Word of Mouth Marketing with E-mail

“Word of mouth” is traditionally thought of as something that happens mostly in face-to-face settings. In fact, the statistics support this: a study by Journal of Advertising Research showed that 75% of conversations between consumers about brands take place offline. Also according to them, 15% happens over the phone and “just” 10% takes place online.

That does not, however, mean that it can’t be worthwhile to construct word of mouth marketing strategies for online communication methods like e-mail. Even in an online setting, a recommendation from a friend will weigh much heavier than a regular advertising message. It is also to be expected that the percentage will keep increasing in the coming years, as the trend shows that less people talk on the phone and instead move to e-mail, social networks and online chat.

Encouraging e-mail recommendations

In its simplest form, word of mouth marketing with e-mail is just encouraging consumers to share something positive about a brand with their friends. Getting just one in ten customers to recommend the brand to a friend can have a significant impact on growth, so it’s definitely worth putting some effort into.

The most common method to encourage recommendations through e-mail is probably having an “e-mail to a friend” link on the website, similar to how many businesses have links to encourage sharing on social media. Unfortunately, these links are rarely used by visitors. It requires quite a bit of effort from the consumer, and there is usually no clear reward for using it.

A potential way around this is rewarding consumers for referring their friends to the website (through e-mail or other methods).This will have a much higher adoption rate, especially if the reward is good, but it comes with a big disadvantage: since the recommendations are technically “bought”, consumers will trust them less. If they know their friend gets a reward for inviting them, they’re less likely to consider it a genuine recommendation.

Another strategy that can increase word of mouth through e-mail is creating content that consumers find good/funny/interesting enough to forward to their friends. This is definitely not easy, and can take a good amount of experimentation to get right, but in the long run it may be worth it. Consider two online stores: one that sends out a weekly message simply listing new items and what’s on sale, and another that puts a ton of personality, fun stories and quirky videos in their newsletter. It isn’t much of a stretch to think that the second probably gets forwarded around a lot more.

There’s no doubt that e-mail can be a powerful vehicle to increase word of mouth online, but there are also many potential pitfalls. As with all word of mouth marketing efforts, making the recommendations appear genuine will be the hardest challenge. What works best will vary from business to business, and it’s important to remember that not all businesses are well suited for e-mail promotion. Usually it works best when there is already an existing e-mail relationship between business and consumer.

How to Use Visuals in Your Marketing Stories

Last blog post I told you about how to ensure that your marketing story is something that your audience wants to read. Now I want to explain how the words that you use, the images that you include, and the format of your marketing story makes a difference in how your audience perceives the story.

Use The Natural Talents of Your Audience

Human beings are natural story tellers and also love to listen to stories. Our imaginations are amazing and limitless. Words form pictures in your reader’s mind. The words that you choose can make or break you. If your words prove you don’t understand your audience then you’re in trouble.

Even a 450 page book that has no imagery what-so-ever can be thoroughly enjoyed when read by the right audience, as long as the author was creative at putting together the right words that brought forth the images they wanted their audience to envision. If the author studies their audience well enough, and uses the imagination of their audience, they will weave a winning marketing story.

Find Descriptive Words That Speak to Your Audience

It just goes to show that if you use the right descriptive words to appeal to your audience’s senses that you can actually make them think about exactly what you want them to think about at exactly the time you want them to think it. That’s very powerful stuff. Due to the technology you may be using to tell your stories you can also consider the format in which you present the information.

Research keywords that your audience uses, and words that bring to mind the images you want your audience to think about. If you want to take your readers on a wild ride through the rapids, you can do that with your words. If you want them to feel comfortable, relaxed, and serene your words can do that too. The fact is, words matter.

Choose the Right Imagery

Will you write a paper, a blog post, a slideshow, create a video, or a combination of all of them? Your choices are many. It’s important to ensure that any imagery you use doesn’t take away from your words and lead your audience in the wrong direction. Use great care when choosing the graphics that go with your story to make sure that nothing is confusing or contradictory. Use words that go with the images and vice versa. Use colors, formatting, and fonts that are easy for your audience to read and understand.

Images can go far in helping back up the words that you use in your marketing story. They can also convey many more feelings and emotions more quickly than words alone. But, only if you are very careful and selective when choosing the images. The saying, “a picture is worth a 1000 words” is very accurate, but you don’t want them to compete with the actual words that you use to tell your marketing story. Consider the emotion or action you want to evoke as you choose the images.

Visuals in your marketing stories are very powerful elements that you need to take the time to learn to employ. You can do this by talking to your audience, sharing images on social media with quotes, and learning what your particular audience likes by simply asking them. My next blog post I will talk about the different ways you can repurpose each marketing story in order to get even more traction.

Word of Mouth Marketing with Social Media

The advent of social media is probably the most important thing that has happened to word of mouth marketing since the telephone was invented. Never before has it been so easy for people to discuss and recommend products and services to their friends and family. The opposite is also true of course, as a single tweet can have a devastating impact on a business if not properly tended to.

Here are a few tips to help devise a successful social media strategy that encourages word of mouth activity:

Keep the communication going both ways

Too many businesses make the mistake of treating social media as simple one-way communication. Most of the time they’re really only using it as a vehicle to broadcast their current offerings, and there’s very little personality or “fun” involved. Consumers typically get tired of these types of social media accounts pretty quick, as they feel that they’re constantly being marketed to.

A much better way is using social media to actually interact with consumers and encourage discussion. Instead of just pushing out endless offers and updates all day, ask the fans/followers questions! Instead of simply deleting negative posts, respond to them in a light or serious way depending on the situation. As long as other followers see the excellent, disarming responses, a couple of bad posts won’t do too much harm. In fact they serve to make the brand even more popular! The trick is just being personable and relatable, even if it’s the fan page of a huge multi-national corporation.

Make sharing easy

This is more related to the business website. It’s essential to make sure sharing is easy and all pages are easily reached through a copy-paste friendly URL (which isn’t always the case on JavaScript-heavy websites). Using sharing buttons is a good idea in some cases, but it’s important to make sure they’re not slowing down the website too much, which happens sometimes.

Don’t be afraid of being funny or controversial

It’s a fact that most people use social networks to be entertained. They’re not there to buy things or view marketing messages. It’s therefore important to tailor communications to this. Keeping things light-hearted is usually a good idea, and humor can be an extremely powerful weapon to engage fans.

Most companies are very afraid of controversy, but the fact is that in small doses it can help word of mouth activity greatly. It does require a bit of planning and careful consideration of course. A bit of care needs to be taken so it doesn’t backfire or gets blown way out of proportion.

By implementing these simple strategies, consumers will be much more likely to share and talk about the business on social media. It’s important to remember that social media is something that requires on-going work. For example, it’s not enough to jump on the Twitter account a couple of times per week as people expect much faster response times there. It’s usually a good idea to set up e-mail alerts when someone mentions the company or brand, and try to respond to these messages as soon as they arrive.