It shouldn’t take any convincing for you to believe that word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing that a business can get.
In fact, 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as social media, word of mouth, recommendation from friends and family, above all forms of advertising (Nielsen).
So how can you get more word of mouth referrals from your customers? Here are some tips.
1. Participate in the online conversation
Before becoming your customer, travelers and locals are going to review sites and social media to find word of mouth recommendations. If you’re nowhere to be found, this is a bad sign.
- 93% of global travelers say their booking decisions are impacted by online reviews (Trip Barometer)
- 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations – this is an increase of 10% compared to 2012 (Bright Local Study 2013)
- 70% of travelers look at up to 20 reviews in the planning phase (Tnooz)
You could offer the best experience in the world, but if your business is not listed on review sites, then they’ll definitely go with one of your competitors who have solid TripAdvisor and Facebook profiles, backed with genuine customer photos and reviews.
2. Simply ask
You’re not being pushy by asking your customers to refer you to their friends. Just do it with tact.
- You don’t ask them at the beginning – you obviously need to wait til they have experienced what you have to offer.
- You tell them who would benefit most from an experience like yours (what your target market is).
- You show them that you genuinely want them & their friends to have a good time. This way they won’t feel like it’s all about money (which it shouldn’t be, anyway).
People actually get a kick out of helping others, and it helps if you’re good at what you do.
3. Make a process out of it
Provided you have done right by your customers in terms of service, and they feel that you are committed to showing them a good time and care about their needs, then the word of mouth should come naturally.
But of course, there are things you can do on a continual basis to boost your efforts. Asking for word of mouth referrals should be part of your structured customer communications process.
Here are a few ideas:
- Run promotions where you offer benefits to them and the person being referred, like a discount, or something for free. The person referring you will feel good about doing it because they’re able to give them a special offer that their friend can’t get on their own.
- Partner with other companies who service your target market. Offer them referral commission.
- Put your request for a referral in your follow-up email after the tour is finished. Your online booking system should allow for this. Also ask for a review on TripAdvisor because it counts as digital word of mouth. You should also actively monitor your online reviews.
- Ask for feedback! Having a feedback form or even just a one-liner telling them to give you their comments nips bad word of mouth in the bud, because it shows you’re willing to listen and are open to change.
- Communicate your competitive advantage – everywhere. Your marketing materials (website, brochures, etc) should all reiterate your key message and why you’re different. This helps your customers explain why you’re awesome when they’re referring you.
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