So many articles begin with the same type of sentence: “Internet marketers and small business owners have billions of consumers at their fingertips.”
The truth is, there might be an innumerable audience at the other end of your computer screen, but every savvy business owner and marketer is just as aware of that fact as you.
Once you get your products and services in front of this large audience, you’re golden. It’s cutting through the noise of the competition to get there that’s tough.
Advertising has come full circle. In the 2000s, traditional advertisers feared they were going the way of the dinosaur. However, the competition — paid online advertising — is becoming as ineffective as the advertisements that TV watchers fast-forward on their DVR.
In fact, a phenomenon known as banner blindness is a real concern for Internet marketers. In our increasingly personalized world, consumers expect experiences that cater to their unique interests and hobbies, right down to the experience they have when surfing the net. The good news for advertisers of every kind is that power of the personal recommendation reigns supreme.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising polled 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries and found that 84 percent of respondents were compelled to act at the recommendation of family and friends. Opinions posted online trailed not far behind. Seventy percent of respondents claimed they were likely to be swayed by a consumer review online. The truth is clear: as any Mad Men fan will tell you, Don Draper’s favorite lesson is that trust translates to action. Personalized recommendations from credible, authentic sources will always trump banner ads and other paid advert sources, regardless of how well they are retargeted. These trusted recommendations will then often translate into new sales. In a nutshell, word of mouth campaigns work. Really, really, well.
Personal recommendations are what will get you the sale, but getting your recommendations in front of your target audience can often be the toughest challenge. Never fear, it isn’t difficult to create a troop of happy customers who are willing to lay their words on the line for you.
Here are five tips to create a great word-of-mouth campaign that will increase your exposure online and translate into new sales opportunities.
Register with Google, Yelp, and other industry review sites
Check out which websites offer niche reviews for your target market. Are you a hotel that should be listed on Trip Advisor? A restaurant that should be on Open Table? Large numbers of consumers check out trusted reviews sites before deciding where to spend their money.
Be authentic, no matter what
No marketing campaign is worth doing unless you approach it with integrity, but this is especially important with consumer reviews and word-of-mouth marketing. You can pay PR agencies and brand consultants until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, an authentic brand shines through the fluff. If you receive a bad review, acknowledge it head on and address the specifics. Bad reviews are not only great learning experiences, but also an opportunity to show your customers that you care.
Engage past customers
Your customers are potentially your biggest advocates, but you have to give them a reason to talk about you. A great customer experience is just the beginning of the road. Keeping your company front of mind after a great experience is just as important. Do you maintain an email list? Are you active on social media? How’s your website? There are a lot of ways to keep in touch with your customers, even if it’s just to drop them a line every so often to remind them that they’re valued members of your community.
Address the elephant in the room, WIIFM
Even if customers enjoy your product or service, it often won’t occur to them to shout your praises unless it comes up in conversation. If you want to give people a reason to bring it up, you’re going to have to answer the cardinal question of consumer relations: What’s in it for me? Whether or not it’s a free product, if a referral converts into a sale or a shout out on social media as a thank you, you need to let your customers know you appreciate their advocacy.
Approach industry influencers
Engaging customers is important, but some of your customers will be more verbal than others. Another great way to get the word out about your products and services is to find influencers in your industry – people who are already well known and whose opinions are well respected. Bloggers, journalists, and professional product reviewers amplify your message by sharing their experience with their already large audience. Contact various influencers and offer them free trials or samples in exchange for an honest review. All you’ll need to do is sit back and watch as their audience becomes yours.
This article has been published with permission from its original source.