Think back to the last time you experienced exceptional customer service from a company. Felt good, didn't it? In fact, you've probably purchased or intend to purchase from that company again… Right?
Perhaps you even recommended them to a friend or two? If so, then you have become both an advocate and a promoter of that brand.
As a result of that company's exceptional customer service, it has now acquired you - a loyal customer, plus the two friends you referred - who will likely also become loyal customers and refer their two friends. And so the story goes on...
Word-of-mouth marketing has become the most effective practice for marketers. And in 2018, where trust for marketers and salespeople is at an all time low, letting your customers do the talking has never been so important.
Rewind 8 weeks back to INBOUND18 (HubSpot’s annual event of customer delight) and the words of CEO, Brian Halligan, are still echoing strong.
“Word of mouth is becoming a significant growth driver … The funnel was a great way to think about our business 10 years ago, when our sales and marketing was the loudest voice in the market. But in today’s market, our customers’ voices, they’re the loudest.”
Whereas before, your customers were delighted with personalised content. Today, it's proof of happy customers that's influencing their purchasing decisions.
Every single customer touchpoint shapes how your buyers view your brand. From that first website visit to their latest interaction with a customer service representative, the impression you create will define what your customers think of you and ultimately, what they tell the world.
So how can you refine the customer experience to generate word-of-mouth marketing?
Remove friction from the buyer's journey
Eliminating friction points throughout the buyer's journey is absolutely critical, not only for converting leads into customers, but also for shaping how how your customers view your brand and how they describe the experience to others.
Confusion and frustration are two images you certainly don’t want to be leaving in people's minds. So make sure that your buying experience is painless and pleasant - think Amazon. A shopping basket that converts well removes all friction from the buying process. In other words, it’s a joy paying for things - (who’d have thought the words joy and paying could ever enter the same sentence...?)
Once your lead becomes a customer your work has only just begun. With customer advocacy and word of mouth the two biggest growth drivers for a business today, nurturing customers into brand advocates is one of your biggest marketing opportunities. Access the right channels for people to contact you and actively engage with your customers where ever they happen to be - whether that’s on Facebook, Twitter, email or via your website.
Be active where your buyers are and deliver timely, helpful responses. When you become the antidote to your buyers pains you become a trusted authority. Use CTA’s so that they can get in direct contact with you with minimum effort. Do this well, and you'll soon have customers shouting from the rooftops about your slick service.
Engage with your social community
"72% of marketers use social media" (HubSpot) to develop loyal fans. Having tight-knit community on social media is essential for successful word of mouth marketing tactics. Think back to the last time you shared one of your favourite brands posts...
It’s better to be engaging with 100 Facebook subscribers that already like you than getting 10,000 people to like your page by running a free giveaway that has nothing to do with your brand.
- Identify the right channels
- Conduct research on what types of language/humour appeals to them.
- Amplify their social media efforts - make them your focus
- Reach out to influencers
- Be authentic and honest in your personality
- Share helpful videos
Be an authority
Making the buyer's journey pleasant and painless is just part of the jigsaw to generating a buzz about your startup. Next, you’ve got to put some meat on the bones by proving that you’re actually a big shot in the making. The way to do that is by becoming an authority in your industry.
How do you prove your an expert in your field? You do what experts in your chosen field do:
- Speak at industry events
- Create informative videos
- Write blog posts / white-papers / ebooks
- Share “behind-the-scenes” pictures
- Engage with other experts
Help first, then sell
"Potential buyers care less about what you have to say about yourself, and more than ever about what your customers have to say about you." (HubSpot). Customer reviews and client testimonials are therefore your greatest marketing asset.
The only way to ensure what others are saying about you is positive is by delivering a genuinely generous customer experience. As soon as your focus becomes to generate leads, people will start to see right through it and you will repel rather than attract.
Key then to ensuring a positive experience is by helping your customers overcome their challenges and achieve their goals. That is a key principle of inbound marketing and fundamental to generating word-of-mouth marketing.
If you are focused on improving your bottom line, focus on helping others first. Stop viewing your job as closing deals. Instead, consider your role to open relationships and start conversations. After all, it is those customer relationships ultimately that power your business.