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Do you know of a good plumber? Do you like your cable provider? Was that new Italian restaurant any good?
Whenever you ask or are asked questions like these, you’re engaging in word-of-mouth marketing. Despite the boom in methods of business communications, word-of-mouth recommendations remain one of the most trusted ways to choose products or services, with 83% of us saying we trust recommendations from people we know.* Obviously, you should want your businesses to get as much good word-of-mouth as it can. But can you do more than provide a good product or service? Thanks to the digital age, the answer is yes. Here are four ways you can improve your word-of-mouth.
More and more people are turning to online influencers for advice on everything from what to wear to where to go on vacation. Who are these influencers? They’re mostly regular men and women who have positioned themselves as an expert on a specific topic or product category through their own website, blog, or social media page. Some influencers have upwards of a million followers and their opinions can directly impact your bottom line.
The good news is, you can connect with influencers in a way you can’t connect with reviewers in traditional media. Some influencers will promote your product or service for a fee, while others will accept access or free gifts in exchange for covering your business. This is worth the effort. One recent study shows that positive coverage from online influencers can be 11 times more valuable than buying a website banner ad.†
Sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Amazon allow anyone to leave reviews about businesses. This type of communication can have a very powerful or negative impact on your business. That’s because 88% of consumers report using online reviews.‡ If consumers are paying attention to them, you should too.
Keeping track of your online reviews can give you a good sense of what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. But they also give you the opportunity to reduce the negative word-of-mouth impact of bad reviews. Most sites allow businesses to directly address complaints, and some allow you to contact the user who left the bad review so you can offer a solution. With work, you can keep bad reviews from being harmful to your business.
A great way to get word-of-mouth started is to do something that gets people talking. This can be as simple as asking people to take a picture with your product and post how they use it. To encourage more posts, you can randomly select one poster a week to win a prize. If your budget allows, you can also hold events and encourage people to talk about them online. Or you can simply add a hashtag to a campaign so that when people mention the campaign, they will popularize the hashtag and thus popularize your business. No matter what kind of marketing you’re doing, you should think about ways to make it interactive so you can get people talking about your business.
Nearly 70% of people trust consumer opinions they see expressed online.* This makes it important for you to monitor what’s being said about you on social media. All social media sites allow you to search for keywords, making it easy to find posts that have recently mentioned your business. You can then thank those who’ve said nice things and/or repost what they’ve said. Perhaps more importantly, you can contact those who’ve posted negative comments and offer to help them with their problem. This can help you build goodwill among your customers. If nothing else, it shows other consumers that you’re responsive, which can have its own benefits.
Effectively using word-of-mouth as part of your communications strategy takes time and effort. If you want to become better at business communications—or make a career out of communications—you can help yourself reach your goals by earning a business degree such as a BS in Business Communication. Through a business communications degree program, you can gain the practical skills and communication skills you need to advance within your current organization or to position yourself for a career in a variety of fields, including marketing, public relations, human resources, advertising, or organizational training and development.
You don’t even have to upend your life to earn your degree. Thanks to the convenience of online education, it’s easier than ever before to earn a bachelor’s degree in communications. As a student at an online university, you can earn your bachelor’s degree from home on a schedule designed so that you can continue working full time. If you want a better understanding of word-of-mouth marketing and business communications in general, there’s no better option than earning an online communications degree.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online BS in Business Communication degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
*Nielsen, Global Trust in Advertising, on the internet at www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2015/global-trust-in-advertising-2015.html.
†Tapinfluence, Sales Effect Study: Influencer Marketing, Nielsen Catalina Solutions (NCS), on the internet at http://pages.tapinfluence.com/hubfs/Nielsen_WhiteWave_Study/1009_-_Nielsen_Study_Case_Study.pdf?submissionGuid=2ee74f96-ad3d-43b2-bcc3-5c2ff2141a72.
‡M. Anderson, 88% of Consumers Trust Online Reviews as Much as Personal Recommendations, Search Engine Land, on the internet at http://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reviews-much-personal-recommendations-195803.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.