We all know the challenges marketers face in creating engaging content that not only captures the attention of prospects, but also delivers value to existing customers. We also know from recent studies that social savvy consumers look to their peers to learn about new products and services. Recommendations from peers—as opposed to those from brand marketers—come with a higher level of trust and authenticity. As such, leveraging the voice of your customers for word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful ways for marketers to supplement their content marketing strategy.
Word-of-mouth marketing is no different in the age of the social customer; it’s about people who like your products and services—brand advocates—telling other people about the value of your company’s offerings. But it’s not just important to know this; marketers need to find effective ways to operationalize word-of-mouth marketing in a way that generates leads.
So how can marketers effectively leverage word-of-mouth marketing to increase brand awareness, boost conversions, and drive revenue? Imagine a giant room where your customers are interacting with prospects and recommending your products and services based on their genuine belief in the value of your company’s offerings. Add to this the ability to take your customers’ endorsements and leverage them as part of your content marketing strategy. The version of this imagined room exists in the form of a branded “customer community.”
Customer communities connect prospects to existing customers and help marketers leverage the voice of their customers as vibrant, dynamic marketing content that can drive new customer acquisition. Unfortunately, many companies continue to be stuck in the old mentality of maintaining total control over the content around their marketing messaging. The truth, however, is that the world’s most successful brands have surrendered control over user-generated content and are facilitating people talking to people about the brand. These organizations realize that trying to control the marketing message in the era of social no longer works, and leveraging the voice of customers is one of the most effective ways of converting prospects (and even skeptics) into customers.
To put user-generated marketing content to work for your organization, marketers must think strategically about customer experience management (CXM) and how customer communities fit into the larger CXM strategy. Customer communities—whether they develop on your brand social media pages or are hosted on your company’s website—give customers a place to openly engage with each other and your employees around your products and services.
By bringing in conversations from the social web—from places like Facebook and Twitter—and pulling them into a branded community on your website, marketers can create valuable content that grows as more customers engage with those conversations. These social conversations, in turn, become more permanent and discoverable, improving the SEO of your brand’s website.
These conversations don’t need to be limited to brand pages on social media sites or customer communities that live on pages separate from your company’s homepage or product listings. This type of genuine, word-of-mouth marketing content can also be embedded onto targeted webpages along the ecommerce shopping path, product listing pages— and even specific landing pages for banner ads or email campaigns.
One company that is doing a great job of leveraging word of mouth marketing is Kiddicare, the UK’s largest baby online retailer. Kiddicare deployed a Get Satisfaction widget on their ecommerce site that allows customers to give praise, ask questions, offer feedback and ideas or report an issue.
Kiddicare then embedded praise and questions about each product from the community next to that product on their e-commerce site. This way when prospects who are considering purchasing the product can “Ask Questions” from other customers in the Get Satisfaction community or even get answers from manufacturer’s representative who are also part of the community.
Customer advocates and product champions answer pre-sales questions for shoppers. When prospects want to engage in conversation with the community, they remain in the ecommerce shopping flow, while getting answers to pre-sales questions. Without this technology customers would leave the e-commerce site and go to a separate place like your Facebook brand page and likely abandon the shopping flow. By making customer endorsements available in real time to prospects—and operationalizing word-of-mouth marketing—you reap the many benefits of having a customer community.
Customer communities provide a strong repository for relevant social content that can help you drive more revenue from your social and content strategy. The voice of the customer can make your content much more relevant and dynamic. What are you doing to put the voice of the customer to work for your organization?
*Image courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com