Optimizing your Word-of-Mouth Marketing Campaign

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“The success of word-of-mouth marketing depends on customer’s trust of the brand. Businesses have to earn enough merit to become a worthy topic of conversation,” – Paul Jankowski

Trust, that critical intangible, plays an outsize role in ensuring the success of modern marketing campaigns. Increasingly, large numbers of consumers tend to invest credibility in the recommendations of their friends, neighbours, and colleagues. This fact underlines the importance of word-of-mouth publicity and its crucial role in expanding the prospects of commercial success. A happy customer acts as a force multiplier in terms of achieving the desired return on investment expected of a marketing campaign. Therefore, businesses and marketing strategists should work to create campaigns that can attain ‘viral’ proportions purely based on what people (read consumers and customers) tell each other about a certain product or service.

Brands and businesses must incentivise customers that choose to promote a product or a service to their family, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances. Businesses can deploy a raft of incentives including, but not limited to, special pricing, discounts, free consultations, quick upgrades, etc. These tactics can be commercially useful because they spur most customers to unleash word-of-mouth publicity and subsequently, to become brand ambassadors. In addition, such customer behaviour tends to reinforce public confidence in a brand or a business offering, which can attract more customers and first-time buyers. From a purely commercial point of view, the volumes of new business and the rising graph indicating higher sales can easily dwarf the costs and expenses associated with the incentives. We must note that word-of-mouth publicity tends to create a long lasting impact on sales, in addition to promoting a customer-friendly image for business enterprises.

The modern marketer has a plethora of devices at his or her disposal in terms of connecting with customers. Marketers can easily harness the power of electronic media, such as email, to initiate a conversation with customers. This initiative hinges on generating word-of-mouth publicity through appeals for referrals. We must note that these emails can be created with the singular purpose of boosting customer referrals, which translates into a higher number of new customers. In addition, a minor incentive can be offered in the form of small discounts to customers on the email list. This action has the potential to create repeat customers and an additional revenue stream for a brand or product. Businesses should be advised to track the outcomes of such activities through customer analytics software in an attempt to gauge the efficacy of this initiative.

A structured referral system can be meshed with a loyalty program to optimise a word-of-mouth marketing campaign. Customers that subscribe to loyalty programs can be counted on to add momentum to such marketing campaigns because they invest significant value in their continuing patronage on a brand or enterprise. Therefore, brands and business can encourage these customers to speak to their friends and acquaintances and enjoy an additional benefit. We must note that this aspect of a loyalty program can multiply the intended outcomes of a word-of-mouth campaign. In addition, customers that come in via referrals can be requested to join the loyalty programme in an effort to boost said programme. Further, businesses can measure the numbers of referrals generated by loyalty programmes in a bid to assess the effectiveness of new dimensions that have been appended to said programmes.

Social media represents a dominant aspect of our online activities in modern times and this channel can be leveraged to boost word-of-mouth marketing. Corporate entities that operate a presence in social media platforms can create innovative campaigns that encourage customers to ‘share’ their experiences with a certain brand or business. For instance, a quick service restaurant can fashion a social media campaign titled ‘bring a friend’ in an attempt to double customer attendance at its business premises. The announcement of said marketing campaign can pique customer curiosity and may drive higher footfalls at the business. Sales at the quick service restaurant can also register quick gains when customers bring in multiple family members in a bid to avail group discounts offered by said enterprise. The general outcomes of these tactics can boost the social media conversations around the marketing campaign, thereby increasing the chances of commercial success. We must note that the quick service restaurant can time such announcements to coincide with a public holiday, a festival season, or a long weekend to boost market traction. In light of the above, we may note that word-of-mouth marketing campaigns can be initiated profitably through digital channels.

The diverse channels of electronic communications include the World Wide Web and therefore, businesses must target online customer testimonials and customer review websites to boost the prospects of word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. This strategy hinges on the fact that modern consumers peruse online product and service review websites because these carry genuine customer testimonials and narrate authentic customer experiences. Therefore, brands and businesses can encourage their satisfied and happy customers to visit these websites and create their own narratives for online consumption. The marketing budgets for such initiatives are minimal, but the returns can be disproportionately high. In addition, brands can cite these testimonials on their own corporate websites to gain and build customer trust in the business. Further, web links to these testimonials can be embedded in marketing emails sent out to customers and business prospects in order to build a strong brand image.

Brand influencers represent a potent force in modern marketing strategies and should be cultivated actively by businesses in order to expand the customer base. These ‘influencers’ may be invited to try products and services and then create a testimonial to spur for widespread consumption. We must note that brand influencers form a critical cog in the success of any word-of-mouth marketing campaign because their original reviews can attract significant numbers of customers, generate additional leads, and consolidate brand loyalty. Therefore, businesses are advised to woo and cultivate star brand influencers because these individuals have large followings and can spur favourable purchase decisions. Notable, new brands and recently launched products and services can especially benefit from the endorsements offered by a top-notch brand influencer.

The customer experience should be regarded as an important aspect of creating a word-of-mouth marketing campaign. The modern business enterprise should realise that the customer experience forms the core of the unique value proposition offered by a commercial entity. Therefore, the customer experience should be a priority in the long-term operations of a brand or business enterprise. For instance, large retail businesses should monitor their social media handles religiously in an attempt to detect any negative customer reactions. The intent stems from the fact that vocal customers are most likely to vent grievances (if any) on social media. A low incidence of such situations can encourage the said business to create marketing campaigns based on social media platforms. The lack of customer complaints can assure the business that the subsequent customer reactions will be positive and will boost its marketing campaign.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined some of the means of optimising marketing campaigns powered by word-of-mouth. We must note that businesses should never take their customers for granted and must always work to create new meaning and value in the wider interests of serving their consumers and customers.

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