Most of us are familiar with the phrase “word-of-mouth.”  In marketing terms, this phrase is often used to describe the conversations people have with each other about a certain topic, product or service. These conversations result in the spread of opinion as people (usually unconsciously) forward their opinions in new conversations. Furthermore, when it comes to products, we believe in the opinions of people we trust. According to MediaBistro, 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions come from word-of-mouth and these numbers indicate the level of reliance on the opinions of friends and family.

The emergence of social media has made it a lot easier to connect with more people. The ‘real-life’ word-of-mouth process has found its presence online and has become a very powerful tool. Many businesses are built on referrals by past or existing online clients. The following are a few tips on how to start word-of-mouth referrals online:

–          Online presence: If your company has an established online presence (e.g. Twitter and Facebook), you’re already heading in the right direction. You have to connect with satisfied clients, past and current, and build relationships with them. Online presence allows your business to be found and contacted easily by prospects.

–          Delivering high quality work: Word-of-mouth will only work to your benefit if you deliver quality products and services to your clients. Your clients will be happy to make referrals on your behalf if they are satisfied with your work, and with the experience they have had with you.

–          Face-to-face communication: Offline word-of-mouth can have a huge influence on the online progress. Reach out to your audience face-to-face as well; for example, attend a conference, or better yet, speak at conferences. This is a proven method of how to grow your network, on- and offline.

–          Personal referrals: Connect with people outside your industry as well as people in your personal life. Make sure those in your personal life are well aware of your capabilities and expertise. You never know where this could lead to. Those outside your industry are likely to need your talent at one point and when this point arrives, you’ll have to be accessible for them.

–          Use business to drive business: Don’t hesitate to make recommendations yourself. People will appreciate the gesture and might return the favor.

–          Maintain client relationships: As mentioned before, delivering a good product is part of the success of word-of-mouth. However, it’s the relationship you have with your client that could determine a referral on your behalf. I think that past clients are as important as current clients in this matter.

Investing in a word-of-mouth strategy – as part of your marketing strategy – will save your company advertising expenses and will enhance the growth of your network. Keep in mind that offline interaction can turn into online connections and vice versa, so pay attention to both.

If you have any questions or remarks, feel free to leave a comment.