How to Encourage Word-of-Mouth Marketing for Your E-commerce Business
As an owner of an e-commerce business, you have probably invested a lot of thought and effort into your marketing strategy.
Maybe you spend a lot of money on expensive ads, maybe you organize elaborate product promotions, or you have an extensive e-mail list for sending out newsletters.
As much as all these tactics work to an extent, you still need to focus on one more essential thing in order to boost your sales – you need people talking about your business.
It´s a well-known fact that consumers like to share their experiences. Moreover, they are also very inclined to taking into account the opinion of others while making a purchase. According to the Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Report, more than 80 % of consumers in 60 countries worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family more than traditional advertising.
However, in today´s digital world, it´s not only enough for friends and family to put in a good word for your company – you need to encourage word-of-mouth on a larger scale. Basically, you need your business to become reputable both online and offline.
Of course, it´s not enough to have an excellent website and good, clear product descriptions.
While those things are undoubtedly preconditions for turning your online visitors into buyers, you need to do more to gather those visitors in the first place.
Read on and see what you can do to get that snowball rolling.
1. Stand Out
Although this may seem like a cliché, you really need to stand out from the crowd in order to get people talking. To do so, you will need to apply a whole lot of creativity and out-of-the-box strategic thinking.
Easier said than done, right? Surely so, but there will be no success unless you roll up your sleeves and get cranking.
Of course, if you sell interesting and appealing products like computer games or female purses, those products will speak for themselves and draw audience without too much effort on your part. But what if you sell ordinary and quite boring stuff? Correction fluid? Shovels? Razor blades?
Let’s keep our attention on the last product – razor blades. Are they necessary in everyday lives for both men and women? Does almost everybody use them? Absolutely yes. But are they interesting? Exciting? Appealing? Well, no.
However, even if you sell such an ordinary product, you can still engage your audience if you present it in a creative and exciting way. Take a look at the following example:
As much as razor blades are neither interesting nor appealing, this video surely is. Using creativity and intelligence, the company Dollar Shave Club has clearly shown how it’s possible to breathe life into a seemingly boring product.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this short, compelling, and humorous video went viral (more than 23 million views as of now!) and skyrocketed the sales of the razor blades it advertises.
So, when trying to present your products, you should go out of your way to make them as exciting and interesting as possible. Not only will people talk about them, they will want to buy them!
2. Employ Storytelling
Offering something outstanding often means packaging your products into a well-rounded story. This is where the marketing tactics of storytelling comes into play.
People love stories, so you can use them to promote your business (or your individual products) in a subtle yet engaging way. There are many creative ways to employ storytelling.
For example, you can tell a story in which the main character is your buyer persona – a person who can solve a certain problem or meet an unfulfilled need. Let’s check out this video:
Before you think about what you just saw, you might need some context. GoldieBlox is a toy company founded by Debbie Sterling, a former engineer student at Stanford University who had an idea to develop girls’ toys that would defy stereotypical gender roles. In other words, she wanted to create toys that would interest girls into science and engineering instead of just offering them glossy dolls.
While applying her marketing tactics, Sterling uses the power of storytelling – each toy entails different characters and concepts. For example, there is the story of Goldie, a girl inventor who likes to build things with a construction kit.
This video tells the story of three girls who are building a machine and having fun in the process, conveying a message that smart toys are not just for boys. Of course, the video went viral, and company doubled their monetary goals in just four days after its release.
Why don’t you learn from this example and develop your own story? If you manage to come up with something compelling enough, people will gravitate towards your website without feeling compelled to make a purchase. More visitors, more sales – that’s the way it goes.
3. Offer Exceptional Customer Service
The products you sell might be great. Your marketing strategy might be great. Your company might function seamlessly. Everything can be perfect, but all that is useless if you don’t pay enough attention to customer service.
The formula is very simple – if you provide excellent customer service, people will be happy. And what’s better for your company than happy customers who spread the good word about your brand? Not many things are as powerful in terms of marketing.
Image credit to geralt on Pixabay.com
Just imagine a satisfied customer, let’s call him John. John is quite happy with the way you answered his online inquiry, so he praises your company to his friends over coffee.
But that’s not all he does – he also writes an online review on his Facebook profile. Since John has many Facebook friends, his post is soon seen by a lot of people, some of who immediately visit your website. And voilà – you have gotten yourself some new customers.
On the other hand, if your customer service is poor, you risk getting bad reviews and negative publicity.
Let’s say a person called Marc has sent you several e-mails with the same question, and you never responded to any of them. Naturally, Marc is angry, but what you didn’t expect is him lashing out on his Twitter and warning others to avoid your company. Several retweets later, the word is already spreading like fire.
Now, who would you rather have talking about your company – Marc or John? This question requires no answer, but its point is clear – in order to get free advocates of your brand and prevent badmouthing, you have to provide great customer service.
Take a look at how Walmart made an effort to extensively respond to one of their customers on Facebook:
Unsurprisingly, Kami was thankful for their reply. And not only was that particular customer satisfied, but other Facebook followers also got to see how much Walmart appreciated the question. Little by little, with answers like this one, the company built a reputation of having great customer service.
Do you need more convincing? We think not. So, if you want people to talk positively about your company, do everything you can to make your customer service truly exceptional.
4. Have a Strong Social Media Presence
It’s been a while since we entered the world of digital marketing, which is especially important when it comes to your e-commerce business. And since the Internet is your medium, you need to leverage everything that it has to offer, including the indispensable social media.
Today, if you don’t have a strong social media presence, you might as well not exist. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and so on – there is not much you can do to promote your business online if you don’t use some of these powerful and popular platforms.
Of course, doing well on social media doesn’t mean creating a profile and expecting miracles to happen. No, you have to be active and encourage word-of-mouth marketing yourself.
So what can you do? Well, there are two essential things – communicate and share content!
Although providing stellar customer service is a must, you need to keep communicating with your customers at all times in order to get them talking. For example, you can start by sharing their videos, Facebook posts, tweets or pins when they post something interesting.
In essence, you should make your customers realize that you are interested in what they have to say. Even small gestures like following them or liking their statuses will do the trick.
Don’t forget to comment when they say something nice about your products – they will appreciate the effort. Learn from the following example:
Not only did those Xbox fans enjoy the games they bought, they also received a very nice treatment on Facebook. Always try to do the same!
What you can also do is solicit your fans’ opinions about the products you sell and encourage them to share their thoughts with others.
All in all, have an approachable and friendly voice on social media and let people see you are interested in communicating with them.
The more you talk, the more they will talk.
b) Share Content
Many companies use social media to openly promote their products. Although conventional sales pitches might be a good choice for some channels, it’s definitely a counterproductive approach for social media. People come to their favorite platforms mainly for pleasure, and if they feel they’re being forced to buy something, they will soon get repelled and leave your profile.
You should thus avoid such a practice and share valuable content instead. Even if your content revolves around your business, you have to make it interesting and valuable – you need to give your customers something they can enjoy and learn from.
Depending on your target audience, this could imply many things – informative and in-depth articles, listicles, infographics, images, funny videos, and even embeddable games.
The main idea behind posting such content is to give people something they will want to share and talk about, promoting your brand in the process.
Let’s see how some big brands are doing it on Twitter. For example, get inspired by Whole Foods Market, a company that constantly gives value to their customers by sharing delicious recipes:
If you want to share something humorous, definitely take a look at what Someecards is sharing on Twitter. This company is known for its funny marketing content, and this is just one such example:
There are many things you can do, but whatever the type of content you chose to share, just keep in mind to provide value for your customers. Whether it’s an informative article or a goofy image, the important thing is to stir interest and get them talking.
5. Organize Contests
To engage your audience and get people talking, there is yet another thing you can do – organize contests. People like receiving gifts, so you cannot go wrong if you reward them, whether with discounts, coupons, or giveaways.
For instance, you can give a prize to a person who writes the most interesting Facebook review about a product they purchased on your site or uploads a YouTube video involving the product. It doesn’t matter what the prize is as long as it contains some value for your customers.
This is actually a win-win situation that makes everyone happy – your followers get gifts, and you get free promotion of your products.
And only that, you get great word-of-mouth referrals because people like to notify their family and friends about contests.
Now, let’s say you are organizing a Pinterest competition. The winner of the competition can be the person who pins the best picture of how they are using the purchased product, or the one who creates a board with the most interesting compilation of pins.
Consider the Ann Taylor Dream Wedding Wardrobe contest.
In this contest, Pinners were encouraged to create a theme board about their dream wedding, and the winner won the best gift – one of their beautiful wedding dresses.
Suffice to say that the winner was exhilarated, and the company expectedly experienced a growth in sales. It really sounds tempting enough to try something similar.
In addition to traditional marketing tactics, you need to encourage word-of-mouth marketing if you want to attract customers and build a solid reputation for your e-commerce business.
To get people talking, you don’t have to invent a time machine, but you do have to make an effort to be different and stand out among other businesses.
Even if the products you sell are ordinary and boring, you can make them appealing and interesting by applying a bit of creativity and intelligence.
What you can also do with a spark of creativity is promote your business via storytelling. People enjoy stories, so if you convince them that your products will somehow help them and if you do it through an interesting narrative, you will surely get yourself some new buyers.
Furthermore, getting people to talk means making them happy. Regardless of how great your products are, you will not achieve this unless you provide stellar customer service.
Happy customers will gladly share their experiences, but remember – so will the angry ones. So, to avoid negative talk and encourage praises, make sure to keep your customers satisfied at all times.
To prompt word-of-mouth referrals, you also need to create and maintain a strong social media presence.
No one will care about your business on Facebook or Twitter if you only insist on promoting your products while ignoring your followers. So do the opposite – give people a reason to return to your page by keeping the communication alive and giving them plenty of interesting and share-worthy content.
Finally, you will definitely create buzz around your business if you organize contests and give out rewards.
Competitions not only boost participants’ adrenalin, but they also encourage them to spread the word to their friends and family. And when you give people gifts, you surely increase your chances of acquiring loyal customers.
Creating word-of-mouth referrals is not an easy task. It takes time, it requires continuous effort, and it drives you to do the best you can.
However, although it may seem difficult, it is without doubt worth your while. When you apply these tactics to encourage people to talk, your investment in terms of time and effort will pay off multiple times. And if you try them today, you can expect to see your business blossom quite soon.