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.
As I’ve said earlier, local search is increasingly the optimum marketing medium for local businesses (from auto repair to therapists). Clearly, the big search engines agree as they continue to enhance their localized search services. The latest enhancements come from Yahoo and Microsoft’s Live.com; who are, of course, trying to keep up with Google. A good overview of these latest local search features is here.
A new Jupiter Research report confirms what those of us who work in search marketing know, search marketing is rapidly growing its share of the business marketing mix, much of it is outsourced contract work, and the whole game (including tracking results, analytics, search advertising and organic search optimization) is becoming more complex. Read the Jupiter Research summary
I get asked on a regular basis “How much of the search engine traffic comes from Google as compared to the others?” Well, the first point is that the traffic to a particular site varies depending on its audience and its keyword positions at various search engines. For example, my ComBridges.com site gets a higher percentage of its traffic than what’s shown here from Google, while my MediaMall.com site gets less. That said, here’s a chart from a eMarketer article comparing 2004 to 2005 searches from the “big three.” And, if you don’t pay close attention to the changes in this market, you can see that the 80-20 rule applies here with about 81% of the searches being done on what are now the three main search engines (Google, Yahoo! & MSN). The other 19% is spread across a large number of much smaller sites.
I was talkin’ with an old media buddy about the CES show, and our sentiments were echoed in this Sunday’s “Media Frenzy” column in the NYTimes Business section, with this opening line: “Convergence is back…” In fact, it may be more accurate to say it’s finally here. And I’m talking about more than iPod video and related video sales by Google and others.
On another front, those who work in search engine marketing and search engine advertising (like Google AdWords and Yahoo Search advertising) know that local search is hot. Local businesses (from pizza parlors to car repair shops) are benefitting more from local search engine marketing than from those old fashioned and expensive yellow pages ads.
Case in point, a friend’s petsitting business is getting 9 leads from free search engine rankings compared to 1 from a $300/month yellow pages display ad that she’s just discontinued. For those who want to learn more, this is the best e-book I’ve seen on the subject of Local Search. >
What was most kewl in the article referenced above, IMHO, was Spot Runner. This web-based application (“software as service”) uses pre-produced TV spot “templates” and computerized insertion techniques to help small local businesses get on cable TV as painlessly and inexpensively as possible. Impressive stuff. And there’s an opportunity there for video producers as well. At least I think so. I need to get into that service in more detail. Comments and experiences welcome…
I know it’s starting to look like I’m a bit obsessed with Google. Maybe so. But, I also think that I know a true innovator when I see one. This time I salute Google for creating a new kind of interactivity via Google Base. This new service enables anyone (meaning folks without the slightest technical ability) to publish content, from recipes to want ads, you name it, for free. And, of course, because they are Google, they are making all of this new, easy-to-post content searchable, or as they describe it, Google Base is “a place where you can add all types of information that we’ll host and make searchable online.” Thus, now, anyone anywhere can add content to the global information database without needing to know how to post to a blog or how to build a web page. With user-friendly categories and more users, this new “channel” could become quite powerful. As this analysis agrees, look out Craig’s List, Amazon and EBay… Stay tuned…
A visit to one of the top website traffic statistic packages, Urchin and urchin.com, now delivers this logo, “Google Analytics” and an auto-forward to http://www.google.com/analytics/. Further, to make their acquisition of Urchin even more disruptive, Google is now offering this top package (which we use at ComBridges) for that magic Internet four-letter word: FREE.
Before I could even draft my post about major “disruptive” technologies, a major record company announced its new initiative to “validate” talent via Internet marketing. You gotta love that it’s a psychedelic relic, Jac Holzman, who’s master-minding this effort. Doesn’t it make you think twice when one of the big boys is ” trying to use the Internet to produce and distribute music in ways that circumvent the usual channels…” ?
To quote Holzman from the Washington Post, “‘Physical product has its place in the world,’ but using the Internet is a faster and cheaper way of searching for and validating talent, said Holzman, a longtime proponent of independent music who made it big by signing the Doors on the Elektra music label in 1966.” Maybe these old guys will finally “get it” after all. 😉
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