic into a business, while a poor one can turn potential customers away.
Customer reviews and testimonials play an essential role in a company’s reputation. These word-of-mouth discussions are formally known as referral marketing. They also determine rankings in Google’s Local Pack.
How can businesses increase the number of positive reviews they receive and improve their rankings? In this article, you’ll learn how digital marketing can boost your referral marketing efforts online.
What is Referral Marketing?
Marketers refer to word-of-mouth recommendations as referral marketing. It occurs when a consumer’s interest in a company’s products and services arises in their everyday dialogues. According to Nielsen’s research, almost 92 percent of customers trust these product recommendations over traditional media.
Thanks to the internet, referral marketing has exploded. Customers not only seek referrals from their family members, they also turn to review sites like YellowPages, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Additionally, social media platforms, like Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook, allowing customers to read reviews about different companies.
Types of Referral / Word-of-Mouth Marketing
McKinsey & Company, a prominent marketing research firm, recently researched the impact of word-of-mouth marketing campaigns for companies. According to the study, there are three types of referral marketing:
This referral marketing is the most powerful and popular form of word-of-mouth marketing. It accounts for 50 to 80 percent of all word-of-mouth marketing. Experiential marketing takes place when customers use products and services, then offer online feedback.
For instance, a shopper may write an online review about a medium-size blouse that runs smaller than expected. According to McKinsey, most consumers don’t provide praise or complaints about a company unless they’re inspired to do so. It generally happens when businesses don’t meet their expectations.
This type is less common. Companies ask celebrities and prominent influencers to endorse their products. Companies don’t use this technique as much because it’s difficult to measure how much of a market impact it has.
This strategy relies on traditional marketing campaigns. Once customers are directly exposed to these advertisements, they pass their messages to people they know.
For instance, a customer may see an online campaign (such as a YouTube video, blog, or social media post) and share them on their networks. According to McKinsey, most brands see better results from consequential referral marketing than direct advertising.
How Referral / Word-of-Mouth Marketing Benefits Companies
Referral marketing is powerful because it intuitively follows human beings’ intuitive social interactions. For instance, when people have a great time at a shop, restaurants, or other businesses, they share those experiences with their friends.
Referral marketing is ideal because it produces wins for everyone involved. Companies get beneficial, free publicity and exposure for their products. Customers receive positive validation from peers in their social network for their recommendations, and their friends learn about exceptional stores and services from trusted business providers.
Three Reasons You Should Enhance Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing Digitally
Although referral marketing provides fantastic benefits, it does have a few drawbacks.
Referral marketing is organic, which means it uses tools and approaches that don’t rely on paid marketing strategies. This investment is generally free; however, it is an infrequent and unreliable way to keep your sales funnel full.
Fortunately, there are digital marketing strategies that companies can pursue to ensure their referral marketing efforts to produce consistent results.
Here are three reasons why companies should integrate digital marketing into their referral marketing strategy.
1. It positively enhances your digital footprint.
When shopping for online products and services, customers rely on online reviews and personal referrals to make their buying decisions. Most referrers still conduct their research about companies by using Google.
BrightLocal conducted its Local Consumer Review Survey in December 2019 to investigate how online reviews affect customers’ buying decisions. Their research uncovered the following insights:
- Eighty-two percent of customers read online reviews about local businesses.
- Fifty-two percent of 18-54-year-olds admitted they read reviews before selecting products and companies.
- The average consumer reads ten reviews before trusting a company.
- Customers typically spend 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a buying decision.
Their study also found that potential clients were more likely to buy products and services from companies whose digital footprint is impressive.
Another study discovered that 90 percent of customers said positive reviews influenced their buying decisions, while almost 86 percent didn’t patronize those with negative ones.
Using search engine optimization techniques can enhance your company’s referral marketing efforts. It will ensure that your business prospects will be impressed by your business during their research.
2. Digital marketing can boost the number of word-of-mouth reviews that your business receives and improve your rankings in search engines.
Today’s online reviews are the digital equivalent to classic word-of-mouth or referral marketing strategies.
According to one statistic, 15 percent of customers don’t trust businesses that have zero online reviews. Generating reviews will not only strengthen your online reputation, but it will also improve your ability to outrank your local competition in Google or Bing’s search engines.
High-quality, positive customer reviews and optimized SEO will also expand the number of leads and potential customers you draw to your business. It will also increase your sales.
3. You can increase your word-of-mouth marketing through email campaigns.
You can leverage digital platforms like social media and email marketing channels to amplify and encourage word-of-mouth marketing. This strategy allows your advertising campaign to reach more customers at once.
Eight Ways to Amplify Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing by Using Digital Marketing Tactics
Blending your referral and digital marketing efforts may sound intimidating. But there are simple strategies you can use to improve your campaign’s outreach to customers.
Here are a few tips that LocalBizGuru suggests.
1. Remember, your product quality matters to customers.
First and foremost, your products and services reveal your commitment to consumers. Your business must strive to provide outstanding quality to your customers. When a business sells poor-quality products, it demonstrates a lack of care. Dissatisfied clients will leave negative reviews that could affect your rankings on sites like the Better Business Bureau, Amazon, and others.
Here’s a hypothetical example. A world-leading manufacturer decides to offer a line of household appliances. Their engineers discover a flaw that causes the refrigerator’s cooling unit to malfunction, but they decide to sell the product anyway. Shoppers purchase the fridge based on the manufacturer’s former reputation, yet they soon learn it doesn’t work well.
Unhappy customers leave a Facebook review about the appliance’s issues and the company’s poor service. They also tell relatives not to buy other product lines from this business. This negative publicity affects its sales and Google rankings.
If the company made sure their product was quality, they could have kept their clients satisfied, increased sales, and protected their reputation.
2. Tell a meaningful story on your site.
Every business has a compelling story behind its brand. If your company doesn’t have the budget to innovate, you can relate a meaningful story about your products and services so customers will support your company.
You can tell people how your company created your products were selected and developed, including the materials you used. Your business can also describe the process you used to create them. Additionally, you can also mention whether the proceeds will help a favorite charity.
Your company’s brand story should be an emotional story with an authenticity that will inspire your customers to support your brand’s mission.
Venture capitalist Fred Wilson said that companies should create a minimum viable personality about their brand by asking themselves three questions:
- How do you change your customer’s life?
- What do you stand for?
- What do you hate?
Once you know the answers to these questions, incorporate them into your digital marketing efforts such as videos, blogs, logos, and images.
A fantastic brand’s story about your product will make influencers and the media take notice.
3. Make your product experience shareable through your online platforms.
Your business should generate an enthusiasm that makes your customers want to share reviews about your product. To accomplish this, you must consider every stage of the customer’s experience from the packaging design, products, and other details.
For instance, you can design standout packaging that influencers will want to unbox on YouTube, TikTok, and other social media platforms. These events provide an awe-inspiring experience for the audience that will make them share these videos. They will also consider purchasing these products for themselves or as a gift for friends and relatives.
4. Use your website to showcase your brand’s personality.
Another way you can encourage users to share about your company is to highlight your brand’s identity throughout your site. Your company can allow its personality to shine through its website design, copy, images, and product descriptions.
For instance, if your own an upscale restaurant, you can use eloquent descriptions for your menu options. A pet adoption service can add touches of warmth and humor to their site. Showing your personality will humanize your brand. It will allow you to have a closer connection with your potential customers.
5. Provide an exceptional customer experience.
Satisfied customers usually share their experiences with family and friends. Providing outstanding customer service and experiences is the only way to ensure your clients are happy.
Your company should audit itself to determine whether your service meets your customers’ expectations.
First, view your performance from your client’s perspective. Would you be happy if you sent a friend or family member through your business?
If not, think about ways you can optimize your customer service.
Improving your customer service is essential since people are more loyal to brands that listen to their concerns. It’s why many companies ask their sales representatives to get feedback about products and services with customers since it can stimulate conversations about their brand.
Digitally speaking, you need to design your website incorporating the very best in user experience (UX) design techniques.
Good user experience on your website will encourage visitors to become customers that much more quickly.
Incorporate live chats to your website before the checkout process to handle all questions before customers buy products. Knowing that there is a live person to answer their questions will improve your customer satisfaction rates.
Once a client, your business can provide after-customer support through software like Zendesk.
6. Ask your customers for reviews.
Another method to improve your word-of-mouth marketing and get more referrals is to ask your customers. According to one study, 86 percent of customers said they would consider writing a review for companies when they had a good experience.
Whenever your repeat customers visit your establishment, provide business cards they can share with their friends. Ask them to leave reviews on Yelp and other sites.
You can also invite them to share photos of themselves using your products and services. Create a dedicated hashtag campaign to increase the visibility of these sorts of posts.
Your company should make it easy for customers to leave reviews on the channels that matter most to your business. For most this means their Google My Business and/or their Facebook page.
For Google My Business, you should create and share your review short code.
Additionally, your business can include share buttons on your website or a forward-to-a-friend button in your emails.
During your email marketing campaigns, you can ask customers who loved their experience in your store to share their experience on Facebook or other social media channels.
7. Reward your loyal customers.
Word-of-mouth marketing works anywhere it is shared.
Digitally, your company can encourage customers to share their recent purchases on their social media sites.
You can increase the likelihood of them sharing their experience by providing them with incentives for referring customers to your brand.
8. Get bloggers and influencers to promote your brand.
Another way to improve your referral marketing is to connect with top bloggers and influencers. If they believe in your brand, they will write high-quality reviews about your products and services. Their followers will read their posts and consider purchasing your offerings.
Are you searching for bloggers who can write reviews? You can find them using several methods. First, you can search Google for customers that fit your retail marketing segment. You can also search through Twitter and Instagram for hashtags relevant to your brand.
Additionally, you can also search through private Facebook groups to find relevant ones to your brand and seek partnerships with them. You can also comb through subReddits to find active participants.
Pay attention to your customers who promote your brand. Your company can send them surprise gifts and discounts. You can monitor mentions not made on your page by using SocialMention.com or Mention.com.
Trust LocalBizGuru to Improve Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Do you need help to improve your small business’s referral marketing strategy?
If your company doesn’t have a cohesive, comprehensive strategy, you could lose customers.
The experts at LocalBizGuru can help.
LocalBizGuru has a professional social media team that can encourage your customers to offer more word-of-mouth referrals on your social media pages, website and everywhere they hang out digitally.
Our expert social media marketers can help you engage with your potential clients and build positive brand awareness. Contact us to schedule an appointment.