We live in a society full of advertising on radio, television, billboards, and social media. You might think that because companies invest so much time and money into these advertising strategies that they're the most effective. Well, word of mouth is by far one of the leading forms of advertising.

In a study performed by Nielson, 84% of people trust word of mouth advertising over other forms. Word of mouth extends beyond what your family and friends think — 66 percent of global respondents said they trust online consumer opinions, making online reviews the third-most-trusted advertising format.

It's easy to say that word of mouth is effective, but you need to be able to actually encourage it. The question that most people are left with is, "how?" To answer your question here is how to drive word of mouth marketing for your restaurant.

Talk to Your Guests

Your guests are going to feel the desire to spread the word about your restaurant if you engage with them. Think about it from a customer's perspective. Would you want to encourage your friends and family to eat at a restaurant that doesn't converse with their guests? Probably not. In fact, U.S. businesses lose an estimated $62 billion each year following bad customer experiences.

Essentially, you want to let your customer base know that their opinions matter. Customers notice if your employees don’t want to talk to them or even seem genuinely interested. You should also get to know what they are looking for from your restaurant, menu, employees, and make the conversation a two-way street. An easy way to do this is to use social media. Social media has become a huge platform for discussions between restaurants and their customers.

Let's take a look at Yelp. They have a platform that allows customers to give honest opinions and reviews about businesses. The owners get the option to reply to feedback.

By taking the time to interact with individuals, whether they had a good or bad experience, you're creating an honest brand. This makes the feeling that you are more than just another restaurant.

Set up a Loyalty Program

A good loyalty program is a surefire way to get customers talking about your business. By using a loyalty program, you can increase sales, build your reputation, and improve the customer experience. In fact, Consumers are 82% more likely to shop at stores and eat at restaurants who have loyalty programs.

By using a loyalty program, you will be able to offer incentives like discounts and special deals. During holidays or even on customer's birthdays, you can provide special discounts and extra rewards. All of these are ways to get customers talking about your restaurant, as well as encourage others to eat there.

Showcase Customers on Social Media

We all know how much everyone is using social media every day. In fact, there are over 3.4 billion active social media users in the world. It can be hard to find a voice and stand out in a world where everyone is trying to make it on social media. A great place to start is with the people who love you and your business.

Engaging with your customers on social media is also another way to start a conversation and encourage customers to visit your page. You are also making it easy for customers to share information about your business, and practice word of mouth marketing.

Let's take a look at FiveGuys to show how this works. FiveGuys engages with its customers by featuring satisfying dinners on its Facebook page.

They call this "FiveGuys Fanatic" and feature it every Friday. FiveGuys also asks customers to join in and share their own burger-eating photos. By sharing photos every week and staying consistent, you're not only populating your Facebook page but giving customers something to look forward to.

Give Customers a Reason to Share

As we've seen, word of mouth is a highly valuable tool for a business. Now that you know this, you need to give customers a reason to share information about you.

Have Quality Products

One of the more obvious ways to get customers to share information about you is to have quality products. There are so many restaurants offering similar foods or having the same theme, but what sets them apart is their quality. A customer is also going to be more willing to recommend your restaurant to someone if you serve quality products.

Provide Excellent Customer Service

No matter what industry you're in, you should always be providing excellent customer service. While word of mouth is great, you don't want that to translate people sharing negative experiences about your restaurant. Keep in mind, Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a good experience. They're also 33% more likely to switch companies after just a single instance of poor service.

In order to achieve provide excellent customer service, you want to hire a great team of people who all share the same goals. Your employees are the ones directly interacting with the customers, so they should be well versed on your restaurant's policies, mission, and basic customer service knowledge.

Create a Unique Atmosphere

New and unique restaurants are more likely to be talked about among customers than a restaurant that doesn't stand out. Essentially, you want to have something different than other restaurants.

Offer Incentives

A great way to get customers spreading the word about your restaurant is to offer incentives. These can be promotions or special deals that require a level of engagement from your customers. If you have a loyalty program this should be fairly easy to set up. However, you can also use this as an opportunity to get customers to sign up for your loyalty program as well as spread the word.

A more specific example would be to offer discounts if you can get a certain amount of reviews on Yelp or your Facebook page. Not only are you making customers excited to eat at your restaurant, but you're also utilizing free advertising from your valued customers.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to drive word of mouth marketing for your restaurant. Most of these tactics involve utilizing resources you already have and using them to their full potential. Overall, one of the best things you can do for your restaurant is implementing a loyalty program.

This is where Loyal comes in with a loyalty program that your customers love. Loyal is the best way to increase customer experience. Oh, and did we mention its free? Access our form here to get started today.