Simply put, word-of-mouth marketing involves real people recommending or praising a product or service online or in their personal network.
In today’s digital age, word-of-mouth marketing remains a powerful strategy that businesses use to promote their products or services. In fact, studies show that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over traditional advertising.
So what exactly is word-of-mouth marketing, and how can you use it to increase your brand’s visibility, drive sales, and grow a business?
In this article, we’ll explore some of the different types of word-of-mouth marketing and provide tips, strategies, and examples that you can use.
- Word-of-mouth marketing is a cost-effective way to attract new customers and build brand loyalty
- Instead of waiting for reviews and feedback, proactive strategies like social media campaigns and referral programs can lead to more conversions
- Consider the overall customer experience from your website to the product and purchasing process to achieve the best word-of-mouth marketing results
What Is Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WOM)?
Word-of-mouth marketing refers to the practice of promoting a product or service through the use of conversations, recommendations, and referrals.
Unlike traditional marketing techniques that rely on paid advertising, WOM marketing is organic and relies on sharing positive experiences with others. It’s about tapping into your customer’s natural tendency to share their thoughts and experiences with others
Users are voluntarily creating and sharing content by everyday consumers, while word-of-mouth is an organic sharing of information or opinions concerning products and brands from one to another. One powerful type of user-generated content is reviews — and allowing customers to review can help promote word-of-mouth.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing: How to Drive Conversations and Sales at the Same Time
If people enjoy talking about your products or services and you’re making sales, that’s a win-win scenario. To achieve these results, however, it’s important to be intentional with your WOM marketing campaigns.
What Are the Examples of Word-of-Mouth Marketing Campaigns?
Some of the most successful WOM campaigns are the ones that encourage social media engagement, user-generated content, and customer reviews.
For example, Airbnb launched a campaign to encourage its users to share their travel experiences on social media using the hashtag #AirbnbPhotoContest.
The results were impressive, with over 300,000 posts, and an increase of social media followers by more than 300%. Others have used referral marketing by offering incentives to their satisfied customers who refer their friends and family to the business.
What Is the Digital Version of Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
In today’s digital age of marketing, WOM marketing has taken on a whole new level of importance. Online reviews, social media engagement, and influencers have become more commonly used tactics.
For example, customer reviews on your website or third-party review sites can make a huge impact on purchase decisions. Similarly, partnering with social media influencers who promote your brand can give your brand visibility and reach new audiences quickly.
4 Types of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
There are four main types of word-of-mouth marketing examples.
1. Buzz Marketing
This type of marketing is all about creating a hype, anticipation, and excitement around a product or service. A great example of buzz marketing is the Apple launch events for their new iPhones, where they reveal new features, designs, and offerings to an audience that eagerly awaits every detail.
2. Content Marketing
This type of marketing is all about creating regular, high-quality content that engages your audience and encourages them to share it with others. A great example of content marketing is Hubspot’s blog, which provides helpful and easy-to-digest content for marketers around the world.
3. Referral Marketing
This type of marketing is all about incentivizing your satisfied customers to refer their friends and family to your business. Referral programs are a great example of referral marketing where customers receive special discounts or perks when they refer friends to the business.
Referral marketing can also be managed through an affiliate program where you offer a unique trackable link to affiliates that they can promote to earn commissions when they convert a sale.
4. Social Media Marketing
This type of marketing is all about leveraging social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and X to promote your business, engage with your target audience, and encourage sharing. Social media marketing doesn’t always mean you have to pay for ads, but instead, it can be through engagement with your followers and content that elicits their enthusiasm.
How Effective Is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
Word-of-mouth marketing is an effective technique because it is based on trust, relationship building, and authenticity. When people hear about products or services from people they trust, they are more likely to take action.
Explain to the reader that word-of-mouth marketing is an effective marketing strategy.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Statistics
WOM marketing is very effective for companies and consumers alike. It’s a result that buyers trust in their own opinions.
While Nielsen’s research found that 97% of Nielsen’s clients think friends are more trustworthy than advertisements, a Dynati survey in 2021 revealed that 41% of the population learn about Black businesses through word-of-mouth.
Fifty-two percent of RRD survey participants heard about products through word-of-mouth while 40% admitted to making purchases based on a recommendation.
Why Is Word-of-Mouth So Effective?
Organic word-of-mouth marketing works because it relies on the personal experiences and opinions of real people, which are perceived as more trustworthy than paid advertising. People are more likely to listen to recommendations from someone they know and trust rather than an ad or sales pitch.
Additionally, WOM marketing is one of the most inexpensive marketing ideas because it can often be achieved through organic, unpaid channels, such as social media, which can help you reduce your advertising costs while also increasing your ROI.
Successful Companies That Use Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategy
Create amazing visual content for customers to take pictures to share.
- For example, Instagram-able restaurants like Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse chain, provide a visually pleasing setting and make users want to share their food experience on social networks.
- Starbucks does so well with WOM marketing that the company doesn’t really need to pay for television ads or other campaigns. Simple strategies like retweeting customers’ comments about the brand and their offers go a long way.
- Sephora offers a free birthday gift to Beauty Insider members which promotes customer loyalty and gets people talking about the brand and recommending it to others.
- Tula Skincare has an Influencer Ambassador program to encourage word-of-mouth marketing and frequently shares customers’ experience with the products on the company’s Instagram page.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Advantages and Disadvantages
Word-of-mouth marketing has several advantages.
Benefits of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
- It’s a cost-effective way to promote your business, as it relies on your customers sharing your message with others
- Word-of-mouth marketing is also an excellent way to build trust and credibility with potential customers
- When people hear about your brand from someone they know and trust, they’re more likely to do business with you
Disadvantages of Word-of-Mouth Advertising
- You can encourage people to spread positive messages about your business, but you have less control over what they say about your products and services
- WOM marketing likely won’t be a quick fix since it takes time to build a community of happy customers who will share your message with others
- You may not be able to measure the impact of your efforts as easily as you would with other forms of advertising
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategies to Try
There are several word-of-mouth marketing strategies to try. It may require some testing to determine the best strategy for your business.
Create an Epic First Experience
One of the best ways to encourage customers to spread the word about your business is to create an epic first experience. Focus on making the first interaction customers have with your business something they’ll remember.
This could be a personalized welcome message, a hand-written note, or a discount code for their first purchase. By creating a memorable experience, you’ll encourage customers to share their positive experience with friends and family.
Spark WOM Among Influencers
While most word of mouth campaigns are primarily targeted on organic engagement, keep influencer marketing in mind as a tool to increase ROI for your brand. Influencers can promote and recommend your products, but it also provides you social proof and outsourced marketing.
Recent research shows that reviews are actually considered the most important kind of content an influencer has published. You may find some influential influencers who fit the best for your business. Depending on how you are targeting customers, it’s possible to start an ambassadors program. Having a relationship with your ambassador takes some effort.
Connect with a Worthy Cause
According to an Aflac survey, 77% of consumers are more likely to do business with companies that they perceive as socially responsible. Consider partnering with a charity or donating a percentage of your profits to a worthy cause.
By doing so, you’re not only doing something good for the world, but you’re also giving customers a reason to talk about your brand.
Send Products for Free
People love free stuff, so why not give away some of your products? Send product samples or coupons to your existing customers in the hopes that they’ll share them with others.
Make sure that your product is something that customers will want to rave about. When they do, you’ll have new customers knocking at your door.
Solve a Real Challenge
If your product or service solves a real challenge or problem that your customers face, they’ll be more likely to share it with others. Consider creating marketing campaigns that highlight the problems that your product or service solves.
That way, when your customers share your message, they’re not just talking about what you sell; they’re also sharing how you help.
Do or Create Something Unique
Creating something unique or different from what your competitors offer can create buzz around your brand. People love sharing new and exciting things with their friends and family.
Think about what makes your business stand out from the rest, and focus on highlighting that in your marketing efforts.
Tap into People’s Emotions
Emotional advertising focuses on specific emotions that affect the consumer. These type of word of mouth campaigns are usually image-focused and are based on current events and news.
Consider creating marketing campaigns that tug at people’s heartstrings or that make them laugh. The more people connect emotionally with your brand, the more likely they are to share your message with others.
Encourage User-Generated Content (UGC)
User-generated content is any content created by your customers that promotes your brand. Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your product or service on social media.
Share their content on your social media channels, and don’t forget to give them credit. When your customers see that you’re using their content, they’ll be more likely to share it with others.
Push Ratings and Reviews Hard
Consider offering them an incentive, like a discount code or free product, to leave a review. Positive reviews can be powerful word-of-mouth marketing tools. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely new customers are to do business with you.
Create an Official Referral Program
Referral marketing is a more personal approach that does not require any massive marketing efforts. Referral marketing is a strategy designed to attract new customers by offering incentives if the recommendation attracts new customers. Often, these forms of advertising work on the development of customer loyalty and long-term relationships among the existing customer or new client.
It’s also a low-cost way to grow your business since you don’t have to spend any money upfront. You’ll only pay a bonus to referrers whenever they get someone to sign-up.
7 Tips to Run a Successful Word-of-Mouth Marketing Campaign
With then right strategies, businesses can tap into the potential of word-of-mouth marketing to take their brand to new heights. Here are seven tips to run a successful campaign with word-of-mouth marketing.
1. Set Up Word-of-Mouth Triggers
Some people just need to be encouraged to talk and share about a product. Word-of-mouth marketing campaigns are all about creating triggers that encourage people to spread the word about your business.
You can do this by creating interesting and shareable content, setting up referral programs, or offering incentives for social media shares or reviews. A good example is Dropbox, which gives an extra 500MB to free users who refer a friend.
2. Use Visual Triggers
Visual triggers, like interesting product packaging or attractive storefronts help get people talking about your products or services. For example, if you run a coffee shop, you could invest in branded, eco-friendly cups, and see how quickly people start snapping pictures of them and sharing them on their social media profiles.
Or, simply adding buttons to your website that encourage people to share their experience or a review could do the trick.
3. Know Your Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)
Knowing your customer lifetime value can help you invest in retention efforts that encourage people to keep coming back and referring others. The longer a customer stays with your company, the more valuable they become, and you could reward them with free products or early access to new releases.
A high LTV customer is also more likely to refer others, so it’s vital to keep them happy and engaged.
4. Sell Quality Products
Nothing can replace the power of quality products. People will keep coming back to your brand if they know that what they are getting is top-notch.
Word-of-mouth marketing is often based on trust, and customers will only refer others to your company if they are sure that they won’t be disappointed. Make sure that you offer quality, and your customers will do the marketing for you.
5. Go Above and Beyond for the Customer
Going above and beyond for the customer can help create loyalty and encourage them to share their positive experiences. You could offer a personalized experience by sending thank-you cards or birthday messages and offering rewards for repeat purchases.
6. Run a Tight Operation
There’s nothing more annoying to the customer than a business with poor customer service. Make your customers feel valued by having a good structure in place.
Ensure that your customer service representatives are well-trained and can handle any issues that may arise promptly. Respond to queries on time, and be transparent in your communication.
7. Create a Seamless Order Process and Site UX
Ensure that your order process is easy to navigate and, most importantly, seamless. Customers may be more likely to share their experience with others if the process is effortless and straightforward. Make sure that your site’s user experience is optimized for easy navigation to ensure that customers can easily find what they are looking for.
Final Word: Is Word of Mouth a Good Marketing Strategy?
When executed well, a well-planned word-of-mouth marketing strategy can help you reach new customers, build brand awareness, and increase sales. There are several ways to implement word-of-mouth marketing so consider assessing your needs and goals when deciding on a strategy that will work best for you.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a memorable customer experience that people can’t stop talking about. You can start this process by learning more about building a great website that is user-friendly and encourages prospects to engage with and trust your brand.
Next Steps: What Now?
- Review more digital marketing tips for small businesses
- Discover why you need a SEO-friendly landing page to help convert visitors from social media and other platforms and how to create one
- Make your website easier to find on search engine with the right SEO hosting company
- Learn more about creating personas for your business and how this can help craft a user-centric website
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