How to make word-of-mouth marketing work for you Heard it through the grapevine? That’ll be WOM marketing Our last blog for start-ups and small businesses shared six tips to get 2020 off the blocks in style. One tip looked at the enormous power of word-of-mouth and its influence on people’s buying decisions. Research claims that well over 60% of consumers search online for reviews and information before purchasing, and – incredibly – 90% believe brand recommendations from friends. It’s no wonder marketers have coined an acryonym (WOM) for this, and there’s no doubt it’s something that you should include in your promotional plans for the year ahead. Socially speaking People have listened to recommendations from those whose opinion they value since long before the internet was invented. Yet if we want to chart the rise of WOM as a marketing tool, it’s safe to say social media had a lot to do with it. Whether you’re interested in sport, eco-living, fashion, make-up, travel, music – whatever your bag, you’ll find a blogger, vlogger or social media influencer who posts daily pictures and video clips, offering ideas and recommendations, that are eagerly lapped up by their thousands of followers. When we spot our favourite blogger joining forces with a brand, not only is it a seal approval, but we also build trust in a product of service because of it. You need friends These social media influencers are successful because we see them almost as part of our circle of friends. After all, we have chosen to follow them. We ‘like’ or comment on their posts and sometimes they even interact with us. And because most of our actual friends are doing exactly the same thing, we’re far more invested these days in friends’ recommendations too. Top tip: GET SOCIAL! Interact with your followers by liking and responding to their comments – build a community. Power this by engaging content that appeals to your target markets. Ultimately, you need to give them a reason to keep coming back. Social proof If you’re thinking of ordering something on Amazon, you will almost certainly check the reviews left by others who have already bought it. Many people wouldn’t think of booking a holiday or even a restaurant without checking TripAdvisor. How other people experience the service, item or brand you’re interested in really matters. Top tip for your business: savvy businesses understand the power of popular opinion, they deal brilliantly with comments and reviews on their social media pages. Thank people for their messages and embrace a review strategy! You have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth here, but the rewards are great. You can turn a negative reviewer into a fan – and impress all their friends too – by responding well to a complaint. Level-up and embrace user generated content (UGC) UGC is the gift of free content. Asking people to rate your business, product or service – sharing their reviews, photographs and videos for the world to see, is effectively free marketing. Top tip for your business: there’s many ways to encourage UGC for you brand. Try out some of these tried and tested methods. 1. Incentivise customers to post their content by offering them discount, a free gift or the possibility of collaborating with you. Encourage them to use a unique hashtag to identify their posts, and consider embedding these on your product pages so people can instantly cross-check with user reviews without leaving your website. 2. Share testimonials on your website and promote them via your own social channels. Incorporate them into your marketing by using quotes or links to the relevant content. You can also deepen your collaboration with specific customers by inviting them to become brand ambassadors. Enabling product ratings on your website is another way to harness customers’ opinion – or consider using a consumer reviews website like Trustpilot to canvas customers’ views after a purchase. 3. Cultivate a social media influencer: you could gift them some product in exchange for an honest review, or ask them to take over your Instagram feed for a day. You’ll benefit from a much broader social reach and will almost certainly gain followers as well as sales. WOM doesn’t need to be scary and it can be very rewarding. Chances are, you’re already doing it to some extent, so take a look at what you like about the way other brands use it, and see if you can do the same. And while you’re focusing on spreading the word, remember we’re here to help with the everyday backup services your business needs, like post, parcel delivery, copy and print – plus business mailbox and company formation services. It’s going to be a good year! Find out how we can help your business here.