Word of mouth marketing is the oldest form of marketing there is. Its value has not diminished in the digital era. If anything, it has emerged as a powerful tool for businesses to engage with their customers. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from their friends and family over marketing campaigns run by brands. Most people believe that a trusted colleague or friend instinctively understands what they are looking for. This makes them the greatest brand ambassadors your e-commerce store could ever have.

By tapping into the power of word of mouth marketing, you can build a community of engaged customers that grows organically.

The result: improved conversion rate and significantly reduced customer acquisition costs.

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What is Word of Mouth Marketing?

As it applies to social media and the web, word of mouth marketing includes everything from re-tweets, reviews, shout-outs, comments, tags and a wide variety of user-generated content. It is all about driving brand conversations and harnessing the power of human relationships to drive engagement and loyalty. It is one of the most effective ways to build an audience precisely because people believe other people that are like themselves. It is refreshingly different from high decibel marketing campaigns on social media and the web. Think of it as a one-to-one conversation rather than a speech delivered to a roomful of people.

What makes Word of Mouth Marketing so effective?

All marketing activities are aimed at influencing the buying behavior of the target audience. Interestingly, a lot of this influence works just below the level of conscious awareness. In other words, online shoppers cannot always explain why they chose to click on the buy button when subtle forms of marketing are at work.

Word of mouth marketing tries to create exclusivity in the minds of the target audience about your e-commerce product. For example, if you know about an exclusive online sale happening over the weekend, you would quite naturally tell your friends and colleagues about it. This satisfies the subconscious human need for telling others something they did not know as a way to gain their gratitude. Leveraging the exclusivity principle can help your e-commerce store turn customers into brand advocates and give it a level of credibility that it didn’t have before.

Secondly, even a chance mention of the word ‘online sale’ can trigger a subconscious memory for your friends or colleagues leading them to recall the conversation that you had with them. In this way, e-commerce brands can create a lasting connection with customers without the need for heavy advertising.

Building a Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy that Works

Word of Mouth marketing requires a whole different approach compared to the traditional tactics used by brands. It is much more than just driving awareness, it must be interesting or unique enough for people to tell their friends and colleagues about it. However, there is a catch: word of mouth marketing campaigns need to be as authentic as it gets. The slightest hint of sales talk can erode the effectiveness of your customer outreach effort.

Here are a few proven strategies to leverage Word of Mouth Marketing for business growth:

Proactively request customers to leave reviews:

There is no harm in asking customers for reviews. If you have done a reasonably good job of meeting customer expectations, you can rest assured that they will oblige you. Online reviews enjoy a high degree of credibility with audiences which, in turn, can help brands attract new customers. In fact, user-generated content can increase the odds of conversion by up to 35%. This fact was uncovered in a study conducted by market research firm, V12 Data.

Be liberal in using customer testimonials and reviews across your social media channels and review sites. If you do get negative comments – as is likely to happen every so often – respond quickly, offer a solution, appreciate the feedback and them if they would like a follow-up.

Pro-tip: Offer a 5-10% discount to customers that post an online review for your product. Sending a thoughtful thank you email to such customers can also be a great way to show your appreciation.

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Incentivize User Generated Content:

The beauty of user generated content is that it costs nothing but can bring you huge returns. Research suggests that user generated content is perceived to be much more authentic than branded content. A study by Social Media Today revealed that authentic marketing was a key decider for 90% of millennials for choosing between two brands. Customer testimonials and images showing happy users are some of the proven ways to increase brand appeal and engagement on social media.

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Pro-tip: Offer customer bonus reward points for posting reviews and sharing your social media posts to their timelines. This can substantially increase your reach and improve lead quality.

Deliver Outstanding Customer Support:

If there is one thing that customers like talking about, it is poor service. Research shows that the average customer is likely to tell 15 people if their order arrives late or if an agent is rude to them. The fact is that your product can be easily replicated and so can your pricing. The only sustainable way to create a positive customer experience is to listen, empathize, troubleshoot issues quickly and make customers feel appreciated.

Pro-tip: Invest in customer support training so that your agents understand the finer nuances of creating a wow experience. For example, on-going training can help agents to ask more questions- without interrogating the customer. Secondly, encourage agents to focus on the problem with patience and a positive attitude.

Last Words

Referrals, shout-outs, likes, shares and comments- word of mouth marketing can help you drive customer conversations and build brand awareness. Adding discounts and special offers to the mix, you turn customers into advocates for your brand. However, consistent customer service is the glue that holds it all together. 

If you are looking for ways to build and scale your customer support team, look no further. Helplama has a range of plans available to suit every need and budget, backed by a one-of-a-kind Zero Risk Guarantee that gives you complete flexibility and control throughout.