Because I consult so much with small businesses, I'm frequently discussing the importance of word of mouth marketing and how to positively influence it. Today I have two thoughts to share on how to amplify word of mouth and leverage the power of digital networks.
Word of Mouth as Online Reviews
The first thought is on maximizing online reviews. As I wrote in a recent blog post, online reviews are forming what i have coined as "the new trust currency." Why, you ask? Check out the statistics: 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (BrightLocal). And 63% of consumers don't trust businesses with less than a 4-star rating (ReviewsTrackers).
Sure, people try to game the system, causing a healthy skepticism about the authenticity of online reviews. Which is why it's important to get lots of them. More reviews means more credibility. The key to success is simple: Ask your customers immediately (within a day or two) following a service interaction, and make the process as easy as possible. Here's a nifty tool you can use to create links that send your customers straight to your Google review page.
The Role of Social in Leveraging Word of Mouth
The second thought is about using your social networks to position yourself as a subject matter expert. Create content that is educational and valuable to your target audience, then post frequently to your social channels. This is a long-term strategy of attraction rather than promotion. While it does take time and effort to reach critical mass, it's well worth the investment. Acquisition costs for inbound marketing (blogging, SEO, social media) are on average 61% lower than traditional outbound methods such as advertising, telemarketing, direct mail, and event marketing (Hubspot).
Admittedly, spinning up an inbound marketing program is not as simple as writing and posting a few articles. In addition to high quality content, companies will need to ensure that (a) the content is relevant to their target audience at each stage of the buyer's journey, (b) their website is optimized for conversion, and (c) they have effective lead nurturing processes in place.
Do you need more Online Reviews? We have created a magic tool that makes requesting reviews by you, and giving 5-star reviews by your customers, ridiculously easy.