7 Essential Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Strategies For Any Business

/ marketing / 5 min read
Katrina Dalao

Whenever you’ve had an amazing experience, what’s one of the first things you do? Tell others all about it. It can be a great meal, excellent customer service, or an unexpected gift in the mail – if someone has an outstanding experience, others will soon find out.

These experiences are essentially word-of-mouth marketing at work. Word of mouth is how information and stories have always been shared. Word-of-mouth marketing, on the other hand, is a strategy used by businesses to get people talking about their products and services.

Word-of-mouth marketing is described as “the most effective social media” by Forbes. In fact, 92% of people trust word of mouth or referrals above all other advertising.

Below, we give you seven essential word-of-mouth marketing strategies that work for any type of business.

Set Word-of-Mouth Triggers

Triggers are best explained with a quick mental exercise. Fill in the blanks: Peanut butter and _____. If you instantly thought of “jelly” or “jam”, it was because you were reminded – or triggered – by the thought of peanut butter.

How can you link your brand to a common external cue? Look for common experiences across your target market, and how you can integrate it into your brand messaging.

A few notable marketing strategies that utilize triggers are Kit Kat, which invites you to “Have a break… have a Kit Kat!”, and Glossier’s signature sweet pink packaging (also known as #glossierpink).

Once a trigger is set, it acts like a public advertisement. Consumers will be reminded every time they see the trigger, which increases your overall brand awareness.

Do Something Unique

If you want word of mouth, you have to give people something to talk about. This is more than great prices and products; those are already expected by customers.

Instead, word of mouth is sparked by outstanding, one-off experiences – something fun (like a contest or pop-up event) or free (like a giveaway or upgrade) can usually get people talking.

For example, mattress company Casper didn’t just gain popularity for being one of the original bed-in-a-box brands. Customers were also drawn to its 100-night risk-free trial and convenient free delivery.

If you can find a way to give something a little extra to customers, you’ll be well on your way to successful word-of-mouth marketing.

Engage With Your Community

A quick route to get people talking about you is to simply start the conversation. Thanks to social media and messaging platforms, companies can communicate directly with customers. There are also several marketing agencies that can reach out to influencers, if your business prefers to outsource this step.

Why not invite them to share their thoughts about new products? You can also comment on their posts or feature customer content. And always make sure to respond to any questions or concerns. Only when someone has a great customer experience will they actively share the company with their friends.

One brand that’s mastering community engagement is Dutch airline KLM. In their popular “What the FAQ” series on Youtube, members of the crew answer technical questions about air travel. “Does a plane have a horn?” and “Can lightning strike during a flight?” are just some video topics. These are a far cry from the usual sentimental content released by other airlines, which makes it more interesting to share with others.

Encourage User-Generated Content

Of course, not all content has to belong to your company. Many word-of-mouth marketers see great success with user-generated content (UGC).

When customers or users share something about you, it shows they truly love your product and adds credibility to your brand. A consumer report shows UGC is seen by 60% of consumers as the most authentic form of content.

How can you use this to your advantage? Luckily, consumers are more than willing to share. In the same study, nearly 52% of consumers publish social media posts on products they’ve purchased at least once a month.

All you need to do is find which of your customers are part of this demographic and encourage them to share content about your company, whether its by rewarding reviews or creating easily sharable social media content.

Look to the iconic Starbucks for some UGC inspiration. They've established a unique brand of putting their identifiable logo on their products. Their own Instagram is full of photos displaying their coffee cups in aesthetically pleasing ways – a trend that is continued by millions of users today.

Earn Social Currency

If you’ve applied any one of the above strategies, you’re earning social currency. Social currency indicates how much influence your brand has, as well as how much others talk about your brand. Together, these sum up the value of your brand – your social currency.  

There are many ways to earn more social currency. Consulting firm Vivaldi Partners lists six of them, all based on customer behaviors. These include utility, information, conversation, advocacy, affiliation, and identity.

Any time you provide one of these to a customer, you’re making a “deposit” into your social bank account. Now, you don’t have to prove all six, all the time. Select the ones that suit your business best – say, utility for a SaaS startup and conversation for a consultation agency – and focus on those to build your social currency.

Ask Customers For Reviews

Asking customers for reviews is a simple step that goes a long way. It’s common practice for businesses to send customers a quick feedback form after they’ve received their purchase.

For more in-depth reviews, consider sending direct emails to your most loyal customers with 1–2 long-form questions about their experience with your product or service. This can help you better understand your customer and position your business to meet their needs.

Here is an example of a quick and easy feedback form that can be embedded onto your website or sent via email:

You can also add your business to third-party review sites – Yelp for restaurants, Capterra and Trustradius for software, Facebook Ratings and Reviews, Google Business, and more. Include a link to your page and ask customers to share their reviews.  

Positive customer reviews can be used as testimonials (with the customer’s approval, of course), and help you gain even more customers.

Run a Referral Program

Referral programs have become one of the most valuable forms of word-of-mouth marketing. Many of today’s fastest growing companies have benefited from the success of a strong referral program.

Essentially, a referral program rewards customers for recommending your business to others. While some customers may already be doing so on their own, a referral program helps formalize the process. An example is UberEats, which offers a monetary reward when referred customers use your referral code.

This is enormously effective as customers know they'll receive a reward for their efforts, whether it’s store credit, discounts, or other items of value, which further incentivizes them to actively spread the word.

Using online referral forms like the one below can help streamline the process, by making it easy for customers to refer others. Businesses can also send rewards automatically and see how many new sales they’ve made from each customer.

The Final Word

There are many ways to jumpstart word of mouth for your business. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for new ways to expand your market, one of the above word-of-mouth marketing strategies can greatly benefit your business.

This guest post was written by Kat Dalao, content manager for Referral Rock.

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Katrina Dalao

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