Every brand has a team of marketers who don’t appear on their payroll.

No, this isn’t an admin error - it’s the business of selling.

Customers aren’t just a group that brands and agencies must sell to: they’re also an important part of their marketing department.

Word of mouth marketing, facilitated by customers, is a crucial way for brands to grow long-term sales, develop consumer trust and build brand presence.

But what exactly is it and what do businesses need to do to create a successful word of mouth marketing strategy?


What is word of mouth marketing?

You need a new mascara so you ask your friend which product they’re currently using. Your sibling has just started a new skincare regime and they’re excitedly talking you through it. 

Or maybe your colleague is wearing a new scent and you ask them where they bought it.

These are all examples of word of mouth marketing. 

Word of mouth marketing is when customers promote or recommend a product or brand through their conversations.

It’s one of the oldest marketing strategies but it remains a crucial part of marketing in the digital age.

User Generated Content such as social media posts and online reviews can also be counted as word of mouth marketing.

For instance, you may try a new eye cream and post on social media about how much you like the texture or the effect it’s had on your skin.


Benefits of word of mouth marketing

One of the key benefits of word of mouth marketing is the increased likelihood of conversion.

For instance, a 2018 survey conducted among US consumers by Convince & Convert found that 83% say a word of mouth recommendation from a friend or family member makes them more likely to purchase that product or service.

And it’s not just recommendations from friends and family that are powerful. Product reviews are a crucial factor in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

Research from our partner Bazaarvoice found that 9 in 10 (89%) of shoppers “always” or “mostly” consult ratings and reviews before making a purchase, and 78% say product reviews influence their purchasing decisions most, when they surveyed the Influenster community.

Word of mouth marketing also helps build brand trust. The trust consumers have in the opinions of friends and family transfers to the brand or product. But consumers will also trust the opinions of strangers online and assume a level of authenticity and honesty in their feedback.

This authenticity wields greater power than aesthetics. According to research published this year by Bazaarvoice, 53% of consumers say user generated content, like social images from customers, make them more confident in their purchasing decision than professional photography.


Word of mouth marketing in the digital world

Word of mouth marketing takes a number of different forms in the digital world.

As discussed, it exists as user generated content (for instance, social media posts, photos, videos, reviews) that are shared online.

This is especially powerful in the beauty industry, where many products are designed to change a customer’s appearance and consumers want to know if their effect lives up to their claims.

If a product claims to dramatically reduce the appearance of keratosis pilaris in a few uses or deflate a spot overnight, consumers want to see the evidence for themselves. If brands can provide consumers with this evidence, they’ll be encouraged to buy - which is why many will include photos supplied by customers on their website.

Additionally, influencer marketing could be seen as a form of word of mouth marketing.

Although consumers are aware that influencers are being paid to promote a product or brand, these campaigns rely on the idea that the influencer is personally recommending something to their followers, with whom they have a relationship.

When brands attempt to encourage word of mouth marketing, this is classed as amplified word of mouth marketing, as opposed to organic word of mouth marketing.

For instance, a brand may run a campaign that encourages customers to share photos of a product in order to win a prize. 


How to increase word of mouth marketing

The foundation of word of mouth marketing is having a product and presence that customers can’t help but praise.

Now, there are a number of steps involved in product development but a core part of it involves brands deeply understanding what their customers prioritise and value in a product.

One way brands can achieve this is through the data they collect when engaging with their customers. Zero-party data (data that a customer actively chooses to share with a brand) is a fantastic way to learn more about consumer preferences and desires.

For example, as part of a product sampling campaign, a brand could ask consumers about their top concerns when looking for a new skincare product. Collecting this information, and using it to inform product development, helps brands create products that impress and that consumers can’t wait to talk about.

It’s not just the product itself that will get consumers talking.

The relationship they have with a brand, and the customer service they receive, will also factor into whether they recommend it online or to friends.

The strategic collection and use of data also helps support this. For instance, the information a brand collects about a customer can be used to personalise their experience with a brand and only serve them information that’s tailored to their needs. Such personalisation has quickly become an expectation among consumers: McKinsey’s Next in Personlization 2021 Report, found that 72% of consumers say they expect the businesses to buy from to recognise them as individuals and know their interests.

Getting the word out

But there are more direct ways brands can encourage word of mouth marketing.

In addition to running photo-sharing campaigns, brands can encourage customers to post reviews. An incentive like a discount code, prize draw or small gift can be used to reward customers for providing their feedback. These reviews can then be shared on social media, hosted on the brand’s website or shared on external sites so consumers looking for reviews can find customer feedback.


Using product sampling to create word of mouth marketing

However, one of the most powerful ways to encourage word of mouth marketing is through a product sampling campaign.

A sampling campaign allows consumers to experience a product for themselves and as well as making them more likely to convert, it fuels word of mouth marketing.

The friends and family of someone who has received a product sample are given a ring-side seat to their experience: they’ll also witness the difference a product can make and may even have a chance to try it themselves, if the sample is big enough.

If they live with the person who receives the sample, they’ll also be engaged in part of their customer journey - participating in the excitement of the package arriving in the post and being opened, like a gift.

Product sampling is especially powerful in driving word of mouth marketing when it comes to fragrances. Here, it’s not just friends and family who are drawn into the product experience but even strangers with whom they interact. 

A customer sprays a sample fragrance and leaves the house a brand ambassador: strangers who are close to them will smell the fragrance too and may enquire where they got it.

Additionally, a strong product sampling campaign will encourage customers to leave reviews. Not only will these reviews help inform future product development and marketing strategies, they encourage new customers to try the product themselves.

Word of mouth marketing with Odore

Odore is the perfect partner for brands looking to increase their word of mouth marketing.

Odore’s data collection tools make it easy for brands to gather data from customers (including zero-party data) to inform product development and support businesses in delivering hyper-targeted, personalised marketing.

We’re also product sampling experts and work with world-leading brands to execute high-performing sampling campaigns.

Our drag and drop campaign builder allows brands to create and launch eye-catching, sophisticated campaigns in minutes while our reliable fulfilment centres handle all the delivery logistics. Whether it’s an influencer campaign or a VIP email campaign a brand is after, Odore has the tech, expertise and experience to make it a success.


Want to increase your word of mouth marketing? Book an introductory call with Odore here.

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