Guest Janine Popick on Making the Most out of Happy Customers

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Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to grow your business—and the size of your email marketing list. The entire customer experience needs to be superior in order to get your word of mouth referrals started.

At VerticalResponse a huge number of the people who sign up for our service select “Word of Mouth” as the source for where they heard about our company. This obviously has a huge impact on our business and sales!

Below I’ve listed 6 easy ways you can tap into this referral potential by encouraging–and making it easy for–happy customers to tell their friends about you.

1. Use Customer Testimonials

Some customers will want free advertising and ask you if they can participate. More often than not your customers will tell their friends to check out their testimonial, thereby driving more traffic to your site. These are your “influencers.” I can’t tell you how many more eyeballs we got at VerticalResponse by putting our customers in our ad campaigns.
Help your testimonials stand out by including a photo of the customer and the address of the customer’s website.  This will legitimize the testimonial and provide a free advertising bonus for your customer.

If you don’t have any testimonials on your site, just ask. Many customers are willing to give you a referral, but haven’t done so due to time or simply not thinking about it. Don’t be afraid of asking your customers for referrals. If you can sweeten the pot a bit by providing some kind of discount or bonus to the referrer or the referred (or both), then all the better.

2. Use “Tell a Friend” and “Forward to a Friend”

Don’t forget to include a “Forward to a Friend” link in your outgoing email messages, whether you use VerticalResponse or another email service provider. Once your recipients use the “Forward to a Friend” feature, the “forwardees” will also have the opportunity to join your mailing list. Use a similar “Tell a Friend” feature on every page of your site.

These potential customers are more likely to sign-up to hear from you after someone they trust has forwarded your message over to them. These options are free, simple, and effective way to get new prospects and customers.

3. Use Giveaways

It’s a tried and true method—give away an inexpensive yet useful pen or calendar magnet with your information and company logo on it. Either give it away at your place of business or throw it in the boxes you ship. If your customers and prospects use this promotional material around others, your logo gets viewed again and again.

I once saw a great promotion at a tradeshow. A sponsor was giving away free t-shirts with their logo and messaging on it. If you were spotted with one on, you had the chance to win cash. As you can imagine everyone was wearing one.
I’ve also written a blog post entitled 9 Cool Things to Throw in Your Retail Packaging That Get People Talking About You.

4. Give Pre-Stamped Postcards!

If a customer uses your postcard, it’s a cheap way to get a potential new customer on the receiving end. This is great for destination businesses like hotels, wineries, retail shops. Theme it with the city you’re in.

5. Use Facebook Fan Pages

Social media is a free and easy way to communicate with your customers who are also using these tools. This not only adds a layer of personalization to your communications, it also makes it very simple for a customer’s friend to connect with you. They can easily see that their friend is a fan of your business or product. Sign up at www.facebook.com

6. Start A Company Blog

Starting a blog can be a great way to put a more personal face on your company. It’s also another resource that people can refer their friends and associates to. Regular blogging using your keywords is another way to get you ranked high in natural search on the search engines. Our blog is called the VerticalResponse Email Marketing Blog for Small Businesses. If you need more convincing, check out the recent post on the OrangeSoda blog about “11 Reasons Your Small Business Should Blog”.

I hope those 6 ideas got your creative juices flowing, and that you’ll implement some in your business. If you’re still thirsty for more ways to use referrals to grow your business, there are some great ideas on Andy Sernovitz’s Word of Mouth Marketing Blog.