Billboard_announcement-orangeWhen you are looking for a new product or service, where do you go for suggestions? The Internet? Friends? Customer reviews? Some people may go to all three, but many rely on just one. If you are producing a lot of your own content, but your potential consumers  are relying only on word of mouth or online reviews, then you are missing out. As such, it is important to focus on more than one kind of marketing, and cultivate a following across many platforms. These three methods: search engine optimization, online word of mouth, and crowdsourcing reviews, can help you reach your niche audience on a broader spectrum.

When I need to know something, often the first place I turn to is Google. That is why many companies focus their marketing strategies on getting noticed by major search engines. This is key to being discovered among prospective clients. Google processes 40,000 search inquiries per second and 3.5 billion per day. If you are at or near the top of the page when your service is searched for, then it is likely you will be found. However, if you are five pages back, the likelihood is that a consumer will have already picked a different provider before getting that far. A study done by Marketing Land shows that only 5.59% of searches result in clicks on the 2nd and 3rd result pages while 71.33% of searches end with a click on the1st result page. Similarly, pages farther back in Google’s source list have a stigma of being less reputable in their field. To combat this, update your site frequently and use keywords relevant to your business. Through search engine optimization, you have a greater chance of reaching your customers who are searching for what you offer on the web. Using services provided by Google such as Google Analytics and Google Alerts can help you ensure you are doing everything pertaining to SEO properly.

Not everyone is so keen to rely on an algorithm for guidance. A Nielsen Trust in Advertising Report found that 92% of consumers rely on “earned advertising” or recommendations from friends and family. This is where social sites like Facebook and Twitter can impact potential customers perception of your business or product. Here, it doesn’t matter how much content you are producing, because friends are sharing with other friends. That is why it is important to give consumers something to talk about. Suzanne Fanning the president of Word of Mouth Marketing Association, WOMMA suggests capitalizing on word of mouth marketing using the three E’s: Engage, Equip, and Empower. These are centralized around generating a good customer experience on social media that will get people talking about your brand in a positive way. Engage with your customers, equip them with interesting things to talk about, and empower them with platforms to share their experience with your business.  64% of marketing executives agree that word of mouth marketing is the most effective marketing, yet, Fanning says, only 6% masterfully utilize it. By engaging your consumers and potential consumers socially and encouraging word of mouth, you can reach the demographic that looks to suggestions from friends and family for product suggestions.

Crowdsourced reviews are another popular medium for consumers reliance. Here, the opinions of many are posted and ratings provided to assist in the search for the best solution. A BrightLocal study found that 88% of consumers trust an online review as much as personal recommendations. Make your business available to those who are using review sites by encouraging customers to write honest reviews about their experience. Nellie Akalp suggests doing this by being registered with multiple primary review sites to make it easy for customers to review you, and sending gentle reminders/ invitations to recent customers to review your business online. Customer reviews are an important way to generate business and a trustworthy image. For consumers who put their faith in customer reviews, it is important that your product and business are present in that domain.

The entire purpose for your marketing budget is to get the word out. If there is someone who needs what you provide, you want them to know you exist. Today, it is easy to create an online presence, but make sure that presence stretches across multiple platforms to ensure the greatest number of people have access to your business. Utilizing search engine optimization, word of mouth marketing, and crowdsourced online reviews, you make yourself available to a broader spectrum of people and therefore more potential clients.