What is the first thing you do when you want to try a new restaurant for dinner or you want to switch to a new smartphone?
You probably ask your friends and family for recommendations or check ratings and reviews on trusted sites and apps. Some of you might even open your favourite tech enthusiast’s Youtube channel and see what product is recommended by them. All of these are in fact examples of Word of Mouth Marketing(WoMM). According to Nielsen :
- 92% of consumers trust suggestions and recommendations from friends and family more than advertisements.
- 88% of people believe online reviews written by other consumers.
- 74% of consumers accept word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions
With such jaw-dropping stats, it’s not a smart decision to neglect the importance of user ratings, reviews and recommendations.
Changing landscape of Word of Mouth Marketing
Before the digital wave, Word of Mouth Marketing used to occur offline. With the emergence of social media sites, Word of Mouth marketing has changed shape. Now you can take suggestions from people you haven't met before, but people you can trust because they are customers like you. Rather than asking your friend, you might open your favourite food bloggers' site to look for a great pasta restaurant. Hence, business owners are finding ways to make Word of Mouth Marketing even more powerful by taking it online. A successful Word of Mouth Marketing strategy can generate a lot of buzz and conversations about your business which can increase sales in a very short time. However, creating such a successful campaign takes effort, dedicated marketing enthusiasts and incorporating different inbound marketing elements. Let’s dive in and see how inbound marketing techniques can help you in creating a successful Word of Mouth Marketing campaign for your business.
Creating Buyer Persona
Buyer Persona is a semi-fictional characterization of your customers. What is their age group? Or their gender? What is their personality and pain points? All this and much more is part of a Buyer Persona. It’s important to know who your audience is, what they need, what is the problem they are facing, how they like to be spoken to, what is their sense of humour etc.Before you start creating the Word of Mouth Marketing campaign, you should know the answers to all these questions. If you don’t know your audience, how do you expect to influence their decision?
Build an online community
Based on the research done on Buyer Persona, you will have a pretty good idea by now about the social media platforms your customers are most active on.
You have identified the playground, now it’s time to play!Best way to create an online community is through User-Generated content.
Remember the famous quote from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, "Content is King”. Incentivize creating and sharing posts, pictures, videos etc. related to your product by offering exclusive deals and discounts. Customers believe content shared by other customers as compared to companies. Creating a unique hashtag related to your product is also a well-known way to easily identify the content created by customers and also getting people to generate content. For example, the #icebucketchallenge led to ALS disease being listed in Google’s top 10 searches for the year 2014 via social media! That’s the power of hashtags nowadays. Apart from this: Engage with your audience on social media regularly, address their concerns, create interactive content and talk to them like a person; not a business. All this will help the customers feel connected to the brand personally and they will make sure to pass on the word.
Connect with the Influencers
Influencers are high-profile users, mostly bloggers, that can sway the decision of their followers regarding which products to use. Identify the established influencers of your respective industry on social media sites and online blogs. Keep an eye out for new and upcoming influencers as well.
Once you’ve identified who they are, market your products to them. Let's understand this with examples.
If you are a tech geek and research comprehensively about a new gadget you are about to buy, chances are you will check out what your favourite tech enthusiast is saying about the product. Companies send their phones and latest gadgets to these YouTube tech reviewers for free(sometimes even before a product is launched) so that they can showcase latest features of the gadget and applaud/denounce the product based on its performance. You will see this review and might be tempted to buy the gadget.
Similarly, fitness models on Instagram promote vitamin drinks and protein shakes. It might not look like a typical ad, but a simple pic of those models using the said product might influence their followers' decision about the next purchase. Same goes for the abundance of make-up tutorials on YouTube. The girls in those videos use makeup products provided by companies for purposes of promotion in a “how-to” video setting, subconsciously affecting your choice of next makeup purchase. We all have seen how famous celebrities like Kylie Jenner make millions of dollars per Instagram post! All that just for posting pics with captions about a product they are using. Consequently, advertisers don’t shy away from paying so much to top influencers because they understand the power these influencers hold.
Before you get apprehensive, hear me out on this one!Do you remember the days of asking invitations for Google+ from your friends? You weren’t familiar with the product, you didn’t even know what it exactly was but still you wanted to experience it.
And that desire was fueled more by a simple fact: That it wasn’t easily available. To experience Google+ you needed a referral link from someone already using Google+. This created a desire for a product that you didn’t even know about. People tend to want what they can’t have. Let’s look at another example.
When OnePlus phones launched they weren’t available for everyone. One needed a referral link to be able to buy the phone. This created a lot of buzz on social media about this new phone in the market that is exclusive. You probably remember people posting on Facebook and Twitter asking whether someone in their social circle has access to a referral link and if they will be willing to forward it to them.
Everyone was talking about OnePlus and everyone wanted to try OnePlus. After the company became famous and found its ground, they did move on from the referral model but that marketing strategy helped them incredibly in creating conversations about their product.
Such invite-only models can generate a serious buzz around your product on social media. When launching a new product or a new variant of an existing product, try to incorporate some kind of exclusivity attached to it. Social Media and Email campaigns related to the exclusivity of your product can generate a lot of publicity for it.
If you are a business looking to start a Word of Mouth Marketing campaign with inbound marketing strategies, here are few things to keep in mind:
- Always engage with your customers. Word of Mouth Marketing revolves around conversation. Conversation is always two-way. Talk to your customers and encourage them to talk with you.
- Give them a reason to talk about you as well. Start a hashtag or incentivize them to create content about your product. Try to make your customer talk about you.
- Equip your customers with tools to easily share their opinion and reviews.
- Don’t ignore negative reviews. Address them honestly and ensure the customers in ways you are trying to improve. Afterall in inbound marketing, the customer is our top priority.
Lastly, Word of Mouth Marketing can be a powerful tool in your arsenal but it can only take you so far. The success of any business ultimately depends on the quality of the product or service. The product should be able to deliver the promise it makes to its audience for them to become loyal customers, write positive reviews about it and recommend it to their friends and family.