Word-of-mouth marketing refers to the strategy that your business can take to encourage customers to spread the word about your business. In this article, we’ll explore why word of mouth is important to drive revenue growth and specific strategies that businesses use to get new customers.
What is Word of Mouth and How Has the Landscape Changed?
Word of mouth is the most effective marketing that your business can get. The average customer is constantly bombarded with traditional advertising. As you can expect, these efforts have made the average customer numb. According to Juniper Research, 76% of American adults block ads online and skip traditional TV ads.
That doesn’t mean that there’s no chance of your marketing efforts actually reaching customers. It just means that you need a different strategy to reach customers. A personal recommendation for your business cuts through the noise of traditional advertising. Customers know that their hearing about the real experience of a fellow customer, not some advertising idea that was cooked up in a corporate boardroom.
Of course, the rise of the Internet means that word of mouth has taken new forms. Word of mouth recommendations don’t just take place in-person anymore. They take place online through social media and review platforms.
Reviews especially play a big part in customers’ purchase decisions. Let’s go into some more detail about this modern form of word of mouth.
Why Review Management is an Essential Part of Word of Mouth Marketing
The rise of the review ecosystem has big consequences for businesses. Previously, only people lucky enough to hear about your business’s reputation through the grapevine knew about your business. Now, a complete stranger to your area can open up his phone and instantly see what other customers think about your business.
People trust reviews. While customer reviews might not come from friends and family, customers trust them all the same. According to Search Engine Land, 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Even though they might know the people leaving the reviews, customers know that reviews reflect the genuine opinions of real customers.
Just like a recommendation from a friend, a customer review is not some biased marketing material that is making a sales pitch. A five-star customer review is written because the customer loved the product.
So what does this mean for business owners? It means that reviews are an essential part of your word-of-mouth marketing strategy. If your business can get more reviews, you’ll see customers coming into your business.
The relationship between reviews and revenue has been well-established. A Harvard Business School study found that a 1-star increase in overall star rating could lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
You don’t have to sit back and wonder what your customers are going to be saying about you. Instead, you can take an active role in driving word of mouth. Here are four tips that can help you get new customers through your doors.
Three Tips to Drive Word of Mouth
- Send review requests to get more customer reviews.
In order to spread the word about your business in your area, it’s important to get lots of customer reviews. The more reviews you have, the more trustworthy your business will look to customers.
You don’t have to worry if your business doesn’t have a lot of reviews right now. To get more reviews, all you have to do is ask. Research shows that 70% of customers are willing to leave a review if asked.
Though it might sound simple enough, getting results isn’t easy. If the process of leaving a review is too difficult for the customer, chances are that they just won’t do it. While it makes sense to ask a customer to leave a review in-person, you are asking the customer to do a lot of work on their own. They will have to go online, find your business on review sites, and then leave a review. It’s more likely that they’ll just forget to do it.
It’s also important to keep timing in mind. We’ve found that businesses typically get the best results when they send requests on the same day as the sale. Customers are most likely to leave reviews when the purchase is still fresh in their minds.
The complexity doesn’t just end there. To comply with Google’s rules barring review gating, it’s important that you send review requests to all your customers, not just a certain group that you’re sure will leave you positive reviews. Remember, reviews are supposed to represent authentic customer opinion. By skewing gating your reviews, you are opening up the possibility of having your business penalized by Google.
Luckily, there is a way that businesses can get new reviews while avoiding these problems. By regularly sending review request emails and SMS messages that link directly to your profile, you can make the process easy for your customers.
You might be scared of asking all of your customers for reviews because negative reviews might cause customers to avoid your business. Chances are you are going to get a few negative reviews. But there’s nothing to worry about. Read our guide on how to manage online reviews.
BirdEye allows businesses to send automated review requests to customers. There’s no need to manually send requests to your customers, taking up the valuable time of you and your employees. BirdEye can plug into your Customer Relationship Management systems so that review requests are sent automatically.
- Share positive customer reviews on your website and social media.
As we said earlier, a recommendation from a real customer is an effective form of marketing. So why not share your positive customer reviews on your website and social media? After all, a glowing review from a happy customer speaks volumes about the quality of your business. According to Spiegel Research Center, displaying reviews can increase conversion rates by 270%.
BirdEye makes sharing your reviews easy. By simply pasting one line of code on your website, you can display reviews from all over the Internet in a single feed. Your website’s visitors will instantly see genuine testimonials from real customers.
But that’s not all. You can automatically share five-star reviews that you receive on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You’ll be able to spread the word about your business’s quality without having to lift a finger.
- Track Social Mentions
Reviews aren’t the only place where customers are talking about your business. It’s also important to keep track of customer conversations on social media. If a customer gives you a compliment, a response can help to increase the positive perception of your brand. Responding to complaints can help you deal with issues before they escalate into larger problems and negative word of mouth.
Unfortunately, tracking social media mentions is tough. There are a lot of times where your business is mentioned but not tagged in the actual post. Internet Live Stats estimates that there are around 6000 tweets a second.
By using BirdEye’s social listening tool, you can know instantly when your business is mentioned on websites, blogs, forums, news sources, and social media networks. You can receive automatic notifications for social media mentions so that you have the ability to respond immediately.
- Offer a Fantastic Customer Experience
Though there are lots of ways you can increase your word of mouth, there’s no way around reality. To get great word of mouth from your customers, you need to have great services. That means taking the opportunity to improve your operations.
To improve your business operations, take a close look at your negative reviews. Even the best businesses have occasional service failures and a few angry customers. What separates the best businesses from the rest of the pack is how they respond to these failures. Instead of ignoring negative reviews, the best businesses look at how they can prevent the same problem from happening again.
When you get a negative review, you don’t have to be scared about how it might affect your revenue. Customer feedback can help you improve your operations. A negative review can highlight areas of improvement for your business.
BirdEye’s Natural Language Processing helps businesses sort through the unstructured data of review text. A lot of the times, it can be tough to get a concrete idea of how well your business is performing through a bunch of scattered reviews. Our NLP engine Athena sorts through the data and gives your business grades on categories like “customer service”. That way, you can get concrete performance measures based on real customer opinion.
But you don’t have to just rely on customer reviews. BirdEye also gives businesses the option to send customer surveys. These surveys allow you to collect valuable data about how your customers are feeling.
One of the surveys that we offer is the Net Promoter Score survey. By keeping track of your NPS, you can get a better understanding of how customers are feeling about your business overall. This survey asks customers to rank your business on a scale of 1-10. As you might expect, a business with high NPS can expect a lot of positive word of mouth.
How BirdEye Drives Word of Mouth
With BirdEye, businesses have all the tools they need to drive growth with the authentic voices of real customers. BirdEye allows you to send review requests, respond to reviews in over 150+ sites, and get actionable insights to improve business operations.