The best marketing is word of mouth, or so they say.
It’s reasonable to doubt this could still be true with the number of face-to-face conversations that have been replaced by digital interactions. But the data tells us this old-fashioned method remains superior.
Semrush reports that word of mouth is responsible for 90% of all purchases. However, the methods for distributing endorsements have evolved.
Instead of talking about our favorite products and services with our neighbors at the mailbox, most of us shout about the things we love online — to a much larger audience than our parents and grandparents did.
The size of the audience isn’t what makes word-of-mouth marketing so valuable, though. It’s the source. If the listener trusts you, it doesn’t matter if you’re their cousin, coworker or a YouTuber they’ve followed for a few months.
90% of people say they’re more likely to trust a recommended brand — even if the favorable review comes from a stranger.
The numbers prove this form of marketing can be critical, but how do you generate buzz among the right people? There are lots of tips out there, but this is a long-term goal that needs to originate from authentic intention.
Let’s explore two powerful points of focus that can make your business a fan favorite.
Word of mouth is meaningful because it’s genuine, so it’s important to follow one cardinal rule: Don’t force it.
Ideally, you want your clients to spread the word of their own accord. Plus, people are more sensitized than ever to disingenuous reviews, and they’ll be able to pick up on whether a testimonial reflects the author’s true feelings. Building real connections, offering consistent value and solving core problems — these are the “tricks.”
A great public reputation starts with how you treat your clients when no one is watching.
Businesses that people love:
The longer you’re connected to someone, the better they get to know you. Just as you see both tangible and intangible gains from maintaining friendships over time, longer-term client relationships are more likely to generate positive feedback. You should offer plenty of options for continuing to work with your team beyond an initial contract.
Recurring work isn’t just great for your bottom line; it’s an opportunity to invest in brand evangelism.
What is a brand evangelist? A person who believes in your product or service so much that they become an unprompted source of word-of-mouth marketing
If you’re making every effort to serve clients well and provide value they can’t get elsewhere, you may already be in a position to turn those good relationships into affordable word-of-mouth marketing.
We’ll cover a few of the most effective tactics for increasing the number of online reviews, referrals and testimonials your business receives.
People are more likely to do things that are easy. Reduce the number of barriers to submission by guiding your current clients toward the action you want them to take and giving them reasonable choices.
Here’s what this might look like for various types of submissions.
TIP: Sometimes, the biggest struggle isn’t acquiring feedback but finding the right quote or review to cite in your content. Create and update an internal testimonial library to organize your clients’ words and make them easier to feature widely.
You could have tons of clients who would be willing to stand on a proverbial soapbox and tell their peers why they love your services, but no one’s ever asked them to.
35% of customers left a review in more than half of the instances in which they were asked.
Some popular ways to incentivize testimonials are quite effective. Depending on the types of services you offer, it may be appropriate to host contests or giveaways or offer one-time discounts in exchange for an honest submission.
NOTE: While incentives can increase your clients’ rate of participation, there are some legal practices to consider. In the US, you’ll want to be careful not to violate FTC guidelines for review collection.
You may not have to directly ask for testimonials to see a jump in submission rate. Simply getting existing reviews in front of your clients could help.
Spiegel Research Center found that displaying reviews can increase conversions by 270%.
Next time you build a landing page, send a client newsletter or write a blog post, don’t forget to link to one of your most relevant reviews or case studies.
The Value of Engaging With Client Feedback
A Harvard study found that responding to reviews can increase average ratings. People may be more likely to share their thoughts — and make them more thorough and detailed — when they know your company will pay attention and respond.
Aim to make testimonial collection a two-way conversation. Respond to both negative and positive comments.
Online reviews and other types of testimonials are reflections of how well you meet the needs of the people you serve. Improving your internal systems will make your team more responsive and impactful — and your clients will take note.