Supporting small businesses during and after the pandemic is our priority. As another way to help, we've asked some marketing experts to share their best business-building tips on our blog. Today, our guest is digital marketing expert Adam Enfroy. He's here to offer his insights on how you can decrease marketing expenses while increasing results. The key: incentivizing your customers to do your marketing for you.

It's a well-documented fact that consumers consider businesses with user-generated reviews on their websites to be more trustworthy. User-generated content can include reviews, social media posts, testimonial videos, and the like.

Among the many factors that influence a customer’s buying decision, customer reviews and recommendations seem to be the most crucial. Most online shoppers read reviews before purchasing something.

That means your customers could be your greatest marketing asset, if you know how to get them to be your brand advocates. When you involve customers in your strategy, they feel more loyalty towards your brand, and your marketing becomes more authentic.

Let's explore nine easy methods you can use to get your customers to help market your brand.

#1. Give customers exclusive access

One of the many ways you can build stronger relationships with your customers is to offer them exclusive access to new products, store openings, or sales. The trick here is to choose your most loyal, engaged, or long-standing customers. They're the ones who are most likely to want to advocate for your brand.

Giving customers exclusive access will give a sense of reward, which can push them to engage in word-of-mouth marketing. This method can be extremely impactful, considering people are more likely to trust and buy from a brand recommended by a friend.

But what if you've just opened your store and don’t yet have a loyal customer base? You can jump-start the process using LinkedIn. It's a powerful platform for businesses, especially if you want to target new customers. Here are a few ways to find them:

  1. Use tools like search alerts to get notified of new prospects. Put in keywords related to your business in your search alerts, and you'll get a list of people who are either potential customers or competitors.
  2. Browse the profiles of people who have viewed your company page. It'll help you get a picture of your ideal customer. Additionally, those users may already be interested in your business, meaning you can build a relationship with them more easily.

From here, you can reach out and invite people to take part in your exclusive-access campaign. You'll get them to share your content, and they'll get rewarded for becoming a brand promoter.

Going through this process to build relationships with multiple people can be somewhat difficult to juggle, especially if you do it manually. But you can make use of sales automation tools to keep track of conversations with each person, letting you focus on building the relationships.

sales automation
You can use sales automation tools to help you track outreach to potential brand promoters.

#2. Get more Yelp reviews

Once you have enough Yelp reviews, you can become eligible for the Review Highlights feature. It takes the positive content that past customers have already written and brings it front and center on your page for potential new customers to see.

An example form Yelp

Here are some tips for encouraging shoppers to leave Yelp reviews:

  1. Place a Yelp badge on business cards or other marketing materials that you can put in a shopper's bag when they have purchased something.
  2. Place a Yelp sticker on your storefront in an easily visible place.
  3. Highlight your best Yelp reviews on your social networks.
  4. Include your Yelp listing in your email signature and on your website.

Bonus: One other reason you want to encourage as many reviews as you can: So you don’t end up with only the bad ones on the odd occasion someone has an issue! Having lots of online reviews is typically a win-win for your brand.

#3. Highlight reviews on your website

72% of consumers say they'll make a purchase only after reading online reviews for that product. Displaying customer reviews can increase your conversion rates by up to 270%! Clearly, enabling reviews on your site is a tactic you should take advantage of.

Forms on Fire is a company that benefits from highlighting top reviews on their website:

top customer reviews
Forms on Fire showcases top customer reviews on their website as a form of social proof.

If you already have testimonials, or can find them on other review platforms like Forms on Fire did, putting them on your website is an easy way to make them work for you. Why is this effective? Because prospects who are browsing your site will come across these glowing reviews, and they'll help form a positive image of your brand in their mind right away. That can make them more likely to purchase later.

If you want to display testimonials in an even more effective way, consider building dedicated, custom landing pages for each segment of your customer base. Then, display testimonials and social proof relevant to each one. For example, Woven has separate pages for project managers, real estate, remote workers, and more.

customer testimonials
Consider sorting customer testimonials on your website by segment, like Woven does.

Now, imagine a real estate professional landing on the custom page about Woven for real estate professionals. They'll immediately see testimonials from others in their field, which is content that's highly relevant to them and their needs. It shows them that this business has a solution that's well-liked by others in their industry, which means they'll probably like it too.

#4. Display social proof from customers

Rather than blowing your own trumpet, get proof from customers who love your brand and display it wherever it makes sense. It'll boost your credibility, especially if those customers or review badges are well-known.

This proof can take the form of reviews, ratings, or testimonials. For example, Loganix uses customer quotes to promote their services on their website, rather than just saying how great they are themselves.

customer testimonials
Loganix uses customer testimonials as social proof on their website.

To illustrate how important displaying social proof can be, let's imagine you're in the market for a big-ticket item like a new mattress. Imagine these two scenarios:

  1. You walk into a physical store and choose a mattress. You have no information about it besides what the salesperson tells you.
  2. You visit a mattress store online, like Zoma Sleep. You have instant access to publicity and thousands of customer testimonials about the brand—maybe even about the particular mattress you're interested in. You can get a well-rounded view of what people like and dislike about it overall so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
star ratings and text reviews

Star ratings and text reviews on the Zoma Sleep website help customers make an informed decision about the mattress they're going to buy.

Zoma Sleep highlights which news outlets have mentioned their products as another form of social proof.

In the second scenario, you have much more information to go off of. It's not just one paid employee of the brand telling you what they think. It's hundreds or even thousands of buyers from around the world sharing their experience and their unbiased opinions to help you make the right choice. As a result, you'd be more likely to buy from the online store. That's the power of social proof!

One more thing: It's important to note that social proof can be a powerful tool that extends far beyond your website, too. You can use it across multi-channel marketing—and you should, considering that 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations. For example, you can see that Made uses their Trustpilot score in their email marketing to build more credibility.

You can even include social proof in email campaigns, like Made did with their Trustpilot score.

Leveraging social proof is something you can easily do in Facebook Messenger using Chatfuel, too. Including a testimonials section in your chatbot can help boost trust and, eventually, sales for your business.

#5. Create shareable content

Invest in creating high-quality, informational, entertaining, and shareable content. Make it so that customers can't resist sharing it with their friends and family. It's an easy way to get them to do marketing for you, eventually leading to higher profit margins and more loyal customers. Here are two examples of highly shareable content formats:

#1. Video marketing. You can create shareable, potentially viral video content. Did you know that 55% of shoppers use online video while shopping in a store? This represents a great opportunity to close sales while customers are in your shop, while also encouraging them to share your content (as long as the video content is engaging).

One great example of a company that creates highly shareable video content is Lush Cosmetics. They produce behind-the-scenes videos showing how their products are made. Many of these videos have had over one million views, with their most successful gaining over two million views, 26,000+ likes, 950+ comments, and 390+ Facebook shares.

#2. Visuals and infographics. If you don’t have the budget to produce video content, you can always opt to create eye-catching visuals to engage your customers. Create graphics that your customers will want to share. This task can be easily outsourced to design freelancers. They can whip up infographics and visuals based on your existing content, requiring almost zero work for you.

Another important type of image to get right is your featured images. These sit at the top of your content and therefore create the first impression of your posts. Many people will base their decision to read (and then share) your post or not on this image alone.

feature images
Joby is an example of a site with intriguing feature images to encourage guests to read and share their posts.

If you're creating your own images, invest in good photo-editing software so that they turn out crisp and professional. Dull and hazy pictures look amateurish, and can discourage people from sharing your otherwise amazing content.

Remember: When managing creative projects like these, just be sure to set KPIs so that you can measure and track performance and adjust your strategy accordingly. If you improve your feature images or release new video content but don't set goals and track performance, you won't know what worked best.

#6. Post great content on multiple platforms

Repurpose your existing content into different forms and promote it across multiple platforms. As long as your content is high quality, this will make it easier for people to organically share it.

For instance, you could turn a YouTube video into a blog post. Or try creating a podcast from the audio of your video and submitting it to Spotify. The process isn’t as complicated as you may think, and the potential outcome is lots of new organic visitors and social shares.

convert video in podcast
Converting a video into a podcast is one way to get your content on other platforms so it's more shareable.

When creating content for any platform, perform proper keyword research first. Do everything you can to make sure this content has a chance at ranking and getting organic traffic. You should also use grammar checker tools to ensure the content is readable and makes sense, if it's in written form, which will help with SEO.

Creating different forms of content on different platforms allows you to meet your customers where they are. Each customer may prefer a different mode, style, or format of content. This way, it's easier for them to discover your material, enjoy it, and want share it through their favorite platform.

For example, if your customers want to engage with you via live presentations, it could be worth using tools like webinar platforms to create evergreen, shareable content.

#7. Enable comments on your blog

If you don't provide a way for customers to give their feedback on or publicly discuss your content, you may be missing out on another opportunity for them to share social proof and help market your brand. That's why it's recommended to add a comment feature to your blog when building your website.

blog comments
Face Body Beauty Spa allows visitors to leave comments on their blog.

The interface for leaving comments doesn't have to be complicated. You simply need to allow text space where readers can share their thoughts. Their positive feedback will act as instant social proof for other visitors who visit your blog.

#8. Get customers to spread the word on social media

One clever way to get your customers to spread the word about your business is by running contests and giveaways on social media. If you have a great prize to offer, people will be more likely to spread the word to friends and family so they can enter too. That means free exposure and publicity for your business.

One easy way to run social contests and giveaways is with a Messenger chatbot.

  1. Sign up with no-code software like Chatfuel to create a simple chatbot that will respond to entrants.
  2. Create a Facebook post announcing the giveaway, and tell users to comment to enter.
  3. Use Chatfuel's Comments Autoreply feature to have your chatbot automatically and instantly message those who comment. For those who don't win, the bot can still send some kind of consolation prize, like a discount or voucher. It's an easy way to boost sales almost completely on autopilot.
Chatfuel's Comments Autoreply Entry Point makes running social media contests and giveaways easy.

You could even take this a step further by encouraging users to tag up to three friends to be entered into the giveaway. The best part? You can use chatbots to turn these Facebook post commenters into new customers.

Other examples include Jon Hart Design and their user-generated content campaign. It's designed to encourage customers to show off their Jon Hart products on social media:

First, it's a great way for customers to share their experiences with the brand’s products. Plus, the brand was able to capitalize on the campaign by using the photos to promote the products shown. The campaign also helps them build stronger relationships with their existing customers and encouraging new ones.

It's clear to see that running regular social media contests encourages customers to share their stories and promote your brand. But it doesn't always have to take the form of product showcases. Your social media content can be customer stories about positive experiences with your brand instead, accompanied by images that will attract the attention of your target audience.

Take a look at the right sidebar of the Medical Alert website, for example. They advertise their Instagram account there, and mention that it's full of stories from their community.

customer stories
Medical Alert uses their Instagram not to directly promote their products and services, but to share relatable and often inspiring customer stories.

Medical Alert shares customer stories on social media to build trust with prospects. This method also builds loyalty with existing customers, because it shows that the brand cares enough to give them a platform to share their experiences. It's typically an easy strategy to execute, since people generally enjoy talking about their positive experiences with a company.

#9. Enable easy social sharing via email

More than $89 billion was spent on social media advertising in 2019. Social media should be a huge part of your marketing strategy. Besides the sheer size of the audience, it's powerful because it allows you to interact with your customers on a personal level and across multiple channels.

Here's one easy way to show customers where to find you on social media and grow your presence there: Add the icons for your key platforms to your email signature or footer.

In your email campaigns, create a signature that enables easy social sharing, because it will:

  • encourage customers to join the conversation with you on social media
  • make it easy for your customers to share your business with their friends

Etsy’s approach is a prime example of how to do this well:

Etsy includes social icons and a simple call to action at the bottom of their emails.

You can even take it one step further and encourage customers to share content with branded hashtags. You may choose to include one or two of these in your email signature as well.

Take advantage of this powerful marketing tool

There are more than 1.8 billion websites in the world today. You need more than self-promotion to reach new prospects and encourage them to buy. Getting your existing customers to do your marketing for you is key, as it can can boost brand loyalty, trust, and sales with little to no monetary investment on your part. As you can see, there are many ways you can turn your customers into a powerful marketing tool. Tap into this highly valuable resource and your business will reap the benefits.