With the presence of social media and the internet, Referral Marketing is more relevant today than ever and is able to influence purchasing decisions of millions of consumers. How important this area of marketing is for the success of a company is confirmed by an interesting study carried out by Nielsen in 2015 entitled ” Global trust in advertising “. The market research company surveyed over 30,000 consumers from 60 countries (including Italy) with the aim of analyzing the public sentiment towards advertising.
The analysis took into account content that was generated both through the company’s internal channels, such as the website and email marketing and through external media, such as paid advertising on radio, TV, the press and the Internet, was spread. The so-called “earned media”, i.e. conversations and word-of-mouth propaganda from customers, both online and offline, and editorial content were also analyzed.
The study concludes that the most credible type of advertising is actually done by people we know and whom we trust: 8 out of 10 respondents (83% of all study participants) say that they trust recommendations from friends or family in part or in full. This confidence carries over to the world of the Internet: 66% of consumers believe in opinions published online by other consumers.
Word of mouth is the oldest form of advertising in existence: A person tells others about their experience in connection with a product or service they have purchased or a place they have visited. She talks about it more or less positively and shows the most important advantages and disadvantages associated with it. So it is understandable that marketing has gradually adopted the enormous persuasiveness of this lever in order to influence consumers with the help of certain techniques. These include above all:
- Word-of-Mouth-Marketing (WOMM), so the classic “mouth-to-mouth-propaganda”
- Viral Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
These tactics are aimed to get people to talk about the products or services a company offers. The point is to find the most suitable people and to offer them platforms or incentives that make it easier for them to disseminate information. The ultimate goal of all referral marketing measures is to turn some of the customers into brand advocates who improve the company’s reputation and increase its visibility. Brand advocates are satisfied consumers who recognize themselves in the values of a company and who are ready to bring its products or services to the fore in their own environment. In contrast to brand ambassadors, they act on a voluntary basis and thus enjoy greater trust with people. Let’s take a look at some tips on how you can use referral marketing to grow your own business.
Ask for a review
To use positive word-of-mouth to your own advantage, the first and most basic way to ask the happiest customers to leave a review about their experience with Your company. Think about whether you want to show this on your Facebook company profile, in a special area of your website or in a company brochure. The benefit of this derives primarily from the general psychological mechanism of validation and social proof, which leads people to imitate others and to trust their opinion. Most of the positive reviews will increase trust in the brand.
The right moment to ask for a customer review is when the transaction with the customer online or offline) has just been completed: He is satisfied with you, his memory of the experience is still fresh and he is, therefore, more motivated to sacrifice five minutes of his time to give his opinion. To avoid missing out on this opportunity, be sure to explain exactly how and where the customer should leave the review and accommodate those customers who are struggling to do so by preparing a draft that you can use to orient your assessment. And don’t forget: to maintain your reputation in the online media, you need to be able to handle negative reviews skillfully. Answer in an understandable and polite way and give the dissatisfied buyer the opportunity to try the respective services or products again.
Personalize the customer experience
Another way of making a name for yourself is to give your customers an unforgettable experience – for example in your business premises (physical or online) or in connection with services that Your company offers. For example, imagine a perfumery that offers a free make-up service in order to combine the combined sale of several cosmetic items. Perfumery already has excellent opportunities to increase sales through personalized service, which is particularly popular with women. Thanks to word of mouth, however, it will gain visibility in the customer’s environment and reach new potential customers. How?
By combining the makeup service with a small, professional photoshoot and asking customers for permission to post the photos on the store’s social profiles. A perfect example of personalized service that harnesses the media power of word-of-mouth.
Offer free tests
References can also work very well in the world of services and B2B products. The special technique of Product Seeding consists in making one’s own product (in the form of a loan or a gift) or one’s own service available to so-called influencers. They are best suited to influence the purchase decisions of other people in a specific market niche.
If you want to increase the popularity of your business, you should identify the right person (or company) and give them a free sample in exchange for a review, blog article, or another form of advertising offer. For example, a promotional materials company may offer some promotional displays to a leader in their industry for free or at a low price for use at a trade show or important event. In exchange, the advertiser receives visibility in social networks.
Create engaging content
With viral marketing, another method is used to make a name for yourself and to produce particularly engaging content. This technique works extremely well in the B2C market (for companies targeting private consumers), but with a little creativity, it can also be used in B2B (companies that supply products or services to other companies). A good viral marketing campaign should be unconventional and entertaining or convey a message of strong value.
Take a bank as an example, a type of company that often stands in contrast to the informal and ironic spirit just described. In order to capture the niche of freelancers and craftsmen as well, one could think of a series of short videos about the most humorous situations this group of customers could get into in a bank. One could make these video clips even more authentic by asking account holders from this group of customers beforehand. In this way, you can identify possible topics and – why not – suggest that they participate in the videos themselves.