It’s no longer about a one-way dialogue from brand to consumer. Now, consumers have a voice across many channels, and they listen to each other far more than marketers, advertisers and brands.
In fact, 92% of people believe in recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising, according to a study by Nielsen.
Smart marketers have tapped into the voice of their consumers, to share their story in a more compelling, genuine and authentic way. This has many advantages for a brand, from creating more loyalty and trust (both for existing and prospective customers), to direct benefits to the bottom line.
Here’s how to use your customers’ voice to amplify your brand’s voice, and in turn, create a highly effective marketing strategy:
User-generated content (UGC)
Content published by your customers is free (although it takes effort to encourage the content creation) and it’s highly effective. This can take the form of photos, videos, testimonials… Really anything that showcases your product from the point of view of your customers.
Encourage UGC through social channels or email campaigns – share your customers’ photos across all channels, reward excellent content and create interaction with competitions and quizzes.
Staying on top of customer reviews is key, as is responding to both positive and negative sentiment.
It’s also important to encourage context behind reviews, rather than just asking customers to provide a rating. Behavioural science practises indicate that customers will respond more positively to a set of reviews if they are accompanied by text and not just a numbered rating.
In the book “Voice of the Customer Marketing”, Ernan Roman explains that 95% of complaining customers will do business with a brand again if the complaint is resolved instantly. In turn, the customer is likely to become an advocate for the brand, and to share their experience with others.
Reviews can also often provide an excellent source of long-tail keywords that can be used across your own site. Similarly, review sites provide rich sources of backlinks and can power SEO strategies.
Be proactive in gathering data, both qualitative (descriptive sentiment) and quantitative (numerical).
This could take the form of polls (Instagram Stories are an ideal format for this), blog comments, email surveys, focus groups and in-depth interviews.
The results from these sources can be used to create content in a number of ways, but the data is also crucial for brand and product development, guided by your customers.
Brands with an authentic “tribe” of followers have a readymade community of advocates. Social media channels can be used to create customer-to-customer conversation, perhaps by sparking debate, asking for advice from your best customers or identifying what unites your “tribe”.
Community management is key here. An “unmanned” community could wreak havoc for your brand, so be sure to moderate discussions, be quick to respond and be upfront about what the community is for.
However, the communities that truly impact brand growth are found offline, in the real world. 92% of brand conversations happen offline in the streets, towns and cities where word-of-mouth is the primary influence in sales, rather than marketing.
Target those real-world communities with invites to pop-up events, give them early access to product launches and send them special gifts to spark even more conversation and advocacy. Find out how communities impact brand growth.
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of word-of-mouth for amplifying marketing strategies. Word-of-mouth is hugely powerful – read our blog on how to activate word-of-mouth during each phase of the marketing funnel – How word-of-mouth can influence the marketing funnel.
The next step? Targeting your advertising towards that word-of-mouth to create even more influence and advocacy.