Today’s Volusion blog post addresses part two of our Word of Mouth Marketing Series, covering the basic element of educating others about your products. This foundation of WOM is essential to the overall strategy of your online business. Keep reading to learn tips on how to get started and how to integrate social media tactics into your WOM efforts.
Yesterday we covered a brief introduction of Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM), where we defined the concept, highlighted different types of WOM and outlined the basic elements of WOM techniques. These elements serve as the basis of our blog series, and today we’ll cover the first step in launching a successful WOM campaign – educating people about your products and services.
This may seem pretty basic, but education is an absolutely critical step in getting started. Just think – your advocates have to know about your brand/products before they can spread the word to others. Additionally, you need to prime your advocates to say the right things by instilling trust and knowledge in them. I’m not going to lie, education takes a lot of time and patience, but the benefits far outweigh the risks of using a sporadic approach in teaching people about your products and their benefits.
The overarching concept here is building awareness. Here’s some basic tactics to start enlightening your customers:
Put together a great website and promote the heck out of it.
Your website is the headquarters of your word of mouth strategy. This is because you have 100% control of its content and how you craft the message. While refining your content, make sure you have the goal of “education” in the back of your mind. Here’s some quick tips on how to approach this:
- Use third party validation. Reference industry experts in explaining the importance and benefits of your product offering. Use outside links, quotes, opinions, etc. to prove your point.
- Cater to your audiences. Make sure you frame your text so it’s digestible to those unfamiliar with your industry without insulting the experience of well-versed shoppers.
- Include your point of difference. While educating others on the importance of your products/industry is important, you want them to include your business in their conversations. So if you’re selling electronics, you’d want someone to say, “LCD TVs are more durable than plasmas, and Elaine’s Electronics has the best LCD selection out there.”
Then, make sure you’re promoting your website through SEO/SEM efforts, PPC campaigns, etc. There are tons of resources out there to help you find the appropriate fit.
Use social media channels to become an educational resource.
Honesty alert: your website just isn’t enough to become a thought leader. This is why it’s important to ramp up your social media efforts to boost credibility. For example, you can use your Facebook page to start discussions about various products and industry trends. If someone has a question, your expertise can provide an answer (with a callout to your online business, of course). You can also share pertinent articles and resources on your Twitter page.
Another far-reaching tactic is to become involved in the blogosphere. There are blogs out there covering any topic imaginable, and people are becoming more and more involved. Writing your own blog is a great way to get started – again, you control the content here.
One often overlooked step is the practice of reading related blogs and leaving insightful comments and opinions. This will allow you to build relationships and garner respect among your community. You can also interact, comment and grow ties within various user forums.
Create something unique and of educational value to others.
Remember putting together research papers back in school? You know, where you had to reference a ton of books and articles to create a conclusion or discuss an emerging trend? Yep, pulling out your academic resources can be a good way to educate others about your products. This can be in the form of a white paper or a very well thought out blog post. If people can see that you’ve put in a lot of effort to draw your conclusions from various resources, they’ll value your business and its insight as a resource of its own. You’ll be surprised at how quickly these valuable education pieces can travel across the Web.
Don’t be afraid to correct others if they’re spreading misinformation.
I have to warn you, no matter how much work you put into educating and enlightening others, there’s going to be misinformation out there. Don’t be afraid to (tactfully) correct others if they’re spreading false facts or insights. Take a look at Yelp – there are tons of reviews on the site that don’t necessarily speak the truth. The review site has now given storeowners the power to respond to negative and incorrect comments.
Another important avenue is to explore blog and forum posts. If people are saying that Elaine’s most affordable LCD TV is $1200, Elaine would be wise to step in, disclose herself, and reply that her TVs actually begin at $595.
This one is a fine balance – you don’t want to respond to every bad comment out there, especially if it’s emotional in nature. But if you see a cold, hard fact that should be corrected, go for it. Just remember to provide proof of your correction.
As you can tell, the education piece of your WOM strategy takes time, and is an ongoing process. There will always be new product developments, new pieces of information flowing around and tons of new users exploring your industry. Just remember the end goal: you want to accurately influence others to talk positively to their peers about your products and brand. In this case, knowledge really is power.
Stay tuned! Next time we’ll discuss how you can identify people that are most likely to share their opinions with others.
Happy (and conversation-sparking) selling!
-Matt Winn, Marketing Associate
What do you think about the ideas suggested above? How do you leverage your social channels to educate others? What are your thoughts on how to appropriately correct misinformation? Any advice you’d like to share? Comments? Leave below!