How to generate word-of-mouth advertising as an online seller

Alex Knight
Sep 26, 2018 12:30:00 PM
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There are many ways that online sellers can advertise their products. Typically, this includes PPC ads, marketplace-based initiatives and email marketing. One method that sellers often forget though, is word-of-mouth advertising.

These sellers are missing a trick, as there are some key benefits to word-of-mouth advertising. Not only is it cheaper than many other forms of advertising but it can be more effective. When customers recommend your product, it’s natural and doesn’t come across like a marketing campaign. This can be really powerful in promoting your business.

It can be hard to think of ways to generate successful word-of-mouth advertising, especially when you sell online. So, to get the creative juices flowing, here are a few suggestions on how to get people talking about your business.

Good Service

The number one thing that buyers talk about is service. Unfortunately for sellers, they especially like to share their stories of bad service. This means it’s imperative that you do the basics right. You need to have fast shipping as standard and offer great customer support, whether it’s handling product queries or customer complaints.


To make this process as efficient and professional as possible, most sellers use a customer service helpdesk. Using a tool like eDesk can help you assign customer service tickets to each of your reps and ensure that they are handled quickly but professionally. By creating templates you can have detailed responses, personalised with each customer’s details, ready to send.

Go the extra mile!

Alongside using software, you need to add a finishing touch to round off your service, just to go that extra mile. It’s your chance to be creative and give customers an experience that they weren’t expecting. Some ideas for this are:


  • Expert aftercare - Great for highly technical products, especially electronics. It could be that you create some troubleshooting guides or offer to walk customers through the setup process if they’re struggling.
  • Personalised suggestions - This is a good way to show customers that they matter. A strong example, is adding a little handwritten note in with the order recommending other, complimentary products. The tone shouldn’t be pushy. Aim for a “Thanks for your order! We also love…”.
  • Freebies - This could be your products or someone else’s. If you’re a regular ASOS shopper for example, you’ll know the joy of opening your package and sometimes finding a free funsize chocolate bar inside!
  • Try before you buy - Think online opticians or mattress manufacturers. If you’ve got a product that customers like, or need, to try out, then consider letting them - it can become a great talking point. Not only are customers going to ask friends for their opinions, but it’s something that makes your whole business stand out.  

Referral Scheme

Sometimes, your customers might need an incentive to get them talking. If there’s something in it for them, they’re going to be far more receptive. So, having a referral scheme can really get your word-of-mouth advertising going.


It’s really up to you what discount you offer. The overall point just needs to be that there’s an incentive for the buyer to recommend a friend, and an incentive for that friend to buy from you. A great example, is where your customer enters their friend’s email. Both parties then get sent a discount code.


Another option is to give your customers a personalised URL. They then send it to their friends and any purchases made via the URL will be tracked. Every month, the sales made via each URL are tallied and the customer receives some form of reimbursement. You could also offer each person they refer a discount off of their first order.


A hidden bonus of having a referral scheme, is that you don’t only gain new customers. By rewarding your current customers, you have a great chance of turning them into repeat customers. So, while there is some cost involved in this method because you’re discounting prices, it’s still cheaper than paying for PPC ads. It can even be more powerful.

 

Social Media

Social Media

When it comes to word-of-mouth advertising, social media is possibly the biggest weapon that an online seller has in their arsenal. Why? Because it can be pretty easy to get a conversation going, without having to spend any money! If you can build a sizable following, then a simple post can get your customers talking.


Let’s say, that you sell clothing and you post a few pictures of your latest stock, or you’ve got a unique tech product and you post a video of it in action. If it resonates, your followers are going to interact with it. This could be by liking the post, tagging people in the comments, sharing it to their timeline or sending it to their friends. No matter which of these they do, it’s going to fire up a conversation.


And, you’re not just limited to sharing pictures or videos of your stock. A current trend that many sellers are following, is to show off their best pieces of feedback on social media. So, next time you get a great piece of feedback, copy the text and create a neat little graphic. You can then upload this to your Instagram account. The idea is that your account then highlights the quality of your service, and business as a whole, not just your products.

Get Yourself Out There

Online sellers focus on getting their business and their products out there but are often reluctant to get themselves out there. This is totally understandable. But, if you have a really innovative product, are trying to make a positive change or have a brilliant founding story, it has the potential to get people talking.


This might seem a fairly left-field suggestion, so you might not know where to start. But, there are a lot of opportunities to develop yourself as a thought leader. It could be that you start by writing about your section of the industry for trade publications. You might want to find relevant YouTube channels to appear on. It could even be speaking at conferences, trade shows or exhibitions.


Now, this method may not directly get your customers speaking about you. But, it will help you establish yourself within your industry. It’s going to get suppliers, retailers and pundits all talking about you. This, in all likelihood, is only going to lead to better exposure with potential customers.

 

Taking the next steps

The Next Steps...

Next time you’re looking at ways to market your products, generating word-of-mouth advertising should definitely be on your list. It’s a great way to create an organic buzz around your products, without having to invest heavily. In fact, you can use word-of-mouth advertising to make a sizable impact for free!


The key to making a success of it, is to cover the basics first. Create your social media accounts and make sure your service is top class. Then focus on being unique. What can you offer customers? How can you set yourself apart and get people talking? Are you products alone innovative enough? Should social media be your focus? Could an attractive referral scheme do the job? Or do you have an angle that means your service is going to blow customers’ minds?


Granted, it might seem like a lot of questions. But if you can use them to assess your business and decide where you can make the biggest impact, word-of-mouth advertising could become key to your success.

 

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