According to HubSpot, a whopping 90% of people believe brand recommendations from friends, and 61% of consumers use search engines before they make a purchase. With the emergence of social media and the digital transformation of sales and marketing, traditional marketing and how referrals are shared have shifted.
That's why more businesses are taking a more proactive approach with their marketing — and taking their efforts online. Below are a few of the main reasons that the word-of-mouth method should be supplemented with an inbound marketing strategy.
Is Word-Of-Mouth A Good Marketing Strategy?
Word-of-mouth referrals are generally used offline, and small industrial businesses used them to gain new leads and expand brand awareness organically. It is essentially a "free" form of advertising based on customers' experiences that gets shared from person to person. But this time takes to spread and can be inaccurate if they have your services slightly wrong or overestimate your capacity. Therefore the messages may lack credibility. An online marketing strategy gives you control over the brand and messages that get communicated. It also provides data-based approaches to measure your results.
Expanding To New Markets Will Be Difficult
If you’re looking to avoid risk, expanding to new markets is essential — but relying only on organic word-of-mouth referrals can make it challenging to do so. Customers referring your business to other industry professionals only have so much reach. Your existing clients are certainly helping to establish you as a trusted brand, but they’re likely only going to be referring you to people within their field and region, so eventually, the results of these referrals will fade.
If you rely on your customers for lead generation, you risk pigeon-holing your business into one specific sector or industry. This severely limits your chances of opening up new markets and expanding your business into new localities. Plus, it puts your business at risk should your main industry begin to struggle.
You Have Less Control Over Lead Generation Efforts
If you’re solely relying on word-of-mouth referrals, you’re essentially only depending upon your clients to get the word out rather than taking the initiative yourself. This can result in highly inconsistent sales, as the amount of referral leads coming in can vary significantly from month to month. It can be stressful, especially when you're trying to focus on other parts of your business, but crafting a lead generation strategy that makes sense for your brand is far more efficient.
And as much as your customers appreciate your work and believe in your brand, they’re not keeping your business top-of-mind at all times; they have their own business to focus on. You know your business more than anyone else. Who knows how to best market your services or products better than you and your own team?
Read more: 32 Lead Generation Tips, Tricks, and Ideas
You Have No Data To Work With
Tracking user activity and monitoring how potential leads interact with and respond to various marketing tactics — whether through your website, emails, social media, or SEO or PPC — is critical for growing your business and making necessary improvements.
Having this data on hand allows you to see what potential leads are looking for, what they’re downloading, and how they’re engaging — or not engaging — with your brand. Organic word-of-mouth referrals eliminate this possibility, making it difficult to gauge the particular of your brand. The lack of a strategy — and the data — will make it difficult to scale your business with the right business decisions. The value of customer testimonials can still go a long way, as long as you have a strategy in place to gather them, analyze that feedback, and promote it.
How To Supplement Word-Of-Mouth With Inbound Marketing
The challenge for many companies is how to leverage their client testimonial content to best influence buyers. Start simple. Here are a few tips for getting more out of those word-of-mouth referrals and turning them into ways of actively promoting your business.
1. Add Reviews And Testimonials To Your Website
Send Review Request emails to your top and happy customers to build your credibility and publish them on your website. Interview your biggest clients. Ask them how your products or services help them solve their problems and add that feedback to your website (with their permission, of course!) This content should be easy to find on your website so make sure it's designed well and puts your prospective buyers in mind first.
According to a Demand Gen Report survey, 97% of B2B respondents said that it was important that vendor websites offered easy access to content. And buyers take a lot of comfort in knowing that a supplier understands their industry so manufacturers who create a Reviews section on their website or publish Case Studies and Featured Work are one step ahead of competitors.
U.S. Air Filtrations provides solutions in air pollution control. To further showcase the highest level of customer service to prospects, U.S. Air Filtrations features a "What our clients are saying" section on their homepage and About Us page.
Learn More: The Must-Haves On Your About Us Page
Consider writing a narrative about a big customer and posting the story as a blog. You can go a step further and add videos to your blogs to further take your customers' message. This will contribute to SEO traffic and boost your website up relevant search results. Thomas offers free video production with an advertising program — click here to learn more.
Think about it this way: Your online product catalog, site copy, and videos are all part of digital marketing and have relevant keywords buyers are searching for if planned for and researched accordingly, like "precision cnc machining" or "injection molding central Pennsylvania." Adding these relevant keywords to your content improves your online brand awareness and keeps your webpages at the top of online search results where buyers are most engaged.
2. Use Social Media
Social media is a great outlet for promoting your customers' positive feedback about your products/services. Believe it or not, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have played a vital role in the growth of manufacturers and industrial businesses.
When researching products or services for their companies, 20% of millennial buyers start with vendor websites, and 17% look to peer reviews.
Similarly, buyers will check into your review on Google, so remember to keep your Google Business profile up to date. Valuable, insightful content attracts readers, sparks word-of-mouth working together gets your business found online. Claim your Google My Business listing here and include all the categories that accurately describe the services you provide, like “machine shop” and “manufacturer.” Don’t forget to double-check your contact information too and make sure it's the same contact information across all your social media platforms and necessary website pages.
3. Enhance Your Online Presence
An overlooked opportunity for case studies and customer testimonials is in your profile on Thomasnet.com, where the most in-market buyers are searching for businesses like yours. Fill your listing with valuable and dynamic content, like eBooks, resources, and videos that help get your buyers jobs done.
A Thomasnet.com Company Profile is free, but the results from manufacturing companies are unmatched.
To successfully grow your business and reach the valuable leads you’re after, it’s critical to employ a multi-platform marketing strategy. Integrating word-of-mouth marketing with digital marketing efforts can help strengthen your customer base and contribute more to your bottom line. In fact, there's been a rapid acceleration of digital marketing in the manufacturing industry. According to a 2020 industrial survey, 84% of companies are investing more into their website to stay connected with customers and prospects.
To learn how to get started with digital marketing, reach out to our team. We'll help create a plan that's specific to your needs and budget. And our industrial marketers are supported by degreed engineers so we understand the complexities of your business.
“I don’t have a sales team on the street. I have Thomasnet.com. It’s an efficient way of getting qualified leads, and my program pays for itself every year.”
Did you find this useful?