The Secret to Word of Mouth Marketing

word of mouth marketing

In the world of marketing, there are certain advertising tactics and campaigns that really stand the test of time. While some marketing tactics will come and go as the seasons and technologies change, some tactics will endure. One of those marketing tactics, is customer to customer word of mouth and recommendations.

From the earliest forms of brick and mortar retail, to the invention of the telephone, and even in today’s age of social media, consumers have always been willing to refer friends and family to businesses that provide great products and service. By the same token, we as consumers will also seek out trusted recommendations to help guide our own shopping decisions.

In fact there is research from McKinsey that shows that word of mouth can be a factor behind 50 percent of all purchasing decisions, and word of mouth can generate two times the sales of traditional advertising.

Great, word of mouth and referrals are awesome for driving business, but how exactly can a referral program work for an online business.

Here’s a short video we put together that outlines the simple process or a referral can result in tremendous lift to your sales. It’s a simple example of how starting a word of mouth marketing incentive program can help your online business.

Click here to find some more information about the word of mouth process sparked by Forewards.




3 Technologies to get more ecommerce sales

Thank you for shopping

You’re an online business, so it makes sense to be using technology to help drive more sales, and grow your brand. There is a problem with technology though. There is way too much choice. It’s almost like being a kid in a candy (ecommerce) store.

Don’t fret. I’ve scoured the Internet and here are 3 easy to implement technologies that you can start using today to help you start driving more ecommerce sales.

1. Recovery Messages

Over 68% of online shoppers will actually abandon their transaction once they reach the cart.  That’s actually surprisingly high if you think about it. These shoppers have gone through the entire process of learning about your products and added them to their shopping carts. But once they review their order, they leave.

In fact research says that over 2 thirds of them are doing so. Clearly they had interest in buying, but for one reason or another they decided not to. That doesn’t mean that all is lost however, some of these customers might just need an added push or reminder to cross that purchase finish line.

That’s where a recovery message can help.

It doesn’t take too much imagination then to realize that reducing that number or winning back some of those cart abandons could be some really low hanging fruit when it comes to growing your business.

If you’re on a Shopify Professional or Unlimited plan, one feature that some stores overlook is the fact that setting up an abandoned carts (or recovery message) alert email is actually an included feature.

Shopify not only saves those abandoned transactions in your events database, but there is in fact a way to automatically send an email to a customer with a permalink to their abandoned checkout as well. If you do this in an automated fashion there is a good chance that a portion of those abandons will actually return to the store to complete the purchase.

Here is a great tutorial from the Shopify documentation that walks you through the process of setting this up.

2. Social Media

As an ecommerce business there is a very good chance that customers are not only trying to interact with you though social media, but they expect you to be interacting with them in that fashion.

More and more social media is becoming the most convenient way for customer to keep up with you and your business. Customer service issue? Social media. Product inquiry? Social media. Referring their friends? Social media.

With that volume of activity, it’s important for you to keep an eye on that channel to make sure you’re not missing anything.

A great tool to help you organize what’s going on across all your social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter, is Hootsuite.

Use Hootsuite to consolidate all of your social feeds onto one screen. You can also use the tool to setup automated searches for mentions of your store name or URL, or even mentions of your industry. When you see your name come up or a related conversation come up that you can add value to, add your two cents, or reach out directly to those customers. Retail is detail, and using today’s channels to develop relationships with customers and potential customers is a great way to grow your business.

3. Word of Mouth

One of the most beneficial activities that customers can be engaging in online is generating positive word of mouth for your business. Forget the old definitions of B2B (business to business sales) and B2C (business to consumer), these days everything is H2H (human to human). This is especially true when it comes to marketing online. Consumers have trained themselves to tune out advertisements. Instead they are turning to each other for referrals and recommendations.

Don’t miss out on that.

Use apps to simplify and automate the process of asking for reviews and asking for referrals. I’ll go ahead and plus Forewards here for your customer referral and refer a friend needs, but another great (free) solution to help you fill your product review needs is the free Shopify plugin for Product Reviews.


There you have it. 3 quick technologies you can start using TODAY to help generate more sales for your store.


5 Ways to add a human touch to ecommerce

Money robot

“You can’t tickle a robot!”

This and other golden nuggets of knowledge are what I am surprised with on a daily basis from my 5 year old. Truth be told, you can’t really argue with his logic sometimes. He really does make a lot of sense, in his toddler way. Wouldn’t you agree?

Seriously, you can’t tickle a robot. My son is right. The main reason for that (aside from whatever engineering obstacles exist in today’s robot tickler technology) is the fact that robots are not human. As such they lack the same sensory perception that we have. Of course I have not done extensive research in robotics, but I’m assuming that’s the case.

So what in the world do ticklish robots have to do with ecommerce? Well… everything!

In some circles ecommerce gets a bad rap. Especially when it comes to the customer experience and shopping experience. Just like how you can’t tickle a robot, when you shop online it is an inherently unnatural and impersonal feeling. You’re not in a store or a mall, there is probably nobody around you, and there is almost certainly nobody there to shake your hand to greet you.

When it comes to retail, it’s all of these small elements of the shopping experience that retailers have perfected over time (well the good ones have) to create great shopping experiences.

As successful and as fast as ecommerce is growing, there is still quite a lot of room for improvement. Using technology to deliver a much more “human” experience for shoppers, is one of the biggest areas for innovation.

So how exactly can you do this? What elements can be added to an online store to improve the experience in that way? Is there an app for tickling?

Well, the best way to answer these questions may be to look at an example.

Let’s use a retailer that has not only perfected their in store experience but has used technology to really transfer many human shopping elements over to their ecommerce presence as well – Bath & Body Works.

1. Appeal to the Senses

Part and parcel of the Bath & Body Works experience in store is their products. Specifically their vast selection of smelly (in a good way) soaps and candles. For years cooking shows and TV presenters with lame senses of humor have lamented the lack of “smell-o-vision”. Well that feature still isn’t available on laptops and tablets either. So how can you fill that huge experience gap online?

Pictures! Don’t forget that there are other senses as well, and the most powerful one still available to online retailers is the sense of vision. Use big bold, and expressive imagery to display your products, so that even if customers can touch and smell them, they can still appreciate them.

Smelly Soaps

2. Guide the Shopping Experience.

One of the biggest values that in-store salespeople offer shoppers is guiding them through the selection of products towards what they might want most. While it’s impossible to duplicate that one on one experience exactly, you can use your page design to fill in much of that gap.

Adding visual cues and elements to showcase popular products or bundling products together based on use case or user needs is a great way to simulate some of that in store personal touch. DOn’t just have a soap category. Try creating a “relaxing bath” category bundle.

3. Make the Most of Your Promotions

One element of the online shopping experience that is undeniable, and arguably better than the in-store experience, is bargain hunting. Because of easier access to choice and competition, as well as lower logistics costs on the retailer end, online exclusive offers can often be better than in-store equivalents. Make sure your customers know this and make these great online deals easy to find and discover.

Soaps on Sale

4. See Things Like a Customer

Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes. It’s one of the oldest pieces of retail advice out there, and it applies to online as well. Don’t look at your store through the eyes of a developer. Look at your store through the eyes of a customer.

What pages do you want your customer to get to an when? What parts of the page do you want their eyes to be focused on. When it comes to online, these are the critical elements of the experience.

The great thing is there are lots of simple tools you can use to help you measure these experiences without having to rely solely on your gut instincts. Heat map and user tracking like crazy egg helps you understand exactly where your customer are going and what they are looking at.

5. Don’t Compete With Yourself

If you are a multi-channel retailer make the most of all of your assets. Remember your online store shouldn’t compete with your brick and mortar store, or vice versa. You need to provide a seamless experience across all the channels where customers can reach you. When done right each channel should enhance rather than detract from the others


Remember, one of the keys to building loyalty in your customer base is to offer a great customer experience. Whether in person or online, it’s the little details that can often make the difference between a mediocre experience, and a great (more human) experience. Do it right and you’ll be poised to grow your business, build loyalty and increase your chances of getting great word of mouth and referrals from your customers.



What Consumers Want – And How to Give It To Them

The trick to running a successful online or retail business is to really get inside the heads of your customers. The better you understand what they want, what they don’t want, and what drives them to make decisions, the better you’ll be able to tailer the experience your business provides them.
When you can delight your customers with a great experience, that’s when they will not only buy, but they will become loyal to your business, and even refer you to their friends.
But what exactly does that mean? What are the factors that determine a consumer’s perception of your business?
This great infographic from the team at Sociomantic takes a look at the preferences that consumers have, and how business can adapt their online strategies to better suit them.
What Consumers Want and How to Give it to Them

2014 Black Friday Referral Boom

Online shopping and consumers’ desire to purchase things from the comfort of their own homes (and phones) is still growing. If anyone were to argue against that I’ll point them to what we saw in this most recent 2014 Black Friday shopping weekend.

2014 was once again a year of firsts for online shopping. Thanksgiving Thursday this year was a huge shopping day online. For the first time ever, US consumers spent over $1 Billion online on that day. Not to be outdone, Black Friday was a banner ecommerce sales day as well, crossing the $1.5 Billion mark for the first time ever.

What is even more interesting is that over that shopping weekend, consumers were not just in a mood to buy, but they were in a mood to share as well. We saw the total referrals, and referral rates and sales on the Forewards referral platform all significantly up.

We’ve put together this handy infographic to summarize some of the main “a ha!” moments we observed over the Black Friday shopping weekend of 2014.