Word of mouth is one of the most stable and reliable marketing channels out there. In fact, according to a Nielson study, 92% of consumers trust word of mouth recommendations above all other forms of advertising. A lot of companies think great word of mouth only happens by chance — that you have to luck into it. But that’s not entirely true.

While luck may play a part, there are also actionable steps you can take to encourage your customers to talk about your business. Below, I’ve outlined 5 things you can try today.


1. Provide a great (and human!) experience.

We’ve all been there. We have a problem with a product or service — we need a refund, have an important question, etc. — so we email or call the company, only to jump through hoops to get into contact with an actual human being. Chances are, this is going to make us complain to our friends about how bad the service at the company is. That’s not the kind of word of mouth you want!

Every interaction you have with a customer is a chance to “wow” them, so make it easy for customers to ask questions and get in contact with you. Friendly human interactions will help inspire the kind of word of mouth you do want!


2. Do something nice — and unexpected!

Did you hear about TD Bank’s recent stunt? The bank turned its ATMs into “Automatic Thanking Machines” and surprised their customers with money and personalized gifts — a great example of doing something nice and unexpected for your customers.

But don’t worry! You don’t have to be a huge bank with billions of dollars to surprise and delight your patrons. Here are some more practical things to do:

    • Send a nice, personal email. I like to send emails to power-users, or even simply to someone who has made me smile! I tell them why they’re awesome, and why we value their business.
    • Send a thank you note. A handwritten thank you note goes a long way.
    • Empower employees to go above and beyond. Let your employees know that it’s OK for them to take the time to do something nice for your customers, and give them the tools and resources necessary to do so!


3. Feature customers on social media or your blog.  

Fact: people like to talk about themselves. So, how can you leverage that to get people to talk about your company? Feature your customers on your blog and your social media accounts! Each week, we spotlight a power-user on our blog. We ask them to write about their experience with our product, as well as a little bit about themselves (or a lot, it’s up to them!). This really excites our customers, so much so that they share the post with their friends.


4. Don’t just sit around and twiddle your thumbs, ask for referrals!

According to a Texas Tech study, 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience, but only 29% actually do. How can you close this gap? Ask your customers if they know of anyone they can refer to your business! Once you’ve created a positive experience for your customer, they’ll be happy to tell their friends … they might just forget to do it. So be proactive! Send them a quick email or two in which you remind them of their great experience, and let them know that telling their friends would help you out a lot.


5. Tell your customers why they should care about you and your business.

Aside from creating great experiences and making customers happy, there’s one more thing you can do: tell your customers why they should care about you.

By supporting you, are they supporting some bigger cause? Do you give back to the community? Is your business revolutionizing an archaic industry? Let your customers know that by telling their friends about your business, they’ll also be spreading the word about a greater cause.

By putting your customers first and treating them like you’d treat your friends, you can create your own luck and spark great word of mouth for your business. :)