Word of mouth (WOM) is what people are saying about your brand, both on social media and in the offline world. WOM marketing is seen as the authentic and extremely influential promotion of your brand amongst peers—and it's a total game changer.
For a long time marketers struggled to prove the effectiveness of WOM and it's impact on sales. Now, the research is in and it's conclusive: WOM marketing drives sales. One study has even found that found that WOM increased marketing effectiveness by up to 54 per cent.
Why word of mouth is crucial
Word of mouth is intrinsically tied to customer experience. Deliver an outstanding customer experience and you gain loyal customers who are likely to recommend your brand to friends and family. With 92 per cent of people trusting referrals from people they know, that's no small thing.
However, WOM can work against you too. A study by Zendesk found that 95 per cent of people share bad experiences with others, while only 87 per cent share good experiences. Customers are also more likely to tell more people about their bad experience; over half of all people (54 per cent) who receive a poor customer experience will relay that experience to more than five people. Meanwhile, only 33 per cent of those who receive a good customer experience will do the same.
How to understand your word of mouth
To understand what people are saying about you, listening to your customers is the first step. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Look at how your staff manage your customers. Monitor customer service calls and add a short survey to the end of your calls.
- Listen to what your customers are saying on social media. Search for you social media channels for any business mentions as well as for hashtag keywords that are relevant to your industry.
- Leverage customer satisfaction surveys. Conducting regular customer satisfaction surveys with an advanced customer experience tool can help you understand the issues your customers are experiencing and respond accordingly.
How to deal with bad word of mouth
WOM can be a scary premise for some businesses since it’s something you can’t really control; it’s in the hands of your customers. However, there are three key strategies to manage negative word of mouth and minimise it's impact on your business.
- Be proactive. Delve deep into your customer insights to understand the issues they’re experiencing. This you can help you identify their pain points and proactively respond to them before they become major issues.
- Respond quickly. If you have any unhappy customers, always respond promptly—don't leave them waiting. Best practice is to be as understanding as possible. Hear them out, solve their issue (if possible) and see what else you can do to make their day.
- Go above and beyond. Exceeding expectations is part of delighting the customer, and it is especially important at times when a customer has had a poor experience with you. Exceptional customer service can—and has— "saved" customers and stopped the spread of any negative WOM.
Managing negative WOM is not easy, and you'll never have complete control of it. However, adopting these strategies and providing exceptional customer service is a step in the right direction.
3 ways to boost word of mouth
Other than delivering a great customer experience every time, there are a few strategies you can use to generate greater WOM. However, you'll need to have a plan in place and work actively to pursue it. Great WOM doesn’t happen over night, but it can do wonders for your brand, so it is time well spent.
1. Leverage your influencers
Influencers are powerful players in the online world: they are the people who help spread stories about brands and they are in every industry. The question is: how to find them?
A good place to start is to listen to your customers and open up a dialogue with them. For instance, welcome comments through your website or social media channels. From there, identify the most active commenters and give them first-access to any new products, services or exclusive information.
2. Create powerful PR
Generally, editorial coverage is considered more credible than advertising. Identify the top editors or journalists for your industry and tailor your pitch pieces and stories specifically to them. Follow up with a phone call or email as appropriate.
For creating buzz around any new products you have launched, aim to land a placement in an editorial review. Having the right placement in the right media can work wonders; it may even snowball and get picked up by other media.
3. Go viral
Unfortunately, there's no magic button that guarantees a piece of content will go viral. However, what we have noticed over the years is that the most successful pieces of viral content contain a single, clear cut idea or message that is strong enough to compel customers to talk and share it.
Having a newsworthy spin helps. To sense check your concept, ask: “is this new news?” and if so “why?”, “why should people care about this?”. Set the scene and make it easy for people to participate. Link through to an interactive website, with the objective of creating an online community, or provide something that customers can share, such as a special offer via email, downloadable how-to videos or entertaining branded content that links back to your website. Anything that is of real value to customers is more likely to be shared.
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