Word-of-Mouth Marketing Explained
Talking is what we humans do best. It is part of our nature, an important part of our day-to-day lives and, essentially, what bonds us together. In conversation, we find out about people’s opinions, tastes and preferences. After all, there’s nothing more rewarding than sharing something you love and getting someone passionate about it as well. Recommendations are very much present in great conversations.
This is what word-of-mouth marketing is all about: sharing recommendations and opinions about a service or a product. It might seem like this practice is entirely organic, but by understanding how it works, every company can take advantage of word-of-mouth and create engaging campaigns that will have people talking about you.
What is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
American psychologist George Silverman was the first to create the idea of word-of-mouth marketing. In the 1970s, he began “teleconferenced peer influence groups”, reuniting physicians to discuss new pharmaceutical products. After studying the groups, he noticed that if one physician had good things to say about one of the products, every other participant would be convinced the product was effective, even if they themselves didn’t have the same experience.
Silverman’s observations are the core definition of word-of-mouth marketing. Instead of getting the message across through ads or paid campaigns, word-of-mouth marketing relies on people sharing their positive experiences with others.
With the internet and social media taking an even more significant role in communication than they had in previous decades, this strategy has become more critical than ever. Providing great experiences for customers and potential clients can be an essential driver of sales and a powerful way to convey a message.
Therefore, word-of-mouth marketing campaigns consist in getting people to talk about your brand organically, usually by creating a joyous moment with your product.
Word-of-mouth marketing is less expensive than other strategies and highly effective, as it spreads quickly and messages come from people consumers trust and whose opinions they value.
How does Word-of-Mouth Marketing work?
Word-of-mouth marketing campaigns are all about creating triggers to have people talking about your brand and your products. The goal of this campaign is to encourage conversations to happen organically.
These triggers are nothing more than memorable moments. You can do that by creating experiential marketing campaigns, designing moments that can be shared on social media or using other strategies we will discuss later in this article.
Once a person is triggered, they will share their experience with, on average, 12 people. According to research, 78% of people discuss their most recent experience with a brand or product with others at least once a week.
More importantly, 90% of people who receive a recommendation will follow through and buy the product or try the service they heard about, even if they learned about it from a stranger. If the experience is negative, 26% of people will avoid a brand or a product based on other people’s comments.
The primary purpose of word-of-mouth marketing is to be the centre of attention. In order to prepare to design your own strategy, it is worth monitoring conversations online and considering what people can’t help but discuss.
What are the Benefits of Word-of-Mouth?
If you have ever bought a product or watched a show because someone recommended it, you know how powerful word-of-mouth marketing can be.
The strategy is worth considering if you are looking for something cost-effective and memorable. But there are many other benefits to trying it.
It is more reliable
People are more reliable than companies. If someone tells you how fantastic a product is, you are probably more inclined to believe it than if you saw an advert saying the same thing.
If you can have your clients saying positive things about your product, you can easily stand out from the crowd. It is through recommendations that most people find new brands or products to try.
The reliability of word-of-mouth can increase sales and create a more significant market share.
You can direct it to a specific group of people
One of the benefits of this marketing strategy is the group of people you can reach. Since word-of-mouth is all about people sharing recommendations with their group of friends, you are likely to reach like-minded people when your campaign is successful.
If you have one specific target in mind, word-of-mouth campaigns will help you reach more people with the same characteristics. It is an effective way of talking to an audience that will most likely enjoy your product.
It is a powerful way to stand out online
The internet and social media have completely transformed the way people come across products and services. Consumers are now active participants in advertising, lending their image and producing content about what they love.
Messages spread quickly, and your brand stands out when you capitalize on the speed and willingness to share.
It influences people
As we discussed, people are more likely to trust and be influenced by other people than they are likely to listen to a brand. For this reason, word-of-mouth advertising is much more effective than traditional strategies.
Not only it increases sales, but it can also change behaviours, making your brand part of people’s lives long term.
How to create a Word-of-Mouth Strategy
In order to create your own word-of-mouth campaign, you need to provide more than just an incredible product or fantastic service. You must encourage your customers to share their positive experiences online or offline.
Make your clients happy
People recommend the brands they enjoy the most. If your customers are happy, they will likely talk about it with their family and friends.
A great way to make them happy is to show them you care about their opinion and loyalty. For example, you can send samples to your most loyal customers, letting them be the first to try a new launch. Providing a way for your customers to register and show their interest in your brand will give you a constant line of communication with people who are probably already recommending your products. Samples can also make them brand ambassadors, allowing them to offer their friends an opportunity to try something new.
Acting quickly when there is a problem is also an important part of the word-of-mouth strategy. You don’t always need to make your customers happy, but responding quickly when an issue arises is essential. If someone complains, take the criticism, apologize and offer something in return.
Surprise your best customers
Go beyond what is expected and surprise people who are loyal to your brand. This is one of the best ways of encouraging people to share their experiences with your products organically.
If someone makes a public compliment, send them a gift or make a comment thanking them. Keeping your satisfied customers even happier is guaranteed to have people talking about your company.
Be creative with your interactions
Unusual interactions stand out. Acting differently from your competitors is a great strategy to get the attention of potential customers.
Surprising people through your campaigns or how you respond to them will get people talking positively about your brand.
For example, think back to really creative ad campaigns that became a conversation starter between you and your friends. The weirder or the more creative, the more people will remember and talk about it.
Tell your story
People like stories, so make sure to tell yours. Storytelling is a powerful advertising tool that can evoke emotions. Use your personal story to leverage your brand and your products, making what you sell unique and exciting.
Telling stories is a human trait; once people know what your company is all about, they will likely share it with others. A recommendation will be more successful or impactful if an origin story’s reasoning and personal touch complement it.
Be an industry leader
Being the first brand or product people think about when discussing your sector is a way to be part of every conversation surrounding a specific industry.
Of course, this is easier said than done, but the more your brand stands out positively, the more people will talk about it naturally. Your product can offer something different and more innovative than competitors, and that will be enough to make your brand become a benchmark.
Consumers value companies that are honest and transparent, as they inspire confidence.
Brands that are transparent feel naturally closer to their customers, who will look at companies as a vital part of their lives. Being honest about struggles, challenges and needs will encourage positive conversations.
Examples of Successful Word-of-Mouth Campaigns
Word-of-mouth marketing campaigns might seem like an extremely difficult task, but some brands have been very successful with their strategies. If you need a source of inspiration, here are brands to keep an eye on.
Netflix has a clever strategy when launching shows and films. In order to keep people engaged in discussions, they keep conversations going online.
Their social media channels are full of memes and comments that join in discussions that are already happening. They are not afraid to make fun of themselves and often respond to requests or complaints from their audience.
Influencer marketing is also a significant part of their strategy, inviting their own stars to create content about films and shows and engage in online conversations.
Netflix is a master at maintaining conversations going, and due to the interest in their products, word-of-mouth is a straightforward consequence.
Known for being present in happy moments among friends, Coca-Cola’s marketing campaigns are created around this idea of sharing experiences with others.
With the campaign “Share a Coke”, every can and bottle featured a name, and the brand encouraged consumers to find their name on the packaging or give a named bottle to someone they love.
The strategy led to increased sales, and organically, people began to share pictures of their names on bottles on their social media.
Vegan and cruelty-free, Lush has positioned itself as a more natural cosmetics brand. Their marketing strategy relies heavily on influencers and word-of-mouth.
One of the effective ways in which they encourage people to talk about their products is by offering free samples. As customers leave the shop, they can try some of the creams and soaps they did not buy.
Lush’s stores also encourage customers to try the products first. They can see first-hand how bath bombs and creams work and smell, feeling stimulated to talk about it with sellers or their friends.
The colourful and creative presentation of each product is also a conversation starter.
Prada is already a well-established brand with a huge following. Still, every new launch presents new challenges.
With the launch of the new fragrance Paradox, Prada partnered with Odore to create a sampling distribution campaign combined with active social media presence to generate word-of-mouth.
Customers would see ads on Instagram and TikTok and claim a sample, trying it out for themselves. What resulted was over 44,000 interactions and almost 2 million impressions, showing how people are interested in becoming part of the conversation.
Distributing samples is a fantastic way to encourage interactions with your brand and have people talking about your product, and recommending it to family and friends.
Word-of-mouth marketing is an extremely effective and powerful way to get your message across and promote your business.
Knowing what your customers are talking about and what kind of conversation they will engage in is a crucial part of developing a word-of-mouth strategy, but so is offering a unique and creative product.
There are many ways to get people talking about your brand, and caring for your customer is probably the most simple yet effective way to do so. Include your clients and potential buyers in your marketing strategy, sending them samples and gifts when they praise your brand online.
Engaging in conversations on social media is also a great way to stand out and become part of a discussion.
Word-of-mouth is all about being the centre of attention. So don’t be shy and take risks to get noticed!