Boosting Your Online Word-of-Mouth Marketing

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Online Marketing
This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Marketing Your Business Online
     

Online marketing presents you with a unique opportunity to create a bigger buzz than you can do with traditional marketing. This is particularly true for word-of-mouth marketing.

Word-of-mouth marketing is defined as a type of marketing that promotes something by compelling independent people to promote the product, service, or idea to friends. The goal is to create a buzz for the subject matter. When creating the buzz, the desire is to create enough word-of-mouth momentum to cause the idea to spread quickly. Without people, the momentum can’t happen. If you get it right, your entire product can become a raging success without spending any (or very little) money on marketing.

Establishing goals for your word-of-mouth marketing campaign

The first thing you need to do before starting a word of mouth campaign is to have a goal. Once your goal is clear enough, it will be far easier to keep track of your results. After all, without a clear direction, you won’t know how far you need to go or what you are reaching for in the first place.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to create a word-of-mouth marketing campaign:

  • Generate leads: This is probably easy to do if you have a few bonus products in your repository. Giving things away to people definitely will encourage them into thinking of a few people to whom they can refer you for the same thing. All you need to do is get an autoresponder message set up so that they can forward you the email addresses of the people they’d like you to contact.

  • Generate affiliates: This one is a little easier, but you will have to educate the affiliates you build. Word-of-mouth for affiliate marketing is great because now you have an army of people who are incentivized to market on your behalf.

  • Convert into sales: For this to happen, you definitely need to create a lot of testimonials in order to create a buzz. This approach will subsequently get other people talking about the quality and the level of “must-haveness” of the product you are promoting.

  • Build credibility: This approach will help solidify your brand in the long run, so you will probably have to have points of proof that people will talk about and associate with you. This article, for instance, is a way to generate credibility because you are reading it in the first place!

  • Retain current subscribers: Few people would have heard of this, but sometimes, your current list of subscribers need freebies to keep them “alive” and warm. Send them “gifts” or get a campaign going to increase the buzz among them. You can have monthly events where different people actually get together and meet each other and chat so that they know who’s who instead of merely reading a nickname in a forum. This keeps people from opting out of your mailing list!

  • Warm up for a product launch: When you want to do a product launch, you will still want to ensure that people are ready for you. How can you do this? Well, all you need to do is to create more buzz. Warming people on a list up also takes time, but the sequence in which you do it is important. With this goal in mind, you can already think of some ways to get your list of people excited, talking to each other, and involving themselves in a discussion.

Ways to boost your word of mouth with your website

One of the biggest reasons people don’t buy what you are selling is lack of trust. Your product or service can be astounding, but if prospects don’t trust you, they won’t buy. A word-of-mouth referral comes with a higher degree of trust than other advertising methods. The more trust your prospect has in you, the easier it is to sell him or her your offerings.  So why not invest in your word-of-mouth advertising? Why not make it easier for people to refer you? Well, this is where your website comes in.

The following are few ways to use your website to boost your word-of-mouth marketing:

  • Tell all your word-of-mouth advertisers about your website: Often, a business will either put up their website for the first time or make significant updates and not tell anyone. People who can potentially refer your business to other people ought to be aware of your website. So when you put up a website or make significant updates, let everyone know about it.

  • Put your website on all of your points of contact: This will help spread the word about your website. In addition to putting your website’s name on brochures and business cards, put it in the not-so-obvious places like your emails, voicemail greeting, and customer receipts. The more times people hear about your website, the more they will share it when you tell people about your business.

  • Put your referral program on your website: While mentioning a referral program is controversial, having a page on your website that explains your referral program will help others be more effective at sending leads your way. On this page, explain clearly how you want other people to refer business to you and what kind of business you are looking for.

  • Put your special offers on your site: Special offers are good for getting prospects to take action. They also can make referring people to you easier. For example, instead of saying, “My friend, Joe is a plumber, he can help you,” a referrer can say, “My friend Joe is a plumber; go to his website, and you can get 10% off!” After you put your offers on your website, let the people who will refer you know about them.

  • Give free information on your web site: Free information is a good way to compel other people to refer their friends to your website. It can be as easy as saying, “Oh, go check out Mike’s website. There’s a lot of good free advice there.” Everyone wants good free advice. Let everyone who has the potential to refer you business know about the free information on your website.

Why you need testimonials to sell more

For many reasons, testimonials give your prospects the confidence they need to buy from you for the first time. Once your prospects turn into new customers, the door to repeat sales is wide open. Here are few good reasons why testimonials help you sell more of anything:

  • Credibility: Testimonials give your business, product, or service credibility. Everyone is bombarded with advertising messages every day. It’s a brutal marketplace. If you want to sell something to somebody, you stand a much better chance if you can convince them that you’re credible. Testimonials are like references on a resume. They are the people who vouch for you.

  • Identification: Your prospects identify with your customers who are providing the testimonials. They have similar concerns, problems, hopes, and desires. They commiserate. That is good. You want this in your marketing. (Sorry, but your prospects don’t identify with you. Not really. You’re trying to sell them something!)

  • Proof: Proof, alone, is reason enough to gather and use testimonials. This is where your customers say, in effect, “They’re right, Mr. or Ms. Prospect. They can save you 50% … or make you feel 18 again … or make you enough money to retire at 50. They did it for me and I’m thrilled!” Testimonials notarize your marketing speak.

  • Closure: Testimonials help close the sale. Sure, they can be used throughout a marketing piece. But they definitely come in handy toward the end of the process. You’ve introduced the problem or need, your product or service, the features and benefits, and more. Then you line up your testimonials, all the customers whose heads are nodding and saying, “Yep, it worked for me.” Soon after that, you ask for the order.

Word of mouth through viral marketing

Word-of-mouth advertising creates an awareness campaign where your business information travels from person to person, creating intense awareness. For a new business startup, word-of-mouth marketing is often the best and most effective advertising method.

Word-of-mouth advertising has stood the test of time and is effective for every business. There are simple, affordable methods for starting a viral marketing campaign that will spread like wildfire. By putting into place some or all of the ideas mentioned above, you can create a world of advertising for your business.

A traditional way to pursue viral marketing online is to offer a free eBook. The eBook will detail your thoughts on some subject matter, such as marketing. A person makes the book available for downloading and also allows people to send it to others. If you are offering something of quality, the book should spread quickly to thousands and thousands of people.

The ultimate goal is to promote it over and over until hundreds of thousands of people have read it. At that point, you write another eBook, which you sell for $3 to $5. If people liked the first book, they will buy the second book. If 100,000 read the first one and only 10 percent buy the second one, you will have 10,000 sales. This strategy has been used over and over again by many authors.

Conclusion

The word of mouth approach is definitely a hit-and-miss strategy. The large online communities make it a viable strategy, but there are a lot of people trying to do it. If you fail 50 times, but succeed once, life will be very good. That alone is worth it!

We are pleased to provide you with the insightful comments contained herein. For a complimentary assessment of your online presence, let’s have coffee.

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Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies.

Mr. Cohn founded CompuKol Communications to help small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their exposure and reputation on the Internet. CompuKol consults, creates, and implements communication strategies for small businesses to monopolize their markets with a unique business voice, vision, and visibility.

Prior to that, Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. His expertise includes social media marketing strategies; internet marketing; web presence design; business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.

Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.

Mr. Cohn is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

 

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