How to Make Word of Mouth Work for You

How-to-Make-Word-of-Mouth-Work-Image-1Every entrepreneur knows that word of mouth is the best way to attract new customers. A popular Nielsen poll found that 92 percent of consumers believe family and friends are more reliable than any form of advertising.

However, as review applications and websites grow in popularity, many consumers are beginning to trust word of mouth from more than their loved ones; as much as 88 percent of consumers believe strangers’ recommendations are just as reliable as those from people they know.

Even 64 percent of marketers believe that word of mouth is more effective than anything they could produce ― because only 6 percent of marketers believe they can harness word of mouth marketing.

Word of mouth marketing is obviously a powerful tool, and it is entirely within your reach to use word of mouth to improve your startup. All you need to know are the three “E’s,” and your customers will be using their mouths to spread the word like never before.

Engage

Word of mouth works best when your customers know your business and like it. Indisputably, the easiest way to achieve this is through social media. Unlike traditional marketing media, which are mostly one-way messages, social media allows you to interact directly with your customers, helping them understand your business’s core values and helping you understand exactly what your customers want and need.

Facebook and Pinterest allow friends and family to share practical, interesting, touching, or otherwise engaging content with one another, and much of that content carries brand messages that are carried through this digital word of mouth. Meanwhile, Twitter is ideal for short customer service–related messages or attempts at viral marketing, as users on this site move fast. Watching the activity of other brands, like Coca-Cola, Lowes, and Jet Blue might provide insight into successful engagement strategies.

The goal of engagement is to give your customers a reason and desire to talk about your business. Whether they appreciate the informational content you publish or they are astounded by your friendly and helpful customer service, you will see the incidence of word of mouth increase on social media thanks to engagement.

Equip

Once you have a solid set of customers, you must furnish them with the tools to spread the word about your business. Fortunately, many of these tools are already present in the “engage” step: Using your social media pages and the content you create for the Web, your loyal fans already have much to exploit while they inform others about your brand. However, there are still other methods you can employ to encourage your audience to keep the conversation going.

Essentially, referral programs incentivize word of mouth. Customers who convince their friends and family to visit your business receive rewards of varying sizes, from discounts on purchases to free money. Studies show that referral programs are outstandingly effective at increasing word of mouth; even better, most found that the size or amount of the award doesn’t matter, and non-cash incentives provide more returns than prizes of money.

To craft a thriving referral program, you should invest in reliable referral marketing software, which will organize your customers and effortlessly track their activity. Then, you can focus on the last “E” in our list.

Empower

A good manager knows that bonuses and rewards certainly do increase productivity, but employees are happier and do more work when they feel appreciated.

The same goes for your customers: They are well-aware that touting your business to their friends and family is helping you find success, and thanking them for their efforts is a small gesture that generates a major boost to morale.

Returning to social media, you can inspire your customers to continue spreading the word by constantly showing gratitude. You should pay attention to followers who regularly share your content or interact with your account, and when it is appropriate, you should offer your deepest thanks for their support. Your attention demonstrates to your customers that they are not faceless sources of revenue; rather, you recognize each one for their contribution, and you value them. Through this, they feel empowered to continue spreading the word.

The facts state that word of mouth is the most effective marketing strategy, but that doesn’t mean you are helpless when it comes to getting your customers to talk about your business. By creating value, offering incentives, and being appreciative of their efforts, you can encourage your word of mouth to spread ― and you can help your most devoted customers love you even more.

Share small business news, blogs and social media tips with Project Eve's community of small business owners and entrepreneurs today. Our contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds; so whether you are a small business owner, social media strategist, financial adviser, serial entrepreneur, or write an amateur blog we urge you to contribute a blog to our 500,000+ community today. For more information, please refer to our Content Submissions Guidelines.