Ready to grow your sales without growing your ad spend? Try these powerful word-of-mouth marketing strategies to put your brand on everyone's lips.
You can’t buy a great reputation. You have to earn it.
It doesn’t matter how flashy your marketing is, how many zeros are added to your advertising budget, or what award-winning agency you have on your side, nothing moves the needle like a stellar reputation.
That’s why your brand needs word-of-mouth marketing (WOM Marketing). It doesn’t matter whether you run a brick-and-mortar store or an online business. Not being aware of the speed of digital word of mouth won’t just leave you out of the conversation, it will hurt your bottom line too.
Because consumers find it more persuasive to buy something when a recommendation comes from a friend or peer. That’s why you’ll try a new pizza place when your best friend recommends it but roll your eyes in frustration when an ad for local pizza gets in the way of your favourite YouTube video (#skip).
So let’s talk about you. More specifically, let’s talk about getting people to talk about you.
Here are the top 7 word-of-mouth marketing strategies you should already be using.
Your customers are going to talk about your business no matter what, so give them something positive to talk about.
All the word-of-mouth hacks and strategies in the world won’t help unless your brand is providing a great experience for your customers, so this should be your foundation. Thankfully, great word-of-mouth starts with great customer service.
The thing is, I’m not just talking about the way you treat people. I’m talking about the quality of your product, the values your brand upholds, your level of after-sales support, and every interaction you have with consumers from the moment they learn about you to the moment they close a sale.
Try following these tips to provide the best customer service possible:
Sell quality products: OK, *obvious advice* alert. But if your products and experiences aren’t top-tier, why would your word-of-mouth be top-tier? It’s simple, give your customers what they pay for.
Simplify your UX: No one wants to spend 30 minutes trying to create an account and fill out contact forms. Great UX can increase conversions by up to 400%. The easier your website, app, or social media accounts are to use, the better your word-of-mouth.
Go above and beyond: You don’t have customers, you have brand advocates. Your interaction with consumers shouldn’t end at a sale. If someone needs help with a question or is unsatisfied with a product, make yourself available.
Remember, happy customers are the best source of word-of-mouth exposure. Speaking of happy customers…
Back in the day, word-of-mouth was spread from one person to another by literal word of mouth.
At the shops, on the school run, over the back fence. Consumers would swap stories about the businesses and brands they loved (and the ones they hated), and create a powerful buzz that influenced shopping and purchasing decisions.
In 2022, that word-of-mouth still exists. But it’s moved online. Now, great WOM doesn’t require consumers to be near each other - or even know each other. In a hyper-connected world, a customer’s review on your website or their own social media account can help spread positive word of mouth. These reviews help other potential customers feel confident doing business with you.
This is social proof.
79% of people trust testimonials and online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Placing positive reviews on your website or social media profiles - whether you’re a dentist, dog walker, or anything in between - is how you build trust and drive sales.
Looking to unlock the power of social proof? Find out how here
Think about your own reaction to seeing ads for a second…
Let’s say you’ve been thinking of buying a new pair of sneakers. Would you be more swayed by a paid ad at the top of Google, or your friend calling you up to tell you about an awesome new sneaker brand everyone is posting about on social media?
If you’re like most people, the authentic endorsement is preferable to obvious branded content - and that’s why UGC works.
Even better, user-generated content can come in many forms. This could be an Instagram post showing someone using your product. A blog post on a customer’s website talking about your brand. Or a video on YouTube about a new product unboxing. Whatever the format, UGC helps create social proof that drives engagement.
ACTION STEP: Encourage your customers to create and share UGC by incentivising branded content. For example, posting tagged photos on your social media account (make sure you credit your followers), or creating a contest that requires a picture of your customers using your product for a chance to win a free gift, discount, or experience.
A referral program helps incentivise your audience to talk about your business and supercharge your word-of-mouth efforts.
By offering perks in return for successful referrals, you’re helping drive exposure without blowing up your budget. For example, if a customer refers a friend who signs up for your course or makes a purchase from you, they might receive a discount or financial reward as a token of your appreciation.
This turns your current customers into credible spokespeople and sales superstars. They already use your products and love your brand. You’re just using that affection and turning them into walking megaphones singing your praises.
It’s called ‘social’ media for a reason.
The more you engage with your followers, the more likely you are to leave a positive impression.
79% of consumers expect a brand to be available on social media within 24 hours of commenting, so your audience wants quick responses to their questions, comments, and concerns.
Take Wendy’s as an example of how to drive word-of-mouth through social media. Twitter user, Carter Wilkerson, tweeted Wendy’s asking how many retweets would be needed to get free chicken nuggets. It would have been easy for Wendy’s to ignore this tweet. Instead, they replied and set him an impossible target of 18 million retweets.
While the magic 18 million mark wasn’t reached, this did become the most retweeted tweet OF ALL TIME. The simple act of engaging with a fan helped create global exposure in the form of free word of mouth. This earned Wendy’s free media coverage with an estimated 2.5 BILLION earned media impressions, over 5 million online mentions, plus 213,000 new Twitter followers.
What’s the lesson here?
The more you engage with your followers, answer their questions, and maintain communication, the more likely you are to be talked about.
Oh, and that everyone loves chicken nuggets. 😉
Ever heard of the ‘Halo Effect’?
This is the tendency for an impression in one area of a brand to influence other parts of that brand. For example, if you love Apple products and can’t live without your iPhone, you’ll typically think the rest of Apple’s product list is awesome too.
You can use this same type of overlapping influence with hashtags, aka the ‘Hashtag Effect’
All you need to do is add a unique, branded hashtag next time you post content from your brand’s social media account. This can be as simple as #yourbusinessname, but you can also get creative if you want to stand out. Next, add this hashtag to your social media bio and encourage your followers, fans, and customers to use the hashtag for their posts too.
This is a simple and free way to build brand awareness and start a conversation around your brand. You might be the only one using the hashtag at first. Over time, you’ll see other social media users posting with your hashtag too. The more people use it, the more other people will see your brand and associate it with quality - after all, everyone is talking about you.
49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations when making purchasing decisions.
Having your brand reviewed or endorsed by influencers can be a powerful way to reach new, impressionable (and often large) audiences. But look, I can practically hear your accounting team groaning already. Every new marketing strategy comes with its own cost which is a frustrating headache… well, *almost* every new marketing strategy.
With #gifted, you can put your products in the hands of top influencers actively looking for brand partnerships through the power of influencer gifting. Instead of sending DMs and mailing out products hoping to get a shout-out, #gifted lets you choose a product from your catalogue, create a campaign, wait for applicants, and then pick the influencer you like best.
You attract content creators looking to collaborate. And your brand is recommended to loyal, authentic followers to multiply your customer base over and over.
Word-of-mouth happens online in plenty of forms, from social media shout-outs to vlogs and blogs, and even reviews on your own website. More than a popular marketing buzzword, the digital age has made word of mouth powerful. Seriously powerful.
Social media and the internet mean great feedback can spread like wildfire…and negative feedback spreads even fast. That’s why dissatisfied customers tell twice as many people about their experience as satisfied customers do. It’s also why you need to be proactively driving your message and encouraging your audience to say great things about you.
Thankfully, the stronger and more far-reaching your word of mouth, the easier it is to gain new customers from your existing customers. I don’t need to tell you that competition in every industry is fierce. And that’s exactly why you need WOM to shine a spotlight on your brand and put your competition in the dark.
And now you have 7 powerful WOM strategies to help make you the centre of attention.
So, what approach will you use first?