The ultimate marketing campaign spreads messages organically and exponentially. Here, word of mouth is the ideal channel, but how can you leverage it? This article reviews our top four hacks and shows why brands with purpose have the edge.
According to a Nielsen consumer report, the most trusted form of advertising is a friend’s recommendation, with 83% trusting word of mouth marketing for buying decisions. The report also found that people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.
To make the point, just consider which of the following you would be more inclined to believe:
> A company you have no association with say that the products they produce are great.
> A person you know, love, respect and trust tell you that a product they’ve just bought is great?
Word of mouth marketing is one of the most potent marketing channels you own. The only problem—you don’t really own it. But while you can’t directly control what others say about you, you can influence it.
There are two things to bear in mind.
1) Exceptional customer service leads to happy customers.
If you can go beyond that everyday 5-star rating and do something that’s off the scale or has wider social benefits, your audience will talk about it. Read our article on optimising customer experiences to find out how.
2) your audience needs an outlet to express their thanks.
Social media, feedback forms, digital surveys and Google reviews are all great places to start. Think about where your audience talks to their friends and family and join them there.
“The best advertising is done by satisfied customers.”
—Philip Kotler, distinguished marketing author
However, while this organic word of mouth approach is ideal, it’s difficult to achieve. But there are a few ways to hack the channel.
1. Referral marketing
Referral marketing takes this basic premise and goes one further. Rather than just relying on your customers to spread the message through their social networks, it gives them an incentive to do so. This makes every customer a potential brand ambassador.
This strategy works by giving them something in return for sharing the message and encouraging uptake. This could be a product discount, credits or a service upgrade.
This is doubly-effective when the reward works for both them and the person they’re referring to you. That’s because people love to help out their friends and will be more than happy to share something that has mutual value.
You can integrate referral marketing into your strategy through pretty much any channel, but this works best when you have the ability to track purchases with referral codes or forms. They can take a little bit of effort to set up, but just imagine the rewards if every new customer spawned three more a few weeks later.
Here’s a 90-second video from Saasquatch that shows you how to set up a refererral marketing programme in just 5 steps.
2. Ambassadors and community outreach
When a group of people have a similar interest, you’ll often not need an incentive to spread word of mouth marketing so long as it provides a mutual benefit. All this really needs is someone to lead the way, provide the materials and channels and inject a little motivation.
Ambassador programmes that work well often focus on a social or local cause. So ethical businesses and social enterprises have a clear advantage. For example, environmental organisations may be willing to support a new product range that has a sustainable supply chain. Libraries and social centres may be willing to display the marketing products of a business that promotes reading for families. A group of business leaders in a local area may be willing to work together to promote commerce in the area or sector.
Consider what organisations or local groups might be willing to promote your business (like Your Turn). Think about a mutually beneficial proposition that doesn’t just focus on what you sell but has wider social benefits.
If there isn’t a group out there already, could you create one?
3. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing centres around a business relationship between a brand and an affiliate. This is a performance-based marketing strategy, whereby the affiliate is paid for each qualified lead that it sends your way.
While this doesn’t necessarily increase conversion rates, it does give you more traffic. And more traffic means more sales.
While the affiliate may not be the ultimate source of trust, they are often well-respected news outlets, review e-zines and comparison sites. Better yet, they can have extensive, highly-relevant networks. Because of this, a good affiliate can do a large chunk of your marketing for you.
For many companies using Money Supermarket, Amazon, eBay or Not on the High Street, this is their main marketing channel. This is great if you don’t have a huge amount of resource for marketing. On the flip side, if this is your only marketing channel, your business success lies entirely in their hands.
The key thing to consider is whether the ROI works out. Most affiliate programmes take somewhere between 20-60% per sale, so you’ll want to negotiate the best deal possible.
4. Influencers and micro-influencers
Billionaire teenage models, yoga-practising vegans, free-living daredevils, and uber-fashionable hipsters—welcome to the world of the influencer.
We’ve all heard of Kim Kardashian, but many marketers still don’t really get influencer marketing.
Thing is, it’s a big deal.
Consider this: Instagram superstar Kylie Jenner earns $1m of advertising revenue per post. With one derogatory post about Snapchat, she reportedly took US$1bn off the stock value in a single day. Such is the power of the influencer.
Influencers hold such sway because they are adored by vast tribes of highly-engaged followers who are often willing to do and believe everything they say. Influencer marketing taps into this power by paying the influencer to endorse brands.
You can find influencers on pretty much any digital channel. But they tend to live on YouTube, Instagram and blogs. You needn’t pay out $1m per post to use influencer marketing. A current marketing trend is to identify relevant micro-influencers (anyone with a following of 1,000 – 1,000,000 followers or community members.)
A micro-influencer may not wield the same power as a Kylie Jenner, but they are far more affordable and generally more cost-effective. This is due to the high engagement and conversion rates they own.
On the lower end of the scale, a product sample or voucher may be enough to earn the endorsement of your micro-influencer who is growing their name. Better yet, if you have a clearly defined social purpose that aligns with the influencer’s brand, they may be willing to mention your cause for free.
Start your word of mouth journey
So there you have it, four go-to tactics for building networks and generating word of mouth marketing. If you’d like to start spreading your message, Your Turn offers free promotional support for social enterprises and ethical businesses in Yorkshire. Find out more about what we do here.