How to increase powerful, word-of-mouth, recommendations


Word of mouth recommendations

If you have happy customers that love your products and services then you are almost certainly benefitting from good ‘word of mouth’ recommendations.  It’s one of the most effective ways of generating new leads for your business,  and it seems to happen all by itself. But, if it works so well then why is it so often left to chance, and what can be done to harness its power?

The Neilsen Report

Commonly cited, to support the value of ‘word-of-mouth’ advertising, is a report produced by The Neilsen global trust in 2015. In the survey, respondents were asked to say whether or not they trusted different types of advertising and these were then ranked accordingly.

These were the top five for Europe:-

  1. Recommendations from people I know - 78%

  2. Consumer opinions posted online -  60%

  3. Branded websites - 54%

  4. Editorial content e.g. newspapers - 52%

  5. Adverts on TV  - 45%

See the full report here Neilsen report 2015

Encouraging recommendations

And trust is the key.  Customers want to ensure that when they’re  making a purchase or signing up to a service, their expectations are going to be met.  Sometimes, with endless and confusing amounts of information available they can become less, not more, able to make a decision. When the recommendation comes from a trusted friend or family, they feel it has been tried and tested by someone whose opinion they value.  So, businesses can  benefit from actively encouraging or incentivising their customers to pass on good reviews.

Example:  Ibeanie

At the Ideal Home Show in Glasgow last week a new product called an ‘Ibeani’ caught my eye.  A product for holding an ipad, it works well, it looks good, and I’m happy with my purchase. The bee print version  I picked has an extra benefit to the environment as the company donates a percentage of the sale to saving bees.   Totally justified the spend then!

The packaging was simple and stylish and inside the box, as soon as I opened, was a thank you card (pictured) and a request to recommend the product. Nice touch. Well I already passed on the thank you card with the 10% off to a friend and now I’m sharing it here too.


Retail incentives

From online retailers I have received similar requests by email. There’s often a financial incentive e.g. send this to five friends and you will receive £20 off your next purchase when they each place their first order.  If I love the brand then I’m happy to recommend them and the money off is a bonus for me.

And there are numerous ways that businesses can inexpensively encourage their customers to recommend them.  But often they don’t ask. So maybe this should become as much a part of a marketing strategy as Google and Facebook Ads.  Which, incidentally, in the Neilsen report mentioned, scored 36% and 32% respectively on customer trust.

Top tips to encourage word of mouth

Here are some tips to put this into practise:-

  1. User generated content - encourage your customers to share images of their purchase on social media or to upload photos directly to your site.  Pictures of themselves styling their #OOTD, using your product in their home, the meal they made with ingredients purchased from your store.

  2. Offer your best customers a unique experience that they will want to share - an invite to the launch party of your new shop or restaurant.  A free sample of your latest product to try out and review. A tour of your factory with an informative talk from one of the designers.

  3. Thank you cards - as described above, included with their purchase and with an incentive to purchase again and recommend to a friend.

  4. Referral sites - for ecommerce there are sites such as Referral Candy where this process is automated.  The customer will receive an email following a purchase which will offer a discount or financial reward for recommendations which is available for the customers next purchase and the friend they are sending it to.

  5. Testimonials - when customers phone, email, text to say how happy they were with their purchase they can be directed to Facebook or Google Reviews but you could also ask if you can share this yourself on your website or social media.  

If you would like to see more examples of great referral campaigns from companies such as Dropbox, Airbnb and Prezi, then click here

I  would love to hear about any other suggestions for increasing word-of-mouth recommendations in the comments below.  

I'm a marketing consultant providing creative marketing services for small and medium sized businesses  in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the surrounding area, on a project or freelance basis.  Contact me at the email or number below for more information