What Is Word of Mouth Marketing?
While marketing your business can be time-consuming and expensive, there's no better form of advertising than word-of-mouth. It's free, it's effective, and it's what people are most likely to believe.
Word of mouth marketing, also known as WOMM, is a form of marketing that aims to encourage and motivate customers to spread the good word about your brand to their friends and family.
It can be as simple as featuring customer reviews on your website or more complex as creating an elaborate customer referral program.
Regardless of the level of complexity, word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful way to create buzz and get your message out there.
Word-of-mouth marketing is free and easy to do, making it an essential part of any company's marketing strategy. Here are four ways how word of mouth can help your business:
Branded Search Traffic
Word of mouth marketing is undoubtedly one of the best ways to increase brand awareness and get new customers. But what many people don't know is that this form of marketing can help you in another crucial area: branded search traffic.
Let's say that a friend recommends a great referral software that you can use for your business. We'll use Growsurf as an example. What most people will do after being recommended a product is to Google it for more detailed information.
So maybe you'll type in "GrowSurf referral software," "GrowSurf for tech startups," or "GrowSurf reviews."
By researching these keywords, you're actually adding a branded keyword to your query that references the company name directly.
People who search these keywords are looking for your product specifically. Their intention is to buy. On the plus side, branded search traffic helps you with SERP rankings because it’s a signal of authority to Google.
In a world where we get bombarded with ads, people look for more credible sources of recommendations. According to recent studies, 93% of people trust the recommendations from friends and family, far more than recommendations from influencers or celebrities.
Hearing a positive first-hand experience from a friend in your close social circle greatly influences the decision to buy. If someone else has purchased from the brand and says it's worth the buck, there's no reason not to trust them.
The potential customer is motivated to make a quick decision instead of suffering from choice paralysis from having too many options.
Although we'd like to believe that humans are highly complex beings, their actions are actually motivated by a few common principles. One of those principles is the urge to belong to something and share a common identity with others, also known as the unity principle.
In other words, if friends recommend a specific product, the chances of you purchasing that product are greater. Over time, word of mouth marketing can help a brand create a loyal fanbase.
And when you have a loyal fanbase, you have customers who repeatedly engage with and purchase from your brand. They share their positive experience with others, influencing the decisions and choices of other buyers.
Here's a fact:
People feel more comfortable making a purchasing decision when they know that a product has a track record of being reliable. Their friends and family have tried it and loved it. There's no reason why anything should be different if you purchase the product.
Even if the potential customer is overloaded with multiple options, word of mouth marketing shines a spotlight on a certain product and eliminates the other options from the list.
7 Word of Mouth Marketing Examples
Now that we know what word of mouth marketing is and discussed its main benefits, you might want to take a look at some examples. Here are seven powerful word of mouth marketing examples that could help you get started with this form of marketing today.
Dropbox - Growth Through Referrals
A good referral program makes spreading the good word quick and easy. What's more, referred customers have a 37% higher retention rate than non-referred customers. This means that you can lower your churn rate by investing time and effort into launching a proper referral program.
The best part is that you can offer all kinds of rewards, depending on what your core business is, such as account credits, discounts, branded merchandise, and even cash.
One of the most talked-about referral programs out there is the Dropbox referral program which is quite simple: reward those who refer your brand to their friends and those who accept an invitation.
Their incentive is double-sided: both the referrer and the referred person get a specific amount of free storage space, depending on the level the referrer is subscribed at. For example, Dropbox Basic accounts get 500 MB per referral and can earn up to 16 GB in total referrals. Dropbox Plus and Professional accounts get 1 GB per referral and can earn up to 32 GB.
Threadless - Growth Through Community Marketing
Graphic designers and fans of graphic T-shirts might have heard of a company called Threadless.
But did you know that four years after its creation, the company was making $1.5 million in profits, and this figure increased to $6.5 million in 2006?
Threadless knew they were serving a fun and creative audience. To engage such an audience, you had to be creative yourself. So they built a loyal community where designers could challenge each other through ongoing contests and design challenges.
One of their challenges involved a $20,000 award to whoever creates the most awesome T-shirt. Another challenge encouraged designers to turn T-shirt designs into custom cakes.
Long story short, the company achieved $30 million in revenue in 2009.
American Express - Growth Through Brand Ambassadors
Having brand ambassadors is one of the most effective word of mouth tactics to build brand awareness. However, in order to reap the benefits, it's crucial that you take a strategic approach.
For example, it's always a better decision to work with brand ambassadors who have already been established as brand advocates and are willing to exchange brand messaging for something of value.
It's also recommended to work with ambassadors who have previously expressed organic support for your brand. If that's not possible, look for brand ambassadors that show some level of care towards your brand.
One of the best examples of brand ambassador programs is American Express. The company has partnered with hundreds of Instagram influencers, from influencers with millions of followers like Shaquille O’Neal to micro-influencers with 100K followers.
In essence, these influencers regularly post photos on Instagram of how they're using American Express services and tagging the caption with #AmexAmbassador.
Netflix - Growth Through User-Generated Content
Another great word of mouth marketing example is user-generated content (UGC). It's an inexpensive way to get your message out there, and it might even be more effective than traditional ads.
This type of content is a great way to increase the impact of your marketing campaigns and can be found on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
What many brands do is create share-friendly contests, polls, and quizzes to engage their audience. Then, they get customers to share the contest or quiz and tag it with a shareable hashtag. This hashtag marketing is a powerful way to boost positive impressions of your business, improve the searchability of your content, and encourage people to talk about your brand.
By using this strategy, Netflix managed to generate almost 1 million audiences in just 2 weeks.
Everything started when Netflix used the hashtag #strangerthings2 to promote the second season of the popular show. Getting entertained by this idea, fans of the show started sharing photos and videos of the strange things happening in their daily lives by tagging the show on their social media. Up to date, there are more than 2 million posts with this hashtag on Instagram.
Parabol - Growth Through Customer Testimonials
Here's a fact:
92% of customers read online reviews before buying, while 72% say positive testimonials and reviews increase their trust in a business.
Customer reviews are a powerful strategy for ensuring customers that the service/product they're getting has been tried and tested by others before them.
In fact, they can convince potential customers that the purchase they're thinking of making is the right decision.
Take a look at how Parabol is using this tactic to make consumers feel more comfortable doing business with the brand. The company has intelligently placed testimonials from happy clients on their homepage. Considering the homepage is the most visited page, any client who is thinking about using their services will glance at these testimonials. Perhaps, they may even convert!
What's more, these testimonials also feature the name of the reviewer, the company where they work, and their position within that company. This greatly increases the trust between customers and the brand.
Thai Life Insurance - Growth Through Emotional Marketing
Building a connection with customers through emotions is a tactic that many marketers use. Get this: emotional content outperforms fact-based content by two-fold, and people are more likely to make decisions based on emotions than on facts. On the plus side, emotional content is more likely to go viral.
Some of the most memorable emotional marketing campaigns are the ones produced for Thai Life Insurance. The art of emotional advertising is something that has long been embraced at the company.
One commercial, My Son , highlights the importance of doing acts of kindness for our loved ones before it is too late. Another video, My Girl , explores parents' unconditional love, even if their children are imperfect. Unsung Hero follows the story of a young man who performs selfless deeds without expecting anything in return.
Each one of these videos captures people's attention by exploring a controversial topic. They dive into real-life problems that exist in a society which prompts viewers to reflect and discuss the videos with their friends.
Docker - Growth Through Experiential Marketing
Experiential marketing is unconventional advertising that focuses on word-of-mouth, personal interaction, and creativity. It's a great way to make an impact without spending a lot of money.
It involves creating creative marketing campaigns where customers are not only spectators, but active participants. The goal is to connect with your customers on an emotional level.
One great example of growth through experiential marketing is Docker, a software platform that allows developers to make and run apps on different operating systems.
During its developer conference called DockerCon 2017, the company introduced its unique product demo called Docker Dash. Only it wasn't a demo - it was a game. And the guests of the conference were the players.
In short, they built the world's first 5000-person, live multiplayer video game!
Attendees had to work together to create an app by solving a series of fun challenges and avoiding a host of enemies. Each challenge presented in Docker Dash allowed the "players" to engage a feature of Docker's product and ultimately complete their app.
More than 3.6 million people watched and posted about the event on social media.
Converting potential customers into your most loyal fans who will enthusiastically share the good word is not an easy task. Hopefully, these word of mouth marketing examples will inspire you to leverage your existing customers to increase brand awareness and, ultimately, your sales.
To sum up:
- Word of mouth marketing, also known as WOMM, aims to encourage and motivate customers to spread the good word about your brand to their friends and family.
- The most notable benefits of WOMM include branded search traffic, increased sales, community building, and more trust in your brand.
- Dropbox is a great example of growth through referral programs. Their incentive is double-sided: both the referrer and the referee get a specific amount of free storage space, depending on the level the referrer is subscribed at.
- Threadless is an example of how a company can grow through building an engaging community. They built a loyal community where designers could challenge each other through contests and design challenges.
- One of the best examples of word of mouth growth through brand ambassador programs is American Express. The company has partnered with hundreds of Instagram influencers, from big-time influencers like Shaquille O'Neal to micro-influencers with 100K followers.
- By using a popular word of mouth marketing tactic called user-generated content, Netflix managed to generate almost 1 million audiences in just 2 weeks.
- Parabol is convincing potential customers to convert by featuring customer testimonials on its website.
- Emotional advertising has long been embraced at Thai Life Insurance. They produce videos that explore real-life problems that exist in a society which prompts viewers to reflect and share the videos with their friends.
- One great example of growth through experiential marketing is software platform Docker. The company built the world's first 5000-person, live multiplayer video game that brought them an audience of 3.6 million.