This Guest Post is by Tara Hornor of Creative Content Experts
There was a time when word of mouth marketing could only move at the speed of human speech. Business owners handed out stacks of business cards to customers for their referral program. Neighbors leaned over fences to discuss the finer points of various products and services. Life was about keeping up with the Joneses. Oh, how times have changed.
Radio and television sped up this marketing technique significantly. Word of mouth marketing grew exponentially as use of the Internet became more popular. Now word of mouth marketing moves at the speed of social media, which sometimes seems faster than the speed of light.
Consumers are more likely to make a purchase or use a service if the product or service has positive reviews from family members, friends, acquaintances, even fellow consumers who are otherwise strangers. While word-of-mouth marketing sometimes just happens, there are a few techniques you can employ to help encourage and speed up the process.
Here are a few of the advantages of Web and social media powered word-of-mouth marketing follow by some useful tips to help you get the most out of your efforts.
Can’t Avoid Word of Mouth Marketing
Studies confirm that word of mouth marketing drives 20-50 percent of purchase decisions. First time purchases are especially affected. Purchases that offer a higher risk benefit the most from word of mouth exposure because consumers have much more at stake. For example, if your company is new, try to get some reviews of your products. This acts as a word of mouth reference for peers.
Consumers trust friends more than ad campaigns. Of course, circles of trust now include virtual friends as well as real friends. Word of mouth marketing offers businesses a host of tangible benefits, including:
Stand Out in the Crowd
Consumers are faced with abundant choices. Everyone is competing to be heard. Word of mouth marketing silences the competitors more easily by using trusted recommendations. This is where reviews, Twitter tweets, and Facebook posts about your products and services are priceless.
Savvy business owners who cultivate and nurture relationships with influential bloggers and commenters can leverage their authority. With the right tools and incentives, businesses can turn influencers into brand advocates. Having an influencer who authentically puts their weight behind your products and services can easily be the difference between a sale and a click away from your site.
Speed Up Sales
Word of mouth marketing enables consumers to decide faster. Input from trusted sources allows consumers to put aside any reservations and take a chance on a new product or service. Instead of “thinking about it” and maybe coming back to your site, with some word of mouth support an immediate sale is far more likely.
Modern Word of Mouth Advertising 101
The Internet offers an almost infinite number of hubs for virtual meetings to occur. Today’s version of the “fence out back” encompasses the entire world. Businesses can create virtual storefronts and communities for visitors to socialize in. The corner store has now housed itself in social media. Businesses can easily build brands by following a few simple word of mouth marketing techniques:
- Put audience interests in the forefront by engaging them with interesting posts and updates.
- Use photos and videos to show audiences, instead of telling.
- Design all content around the interests of the target market, focus on their agenda, nor yours.
- Show people using products, not just product still life images.
- Integrate reviews, likes, shares, and tweets from various social media resources.
- Encourage customers to write reviews on your site as well as via review sites such as Yelp.
- Provide incentives for reviews, both negative and positive, such as a discount or free gift.
- Make sure to include negative reviews with the positive, as this validates reviews.
Bonus resource: If you want more info on how to engage “influential talkers,” here’s a useful educational video via WordofMouth.org -> Ant’s Eye View’s Jake McKee on how to work with influential talkers
The typical social media user has an average audience of 100 or more. For the average person, that’s 4 times the immediate influence than in days gone by. Word travels much faster than it used to. Therefore, get customers excited about and involved in your company by engaging them on social media sites, your website, and blogs with interesting and helpful information.
Social media tools provide an excellent vehicle for businesses to connect with more consumers more efficiently. The modern water cooler conversation now takes place on social media sites and through product reviews. So get involved with your customers on these sites and be a part of the conversation. As the buzz around your business grows, keep an eye out for an increase in sales to increase alongside of your success with word of mouth marketing.
Tara Hornor has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design. She writes for PrintPlace.com, a company that offers online full color printing for business cards, catalogs, posters, brochures, and promotional postcards. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.
The new edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter is out. It includes the follow short stories:
- It’s All About YOU (including Paul Simon quote)
- New Marketing in Another New Era
- Whipping Up Lower Cost Websites (fresh offer)
- Make Your Marketing More Effective
- New Custom-Designed Client WordPress Websites
- Is Your WordPress Website Safe? (new services)
- New News About NewMarU (update on our educational site)
- Luscious Links: More Useful Info, Just a Click Away (valuable!)
- Quick Hits: About the New Enews Format
If you’re not already a subscriber, you can read it online by clicking this link.
NextGen Social Media
Pinterest is much more than the latest and greatest “hot” new social network. Because of it’s visual nature, I believe that this upstart social network reflects the next generation of socially networked communication. In the current and coming stages of the evolution of the Web’s social revolution, the written word is no longer sufficient.
In case you haven’t tried it yet, Pinterest is essentially an online vision board. It lets people “pin” images that they find inspiring, useful or beautiful and then share their collections of images—called “Boards”—with others. When people “re-pin” the images, they are essentially “retweeting” or sharing visual communications in a state-of-the-art social media style.
This naturally compliments the ways that video and photo sharing have become majorly important. In fact, the array of visual communication innovation that we are seeing right now is indicative of the dawn of a new age. The web has quickly become a more dynamic visual medium. Text and hyperlinks were a foundation, but only a beginning. And we are still in the early stages.
Let’s Get Visual!
This trend isn’t new, but it does make a big difference. For example, Facebook power users know that when you share pictures, not just text updates, it fuels increased engagement in a big way. In other words, you get more “Likes” and comments when there’s a visual component to what you post.
Elsewhere, Tumblr has extended the Twitter-powered popularity of micro-blogging in a much more visual direction, and the popularity of using Instagram to share and talk about photographs is also surging (and is poised for major new expansion when the Android version of the Instagram app is released soon). ReadWriteWeb even reminds us that it is this mobile-phone-powered digital photography trend that slew the former photo corporate dragon: “Death by Smartphone: How Mobile Photography Helped Kill Kodak.”
And then there’s YouTube which recently announced that 24 hours of video is uploaded to their site every twenty-four seconds. The video visual media explosion is so dramatic that YouTube itself produced this quick little 45-second video in an attempt to make its mind-boggling growth comprehendible:
If doesn’t clarify this explosion for you, Time Magazine recently ran an article, The Beast with a Billion Eyes, which characterizes YouTube as “the most rapidly growing force in human history.”
Blogger/consultant/author Jay Baer says:
“This is the year that photos challenge writing as the lingua franca of the social web… If you’re not taking and posting pictures to dedicated photo networks and cross-posting (when appropriate) to Twitter and Facebook, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your network and see the world through the eyes (or cell phone cameras) of thousands of new friends.”
The fact that the verb “pinning” has been showing up in conversations that aren’t even specific to Pinterest is a huge testament to the fact that people are captivated. If you think about how many times a day the verb to “google” is used to mean “search,” you can see that we’re on to something.
Why Is This Important for Business?
According to the Wall Street Journal, traffic to the Pinterest website has grown tenfold over the past six months. In January, the number of visitors on Pinterest was already almost a third of that on Twitter.
But Pinterest’s impact of web traffic may be even greater than Twitter’s. Based on a recent study conducted by Sharaholic, Pinterest drove more referral traffic to sites in January than Google+ (with 100 million users!), Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace all combined. Those are big-time numbers for the new kid on the block.
But, is there really room for another player in the social media VIP room? New York Times technology columnist David Pogue in his review, A Scrapbook on the Web Catches Fire, gives three good reasons why there definitely is:
- It’s clean. No ads, no pop ups, no blinking anything. It’s a pure and relatively simple rest for the eyes.
- It’s personal. Broadcasting isn’t the focus, rather your own interests take center stage in an authentic way.
- It’s humble. Pinterest Boards are about beauty, inspiration, information, passion, not self-absorbtion. It’s not, “Look at how great I am!” It’s, “Isn’t this GREAT!”
The blogger Beth Hayden sums it up well when she says Pinterest can “…start making your social media strategy more beautiful, one little pin at a time.” When you add to this the fact that the early research seems to show that it will also make your social media marketing more engaging; and, when done appropriately, it will also help connect you to your constituencies at a deeper level: What’s not to like?
Our Other Pinterest Post:
As many of you know, I’ve been writing and producing videos about “The Video Web” and the digital video revolution for many years. But, it’s another day; and, I’ve taken another step.
The video embedded below, “Why Online Video is a ‘Must Have’ for Internet Marketing” describes what I believe is the next mission critical level of Internet communications as the importance of video has emerged in broad new ways.
And while you’re while you’re visiting this blog post, please don’t miss the second video embedded below from TED’s curator, Chris Anderson about the global implications of this trend (scroll down).
By way of text summary, the five reasons why video is a “must have” that are illuminated in the short four-minute video above are:
- The Medium of the Web is Morphing Dramatically and Rapidly
- Video is Now the Web’s Leading Media Type
(even though in some ways “The Web is Dead”)
- Video Has Become a Viable & Powerful SEO Strategy
- Business is Basically About Relationship Building and
What Better Way to Build Relationships Online Than Via Video?
- Video is the Web’s Future. (“Be in it to win it.”)
In addition, if I had my way, I would love to make this second video, from TED conference curator Chris Anderson, “How Web Video Powers Global Innovation” required viewing for anyone who wants to make a difference in the world.
That’s how important I think video is becoming as a communication medium. Anderson explains dramatic increases in the power, reach and accessibility of online video from a higher level perspective, even comparing online video to the paradigm shift in communications that happened when Gutenberg invented the printing press!
Yes, Chris and I agree, The Coming of The Video Web is THAT important. 😉
Bottom line, there has never been a more powerful or mobile way to communicate either your ideas or the benefits of your products or services. This is combined, of course, with the convergence of broadband internet connection speeds and the proliferation of digital cameras and mobile phones with video capabilities. The cost of doing video has become radically more affordable and accessible.
Call it “The Age of YouTube” if you like. But, more importantly in my opinion, it is time for everybody to recognize that video is now a ‘must have.’ It is no longer an option.
Mission Critical Data Points
If you’re not convinced, you may also want to consider the following:
- One-Third of US Adults Skip Live TV: Report
56 million Americans have begun skipping live TV in favor of time-shifted viewing and online content. Traditional TV advertising is rapidly losing any remaining effectiveness, thus undermining whatever financial stability still exists in everything but the biggest ticket broadcasts. Much more to come!
- Netflix CEO: We’re a Streaming Company
66% of Netflix subscribers are using their streaming services vs only 41% a year ago. Even premium entertainment is finding massive acceptance via non-cable, non-broadcast, non-satellite distribution. This ‘toothpaste’ is out of the tube. There’s no putting it back. This trend will only accelerate. Broadcasters beware. Online video producers rev your engines… Stay tuned.
(This commentary originally appeared in the Feb-March edition of ComBridges’ “It’s a Wonderful Web” e-newsletter.)
Many people think of Internet marketing as a “thing” or an event. It’s not. It’s a process… an adventure even.
Yes, of course, this process requires the generation of content. Whether your content is just what you say on your site, or if you get more vocal by writing blog posts, publishing e-newsletters (like this one), and/or tweeting on Twitter, there are things to do. But, what surprises us is not that people (including us sometimes) lack the discipline to write on a regular basis. What’s surprising is how short-sighted many people frequently are about the process.
What’s amazing about Internet marketing is the kinds of real world, actionable feedback that it makes available, for the first time. From the beginning of the web and e-commerce, we’ve loved the phrase “launch and learn.” Your website and all the associated opportunities to communicate with your consituencies is a low risk learning lab packed with valuable information, if you use it.
It works when you work it, but…
How many of you have Google Analytics (or some other analytics system) installed on your website, but fail to review those analytics on a regular basis? And as long as we mentioned “adventure,” how many of you actually go the extra step of testing new ideas, learning from the results, and then making appropriate adjustments? We’re guessing not many.
This is why ComBridges’ Internet marketing agreements now routinely include regular monthly coaching and consulting sessions as well as service deliverables. That way our work together can include monthly analytic reviews & recommendations as well as follow through on previous initiatives.
Internet marketing is a process, and we’d love to help you make yours more productive. Please contact us for more details.
One advantage of having a coach who is also a client is that her testimonials not only flatter me, they make me think.
Here’s what Christy Strauch, author of Passion, Plan, Profit: Twelve Simple Steps to Convert Your Passion into a Solid Business, said about me and my work:
I think Jon knows better than anyone how to help businesses use the Internet as a powerful marketing tool. Wherever you are in the process of developing your Internet presence, Jon can tell you exactly what you should do next. He will enable you to take advantage of the latest (sometimes bewildering) array of tools, from blogs to Twitter, from Facebook and LinkedIn to YouTube videos. From my experience, Jon is the guy to call if you want to market your business more effectively; and, as a bonus, because of his openness, you will learn from a real visionary every step of the way.
What stopped me in my tracks about this statement was the “Jon knows better than anyone.” It’s a strong statement, and when it came on the heels of another flattering statement by another client, Rick Weinstein of Life Insurance Services for Charitable Giving, I had to self-reflect further:
The go-to point player for the Cleveland Cavs is LeBron James. Simply stated, Jon Leland is the go-to player if you are a profit-seeking entrepreneur who wants to leverage the power of e-commerce. Better yet, Jon is a people’s person. He’s no nonsense and a master communicator. I view Jon as a life-long partner, not a vendor; and I am pleased to wholeheartedly recommend him.
LeBron James! Yikes. I was humbled and inspired at the same time. And, I’m not just tooting my own horn because together these quotes added up to a personal wake up call. Thanks to my willingness to listen to my clients, I realized that I have not been positioning myself well given the levels of my expertise and experience.
I honestly know that I am able to be that “go-to guy.” I am so much more than just a website designer/developer. I am someone who can tell virtually any client of any size company what they should be doing next with regard to their web presence and their internet marketing. But, unfortunately, up to now (at least recently), that is not how I’ve been telling my story. Hello? Mr. Leland calling Mr. Leland. Wake up!
So, yes, we do websites, but I also want you to know that these days we’ve evolved ourselves into WordPress experts. As a result, we offer a carefully evolved approach to using WordPress as a CMS (content management system). We’re calling this custom “cocktail” of plug-ins and configurations, “We Do WordPress Right!” But most people, even some of our clients, don’t know that yet.
Furthermore, we have initiated a brand new set of internet marketing packages which include support for blogging and social media marketing. (Please contact us to receive a confidential copy of these offerings and get the “go-to guy” on your virtual team. 😎 )
I’m done with just being a website designer who also does internet marketing. It’s time for me to re-own my expertise as someone who has honestly been on the cutting edge of new media all the way back to the early ’70’s—before the term “new media” was invented—when founding a narrowcast radio network was “new media.” (Read more about the other new media/new marketing innovations I’ve been involved with for literally decades in my online bio.)
I hope my “self-awakening” is inspiring to you as well. Have you been under-selling yourself? What story should you be telling about yourself that you have not been telling?
And, of course, if I can be your “go-to guy” that helps you build a truly successful web presence, I’d be delighted.
My apologies for the shameless self-promotion, but I needed to say this “out loud.” Thanks for listening.
The kind of groovy event we didn’t used to get to experience, but now, thanks to the video web, here it is…
Getting inside the dynamics of the many ways that Google and the democratization of the world’s information are changing “everything” is not easy for most folks, so I appreciate a well-written article like Just Googling It Is Striking Fear Into Companies from the front page of this past Sunday’s New York Times.
Likewise, I recommend NYT’s “Techno Files” commentary (from the business section of the same issue), A Journey to the Center of Yahoo for anyone seeking a better understanding of what Yahoo is up to as the Web continues to grow in importance to our lives and for our businesses.
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