What factors influence your purchasing decisions? A company coming on top of a Google search? The amount of information it has on its website? The fact you’ve heard of the company before? A firm saying it’s a leader in its field?
While these might often play a role in influencing who you choose to spend money with, there is one factor that trumps them all - word of mouth.
According to a study by Nielsen, 92 per cent of people trust recommendations from friends and relatives more than any other kind of advertising.
That makes word-of-mouth marketing perhaps the most impactful, powerful and important type of marketing there is - and one that brands can’t ignore.
What Encourages People to Recommend a Brand to Others?
Today’s customers are more discerning than ever, so simply offering a competent product or service is no longer a factor that makes you stand out.
Instead, it’s the experience they have with you that lasts in people’s memories, and what they’ll talk about when they’re discussing your firm with their friends, relatives and colleagues.
A positive customer experience can take many forms, such as:
Managing expectations well
Being open and honest about pricing
Having a well-laid out website that’s fast and easy to navigate
Accessible customer service
Good cross-channel integration
Proactively getting in touch with customers if there’s an issue or update to report on
Offering a personalised, bespoke service
Another option for companies is to engage with customers after the transaction has ended. For example, you could send out a customer satisfaction survey to gather feedback and recommendations, as this shows you care about what they think and are happy to act on it.
Alternatively, you could ask them to opt in to an email newsletter or mailing list, so you can let them know about offers, services and products they might be interested in.
In addition, brands can capture data and analytics throughout the customer journey, and use it to improve and refine the process as time goes on.
Ultimately, customers want a smooth experience, to easily find the information they want, and feel they’re being treated as individuals, with their wants, needs and preferences placed front and centre of the customer experience.
If a brand can deliver on that front, they’re much more likely to gain the loyalty and advocacy of customers.
Falling short in one of these areas, perhaps by having a website that takes ages to load, or a lengthy waiting time to talk to a customer service representative, can ruin the customer experience, and mean they won’t recommend you to others.
Online Testimonials are Hugely Influential
Feedback left online by previous customers can also have a big impact on people’s purchasing decisions.
Consumers understand that friends and family members have no vested interest in a business, so are likely to give honest and genuine opinions about them. But the same is also true of those who leave comments about a brand online.
These are real people just like you who are happy to say when a customer experience has been good, bad or indifferent.
According to figures from BrightLocal, nearly nine in ten consumers trust reviews written online by others, as much as they trust recommendations from people they know personally. So it pays for organisations to make use of review platforms such as TrustPilot, so they can not only gather but also showcase the honest opinions of their customers, many of whom will hopefully be effusive with their praise.
Yet despite the power of online testimonials, figures from Impact show that just one in three businesses actively seek out and collect reviews.
Professionally written marketing blurb is important and has a crucial role to play in every stage of the customer journey.
But it’s hugely telling that it’s often not the decisive factor that makes people approach a brand and invest in their product or service.
The views of real people, whether that’s friends or people who’ve commented online, are unfiltered, authentic and genuine, and that carries huge weight when it comes to pushing people into and through the sales funnel.
For more advice on building and marketing your brand, check out the articles in our Accord Mortgages Growth Series Library.
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