The short is: Yes! But, it is very important understand why word-of-mouth referrals to your business are so valuable.
Understanding the reasons behind why certain kinds of marketing are effective help you as a business owner craft your messaging and really connect with your potential customers.
We’ll quickly run through why personal referrals are the best, how to increase people’s trust in your brand, and how to leverage advertising whether it comes from you directly, or secondhand.
Why Word-Of-Mouth Referrals Are the Best Referrals
In this age of reviews, everything has a ‘5-star’ rating system to it. Whether it’s a new movie, a restaurant, or a new gadget on Amazon that’s caught your eye – we all look at the reviews to make our purchasing decision.
So, what’s better than a 5-star review? A personal referral from someone you know.
In fact, 83% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust word-of-mouth recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services – making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness. [Nielson]
We all are desensitized to endless advertising and business’ claims of their reliability and value. So, when a friend or family member recommends a personal, positive experience with a brand, we are much more likely to trust that company and work with them or buy from them.
Now that we’ve broken that down, lets examine how you can cultivate trust in your business.
The Importance of Trust in Business (In the Extra-Digital Age)
It’s obvious that you and I, and your customers, don’t want to work with a shady company. Face-to-face communication is always the best and fosters trust with the consumer.
But how do you actually establish your company’s quality and trustability online?
Aside from having a professional, secure business website you need to leverage the good experience that your other clients have already had with you.
How do you do this?
Testimonials. Quality, personable testimonials that serve as a substitute for the much sought after word-of-mouth referral.
When your site visitors see candid, verifiable comments from other people in their area they start to trust that you more and this moves them closer to working with or buying from you.
What are the “ingredients” of a good testimonial?
The more “real”, the better. First off, get your customer reviews through a third-party such as Google My Business, Yelp, or other pertinent reviewer. This way people won’t wonder if you just put these reviews up to look good. That does happen, and people can tell. If your site visitors see a link to where the reviews came from, they probably won’t actually go and check, but they’ll have piece of mind knowing you’re not making things up.
Second, you want a real picture of the reviewer, with their name, location and a few sentences at least of comments. The more like an actual, living person the reviewer looks like, the more convincing comments will be.
Finally, include those little ‘5 star’ emojis in the reviewer’s testimonial message. It may not seem big, but having a visual representation of the reviewer’s ‘5-star feelings’ is huge. Never lie or bend the star rating, but do represent accurately how the reviewer felt.
Now that you’re a testimonials expert, how do word-of-mouth referrals and online testimonials work together?
How to Get the Best of Both Worlds
Imagine this scenario: One of your satisfied customers recommends your business to a friend. Great!
But what is the first thing that person will likely do? They will Google you to check the reviews.
Despite their friend’s recommendation, if you haven’t built up your online reviews enough, or even have mostly negative reviews, that warm lead fizzles and you just lost a customer.
But, if that same person were to Google you, they find your Google My Business, Yelp page, or testimonials on your website and they see a few dozen people confirming the good words their friend gave them about you – you most likely just won their trust and business.
Cultivating is trust for your brand can be hard, especially now that so much communication is indirect and digital.
But if you leverage the inbound interest generated from word-of-mouth referrals and combine that with the good experiences of current clients with flushed out, convincing testimonials – Your site visitors will be assured that their friend’s vote of confidence for you was deserved.