Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Nick Miller

Nick Miller

February 20, 2024

6 mins read

Why you should care about word-of-mouth marketing in the digital age

“Nothing persuades brand trial, adoption and loyalty more than a recommendation from another customer, particularly from a trusted friend or family member.” – womma.org

Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t a new idea – but with the emergence of social media, search engines and digital marketing in the last decade – it’s now more important than ever for brands to harness its immense potential and influence.

“84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services – making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness.” – Nielsen


Although seemingly obvious, with such an enormous emphasis on digital marketing today, I feel that so many brands forget the importance of influencing word-of-mouth as a legitimate marketing tactic.

Why should you care about word of mouth in the digital age?

There’s so much noise out there.

To be competitive online, brands need something that cuts through. Successful brands understand what their customers truly value, and what makes them tick. Whether that’s through emotional triggers, practical value or social currency – harnessing the power of word-of-mouth marketing can become a real difference-maker for businesses on the digital age.

“88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.”BrightLocal

The value of word-of-mouth marketing

Spreading the good word about your brand via conversation amongst customers is different from traditional marketing methods in that it’s usually more naturally occurring, and can often have a much broader and significant impact.

Here’s why:

  • It creates trust – people who purchase based on referrals are more likely to buy more than through traditional marketing methods.
  • It creates long term value – customers that find your business via the recommendations of others are more likely to become returning customers.
  • It builds brands over time – utilising word-of-mouth marketing helps build positive feelings about your products and services, and that helps build your company’s brand.
  • It’s low cost, low risk with high returns – word-of-mouth is essentially a free form of advertising, getting your consumers talking about your brand doesn’t cost you a penny.
“92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know directly, and anonymous reviewers have a 70% trust rate when they post online about a brand.” – Jay Baer

However, to achieve truly successful word-of-mouth marketing, you’ll need a cohesive digital marketing strategy that combines SEO, advertising, social media and PR; all of which, if implemented correctly, will increase word-of-mouth strength and frequency.

Building trust, loyalty and buzz

Brands like Zappos and Starbucks are famous for engaging customers with powerful, word-of-mouth driven marketing campaigns – even if word-of-mouth was a byproduct of hilariously getting customers names wrong on their coffee cups (Starbucks) or striving to offer the best customer service in the world (Zappos).

Starbucks smashed social media with people sharing pictures of coffee cups with purposely mis-spelled names, which led to an influx

“77% of brand conversations on social media are people looking for advice, information, or help. 18% were positive reviews of the brand.” – Mention

Today, brands simply cannot afford to wait around for word-of-mouth to just happen organically. Instead, brands must engage and turn customers into powerful brand advocates by wowing them with low-cost, high-impact gestures.

What’s better than getting your customers to do your marketing for you, right.

4 ideas for supercharging word-of-mouth

It’s no secret that organic word-of-mouth marketing is rare and difficult to achieve. It takes an exceptional product or customer experience to inspire someone to talk about your brand and recommend you to their peers. Here are 10 ways you can inspire your customers to start raving about your business.

1. Thank your customers regularly

I love brands that genuinely appreciate their customers. It’s one of the lowest-cost but highest-impact ways to win your audience over and get them talking about you – we highly value brands that acknowledge our support. Why?

Thank yous stand out as a delightful gesture because they make us feel special and cherished. What’s so strange is that hardly anyone does it anymore! You don’t need to go overboard though. A simple thank-you email with a reminder of your brand’s purpose is enough to get your business to stand out.

2. Make your customers feel valued and part of your company’s purpose

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” – Simon Sinek

If you haven’t seen Simon Sinek’s TedTalk on ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action’ – go watch it, now!

Great businesses have a real, authentic purpose. They offer something that makes their customers care about their business beyond their functional needs (saves time, cheaper, reduces effort, etc.).

Your customers should know how much you value their feedback and support, and, more importantly, why your company exists and the purpose it serves.

3. Delight your customers with small surprises

As consumers we all love delightful surprises from businesses we’ve bought from, and if you can’t compete on price, outstanding customer service has to be your winning proposition.

Provide a ‘wow’ experience that leaves a lasting impression. Here are 5 of my favourite ways to surprise and delight customers:

  1. Free upgrades (shipping or service)
  2. Thank you notes
  3. Send them a gift they’d value
  4. Asking for feedback
  5. Offers and discounts

4. Excel at customer service every day

Zappos.com is one of the largest brands in the world because they built their brand around trust and excelling at customer service. They made customer experience the mission and delivered a ‘wow’ experience at every opportunity.

How did Zappos.com become one of the largest e-commerce sites in the world? They simply relied on the fact that their customers would share their amazing experiences with their peers.

“Our philosophy has been to take most of the money we would have spent on paid advertising and invest it into customer service and the customer experience instead, letting our customers do the marketing for us through word-of-mouth.” – Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh

Positive word of mouth messaging lets you control the narrative about your brand online – Google reviews, social media, etc. all contribute to word of mouth marketing and are often the first port of call for online research.

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