Research shows that recommendations made by others, or word of mouth, is still the most effective way to win new customers. But exactly how do you influence or increase ‘buzz’?

Simply, remember to ask. Everyone is moving so quickly these days that even the best of intentions are forgotten. Whenever you get positive feedback or a compliment from a client, thank him or her, and let them know how your business relies on referrals and recommendations. Ask them to write a review, either on your site or a third-party relevant review site, such as Yelp.
Then ask if they can think of someone else who could benefit from your products or services.

Trusted sources are important, so focus on these influencers. For example, people using a gardener’s blog site as a go-to source for equipment recommendations. Some people are seen as unbiased “experts” for high quality reviews. Focus on these key influencers and you will win new clients.

Track rating sites and services. Approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Another 52% were more likely to use a local business after reading positive online reviews. Track what is said about your company and quickly follow up any comments, good and bad.  You cannot change a comment but your response shows you care and will show positive benefits in the long run.

Make sure that your blog, newsletter, website articles, etc., are all easily sharable across the social media networks that make sense for your business.

Create stories and fun facts that promote your product and services. Write a story demonstrating why the product/service is so great. Or cite a fun fact like, “This bag was featured in Oprah last month!” Splash these sharable bites across your website and social media to help your fans.

Finally, add ratings and reviews to your site. Done correctly, ratings and reviews deliver a significant increase in sales. One-third of retailers reported an 11 to 20% overall increase in conversions as a result of adding reviews to their sites. Consumers are willing to pay up to 99% more for a 5-star rated product than for a 4-star rated product.