Twitter
LinkedIn
YouTube
RSS
Facebook
ClickBank1
ClickBank1

Incentivizing Word of Mouth Marketing Through a Referral Program

One of the most powerful strategies to spark word of mouth activity is using a referral program. The basic idea is rewarding customers for recommending the brand to their friends and family.

Types of referral programs

There are many different ways to implement a referral program, but the most common (at least online) is giving customers a special link they can share with friends. When one of these friends takes an action, like buying a product, the original customer gets credited a reward for the referral.

Another type is using good old-fashioned coupons. When sending out coupons to existing customers, attaching an additional coupon “for a friend” can be a great way to increase word of mouth activity. Just make sure there’s some sort of restriction in place so people can’t use both coupons for themselves.

In case it’s an offline business, it’s usually easy enough to just ask customers who they were referred by (if anyone).

Advantages of referral programs

The first, and most obvious, advantage is that it is virtually guaranteed to increase word of mouth activity as long as the reward is generous enough. People are simply much more likely to recommend a company to their friends (or strangers!) if they, for example, get a cut of however much that person spends with the company.

Another advantage over many other word of mouth marketing strategies is that a referral program has a chance of actually attracting customers who are otherwise loyal to another brand.

There’s also the usual snowball effect that is to be expected with word of mouth marketing – one person tells 5 friends, who each tell 5 friends, and so on. The difference is with a referral program these customers are actually more likely to actively seek out others to spread the message to, even people they normally don’t associate much with. Increased reach is always welcome!

Any disadvantages?

The main worry with referral programs is that the word of mouth activity will not be “genuine”. Take away the referral program and people will talk a lot less about the brand. The question is, does it really matter? That will probably vary from business to business, but the rule of thumb is that if immediate sales are more important than long term brand awareness, then it’s probably not an issue.

Another potential problem is if the reward is too high – this may lead to customers actually spreading the word to strangers who simply don’t want to hear about it. This is especially true if it’s an online product or service, in which case it’s very easy for users to “spam” others with their referral link. This needs to be taken into account, and there needs to be a plan of action in place for handling situations like that.

There’s no doubt that a referral program can do wonders for sales, providing the reward is generous enough (or, consumers feel strongly enough about the brand, but in that case a referral program is not as important). It doesn’t suit every business, but since it’s usually easy to implement a basic program and see whether it works or not, there’s little reason not to give it a shot!


Ways to Repurpose Content & Get More Out of Each Story

Last blog post I told you about using imagery to best represent what you want your audience to envision in their mind’s eye. This post is going to be about how you can create many different versions of the same marketing story to get more out of each story and so that you can use it on different mediums such as your website and social media.

There are many different ways to tell a story. The great thing about that is you can also tell the same story in many different formats. You can start with text, create a podcast out of it, add some images and create a slideshow, add some movement and music and turn it into a video. You don’t want each format to be identical but you do want the different formats to be connected by one story.

Case Studies — This is a great way to add to any marketing story because your audience loves to hear stories about themselves. They love to read about, or listen to a story about someone just like them having succeeded with your product or service. There are many different forms f case studies too. You might include one or more case studies in your marketing story, depending on your goal. If you include more than one, each can then be taken as a whole and marketed alone.

Testimonials — Using testimonials inside a marketing story or as a marketing story is a great way to speak directly to your audience by letting the audience tell the story themselves. You can design the method, written, video, interview, and the concept and your customers will fit their story into that concept. Make it fun, have a contest and you’ll gather a lot of information and testimonials that you can use to develop your marketing story.

Podcasts — You can actually weave your story over several podcast episodes. After all, telling your story doesn’t have to be done in one fell swoop. Marketing with stories isn’t a one-off event, it’s an ongoing relationship building tool that can inform your entire online presence.

eBooks — Using an eBook format to disseminate your story is a great way to put it all together for your audience who likes to read. You can weave stories into any eBook that you write about any topic. Consumers love a good story, and an eBook is an excellent way to provide it.

Videos — With the advent of simple technology that almost anyone can use to record digital videos you can now use it to create compelling stories with short and even longer videos. This is a really good way to use marketing with stories and testimonials from clients. Letting clients tell their story and how your product and / or service saved the day and is very powerful. Plus, what could be more real?

Images — Graphics and photographs are wonderful additions to any type of story. It’s important to choose the images correctly that add to and not take away from the words that you use. The right image, which might just be a graphically enhanced quote taken right out of the text of your marketing story, can be shared thousands of times.

Memes — You see them on social media like Facebook, Pinterest and other image centric social media sites. A meme can tell a story in a very quick way, and link to the longer, broader story on your website or blog.

Infographics — When you have a lot of data to share with your audience one of the best ways to do it is with infographics. An infographic is longer than a meme, and more than one image, it usually encompasses a lot of data illustrated in image form so that it makes sense to the reader. It’s a powerful way to tell a story quickly.

Learning to repurpose all of your content including when you are marketing with stories is a great way to never run out of ideas. Next week I will tell you some of the most important aspects of marketing with stories that you need to know.


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.