One might think the organic nature of word-of-mouth publicity would be less impactful for your small business in the digital age.

In fact, it’s become even more powerful as consumers are increasingly compelled to comment online in favor of or against products or companies they’ve experienced.

That’s partly because we tend to put more credence into the opinions of real human beings, especially if the commenter is known to us. We often see other people as being a source of truth in a world dominated by persuasive (but inherently biased) marketing and advertising campaigns.

That may be why word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions, according to McKinsey. In addition, Nielsen reports that 84 percent of customers worldwide trust word-of-mouth recommendations over any other form of advertising.

How can you, as a small business owner, use word-of-mouth to your best advantage? It goes without saying that offering excellent products and experiences that exceed expectations will be your best drivers. But here are a few other tips for increasing your person-by-person momentum.

Be consistently exceptional. Customers often don’t completely trust you until you’ve delivered multiple experiences that beat the competition. Set a bar for superiority and stay there.

Seek and reward your best advocates. Nurture a network of VIPs you know to be fans of your company and/or products, asking them to spread the word about your benefits. Consider offering them special deals, special treatment and acknowledgments on their birthdays and anniversaries.

Think about monetary incentives. An example is discounts on future purchases to customers who refer you to a friend.

Keep up the buzz. Once customers buy from you, wrap up the transaction with a positive message summarizing the benefits of their purchase. Remind them you’re always seeking new customers and ask them to tell others and/or post online reviews if they’re pleased. Handwritten notes or small thank-you gifts are always appreciated.

Engage, engage, engage. Use technology tools that inform you when customers mention you online and in social media, then make a point of connecting with them whether their feedback is positive or negative. Customers appreciate the chance to put a human “face” on the brands they use, and greater engagement can lead to greater trust and loyalty.

Talk to Custom Toll Free about call marketing-based strategies for driving more business to your company.