Using Influencers to Drive Sales Through Word-of-Mouth Marketing in 2020

by | Jul 6, 2020

Can you think back to the last product you used that made you so ecstatic you had to immediately call your friends and encourage them to purchase the same item? Maybe it was this new skincare line that finally provided the moisture you have long been looking for. Or perhaps you found a brand that offered affordable high-quality clothing that was eco-friendly, too. 

A happy customer can turn into an invaluable brand loyalist/influencer. These brand loyalists unleash the unrelenting power of personal recommendation. 

As an online retailer, these sources provide invaluable marketing that you want and need behind your brand. In this article we will break down what makes word of mouth (WOM) marketing so successful, and how you can create an influencer marketing strategy that increases revenue to your ecommerce business.

What is Word of Mouth Marketing?

Word of mouth marketing is a strategy that focuses on generating revenue through personal recommendations. In traditional marketing, word of mouth marketing was literally a verbal recommendation from one happy customer to an interested prospect. Nowadays personal recommendations are happening at lightning speed and on a plethora of different platforms. 

Word of mouth marketing is especially prevalent on social media. Influencers can be found sharing products that “saved their lives” or they showcase their “must haves for summer.” By simply sharing a happy experience, they have created a wide reaching personal recommendation for your brand. 

Positive reviews can also go a long way in boosting your brand. Approximately 93% of online consumers admit reviews make an impact on their purchasing decision. 

Cultivating and supporting customer loyalty is the number one goal of word of mouth marketing. Before we dive into specific examples of word of mouth marketing, here are a few statistics for keeping your customers happy and engaged.

Statistics on Building Brand Loyalty

WOM Marketing Examples – How and Why They Work. 

Buzz Marketing 

Buzz marketing is also commonly known as viral marketing. This is the practice of using creative content to generate buzz or excitement about your brand or a specific product that is about to launch something new. 

An example of a buzz marketing campaign is the Colin Kaepernick Nike ad that lit a fire in the cultural discourse. 

This divisive campaign evoked emotions from those who loved it and those who found it abhorrent. As a marketing campaign, it helped galvanize those that had been calling for change already for years. 

What was the result? Nike earned $163 million in earned media, their brand value increased by $6 billion and they saw a dramatic 31% increase in sales

Buzz marketing is effective because it allows your brand to leverage emotions to spark interest in your brand and products. 

Content Marketing 

Brands that take advantage of blogging and content development are able to place their products in front of their audience through carefully crafted content. High authority blogs and publications that feature your products can influence readers to engage your brand and purchase your products. 

Engaging with blog influencers or media platforms, such as Mashable, Popsugar, Business Insider, Elle, Shape.com or a host of other sites, to talk about your brand will be invaluable. If content doesn’t lead to a purchase, it still lends well to your brand awareness and overarching SEO strategy through generating backlinks through product reviews. 

Social Influencer Marketing

Social influencer marketing is a collaboration between a business and an influential person to promote your product, service or campaign. In today’s ever-evolving social landscape more and more individuals have cultivated dedicated followers on their social media accounts. 

Only 33% of retailers in North America say they don’t use influencers in their marketing strategy. That means more and more brands are taking advantage of this lucrative strategy. 

Influencer marketing can lead to real results. Approximately 34% of daily U.S. Instagram users have purchased an item an influencer recommended

How to Improve Word of Mouth Marketing 

Incorporate a Referral Program 

Use a referral program to keep social influencers engaged with your brand. This creates a personal follow-up with the influencer and it can help you build a calendar for the influencer to regularly promote your products on a predetermined schedule. 

By offering a systematic referral rewards program, it is a great way to encourage happy customers to introduce your brand to other potential prospects. 

Rewards may include:

  • Gift card for referring a set number of prospects.
  • Commission for each sale
  • Free gifts on future purchases
  • Insider discount

IdealFit is a prime example of successfully incorporating a referral program. During COVID-19, IdealFit coordinated with influencers to post at-home workout videos and pushed their womens protein powder heavily. 

On IdealFit’s website, it does a great job by clearly highlighting their referral program in the website header:

The benefit is clearly described once you click on the offer:

They even detail in three simple steps how to take advantage of the offer. 

Leverage Product Reviews 

Word of mouth marketing is highly effective when multiple people are raving about your product. Unfortunately public outcries of affection sometimes require a little push for reviews to come in. in. 

While nudging customers to provide reviews may seem like hard work, there are definite paybacks that you should consider. Contemplate the following customer review statistics:

  • 63% of consumers use search to find and read online reviews
  • 37% of consumers go directly to a review site to read online reviews
  • 54% of people will visit a business’ website after reading a positive review
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 87% of people say that a business needs to have a 3-5 star rating before they will consider using them

If you are looking for a way to encourage your customers to leave a positive review, consider the following: 

  • Post-Purchase Thank You Page
    • “Thank you for your purchase! If you enjoyed your shopping experience, we would love to hear about it. Click the link below and leave us a review!”
  • Monthly Subscription Check-In
    • Customers that subscribed to your monthly subscription service can be targeted with a post-delivery review email. An example would include BarkBox. They reach out after each monthly delivery to gauge how the customer enjoyed the products. 
  • Incorporate Product Reviews into Email Blast
    • Offer the ability to perform the entire product review directly in the email body without navigating to a separate site. 
    • Ask customers for photos and images of them using the product to show how it works. This works very well with clothing brands to show how the clothes fit different body types and to see how it could look on them before buying. 

Image taken from Klaviyo – Image Link is here: https://www.klaviyo.com/blog/get-more-reviews-for-your-products 

Incorporate Influencer Images

Social influencers have the ability to take compelling images of real-life product use that is invaluable for brands. Negotiating with influencers for the rights to use their curated content for your social feed can help your brand stand out against your competitors.

Companies can take this concept a step further by engaging in an influencer takeover. This is where the company hands over the reins of their social media account to the influencer you are working with. 

The benefit of a company takeover is you’re surprising your audience with a fresh voice on your feed and you are also potentially building brand awareness with a new audience you are looking to target.

Tools to Find Social Influencers 

We have compiled a short list of various tools that can be used to find influencers quickly rather than going straight to the Instagram app and doing searches for hashtags. We have listed 6 tools that can be used for finding influencers and bloggers that may not be familiar with your brand, one tool for identifying influencers that are already current customers and one tool to help brands identify content creators that are able to generate quality images and videos that can be used across the company’s social channels

These first four tools are designed to find influencers that may or may not be familiar with the brand. These tools are good at quickly identifying influencers that have an audience and use various hashtags specific to each brand.    

  • Upfluence – A data-driven search engine that enables your team to send automated bulk emails to potential influencers. This tool is designed to streamline your campaign, build influencer profiles, track ROI and keep track of posting schedules.
  • Traackr – Influencer search engine compiled of 6 million vetted profiles that include demographics, brand affinity, fraud detection and historical performance indicators. 
  • Socialbakers – Social influencer platform designed to use AI to build accurate and cost-efficient audience research. This audience knowledge allows you to avoid wasting money on influencers that will not connect with your target audience. 
  • Pixlee – Social influencer search engine that enables you to discover influencers that are the best fit for your brand based on geographic location, followers and engagement. Your team can track influencer participation and post engagement rate all in one platform.
  • TheHHub – . Freelance photographer network designed to connect skilled content creators with your business. TheHHub allows you to post a job, hire the right photographer, receive their images and pay all in one platform. There is no pay fees or required subscription. Businesses can sign up and use it for free. Brands only pay when they’ve found and hired the Creator(s) they want to work with. 

Posting a project, selecting a creator, signing the contract, getting the image or video assets and paying the creator all happens within the The H Hub platform. 

Retailers can take advantage of this resource to generate unique content that goes beyond stock photography. Tool highlights include: 

  • They have 40,000+ talented Creators available to hire. Creating incredible branded content is the focus (less “influencer posting”, though creators do still have a significant collective following, which can be leveraged as part of the project, if a Brand wants to put in their project brief.
  • They have 4,000 super talented videographers to choose from, all eager and ready to go! The average video is made for just $1,200 on The H Hub. They aim to help businesses product more content that is better, faster and for less $$$.
  • If you are looking to leverage a platform like this, you can use get 10% off your first project – good through the end of this year. Use code:  STRYDE10 
  • Wooly – A Customer Commerce platform designed to help marketers turn everyday customers into sales-driving product recommenders. With the Wooly platform, brands create an efficient & authentic sales channel, drive brand awareness without buying ads, and increase brand loyalty. 

Conclusion 

Word of mouth marketing is not a concept you can incorporate successfully overnight. It requires a strategic implementation plan that builds into your existing business model. By incorporating the strategies above, your product and brand will be in the right environment to thrive in today’s digital marketplace. Remember if customers are not talking about you, they are forgetting about you.

Author: TJ Welsh 

TJ Welsh is the VP of Marketing at Stryde, an ecommerce marketing agency offering SEO, Paid Search and Social Ads and CRO services. He has been working in digital marketing for over 12 years and has helped numerous businesses grow through digital marketing. He regularly contributes to Forbes, Shopify and other industry publications. 

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