How To Get More Online Bookings | #2 Word of Mouth Marketing
Business owners often think that marketing your business must involve a rather big budget, that must be allocated for running campaigns across various social media platforms, search engines and offline advertising media.
Truth is, the most effective marketing strategies are often the most cost-effective too. Take word of mouth marketing, for instance. Word of mouth marketing is one of the oldest ways of promoting a brand and arguably the one that brings in the most value.
We’ve recently run a survey in which we asked our customers what they consider the most important channel when it comes to acquiring new customers. 89% of those surveyed users voted for word of mouth.
So what exactly is word of mouth marketing, why is it so popular, what tools might be of help and most of all, how to get more online bookings with word of mouth marketing?
What is word of mouth marketing?
Word of mouth marketing, also known as word of mouth advertising (WOM advertising) is, as the name suggests, the strategy whereby you use word of mouth to promote a business, brand, event, product or service.
With this marketing strategy, you turn loyal customers into brand advocates, who spread the word about the excellence of your business. By sharing their opinion on a public platform, they help to turn prospects into customers. Be it social media, review sites or your own website, great reviews can mean more business.
3 reasons why word of mouth marketing is so popular
Word of mouth marketing is not a new phenomenon, it has been around since the first business opened, it just wasn’t perceived as an official marketing strategy. With the emergence of Web 2.0, however, WOM advertising started to soar. If you think about it, this is what powered Facebook’s initial growth. Well, this and scarcity marketing.
So what makes word of mouth marketing so popular?
1. It’s free
Meaning that you don’t necessarily have to spend money on word of mouth marketing, as the idea is to gather organic reviews from customers. However, just because it doesn’t cost you money and so can be considered free, it doesn’t mean that it is free of effort.
Being said that WOM advertising can be free, many companies allocate a significant amount of budget to this part of their marketing mix. According to a recent InvespCRO survey, 64% of marketing executives find WOM as the most effective way of marketing. 82% utilize it to improve brand awareness and 43% expects direct sales coming from WOM efforts.
2. It’s perceived as trustworthy
According to the same study, 88% of customers lay the highest level of trust in recommendations from people they know. When it comes to brand affinity, 28% of consumers say word of mouth is the most important factor in strengthening or eroding it.
Genuine reviews coming from real customers are worth more than any other communication. In the era of trust implosion, clients trust brands less than ever. Your customers are the judge and jury and if they decide to give your company a shoutout, that’s the most trustworthy promotion a brand can get nowadays, so cherish it.
3. It’s evergreen
Once you have a good word of mouth marketing automation in place, you’ll get evergreen traffic from it. You will be able to build up a library of amazing customer feedback, stories, and quotes that you can reuse.
PPC campaigns (Pay Per Click) must always have a budget allocation, while most forms of word of mouth marketing can be fueled without an allocated budget. Of course, you can spend on it every now and then but will get to this soon. Another great thing is that you can have a rough estimate of how much sales WOM will drive month on month.
3 brands with amazing word of mouth marketing strategy
As we touched on it earlier, Facebook has managed to leverage word of mouth marketing and drive quick growth. There are other brands, however, that are worth taking a look at and learning from.
Lush does an amazing job when it comes to brand awareness. They often take a stand on social and environmental causes, such as animal welfare, ethical buying, and fair trade.
Lush’s word of mouth marketing is mostly fueled by these brand awareness activities. This is a very unique case of WOM advertising, as the conversations are often not directly related to the brand. This distance between the products and the topic that is spread by word of mouth makes it even more effective.
When one is looking for cruelty-free bath bombs, the first brand name that pops into their head will likely be Lush. This is how raising awareness about something else rather than your product can create word of mouth marketing for your business and drive sales.
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As of today, the Lush website is going completely egg-free! Unconvinced that even the very best egg production is free from suffering, we have removed eggs from all of our products, replacing them with great ingredients such as linseed and aquafaba so you still get the best results. The new Liverpool store is one of the first shops to get these new innovations with many more following in the following months, so check them out in store or go online. #EggFree #LushLiverpool #LushCosmetics
Do you remember the days when we were all running around with flash drives and external hard drives to always have all of our big and/or important files handy?
In its fledgling days, Dropbox offered a service that not many have known or trusted. Storing data in the cloud? No way! They not only managed to rapidly grow their company, but they actually changed the way of how users thought about storing data. Everybody was talking about how awesome Dropbox was and how much easier it made storing and accessing data even on the go.
Within Dropbox’s referral scheme, users were offered with extra storage space if they referred to a new user. A great example of how a simple referral scheme can power word of mouth marketing.
I’ve never been to an In-N-Out, and so far haven’t visited the west coast of the United States, but if I ever get to California, In-N-Out is right behind Hollywood on my list. I’ve never seen their ads or come across the fast-food chain on social media. I’ve just heard about them, a lot.
They do textbook word of mouth marketing and they do it very well. New customers are offered the standard menu that is simple and cheap. It doesn’t require too much customization, so for a new customer, it’s perfect.
Returning customers, however, will eventually have a taste of ‘The Secret Menu’ and after the experience, they will most definitely talk about it to their friends – this is how I know about it. You can see this menu on their website, but will probably not try it the first time. Unless a friend tells you how to customize it…
How to get more online bookings with word of mouth marketing – the basics
Now that you have seen the importance and power of word of mouth marketing, let’s see how to leverage it in your business.
It’s all about the customer experience
Customer experience is everything nowadays, and I’m going to share the secret to amazing customer experience with you: there’s no secret. This is not where you can save the effort, put in the minimum and get out the maximum.
At the beginning of the article, I mentioned that word of mouth marketing can be free, however, you will need to put in much effort.
To provide excellent customer experience, you will first need to understand your customers. What’s important for them? What are there problems? What is the journey they take to arrive at your footsteps? Put yourself in your clients’ shoes and try to understand what they’re going through, and how could you provide them with the best possible service
Go above and beyond
Your client must feel that the time you spend with them, is all about them. Be it a $2500 garden landscape plan, a $150 photoshoot or a free initial consultation, it must be the best possible experience for the client.
At 10to8, customers who use our free online booking system often mention that they love that we don’t treat them differently. Of course not! Everybody should get the best possible service. If someday they decide to upgrade, that decision will last.
Provide great service, that your clients will never forget and can’t stop talking about. This will not only turn them into returning customers but also help you gain new customers through them.
Who doesn’t love a good surprise? When talking about your services, underpromise them just a bit, and when you’re providing those services overdeliver. It’s always nice to expect something good and get something amazing.
Make sure that you keep in touch with your customers and every now and then send them a thoughtful message. It can be an “I’m thinking about you” card, a throwback behind the scenes photo or anything else that has your personal touch on it. Thoughtful, personalized services, this is what customers want, but they probably don’t expect a follow-up like that. And this is exactly what makes people spread the word about your business.
If you know your customers, you will be able to answer their questions before they even ask them. On the one hand, this will create a sense of professionalism which is a very strong base for a stunning review. On the other hand, this can help you tailor your services around what clients really want.
Let’s quickly go over some basic tips about collecting feedback and reviews and how to merge them into your word of mouth marketing efforts.
How to gather and utilize reviews?
Gathering and analyzing reviews is a huge topic. One of the most important things to note, is that positive feedback is not always good, and negative feedback is not necessarily bad. You just need to know how to make the best use of them. We have a whole other article on mastering feedback analyzation if you wish to look into this on a deeper level.
Firstly, let’s agree on the terminology for this article and say that feedback is what you collect for internal use, such as improving your services, and define reviews as your customers (ideally) positive opinion about your brand shared publicly.
When you’re gathering feedback for internal use, try to avoid being bias. Ask everybody for their opinion and work out a questionnaire that brings back insightful results. It takes some trying and testing to fashion a good survey, but once you succeed, you’ll have invaluable data.
With 10to8, you can automatically send out a satisfaction survey after each appointment, so gathering feedback is made simple.
When it comes to public reviews, you would ideally like to have as many positive reviews in the right places as possible. Do some research to discover where your customers are looking for services like yours. In general, you should have reviews across Google My Business, Trustpilot and Facebook, but make sure to research other relevant platforms too.
Ask satisfied customers, who are likely to write something nice about your business, to review you. You can use several indicators to decide whom to ask: customers who have given you a high NPS Score, positive feedback in the above-mentioned satisfaction survey or simply seemed to be happy with your services. If you have a customer success team, you can even ask them to point satisfied clients to a review platform.
If your budget allows it, you can even run review gathering campaigns where you offer a voucher or a discount for one of your services. You can run these campaigns as often as needed or your budget allocation allows. For continuity, you can set up a simple referral scheme as Dropbox did. This way you are rewarding your customers for taking some time out of their busy schedule to write a review for you, and thus show some appreciation.
e you have nice reviews, make sure to use them wisely…
How to get more online bookings with word of mouth marketing – tips & tricks
Huh! You didn’t think that there’s so much to say about this, did you? Now that you know all of this information, let’s put WOM marketing into action!
Once you’ve done everything to create positive conversations and awareness around your brand, don’t forget to share the amazing results. Getting the material is only 20% of the work, 80% is using it well!
Get more online bookings from social media
The secret to getting more online bookings from social media is to make it easy for fans, followers, and visitors to discover your online booking page. Once this is done, word of mouth marketing can enter.
Share a nice review of your brand every now and then. You can do this in the form of a simple text update if you don’t want to make much fuss about it. However, I recommend that you create an easy-to-edit image template, as image and video updates tend to perform better on most social media platforms.
As an example, take a look at how we share positive reviews about 10to8 online booking system on Twitter.
A more prominent approach can be displaying a nice testimonial on your header image or video, for example on Facebook. As this is the first thing visitors see on your Business Page, it can create a very strong and positive first impression of your brand.
Get more online bookings from your website
If somebody has already landed on your website, it would be a shame not to convert them into actual customers. Make sure to highlight the online booking option with a ‘Book Now’ button or a booking widget like ours:
While the visitor is browsing your site, make sure that you leverage word of mouth marketing and show them reviews from customers across your website. So don’t just collect testimonials on one page hidden somewhere in the footer. Be proud of your customer reviews and sprinkle a bit of positivity to all your important landing pages.
Make sure that it’s not invasive though, displaying an awesome review on a gigantic popup with big red letters will create an awful experience.
On the homepage, you can show a simple star rating, like the one we offer. The 10to8 reviews badge shows a star rating based on the customer satisfaction survey sent out after each appointment. So this really is the genuine opinion of your clients.
Close the deal with your online booking page
Even when customers reach as far as your online booking page, they can still bounce. There can be several reasons for this.
- The visitor might not be ready to book an appointment, however, you might be able to push them through the edge with an appealing booking page.
- The prospect might get a bit uncertain whether they really need the service you provide and they need some convincing.
- This might be the first time the client-to-be sees your prices. If you cater to a price-sensitive audience, they might need a push to convert.
In all of these cases, a reassuring review about your brand can give that extra something that stops visitors from bouncing.
The best place to display a nice quote is your header image, as this will keep showing all the way through until the prospect finishes the booking and turns into an actual customer.
Did you know that this article is the second part of the ‘How to get more online bookings’ series? If you don’t want to miss out on new episodes, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter. Also, check out the other episodes…
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Anna, whose middle name is Hashtag, is an enthusiastic Digital Marketing Executive. She drinks her coffee with cream and Instagram, retweets (almost) every fun fact about koalas and never misses an interesting Facebook webinar about exciting new features. She aims to collect and share the utmost interesting content. And she's also the one, who jumps up and down if we have a new follower on social media.
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