Word of mouth marketing has been around since the beginning of time and we all know that it’s a great way to generate leads for free. Research proves it. 72% of people get news from friends and family, making word of mouth the most popular channel for sharing .
Word of mouth marketing has evolved over time and now it doesn’t rely solely on having a conversation with your peers, but also on social media and review sites. In the new digital age, there are influencers recommending businesses on Instagram, people who you may follow whose tweets go viral about their experience with a company, and people giving company recommendations in Facebook groups.
However, how does word of mouth marketing compare to having a strong online presence? By online presence we mean a modern, user-friendly website, active social media channels (from Facebook through to LinkedIn), videos, user generated content (UGC) and actively generating authentic and positive reviews, for example.
With a wealth of digital marketing tools at our fingertips, is word of mouth still the #1 contender, or has digital marketing replaced it? It’s a tricky question to answer and that’s why we advise maximising both to increase awareness, attract and secure new leads and increase retention and repeat purchases.
By utilising the right digital marketing channels for your sector, you can get ahead of your competitors. Most companies will receive some form of word of mouth marketing but not all companies have a strong online presence to back it up. You can reach more customers online and collect visible online reviews and testimonials to help build trust and personal recommendations on groups and chat which will lead to increased enquiries and conversions.
How you can best use digital marketing to increase your online presence
There are many ways to increase your brand reputation online and attract potential customers but here are our top 5 tips:
1. People generally trust other people more than they trust a brand themselves
This is where the importance of good customer reviews comes in. If you know a customer is really pleased with the service you have provided, ask them to leave an online review, whether on Facebook, Google My Business listing, or on reviews sites such as TrustPilot. 91% of consumers say that reading a positive review makes them more likely to use a business.  Facebook also has a specific tool that lets its users ask for recommendations.
2. Make sure your website is searchable and user friendly (particularly for mobile search)
Many customers search online for local and reputable companies and will check out your website before contacting you and/or giving you the job. Your website needs to be SEO friendly so people can find you and also user-friendly in terms of navigation, information and calls to action to help you stand out from the competition.
3. Create extra value for your customers
Having a website is great and although most tradespeople have websites, not all tradespeople have a website blog. You can create extra value for your customers by having a blog and writing informative and educational content that will help your customers.
For example, you could write a blog comparing different types of doors. Although you will know the ins-and-outs of bi-fold and composite doors, your customer might not, and by providing free content it will help them understand more and in turn help you win their trust.
4. Ensure you have a social media presence
Having a website is a good start however having social media is now a necessity in the digital age, given that there are over 3.2 billion people on social media globally.  Social media not only enhances your reach, but it is also great for showcasing individual jobs, your brand, your personality as well as enhancing credibility and connecting with the wider industry.
5. Stay active online and stay on your customers’ radar
If you have set up social media profiles, it is important to stay active on these. People value consistent communication so make sure you’re posting a variety of content formats at least every few days to keep your audience engaged. It also helps you increase your business reputation online as well as driving traffic to your website.
There are also many other ways to help build your brand online, but these are our top five starting points. If you have any questions about any of this, or would simply like some advice or assistance, please contact us either by phone on 0345 053 8975 or by email at [email protected] where our team will be happy to help you.
 Pew Research Center