word of mouth

10 Word of Mouth Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business

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Word of mouth marketing isn’t just about getting customers to talk about your brand. It’s about turning your customer into a raving fan.

Look at someone like Taylor Swift. She didn’t build her empire by getting someone to buy her album one time. Nope. She built her empire by building relationships. She occasionally sends flowers, gifts or special event invites to her hardcore fans.

And what do those fans do? They don’t just buy an album. They’ll also get their friends to buy albums, go to concerts with them, and more.

Her hardcore fans usually don’t just buy one album either. When she was promoting her 1989 album, she added five different sets of 13 imitation Polaroids, which were 65 pictures of her with song lyrics written on them, inside each CD. 

And what did fans do? They bought several of the same album. Why? To collect all 65 Polaroids. The result? She sold 1.287 million albums in one week.

Not bad.

While the marketing strategy on its own is quite clever, it never would’ve worked unless she had built up a hardcore fanbase.

So if you wanna know how to really get people talking about your brand to the point of obsession, in this article you’ll learn all about word of mouth marketing. This includes, what word of mouth marketing is, the importance of word of mouth marketing, the benefits, and word of mouth marketing strategies, alongside much more.  

What is Word of Mouth Marketing?

Word of mouth marketing is a form of promotion that relies on happy customers and fans to promote a brand organically. This can be done through many forms of media like images, video, vlogs, etc. Word of mouth marketing is a great way of championing your product as those who create organic content around it genuinely care for it. As this form of marketing is free and can result in additional sales without your staff needing to do anything, offering a top-quality product that is easy to capture and describe can sell itself through your customers.

What is Word of Mouth Advertising?

By contrast, word of mouth advertising can result in the same impact as word of mouth marketing but typically involves payment to an influencer. Word of mouth advertising is a form of paid advertising where brands have control over the content pushed out by other people about the brand. The important thing to consider as a brand is if the person pushing out the content is the right person for the job. Do they represent the brand? Do they believe in your brand as much as you do? Are you willing to put your reputation on the line to use this person? There is much to consider before going down the route of word of mouth advertising.

Benefits of Word of Mouth Marketing

If you’re on the fence about whether or not to try increasing your word of mouth marketing, these benefits will help you consider trying it out.

1. Free marketing: Unless you’re doing word of mouth advertising, word of mouth marketing is free. You’ll still need to put effort in to get customers and build a strong enough relationship. However, their word of mouth promotion doesn’t come at a cost for you unless you’re paying for a loyalty app on the Shopify app store. For the most part, if you’re offering a shopping experience worth talking about, over time some customers may start raving about your brand to their friends.

2. More Sales: You benefit from the additional sales from the free referral your customer made. But you also get a few sales from the customer who recommended your brand. Why? Because if a customer loves your brand enough to recommend your brand to their friends, they’ll likely keep shopping with you. Learn how I made $743.65 with a customer loyalty program.

3. Grow brand at a faster rate: Word of mouth marketing has a viral marketing element to it. If you add enough hype around your brand or build an epic experience for your customers, it’s possible that a popular customer will help your brand go viral. When starting out, word of mouth may only lead to a couple of sales. However, as your brand grows bigger you might notice that more people start tagging friends on your social media posts, forwarding emails to friends and more. Over time, you’ll find your brand grows at a faster rate than if you were to just rely on Facebook advertising or social media marketing.

Why is Word of Mouth Important?

There are many benefits of word of mouth marketing but why is it so important? Well, according to SDL, about more than half of all consumers (58%) share their positive experiences with a company on social media.

What does this mean? It means that after buying from your store or interacting with your brand, your customers are engaging in word of mouth promotion online.

It can come in the form of posting a photo of a package they just received or taking a selfie wearing your product. They might tag you in a post to thank you or to show off their product.

On top of that, Nielsen shared an article where they found that 84% of consumers say they completely or somewhat trust product recommendations from those around them like friends, family, and coworkers.

Not only do customers share their experiences but their network are also likely to trust those recommendations. Organic Word of mouth marketing is not forced like word of mouth advertising, therefore, it is easier to interact with.

So, word of mouth marketing can be a powerful way to help you build your brand and customer base.

10 Word of Mouth Marketing Strategies

#1. Influencer Marketing

If you’re looking for a word of mouth advertising tactic you can have control over, influencer marketing is for you.

word of mouth marketing

With influencer marketing, you’ll need to pay an influencer to feature your products on their social media. Since you’re paying them, you can have some control over what they post, when they post and how they post it.

The best thing about word of mouth advertising is that you can pay to start creating conversations around your product and potentially gain some sales from it.

The downside? It’s not really organic. Having real customers honestly rave about your products is a great feeling. And while you might get excited about getting sales this way, over the long haul this word of mouth tactic can get expensive.

#2. Hashtag Effect

Whenever I create a new Instagram account for my store, I always create a hashtag. It’s never anything super fancy, I usually just do my business name after the hashtag like #businessname.

ASOS - word of mouth

At first, all the posts are my brand’s posts. However, every time without fail, eventually other people start using that hashtag too. Customers and fans of the niche end up using the hashtag for their posts too. Hashtags are a subtle but easy way to get your customers to do word of mouth marketing.

And as a result, it ends up making the hashtag more popular. While it can be hard to track whether the sales came from the hashtag or some other channel, this simple tactic helps build a stronger brand awareness.

Since the hashtag is the same as your brand name, you’ll be more likely to get found on Instagram. Plus, if your posts are dominating the hashtag feed, you’re more likely to get found. If you’re more likely to get found, you have a better chance of getting more sales.

#3. User-Generated Content

As your store grows, customers will start sharing user-generated content. What’s that? It’s content they create. It could be an Instagram post showing them wearing your product or a blog post on their website where they rave about your products.

word of mouth advertising

You can take simple steps to encourage word of mouth by getting customers to create content. How? Post customer photos on your social media or on your product pages. Don’t forget to credit them in the post!

Offer incentives for promoting your brand. Maybe you have a referral or affiliate program where you offer perks or points for various types of content customers create.

Create a contest where you ask customers to send pictures of them with your product for a chance to win a free product or gift card to your store. You can even ask them to get their friends to vote on their post to help them win which can also boost your word of mouth outreach. Be careful with this type of marketing to ensure that it is not perceived as word of mouth advertising by tracking interactions closely.

#4. Get Reviews

Reviews work as an effective word of mouth strategy. The customer leaves a product review on the product page for the product they purchased. Then, store visitors end up seeing the post and may become influenced to buy the product based on the reviews they’ve read from real customers.

You can use Shopify apps like Product Reviews Addon to automate the collection of product reviews on your store. The emails are sent directly to your customers for you. If customers leave negative reviews, they’ll be redirected to your customer support team so that you can improve their experience.

#5. Create a Referral Program

A referral program can be designed to help you increase the success of your word of mouth marketing campaigns. You can offer perks for different levels of promotion. For example, if your customer refers a friend who purchases, you can offer a financial reward as a token of appreciation.

You can also offer non-monetary perks for other levels of promotion such as sharing user-generated content, posting product links on social media, tagging your brand on product posts and more.

You can use Shopify apps like Smile.io and Referral Candy to easily build a referral program on your online store.

#6. Get Social on Social Media

So about a year ago, Carter Wilkerson tweeted Wendy’s asking how many retweets he’d need to get free nuggets. Wendy’s tweeted back saying an astronomical 18 million and while he didn’t get 18 million tweets, his tweet still became the most retweeted tweet of all time.

word of mouth marketing

Imagine if Wendy’s didn’t respond to his tweet. That word of mouth campaign never would’ve happened. Becoming the most retweeted tweet of all time is a pretty big deal. It ended up amassing a ton of free media coverage because of the nature of the tweet, the record he broke and the nuggets he ended up receiving despite not achieving the goal.

As you build your store, you’re going to have countless interactions with your customers. If you can be positive, playful and active with them all, you may have a home run one day. It might not be as big as ‘the most retweeted tweet’ but it could still help boost your brand’s success.

#7. Give People No Choice But To Talk

There’s no brand who can get people talking as much as Red Bull. They often do these extreme stunts that go viral just because of how insane they are. Felix Baumgartner skydived from the edge of space. Paul Steiner climbed off one plane onto another while in the air. Basically, every stunt Red Bull does is fast and dangerous.

Naturally, when you do something extreme to get attention, you’re going to get people talking. While most brands don’t have the budget to do extreme and dangerous stunts, you can still get a similar impact with easy to execute ideas.

Some ecommerce brands hand deliver packages if customers need it delivered by a specific deadline. You can also surprise a customer with a free gift on their birthday using the Happy Birthday Email app. Your customer support team can respond to emails with video responses instead of text or talk in silly accents like a pirate.

#8. Surprise with Freebies

Shoppers love free stuff. And Sephora uses that fact to their advantage.

Multiple times a week Sephora sends emails with discount codes customers can use to get a free product. If a customer spends a certain amount of money, they can even use that money to get even more free stuff.

On a customers birthday month, they can collect their free gift from any Sephora location for free or with purchase if buying online. But does it result in word of mouth promotion? Yup, on my birthday back in January, even I posted about my free gift online.

word of mouth campaign

You might think that freebies cost more money than they make. However, the 2017 birthday gift I got resulted in me buying that free gift multiple times. And now two years in a row I’ve spent over $300 each year on Sephora’s website. And I’m just one example. Truth is, the freebie can hook a person in and build their loyalty.

#9. Host Giveaways

Giveaways and contests are a great word of mouth marketing idea for those starting out. You can give away a free product on your store. You can have entries that require customers to share the giveaway on social media for a chance to win the prize. This helps you reach a newer audience organically.

You can use Shopify apps like ViralSweep or Social Boost to create contests and giveaways on your store.

The best part? After your contest has ended, you can reach out to everyone who lost and offer a runner-up prize. The runner-up prize could be a $5 gift card to your store. That way you can incentivize people to buy from your store despite not winning the contest. Just make sure that customers can’t score any freebies with the free gift card so you don’t lose money.

#10. Affiliate Networks

Affiliate marketing can help you increase your word of mouth marketing. You have a few key options you can experiment with.

First, you can get customers to sign up for your affiliate program. After a customer has made a purchase on your store, you can ask them to refer their friends and receive a commission for the sale if their friend using their referral link.

Second, you can reach out to niche bloggers. You can ask them to write articles about your products and brand. They can include affiliate links that allow them to monetize the post.

While you’re offering a monetary incentive, the reality is the risk is low as you only need to pay a commission if a sale is made. Also, even when sales aren’t made a brand awareness is being created by affiliates to help make more people familiar with your brand. 

Word of Mouth Marketing Statistics

Why should you believe us? Word of mouth marketing is a great strategy for some but how do you know if it is worthwhile for your business. Statistics can answer many of your questions and tell you if word of mouth marketing is the right strategy for you.

  1. 51 percent of marketers say that Word of Mouth marketing outperforms brand-created contentword of mouth marketing

Searchers, and indeed customers, have increasingly found it hard to believe branded content due to the rise in companies claiming to be the number 1 service provider in their area, or the best in the business without providing proof behind the claim. It is only fair to believe a customer’s word over a brand’s for this very reason. Customers can give a great first-hand account of their experience with a brand and be 100 percent truthful as they have nothing to lose.

2.  40 percent of desktop searchers use ad-blockers

Ad Blockers

Ad-blockers are making it harder for brands to advertise their products to potential customers. Due to the ever rising use of these plug-ins companies need to find other ways of generating new leads. Word of mouth marketing is the obvious first choice to replace ads as it is honest and organic.

3. Searchers need, on average, 2-6 reviews to instill trust in a brand

Online Reviews Instil Trust

Reviews on Google, Yelp, and other review sites have never been more important, especially for smaller and local businesses. Reaching out to happy customers and asking them for online reviews can help increase trust in your brand among people who are thinking to buy from you. By having more than two reviews online you can increase sales of your product without doing any work yourself.

4 Great Word of Mouth Marketing Examples

  1. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

    In 2014 ALS released their ice bucket challenge as a fundraiser presented in the form of a challenge. Nominees poured a bucket of ice-cold water over themselves, capturing it in the form of an image or video, and donated money to the charity. The challenge was then posted over social media, and friends or family members were nominated to do the challenge. This campaign blew up with videos coming in from all over the world. The campaign was partaken by celebrities also. The biggest success for the campaign, of course, was the money raised which amounted to $115 million during the 8-week period in 2014

  2. Dunkin’ Donuts

    Dunkin’ Donuts is an important part of America culture. Locals and tourists alike enjoy the delicious treat and it has become a beloved brand to the US. Because of their great product, they have earned staunch followers across the world and Dunkin’ Donut’s have found great ways to utilize word of mouth marketing through these great people. Using social media to launch competitions and post unique content, followers engage with them regularly. They engage in different ways like liking content, sharing it or even creating their own content around the brand to portray their experience of it. Their hard work paid off with their social media profiles growing hugely –  15 million Facebook fans, 1.5 million Instagram followers, and 1.2 million Twitter followers.

  3. Netflix

    Using customer information to really understand what customers want on their platform, Netflix has not only been able to recommend shows to users but they have been able to create Netflix originals that are tailored to the biggest interests on the platform. Using this information in a smart way the company has been able to grow their customer sentiment positively creating an army of Netflix influencers who rave about the brand over the many social media platforms available to them. This free publicity has allowed the company to grow exponentially over its competitors like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and even YouTube.

  4. Lush Loyalty

    Lush, as a beauty brand, offer ethical products that have not be tested on animals. Fighting for both social and environmental causes like animal testing and fair trade the company has collected an army of cult-like followers who believe in their values. These young followers are comfortable on most social media channels and also have more disposable income than the generations before them. Using unique content and promoting gifting Lush products, the company has been able to grow its profits year on year without needed to splash out on any advertising.

Word of Mouth Marketing: Conclusion

Creating a word of mouth marketing campaign can help you build brand recognition and get sales in the process. Turning your customers into raving fans isn’t easy. But you can apply the word of mouth marketing ideas from this article to help you start getting your customers talking. You may need to invest in word of mouth advertising in the beginning to build the hype but as your brand continues to grow, you’ll start to notice word of mouth happening on your social media quite regularly. Encourage customers to tag friends on social media posts, share their product photos online and leave product reviews. These little steps done regularly can help you master word of mouth marketing, even if you’re just starting out. The benefits are endless when you use word of mouth marketing alongside other forms of marketing.

Want to Learn More?

How have you been building up hype around your brand? Share in the comments!