Earlier this month, I gave a presentation on how brands can harness word of mouth to drive new customer acquisition at the Glossy Forum in New York.
It tied in well to the overall theme that emerged throughout the day: that brands are focused on gaining consumer trust. And this trust is key to acquiring and retaining a loyal customer base.
Fortunately, word of mouth offers a powerful way to support this. Here’s how you can overcome customer acquisition challenges to reach your target consumers.
The challenges of new customer acquisition
As every business knows all too well, acquiring customers is hard.
For a start, it’s expensive. So expensive, in fact, that it’s not unusual for acquisition costs to surpass the revenue of the new customers they deliver.
(Side note: if you want to read more on this, I highly recommend checking out The Mary Meeker Internet Trends 2019 report.)
These spiralling customer acquisition and retention costs are prompting many retailers to reconsider their marketing strategies.
In August, P&G announced it had slashed ad spend by $350m. Its CEO David Taylor explained the decision as a shift away from media advertising towards performance marketing, where results could be more firmly tracked.
Then there’s the fact that we live in a digital world.
In addition to seeing more than 5,000 ads every day, consumers are bombarded with user-generated content on social media. Instagram alone has more than a billion active monthly users sharing a trillion photos every month.
That's a lot of noise for your brand to cut through.
So against this all, how do you reach consumers and convince them to pick you?
How brands can reach consumers
In the Internet Trends report, Mary Meeker presents a simple formula:
Effective and efficient marketing = product + happy customers + recommendations
If you have a great product and excellent customer service, your happy customers will naturally talk about your brand positively to others. This is particularly prevalent in the beauty, luxury and fashion sectors as we love to compliment people on their appearance.
According to Jonah Berger’s Contagious (another bit of recommended reading for you), word of mouth marketing is 10x more effective than advertising.
Personal style service Stitch Fix is a good example of this in action. For its first few years, the business relied solely on word of mouth to organically grow its customer base. It increased by approximately 100% year-on-year and the brand is now valued at nearly $2bn.
Why word of mouth is so powerful
So what is it that makes personal recommendations so influential on consumer buying decisions?
The answer is simple: trust.
In this age of fake news, paid-for promotional posts and endless noise – both online and off – consumers value the opinion of those they know. This is particularly powerful given the context that trust in mainstream marketing channels has sharply declined over the past five years.
It’s not all that surprising. Who would you be more likely to listen to: a formal bank manager explaining how investing works, or your friend Becky telling you how easy it is now she uses Nutmeg?
But trust isn’t the only factor that matters to consumers (although it is the most important).
Brands these days need to have a meaningful purpose that’s reflected in everything they do. OVO energy is on a mission to zero-carbon living; Huel is committed to producing nutritional food that minimally impacts the environment; Elvie strives to improve women’s lives through smarter technology.
What’s your brand purpose? Find it, communicate it and live by it. Your customers will love – and recommend – you for it.
Harnessing word of mouth conversations
So, there it is in a nutshell: how to make your brand part of the conversation in the digital age. Focus on being a trusted brand that delivers a great product and service that gets your customers talking, and great things can happen.
The only challenge then is to harness these word of mouth conversations – that’s where I come in.
My business card says Global Cheerleader because that’s exactly what I do. I travel around the world telling brands about how other businesses are using Mention Me’s sophisticated technology platform to spread word of their offering.
It’s working, too. So far we’ve delivered 1.7 million referrals totalling £500m in revenue to brands around the world.
To find out how we could help your brand acquire more customers, get in touch. I always have time for a chat.