We’re approaching the most wonderful time of the year for marketing: The holidays! It’s time to start preparing your fall and winter holiday marketing campaigns, and if there’s a channel that can make or break your holiday sales – especially for retail, CPG, eCommerce and similar industries – it’s word-of-mouth marketing.

Word-of-mouth marketing is all around us. Whether it’s in the form of reading product reviews or texting a friend for a referral before making a purchase, word-of-mouth now plays a large role in the buying process for consumers and businesses. It spans from clicking an affiliate link in a blog post to scrolling through our favorite influencers’ Instagram feed to finding software through a business partner.

Incorporating Word-of-Mouth Into Your Holiday Marketing Plan

We took a look at statistics from last year, best practices, and industry trends to see what we can apply to this season’s campaigns. Here’s what we found:

In 2018, holiday retail sales finally crossed the $1 trillion mark1. That means the average American shopper spent $846 on gifts last year2. That’s a substantial 14% increase from the prior year.

So as marketers, how do we best leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing this upcoming holiday season?

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Gobble Up The Competition

Technology might not be the first thing you think of when figuring out your competitive strategy, but your current solutions (or lack of) may be holding you back from getting ahead of your competition. Whether it’s a way to personalize your referrals, enroll affiliates, generate coupon codes for influencers, or even segment your database of fans and followers, incorporating the right technology can help you get there – and get you there first.

A successful customer referral program can become the lifeblood of your business, but it won’t do anything if it’s not backed by the proper resources. The program should be strategically planned out, regularly measured, and managed on an ongoing basis.

The reality is you can’t achieve success if you’re treating your referral program as an afterthought. Successful programs need structure and commitment from within your company. For this reason, many brands choose automated and streamlined platforms to ensure ease and satisfaction from both a consumer and company perspective.

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Deck The Feeds With Influencer Marketing

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and more, the holidays have become synonymous with shopping. And with so many people turning to social media, eCommerce sites, and mobile apps to check off their shopping lists, you need to make sure your brand is catching the eyes of these eager customers.

The holidays also happen to be one of the busiest times for influencers, which is why it’s crucial to get a head start on your strategy this season.

Influencer marketing proves to be a big opportunity to connect and engage with savvy shoppers and we’ll continue to see a surge through the holidays. Whether your company is just getting started or looking to scale with influencer marketing, setting goals and being transparent with influencers is the best way to approach these partners.

A great way to approach the busy season is to determine goals of your campaign before reaching out to influencers. Are you trying to drive brand awareness? Gain new leads? Generate more sales?

Considering the “why” and understanding what’s the driving force behind your program can help guide your influencer marketing strategy – and ensure you don’t spend budget on sponsored posts that aren’t aligned with business objectives.

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It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Word-of-Mouth

Whichever word-of-mouth strategy you are using this holiday season – be it referral marketing, affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, or partner marketing – if your program isn’t public facing or it’s difficult to use and share with the click of a button, then you’ll severely limit your ability to drive word-of-mouth.

For example, if you’re running a promotional campaign to loyal customers, integrate your word-of-mouth program into it as well. The easiest way to do so is to keep the process simple for anyone (customers, fans, admirers, influencers advocates, etc.) to share your brand with everyone who might be interested in it. Use dedicated landing pages to sign up members and empower them with unique share links and dashboards to track referrals.

Word-of-mouth drives billions of dollars in sales every year, and the holiday season presents a huge opportunity for innovative companies to empower their happy customers in order to generate brand awareness and hit revenue goals.

1. https://www.emarketer.com/content/holiday-shopping-2018-roundup
2. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/survey-americans-plan-to-spend-an-average-of-almost-850-on-holiday-gifts-this-year/