As SEOs, we are always looking for ways to deliver a competitive advantage for our clients. One of the biggest areas we have been able to deliver for a number of our clients is in the local SEO space. Whilst local SEO has been important for some time now, the proliferation of Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) and the rapid rise of local map pack results has made local SEO more important than ever.
The reason why Google places such a strong emphasis on local SEO is that they want to make it easy for people to find local businesses that meet their search requirements. When people search for a product or service, it usually means they are looking to find out more information or make a purchase. Serving up results that show local stores that match that search query delivers an optimum result for users, especially those searching on a mobile device.
Local map pack rankings change depending on the searcher’s location. That means that you will see a different set of results as you move around, always looking to deliver the best possible result. Let’s face it, if you live in Auckland and you are on holiday in Queenstown, there is no point in seeing a list of your local cafes in Auckland when you search for ‘cafes’ or ‘cafes near me’. You want to see a local result.
But what has all this got to do with getting people talking about your business?
Well, one of the biggest factors that influences your local map pack ranking is also a reason to try and get more people talking about your brand – reviews.
People love to read what other customers have to say about your brand and whilst reviews on Google are really important, brand mentions and sentiment can also really help with your overall organic strength.
Word-of-mouth marketing has quickly become one of the most important forms of marketing which can really deliver when it comes to conversions.
According to a study done by Ad Age word of mouth can increase marketing effectiveness by 54%. LXA report that word-of-mouth marketing drives a whopping $6T of annual consumer spending and is estimated to account for 13% of consumer sales.
There’s nothing like a positive endorsement from an existing customer to make a strong impression on prospective clients. After all, long-term customers know first-hand the benefits your product or service offers.
The trust, referrals, and overall brand-building buzz that’s garnered by customers spreading the good word to prospects are worth their weight in gold. Some products, services, and experiences naturally produce chatter, but there are certain things that any company can do to stimulate word of mouth and cash in on the buzz.
Here are seven things you can be doing to get more people talking about your business:
1. Ask for feedback
If you want to get more people talking about your business, the easiest way to do that is simply to ask them.
More often than not, customers are happy to tell you about their experience with your business, good or bad but if you don’t ask them, then it makes it more difficult for them to provide their feedback.
Just because you have a Google Business Profile (GBP) listing doesn’t mean someone will look you up after they have made a purchase with you and leave you with feedback. Make sure you have mechanisms in place to follow up on every customer purchase with a request for feedback.
We have found over time that different tactics work for different businesses. Google has very strict guidelines in place about “paying” for reviews or offering incentives, however, feedback is an essential part of the customer service process for many businesses so encouraging people to review your business and entering them into a prize draw as thanks is a good way to get people talking about your business.
We’ve found that the clients that get the best word-of-mouth coverage are those that overdeliver. It’s the foundation of word-of-mouth marketing because it’s the thing that will get people really opening up about your products or services.
Whether it’s the quality of your product, your customer service or the way you follow up with customers post-purchase, make sure you leave your customers with nothing but positive things to say about your business and it’s amazing how many times they will tell family, friends and anyone that will listen about their experience with your business.
A big part of overdelivering is setting people’s expectations. Don’t showcase things on your website or social media profiles that are unrealistic as that will only give people a sense of what they might expect and then it is likely to lead to disappointment when they engage. Instead, be open and honest with all your communications and let your products, services or your customer service do the talking for you.
3. Build trust
Your brand’s reputation is built upon trust. It’s the foundation of any great brand and without trust, you have no reputation.
Trust is earned by overdelivering (see #2). The more you exceed customers’ expectations time after time, the more trust you build with them and the better your reputation. Once you have earned trust and built a reputation, that’s when word-of-mouth marketing can really gather some traction.
Accept that there will be negatives along the way and use these experiences to continue to overdeliver. Take every bit of feedback and use it to refine your products and services and people will continue to trust in your business.
Trust is another important metric for Google and part of their E-E-A-T directive – Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust. Google wants to showcase businesses that deliver on all four aspects, through the content on their website and the reviews they receive online. This can help to boost rankings, both in the organic space and also in the local space so focus on those four areas whenever you publish content.
4. Incentivise word of mouth
Sometimes you want to speed up the process of word-of-mouth marketing, especially when you know how valuable it can be. Earning trust and building a reputation can take time, but what if you want to start maximising the potential value of word-of-mouth marketing straight away?
Sometimes you have to give people a nudge in the right direction.
Incentivising word-of-mouth marketing is a great way of speeding up the process as well as collecting more feedback that you can use to refine your products and services. Offering a discount to people who leave a review or enter it into a monthly draw can help expedite the process of getting people talking about your business.
Things like refer-a-friend discounts are also really popular and a great way for you to get existing customers to introduce new customers to your brand – a perfect example of word-of-mouth marketing.
5. Publish quality content
Talking with my SEO hat on, a great way to get more people talking about your business, especially online, is to create amazing content.
Identify key questions that people are searching for relating to your products and services and make sure you create high-quality content pieces, such as blogs or videos, that answer those questions in depth and add value to your customers. That way, they are much more likely to hit the share button and spread the word about your brand online. It will also help to build trust and brand reputation.
A great example of this is the work we have done with one of our clients, a car rental company. We have created hundreds of high-quality blog posts, travel itineraries and destination guides to help more people to learn about New Zealand and discover some of the amazing things there is to do here. Whilst this is not directly related to renting a car, a lot of the activities we recommend would be done whilst travelling around New Zealand in, you guessed it, a rental car.
If you can become a thought leader in your sector, you can really corner the market and become the ‘go-to’ website when it comes to finding out all there is to know about the products and services relating to your sector.
6. Get personal through social media
All forms of marketing seem to be focused on delivering a personalised experience these days and word-of-mouth marketing is no different.
You need to show customers and prospective customers that you are a friendly and approachable business and one of the best platforms to do that is social media. Here, you have a direct line to your customers, either through comments or direct messaging.
You can respond to feedback, you can reach out to customers and you can request feedback (see #1), all through your social media channels. This is a great way to showcase that you are engaged with your customers and that you are responsive. Overdeliver in every area of your business and people will start to talk about your brand.
7. Reward your loyal customers
Some customers like to take loyalty one step further and identify a group of hardcore fans/customers that are constantly saying good things about your business. These customers become brand ambassadors and businesses will sometimes put programmes in place to look after their most loyal customers.
Even if you don’t have a specific programme, you can easily identify customers who are promoting your business through word of mouth and look to reward them. This could be as simple as an exclusive discount code off their next purchase, or a chance to try a new product before it makes it on the shelves.
Surprising your loyal customers and rewarding them will not only get them talking about your business, it will also help to build trust and long-term loyalty.
Get people talking about your business
Hopefully, these tips have given you some good ideas to get more people talking about your business. Whilst word-of-mouth marketing can be hard to measure, it’s still a vital part of any marketing strategy and the impact on conversions and long-term customer loyalty can be off the charts.