Why most referrals come from new customers (and what to do about it)

[Welcome back to our Word of Mouth Marketing Lessons newsletter. This is text from the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using this handy form.]

A big challenge for word of mouth marketers is familiarity. As much as a longtime customer may love you, they’re not as likely to talk. When they’re used to how great you are, what else is there to say?

Another way to think about it: Have you ever woke up to discover your dishwasher still working after three years and say, “Today is the day I’m going to write a review!” No? Exactly.

This is why most of your referrals are going to come from new customers. And once you realize this, you’ve got a few action steps:

1. Focus on the new customer experience
2. Give loyal fans a new reason to talk
3. Create a program to keep everyone sharing

1. Focus on the new customer experience

New customers are where you can get a lot of bang for your word of mouth buck. When someone is new, treat them like a VIP. Announce their arrival. Let them taste everything on the menu. Take them on a tour. Give them something to take back to the office. Blow their minds. If you were waiting for a moment to go all out with your word of mouth ideas, this is it. You only get one chance to meet a customer for the first time.

2. Give loyal fans a new reason to talk

If your longtime customers aren’t talking, it’s because you haven’t given them a reason to do it. You need a new topic — something fantastic to share. Maybe it’s a special discount code or password for them. Maybe it’s a reunion or an advisory board invitation. Or, maybe it’s just a simple note asking for a review. While it’s harder to get these regular customers talking than it is new ones, their experience with you makes their referrals more credible and more effective than everyone else’s.

3. Create a program to keep everyone sharing

This is the part where you go from one-off topics and stunts to a long-term talker program. It’s things like customer communities, a plan for regular product upgrades, a system for frequently testing new topics, and a simple way to track everything to figure out what’s working best. New talkers are the default source of referrals, but great word of mouth marketers find ways to keep everyone talking, forever.


Tags: , , , , , ,



    I would have thought the past clients who had a good experience who share theirs in conversation; It seems that those in the YEARS ago program if contacted regularly thru an email or regular contact campaign would be better sources of referrals.

    I have however receive numerous referrals from people that have seen content on my websites and videos and they have shared it with others in their circles.

    David Pylyp
    Living in Toronto

  2. Cindy C.

    The only problem I see with #1 is that not all customers want to be treated like that. I wouldn’t want to be “announced” or attention brought to me. Maybe more care in finding out HOW to treat each individual new customer as a VIP. It takes longer, but might work better. Great post!

  3. Carolyn Staven

    I agree Cindy. Everyone is different and may not want the same level of “highlighting” as a new customer. There are some that will. Engage them! Then find out what ways the less “out there” customers may be willing to endorse you.

Featured Downloads

Download: “The Difference Map” by Bernadette Jiwa

We’re big fans of author of The Fortune Cookie Principle and TEDx speaker Bernadette Jiwa, who says that good marketing…

Read More

The first chapter of “The Social Media Side Door” by Ian Greenleigh

Ian reveals the best ways to earn the attention of influential people using social media channels.

Read More

9 Things to Share That Start Conversations

Use the examples in this guide to help inspire ways to make your message more portable and shareable.

Read More

3 Must-Use Word of Mouth Marketing Tools

These tools will help you kick off any word of mouth campaign no matter what topic, industry, or budget.

Read More

The Top Four Tips for Multiplying Your Word of Mouth

These tips can help you get your marketing to do more work without a lot of extra effort.

Read More

10 Ways to Turn Around Negative Word of Mouth

The most effective ways to stop negative WOM with examples from Zappos, FedEx, Dell, and more.

Read More
Get our free weekly newsletter

Join 35,000 brilliant word of mouth marketers by signing up for our free weekly email newsletter filled with actionable word of mouth ideas.

You’ll be blown away by just how good you can be at this.

Never display this again