What are the secrets of word of mouth marketing that you need to know as we kickoff 2020? Lean in, we’re about to reveal the three key reasons why it’s important for your brand to invest in the power of word-of-mouth marketing this year!

But before we dive in, let’s step back and look at the benefits of word of mouth marketing.

What are the benefits of word of mouth marketing?

When it comes to driving sales, the growing number of word of mouth marketing benefits must be considered. In fact, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of marketing.

And it goes beyond friends and family. Studies show that 88% of shoppers trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.

The ways in which brands engage with their customers are quickly changing in both tone and strategy. Just think about how we market to our audiences today versus 20 years ago before the rise of social networks and access to online media. Even the comparison of marketing today versus 5 years ago is night and day! So knowing how to create word of mouth buzz is important for marketers.

As trust in paid advertising declines, word of mouth marketing via strategies like partner marketing, referral programs, influencer channels, and affiliate campaigns, have become some of the most effective means of building a loyal base of brand ambassadors, meaning more engagement and more revenue for your company.

The shift toward this more personal marketing approach has been driven by the increased demand of consumers who want to know that the brands they work with not only offer quality products or services, but truly care about them. People want to know there are real faces behind your logo, that you’re listening to their concerns and that you’re willing to go above and beyond to satisfy them.

Nevertheless, even in the face of empirical evidence that proves the effectiveness of word of mouth marketing, only 33% of businesses recognize and leverage the value of this strategy.

What does word of mouth marketing look like in practice?

From influencer programs to referral campaigns to affiliate marketing, word of mouth marketing builds brand awareness and positions your brand as your customers best option. The most important part of word of mouth marketing is facilitating two-way conversations with your customers.

There’s no question that word of mouth marketing is the best way to engage customers and drive more sales to your business. The real question that digital marketers must answer is how can I start integrating word of mouth into my overall marketing strategy?

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The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing

Going viral is often times the first idea that marketers think of when it comes to harnessing the power of word of mouth marketing. But the truth is, word of mouth marketing has invaluable impacts on your brand beyond one-time viral marketing campaigns.

Here are three reasons why it’s important for your brand to invest in the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

Secret #1: Word of Mouth Marketing Builds Trust

By building trust with their customers, companies are simultaneously creating brand ambassadors that are willing to share products or services with their network. Jay Baer shared that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know directly, and anonymous reviewers have a 70% trust rate when they post online about a brand.

Trust is a difficult thing to attain in the business world – and whether you are in the B2B or B2C industry – word of mouth marketing increases the odds that your customers will rely on you for all of their needs.

Secret #2: Gain Consumer Loyalty with Word of Mouth Marketing Programs

Gaining new customers for your business can be a challenge, but with a customer referral program it doesn’t have to be. People that have been referred by a peer typically stay loyal to a brand longer than those that found the company by other means.

According to Forbes, a study done by Goethe University revealed that customers recommended to the business were 18% more likely to stay with the organization than other customers. The article reiterates, “People tend to have a stronger attachment to an organization if their friends or acquaintances share a bond to the same establishment.”

Secret #3: Word of Mouth Marketing Campaigns can Create a Steady Buzz Around Your Brand

Word of mouth marketing programs don’t have to be one-off campaigns – in fact, having a refer-a-friend program or a sharing hashtag can churn out slow and steady buzz that continuously engages with brand ambassadors.

Customers are 4x more likely to buy when referred by a friend, and in today’s digital world, word-of-mouth interactions are readily available through email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t a new concept – but with the emergence of social media in the last decade – it’s more important than ever for brands to harness its influence.

What’s the value of investing in word of mouth marketing software?

There are many word of mouth marketing strategies marketers should try in order to expand brand awareness and drive sales. But it’s near impossible to scale your efforts without technology. Simply put: It would be difficult to harness the sheer volume of strategic relationships, affiliates, and top referrers without a system that facilitates and streamlines the word of mouth marketing process.

To truly scale your efforts, partner with a word of mouth marketing software vendor that offers tools to maximize your engagement and revenue every step of the way.

Here are a few key items to look for in a word of mouth marketing platform:

The ability to remove any unnecessary friction from the experience. For a program to be successful, it has to be incredibly easy to use. To achieve this ideal state, you need to structure your program in a way that makes it super simple for ambassadors, affiliates, or influencers to seamlessly refer and promote your business across multiple platforms and channels, and for each party involved to see immediate value. When you can do that, you remove most of the roadblocks that tend to hinder engagement.

Orient your program around high-value touch points and “moments of delight.” In almost any successful customer journey, there’s at least one “moment of delight” — a point at which the customer is happiest with or most excited about your product, service, or brand. These “moments of delight” are perfect opportunities to present customers with the opportunity to refer others to your product or service.

Give your team the ability to customize and change the program in real-time — without internal development help. Making it easy to customize and change the program once it’s up and running is critical to success. The last thing marketers want is to be forced to run to internal developers for help every time a change is needed. This introduces friction for the marketing team, making it less likely that they’ll bother to optimize your program after it’s deployed.

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Word-of-mouth marketing has been impacting businesses for as long as commerce has been around. Especially today, with the prevalence of social media and mobile technology, a brand’s products and services – and value – are a reflection of what customers have to say about them. This is why, now more than ever, it is crucial for marketers to understand and harness the power of authentic relationships through word-of-mouth marketing strategies.

If you’re looking for the best way to manage and execute word of mouth marketing efforts, tune in to our live webinar with the American Marketing Association as we dive into strategies that can differentiate your business from your competitors.