What consumers’ think about certain brands and the products and services they recommend has influenced their friends, families and connections’ purchasing decisions long before technology became an everyday feature of our lives. Even today, 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth recommendations as a key influence in their purchasing decisions (Ogilvy/Google/TNS).
The fact is that word-of-mouth is no “new kid on the block” when it comes to highly effective marketing strategies. However, it has been somewhat revolutionized by the advent of social media and ongoing advancements in technology. Subsequently, it is more important than ever for brands to harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing by leveraging social channels in order to engage with their customers; realize the value of long-term customer relationships; and boost ROI. Today, brands are growing increasingly aware of the potential their customers’ social actions have to generate brand virality and showcase a positive persona of the brand through social channels.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 ways eCommerce merchants can leverage the potential of word-of-mouth marketing and convert their website visitors into active brand ambassadors through social media channels:
1. Integration of Word-of-Mouth Referrals
The easier you make it for your website visitors to share their feedback; reviews; photos and so on via social media, the more likely it is that they’ll do so. Social media widgets are a great way to achieve this goal, as the only action required by the consumer is the simple “click” of a button. It’s also important that your referral programs are integrated across all relevant channels and adapted for mobile devices, so presenting a unified brand image across all platforms.
2. Incentives for Social Sharing
Rewarding consumers for taking the time to advocate your brand via social media is an excellent way to keep them motivated and encourage future interaction, including purchases. With 79% of people saying their primary reason for “liking” a company’s Facebook page is to get discounts (Market Force), you can just imagine the capacity rewards have to grow your consumer base. Ideally, you want your incentive to capture the consumer at the source, i.e. without them having to leave your website.
3. Rewards for Loyalty
Ideally you should have a loyalty program in place that should focus on engaging your customer at every touch-point and awarding them points for every social action taken, such as likes; posts; comments; signing up for your email newsletter and so on. This 360 degree approach is guaranteed to make customers feel more connected to your brand and up their average spend by 20% - 40% (Bain & Company). Awarding loyalty points gives your customers a great reason to promote your brand and can potentially boost customer life time value (CLV) by up to five times.
4. Post Purchase Engagement
Completing a purchase is typically a gratifying moment for your website visitor, making it an ideal time for brands to engage. Brands should therefore implement strategies to transform their customers’“delight” into viral word-of-mouth recommendations by encouraging them to share their purchases via social channels. Taking action to leverage their customers’ “delight” has the potential to increase your brands presence on an exponential (viral) scale and generate a flood of quality referral traffic your site. Remember, each new visitor to your site is a possible future ambassador for your brand.
5. The Power of Product Stories
The power of product stories lies in their capacity to create loads of positive social buzz around a specific product. Tapping the customer sentiments post purchase completion, you can make it easy and fun for your customers to share what they love best about the featured product through social channels. And in turn, the “social proof” they provide can influence other customers to also purchase this same product, and add their own stories. It is the novel nature of product stories that have made them so extremely popular and brands are increasingly tapping into their potential to maximize their visibility on social media; boost their SEO rankings; and increase customer conversion rates.
The bottom line is those brands that are not tapping into the power of word-of-mouth marketing and coupling it with a solid social media strategy are losing out and being left behind. The success of eCommerce merchants simply cannot be separated from the quality of their relationships with consumers, who can either remain just site visitors or become their biggest advocates.
If you have any other effective social strategies that can help convert website visitors into brand ambassadors please feel free to highlight it in the comments below.
About the author
Jai Rawat is CEO of ShopSocially, a social, referral and loyalty platform. Jai is a successful serial entrepreneur, investor, advisor and mentor to several start-ups with over 18 years’ industry experience and an exceptional track record for creating exceptional online consumer products.