As a long-time marketer, I have used strategies and tactics that were once absolute must-dos, only to see them fade out of existence – QR codes – or worse, become detrimental – keyword stuffing, for example.
Something that has been a constant is word of mouth marketing, and I can’t see that changing. As long as we have peers, friends, family, colleagues, and of course social media, we will have people discussing and recommending products and brands 24/7.
And it works – word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful forms of marketing there is.
The proof is in the extensive research, as these word of mouth marketing statistics show:
- One offline word of mouth impression drives at least five times more sales than a paid advertising impression
- 92% of consumers trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising
- 90% of brand-related conversations happen offline, as opposed to 8% online. That is an astonishing statistic, and one which effectively highlights the value of having a word of mouth strategy
What is word of mouth marketing?
Word of mouth (or WOM) marketing means directing and influencing conversations about your product, service, or brand. It differs from simple ‘word of mouth’, where one happy customer tells someone else about their experience, in that you are actively encouraging these conversations rather than them happening organically.
The goal of word of mouth marketing is to increase your leads, sales and conversions – and ultimately your ROI – through strategies and tactics which encourage conversation and sharing.
What is a word of mouth marketing strategy?
There is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing because so much depends on your individual product, service or brand.
However, there are some commonalities of successful strategies. They:
- Are creative
- Give customers something to talk about
- Generate buzz
- Build loyalty and trust
At the heart of successful word of mouth marketing strategies is an outstanding customer experience, one which is far above and beyond your customers’ expectations. This could mean your service and your team members themselves are exceptional, your product is incredible, you tell stories which amaze and delight, or you provide really interesting insider information.
This experience must be outstanding because then it is worth talking about – and something worth talking about is what you have to give your customers. To do this, you have to know your customers and what it is they like about you.
Benefits of having a word of mouth marketing strategy
There are some tangible, measurable benefits for businesses implementing a word-of-mouth marketing strategy.
- You can increase sales while minimizing your spend on advertising
- You will build a highly engaged community of fans who will not just recommend your product or service to one person, but potentially to many people numerous times
- These customers tend to make more frequent purchases and become loyal over a long term – your cost in acquiring them generates a high lifetime value
- WOM positively impacts the results of your other marketing activity. A report by Keller Fay shows that 15% of the effectiveness of paid advertising is a direct result of customers talking about or sharing your product on social media.
Word of mouth marketing tips
According to Suzanne Fanning, President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), successful word of mouth marketing campaigns are “credible, social, repeatable, measurable and respectful. Dishonesty is NEVER acceptable.” Essentially, people trust what other people say, and it’s important your customers trust your product, otherwise they won’t talk about it.
She goes on to say that the three most important elements are to:
- Engage: listen to your customers and join in the conversation
- Equip: give your customers reasons to talk about you
- Empower: provide different channels your customers can use to talk about you
While the crux of your strategy is individual to your business, or even to your product, there are a number of tactics you can use to amplify your word of mouth marketing:
- User generated content, for example encouraging the sharing of videos and images, or building an active community and featuring it heavily in your communications
- Sharing customer testimonials across your marketing channels
- Building ratings, reviews and recommendations into your website
- Creating a referral program, helping to spread your message quickly and providing you with tangible results
Although WOM marketing can be an exciting prospect for a marketer, it’s important to figure out your word of mouth strategy before you decide on your tactics. Not all of these tactics may work for your business, and there are many others you could consider.
3 word of mouth marketing examples
- The best example for creating buzz using a word of mouth marketing strategy goes to GoPro, who ran the Everything We Make campaign for two years. The premise of the campaign was that one person would win everything GoPro makes every day, simply by submitting a photo and contact details. With a relatively high chance of winning (as opposed to having a one-off prize), GoPro received more than 150 entries per day, sparked social sharing over an extended period of time, creating sought-after social recognition for their winners, and using the photos in other marketing activity. An added bonus for GoPro were the ‘unboxing’ videos created by some winners, which garnered tens of thousands of YouTube views for every single one of their products.
- Dollar Shave Club gave their customers something to talk about in a humorous, low-budget video which goes completely against traditional male grooming industry marketing norms – as does their business model, which is subscription-based; for $1 per month, you have razors delivered directly to you. Within two days, over 12,000 customers signed up to this service and their video currently has 25 million views. In 2016, Dollar Shave Club was acquired by Unilever for an estimated $1 billion.
- Chipotle’s creative video, the story of a scarecrow factory-worker who rebels against the system and starts his own fresh-food shop, doubled as a trailer for an app where you could earn codes to get free menu items. The video went viral with upwards of 6.5 million views in less than two weeks, and the game topped the charts. Chipotle is also good at face-to-face customer service, with typically friendly employees who double as brand ambassadors.
If you need help building your brand’s word of mouth marketing strategy, let’s chat.