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What is referral marketing?

Patrycja Lisowska
25/05/2022 | 9 min read
What is referral marketing?

Table of contents

    The marketing potential that lies in customer reviews is currently invaluable. As consumers remain indifferent to traditional forms of advertising, they prefer to seek information about your brand online, among their friends, or on influencer vlogs. The knowledge mine for prosumers is opinions and recommendations from others, so today, make an effort to attract the attention of your audience through recommendation marketing. Modern prosumers are individuals engaged in co-creating a brand and its image, wanting to shape the opinions of other consumers about the company. Be sure that they will not passively consume your message and will rather seek interesting information from independent sources than be lured by advertisements. For prosumers, the opinions and recommendations of other users are much more important, as well as the ability to share their own knowledge with them. Therefore, if you care about two-way communication with conscious consumers, it is essential to delve into the topic of recommendation marketing. Recommendation marketing and word-of-mouth marketing If we refer to the works of communication practitioners in the industry, we will come across the interchangeable use of the terms "word-of-mouth marketing" and "recommendation marketing." But are these two terms really synonymous and can they be used interchangeably? To answer these questions, we need to refer to English-language works, where the term WOM - Word of Mouth originates. In the broadest sense, it means consumers expressing opinions about a brand, sharing information about the company's offered services or products, and above all, their advantages and disadvantages. It is nothing more than consumers communicating, let's add informally, to exchange their views, experiences, and feelings towards a particular company and its offerings. On the other hand, Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) refers to all practices that encourage customers to discuss a brand, but also create opportunities for such conversations. The main goal of these actions is to generate a wave of consumer recommendations that attract potential customers and thus impact sales growth. Campaigns are usually carried out on two levels - the first is providing customers with topics for discussion and thus stimulating interest around the brand. To capture the attention of customers, companies rely on personal experiences of consumers with a particular product - as nothing influences purchasing decisions as strongly as the opportunity to test a product. The second area is the management of opinions that appear online as a result of these actions. The term WOMM is known in our country as "marketing szeptany" (buzz marketing), but often its understanding is mistakenly limited only to one of its forms, namely buzz marketing. In practice, buzz marketing is a much broader concept that also includes marketing practices such as viral marketing or recommendation marketing. Selected forms of buzz marketing Let's take a look at the actions that are hidden under the most important forms of buzz marketing. Recommendation marketing - spreading information about a product or service through existing customers of the company, bypassing traditional forms of advertising. These actions can be both "organic" and initiated or directed by company employees whose task is to motivate customers to leave reviews or recommendations online. Buzz marketing - involves building strong excitement around a product or service and arousing emotions among users. The "buzz" is created by consumers who have used the company's offer and want to spontaneously share positive recommendations about the product. In theory, buzz marketing has lost some authenticity in its message, and opinions about the brand, left among others on internet forums or blogs, are not the result of customers' enthusiasm but intentional actions of company employees or hired advertising agencies. This type of communication is based more on advertising posts than on genuine consumer reviews, which are often placed in comments under industry publications. However, we do not intend to evaluate the described practices because when conducted ethically and skillfully, buzz marketing campaigns can significantly increase brand reach and encourage customers to take action. Viral marketing - aims to distribute funny and original content about the brand, but the emphasis here is on advertising materials rather than product recommendations. All the above-mentioned techniques of buzz marketing are intended to bring the desired publicity to the brand and contribute to the growth of online opinions about the company. However, each of them achieves this goal using different tools. In this article, we will focus primarily on recommendation marketing, which can lead to increased brand recognition and credibility in the eyes of customers. How to conduct a recommendation marketing campaign? The growing importance of consumer opinions provides an opportunity for companies to utilize recommendation marketing to gain customer engagement and build authentic relationships. If you are wondering how to harness the power of recommendations in your company's strategy, take a look at a few tips we have prepared for an effective recommendation marketing campaign. Let us focus on identifying the appropriate form of recommendation marketing for your business. The choice of methods to reach potential customers should be based on two premises: the characteristics of your target group and the specifics of the industry in which you operate. However, we will make this task easier for you by presenting some of the most interesting practices in the field of recommendation marketing. The goal of each of them is to generate interest among potential and existing customers, resulting in positive recommendations. Brand blogging - On the one hand, it involves creating company blogs that become a natural platform for obtaining opinions in the form of comments under posts. Furthermore, the blog provides people with a reason to talk not only about topics related to the company's offer but also about its functioning. If your employees are actively involved in activities for others as part of volunteering, be sure to inform your customers about it. By showcasing the social engagement of your business, you will undoubtedly gain the sympathy of many customers. When it comes to product posts, try to provide users with engaging and valuable content - let your publications take the form of guides, where promotional language gives way to the language of benefits. On the other hand, as part of brand blogging, you can collaborate with a blogger who is a specialist and authority in the field that interests you. Offer such a person the opportunity to test your products or evaluate the actions carried out under the brand. Social media marketing, community marketing - This is a strategy that involves engaging the brand in interactions with the community of existing customers. This type of marketing is carried out through thematic groups on Facebook, discussion forums, or other social media platforms. In addition to participating in these places, try to create your own groups of people associated with the brand. This way, you will present a more "human" face of your company and learn about the problems of community members. Remember, social media marketing emphasizes relationships with existing customers, giving them a sense of uniqueness and understanding their needs. However, this does not mean that these groups are closed to potential customers - after all, they will be looking for social confirmation of their decisions, such as reviews from people who have already used your products. Therefore, create a space where your customers can exchange their experiences and observations, and new users can find incentives that will convince them to take advantage of your offer. Your online activity will serve to establish the credibility of your company in the eyes of consumers. In these groups, it is also worth looking for early adopters, i.e., users who use a particular service or product before others. Early adopters provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of the offer, allowing companies to improve product functionality, design, and even after-sales support. They are often considered opinion leaders, following trends and interested in testing innovative solutions that shape the views within a particular group. Early enthusiasts can popularize your product, serving as an educational function and passing on their recommendations to other users. Ambassador marketing and trendsetting - The most active fans can become ambassadors for your brand in the future, so it is worth looking for them among the members of the aforementioned groups. Brand advocates are individuals who represent and promote your company in a positive way by introducing consumers to your offerings and building credibility and trust in your products. They can be famous and influential people who are paid to promote the brand, as well as passionate fans who trust the brand so much that they are willing to advertise it through their channels without expecting any benefits. When looking for a brand ambassador, find an influencer whose beliefs and values align with your target audience. In the case of the most dedicated fans who spontaneously recommend your brand to others, do not forget to reward them for their activity. Also, do not limit yourself to well-known names and top internet creators. It may be hard to believe, but some of the best brand ambassadors can be your employees. Evangelist marketing - Its goal is to build such strong trust in the brand or belief in a particular product or service that the consumer voluntarily becomes an advocate for our company. An evangelist is a person absorbed in the idea of the brand, believing in its vision, and encouraging others to use its services (without expecting any benefits). Of course, not every brand can turn its customers into evangelists. After all, we cannot influence the conversations we have with our friends or the recommendations we give to our closest friends. To encourage people to share their experiences enthusiastically, you should stimulate customer discussions, constantly engage communities centered around the brand, and become friends with social listening techniques. The development of recommendation marketing is related to the use of online reviews to establish the credibility of a company in the eyes of consumers. It also involves fueling discussions about the brand to maintain interest in our products. If you care about building authentic relationships with customers, make sure you manage online reviews properly and incorporate recommendation marketing into your communication strategy today.

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