Tag marketing

How word-of-mouth marketing can shape your business

With modern day technology, marketing is one of the most effective ways to develop an online business. Its impact can be transformative but is commonly underestimated. Marketing channels are influential in driving brand awareness and a strong customer base. In Canada alone, 82% of the population is active on some form of social media. Although marketing can be a costly and take time, social media has given marketing the ideal platform to flourish in modern day brand engagement.

By establishing a conversation with brands, consumers are immersed into a world of constant engagement and emotion. For example, Tim Hortons has become so deeply embedded into our lives, that the Twitter feed and Facebook updates have become a personal invitation to join its journey online.

The world of online and offline is becoming ever more interlinked and with the help of social media, word-of-mouth marketing (WOM) has become essential for businesses across the globe. The concept of creating a positive message, sharing it through widely used channels of communication is not just extremely efficient but very cost effective too.

This gives companies the opportunity to create content that can go viral and help to promote awareness, as well as reputation, both on the Internet as well as on the street.

Marketing expert, Geno Church, explains that the main consumer motivations behind creating conversation can be broken down into three categories:

  • Function: Conversations are generated in order to make agreement and choose which brands are useful and which aren’t.
  • Social: People converse about brands online to look good and to build up their own sense of reputation.
  • Emotion: Brands that create immediate reactions are more inclined to be discussed in both online and offline situations.

Church also describes how the online and offline works within WOM marketing and their key differences:

  • Online: The more public platform (also, voyeuristic) where people feel they have to show how brilliant, unique and special they are. This is called a ‘discontinuous conversation’ because you can actually decide when to respond, and you have the time to determine how you want to respond (depending on how good you want to look.) This is about making a social connection. Not an emotional one.
  • Offline: The more personal space, where you have more instantaneous, face-to-face conversations. This is called ‘continuous conversation’ because it is naturally more emotional, more spontaneous, authentic and real.

Below are three case studies in which WOM marketing has been integral to brand success.


Seen as one of the most successful fashion brands through WOM over the last ten years, Superdry has found itself being a focal point in the media after celebrities like David Beckham and Justin Bieber were spotted wearing the brand. Having their clothing placed in the spotlight at such an early stage in their development, the company saw a major increase in growth and demand, conquering the wider market such as Canada, where they now offer free shipping in return for their customers trust and loyalty.


Raising over $100 million, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been one of the most memorable social media generated charity campaigns ever. Campaigns spiral particularly well if the emotion triggers passion, which was precisely the case with this example. The value of WOM marketing, done correctly, will give the company huge scope to become a major talking point, and whilst it may be difficult to track its success and potentially a lost message through mass communication, the result can present significant changes and an increased awareness of what the company is hoping to achieve.


Boosting your reputation by doing what you do best is a standard every company wants to live up to. A few years ago, if you lived outside of the US and Canada, you may have been forgiven for not knowing what WestJet was but now, every online user has heard of or seen the “Christmas Miracle” video. The video has been viewed online more than 35 million times since it was first posted last December and received coverage across the biggest newspapers in the world, and everyone was buzzing about their successful campaign. Since the video, WestJet’s Facebook page has up to six times the engagement of other airlines, has become a renowned company for their customer service and the entire production cost less than a typical TV spot.

Whether you have created a campaign that is intended to be a part of WOM marketing or it so happens that the Internet picks it up naturally, having people talk about your product or company (online or offline) is the ideal marketing tool to encourage a conversation that is far more free-flowing to boost social engagement and publicity of any brand.

Sandy Martin

By Sandy Martin, a marketing executive at a digital agency based in Leeds. He has an interest in music, business and all things marketing.

Building Your Customer Base (Part 5): Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty: How to generate repeat business

It’s always a great feeling to get a sale and though one-off sales are fine, the chances are you will want every customer to buy from you again and again. The most obvious way to achieve this is to provide a good product or service at a good price, along with excellent customer service. It has never been more important to treat your customers well, since almost half of all consumers now put more importance on customer service since the start of the recession.

Customers love being valued and treated like VIPs. Many shoppers today will not stand for a poor retail experience.

An ‘Insites Study’ revealed 36% would not give a business a second chance if they didn’t feel it was up to scratch.

But generating customer loyalty goes well beyond service at the point of sale.

Take time to find out what customers really value about your business – and give it to them. Involve them in your business. You can even do this by letting them get involved in helping you develop new products and services.

There is always a market for anything that saves people time or money, makes their lives easier, or simpler or cheaper. When providing something like this, make sure your costs are very competitive and you are giving customers exactly what they want, rather than trying to tell them what you think they want. You have to be absolutely focused on delivering something of real value to them.


Missed the earlier posts in this series? Check out: Customer ProfilinLeveraging Existing CustomersHow To Engage After The Sale, and Acquiring New Customers

Building Your Customer Base (Part 4): Acquiring new customers

Acquiring new customers

When it comes to increasing the size of your customer base, the first people you should look to are your most loyal customers. They are your best salespeople because they are more likely to recommend your business to others.

However, if you take the time to learn about them through profiling and communication this will help to tell you who you should be targeting next. Ideally, you should aim to get more customers that are just like the best customers that you already have.

Targeting prospects

You will find that when you are marketing well to your existing customers, you will very quickly start to pick up new ones. To get to this stage, you will have had to learn not only who your customers are but where they are. You will also have discovered what they like about your product or services, when they buy and what communications channels they use.

You then use this exact same information to deliberately target fresh customers through offers and promotions and through generating referrals from existing customers.


How and when to run special offers and promotions

Potential customers are much more likely to take the plunge and buy from you if you offer good incentives for them to do so. The classic ‘Buy-one-get-one-free’ is great if you have unsold stock to shift.

However there are many other incentives you can use, and understanding customer preferences is crucial when making offers and promotions.

For example:

  • Offering a product or service at a discounted rate when a customer buys a popular related product or service will increase your average sale value.
  • Selecting popular products as prizes for competitions and challenges will increase engagement and referrals, particularly online.

Getting the timing right is equally important. When do your customers most likely want to hear what you are offering?  Seasonal sales and external events such as national holidays can offer good hooks for promotions. So, too, can the release of a new and improved product or service.

Don’t just do it randomly: Have a reason to make the offer and stress the value and benefits your customer will gain by taking this offer up.


Use your customers themselves to increase your customer base

Nobody knows the other players in the marketplace better than your existing customers so find ways to get your customers to promote what you do, such as a financial incentive in order to find you new business. Companies like Amazon do this very well by creating an affiliate program; individuals promote your products and get paid a commission on every sale.

Referrals are always a really effective way of getting new customers.  76% of consumers cite word of mouth as their main influence when deciding on which product to buy.

The internet makes it particularly easy for businesses to find get referrals because more than a third of social media users have talked about brands online, and four out of five online retailers reported increased sales after adding comment features on their websites and product pages.

If you are selling or marketing online it makes sense to enable ‘social sharing’ on your website landing pages. You can even ask customers to leave a testimonial if you advertize in online directories.

Your aim is to be certain that wherever new customers are likely to encounter you – online or offline – they are able to read something positive about your business that’s been said by another customer.

To encourage feedback offer customers incentive schemes to refer you. For example you could offer a discount when someone introduces a new customer or an invitation to a product launch. Some businesses now use group buying as a way of encouraging people to share discounts with friends and family on social media sites.

There is always something you can offer your customers as a reward for helping you grow your customer base.


Missed the earlier posts in this series? Check out: Customer ProfilingLeveraging Existing Customers, and How To Engage After The Sale.

Building Your Customer Base (Part 3): Engaging After The Sale

So far we’ve covered Customer Profiling and Leveraging Existing Customers, now lets look at the art of the follow up.

Continue to engage with your customers – even after the sale!

A common trap many businesses fall into is they only communicating with customers to make a sale offer.  Take time to engage and build a relationship with them first. That way, when your customers are ready to buy, they will think of you first.

There are so many ways that you can do this. For example, social media and email newsletters are excellent for maintaining regular contact. Many small business owners comment successfully to local media via a press release to build their profile. You can even use face-to-face networking as a very effective way of getting to know your customers.

Make it a rule to always offer something of value whenever you have contact with your customers. This could simply be answering questions about your products or services.

If you are a niche business, you probably already share your client’s passion for your product or service. Make sure that passion shines through.

Use Social Media!

  • 70% of Internet users use social media
  • 36% of small businesses use Facebook to engage with customers
  • More than 1 in 3 social media users talk about brands online
  • 1 in 3 small businesses sell online and made over $130 BILLION in sales in 2012
  • Click here for more Social Media Stats for 2013

Building Your Customer Base (Part 2): Leveraging Existing Customers

In Part 2 of this series, let’s dive into some tips about how to leverage your existing customers. As mentioned in my 10 Steps To Growing Your Customer Base post, winning new customers is much more expensive than selling more to your existing clients.

Why you should concentrate on looking after your most profitable customers

There is good reason to concentrate on looking after your most profitable customers: In general 80% of sales come from just 20% of your customers. Figures also prove it costs around 5 times more to get new customers as it does to sell to existing ones.

So it makes absolute perfect business sense to identify your most profitable customers.  By making sure you provide them with excellent customer service, you are ensuring they will remain loyal and to maximize your profits.

Not only that, but they will be much more likely to recommend you to others. Your most profitable customers are the ones who will provide the foundation for the growth of your company. You can increase your profits further.  Knowing the characteristics of these clients makes it easier for you to identify and target prospective customers who share similar characteristics.

Derek Williams, chief executive of The WOW! Awards for Customer Service, highlighted how important it was for businesses to identify profitable customers.  He said: “The secret to growth is to have more customers of the type you want to have, to increase your average sale value and to get them to buy more often.”


Building good relationships with existing customers

Communication and good customer service is central to strengthening and building your customer base, but where do you start?

The golden rule of marketing is: Go where your customers are. You could have the greatest idea in the world, but you have to get people to see you. After all, you need to have customers before you start worrying about profits.

For the majority of small businesses, being visible today means having a presence on the internet. According to Internetretailing.net, the IMRG Capgemini Retail Sales Index for March 2013 found a 16% rise in internet sales, compared to the same time last year. In April 2013, Reuters reported 70% of internet users now use social media.

Small businesses have responded well to these statistics by selling online. 36% of them are reaching out to customers through Facebook. Reports in March 2013 show that there are over 15 million brands that have their own Facebook page.

It is well worth doing your homework to find out what channels you should be using to target your customers. A simple way is to ask your customers where they go online.  It is also worth looking to see what your competitors are doing.