Word of Mouth Marketing: How to Harness the Influence of Happy Customers

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Written By Said

Said is a thought leader in small business marketing. He has founded, grown and sold dozens of successful businesses throughout his career. 

A Brief Introduction

Simply very good! That’s what I can say about an Oaxacan food restaurant I recently visited. A good mezcal and some delicious tlayudas, accompanied by live music, make this small corner a little piece of Oaxaca in Mexico City. I recommend it to you!

How many times have we heard recommendations like this, from the mouths of our friends, family or acquaintances? I’m sure many. Precisely these types of recommendations, originating from our daily conversations, are the essence of the so-called word of mouth marketing (WOM), which is having a major impact on consumer behavior.

WOM is not a new tool, people always talk to one another about their opinions, experiences, emotions and needs; and we have done it in different ways. But with the arrival of the internet and social media,  WOM has acquired an important role in online communities, where satisfied customers share their great experiences; talking about brands, products and services.

90% of consumers trust word of mouth from their friends and family over other forms of promotion

Nielsen Research

According to Nielsen, 90% of consumers trust word of mouth from their friends and family over other forms of promotion. This is leading companies to capitalize on the opportunities of digital WOM to promote their brands and grow their business.

What is word-of-mouth marketing?

Word-of-mouth marketing is the organic spread of information about your products, brand or services. It occurs when a customer’s interest in your products or services is reflected in their everyday conversations. Word of mouth is a free form of advertising sparked by customer experiences, usually something beyond the expected.

By exceeding customers’ expectations or giving them inside information about your product, you’re giving them a reason to talk. Exemplary customer service makes customers feel like the company is listening to them, which helps form a more emotional bond. 

word of mouth friends

How does WOM marketing help you?

54% of social media users use social media to research products and 71% are more likely to purchase products and services based on social media referrals

Global Web Index

Many companies consider word-of-mouth marketing to be the most valuable form of marketing because it allows good reviews of their product or service to spread to a large audience. Word of mouth helps you build trust and is a cost-effective means of reaching customers. Additionally, it is one of the most effective forms of advertising to drive brand recognition, loyalty, and sales.

71% of people are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals and believe recommendations from friends and family. This means that when someone sees a friend or family member raving about a particular brand, they are much more likely to purchase. It follows that your greatest marketing asset is your existing customer base.

Every time it is reposted, reshared or retweeted, WOM marketing carries the potential for exponential growth. You can increase sales without investing in advertising. What’s more, people are 5 times more likely to recommend your product to their friends and family when they have a good customer experience.

Why WOM marketing is a great tool and how can we take advantage of it for our company?

To generate word-of-mouth marketing we need to give our customers what they expect,  we must listen to them and respond to their needs; invite them to try our products/services; create positive experiences; share testimonials from satisfied customers; generate spaces with influencers to share content and get to know our brand through a digital public relations strategy.

These are the main reasons why word of mouth marketing is an extraordinary tool for promoting our business:

1. Build trust in the business

word of mouth marketing - trust

WOM capitalizes on trust between people to build trust in the business. It makes our brand recommended in a very trustworthy environment, within conversations “among friends.” Where we know much more about each other than our brand can know about its consumers.

When satisfied consumers share experiences of products or services with friends and acquaintances, the stories connect more intimately, generating trust towards our brand, making others want to know it, come closer, and want to take part in the purchasing journey that we have prepared for them.

72% of consumers say that reading positive customer comments increases their confidence in the business

Bright Local

2. Generate awareness and visibility

Word of mouth creates a real buzz for our brand in the media and on social networks, and the best thing is that it does so through independent and impartial trusted third parties who only seek to share the good things with their friends and acquaintances. Thus, without intending to, they are gaining space for our brand.

Among the media gained through word of mouth we can consider comments, news coverage, interactions (likes, mentions, shares) and other efforts that boost the buzz of our brand and its products until giving them greater visibility, making them become known and, in the best of cases, they go viral and become a trending topic.

3. It influences purchasing decision making

Word of mouth is an important influence on consumer decisions. Perhaps, we ourselves can attest to it when someone from our family or friends recommends or suggests a product or service with which they had a good experience. Without thinking so much, we trust them! 

Word of mouth is considered the primary factor behind 20 to 50% of all purchasing decisions

McKinsey Research

Additionally, the study positions WOM in digital channels as the most important that businesses should consider, whether they are B2B or B2C brands.

4. Generate loyalty

word of mouth loyalty

No matter what type of products or services our business offers,  our priority is to ensure that customers have a positive experience with our brand. This helps build customer loyalty and therefore good word-of-mouth referrals.

Let’s keep in mind that customer opinions go hand in hand with their loyalty. Good reviews will help us attract potential customers, good service will convert these potential customers into customers, and satisfied customers will tell their friends and acquaintances the good news.

5. Saves business costs

Businesses often invest large amounts of money in promoting products and services, due to radio and television advertisements, paid content, and digital mega-influencers. But they are unaware that word of mouth has the ability to generate more clients than any of these strategies.

Compared to the investments required to run an advertising campaign in print and electronic media, recommendations cost almost nothing. Friends and acquaintances usually have no financial interest in recommending products or services, it’s free!; so the credibility of the recommendation or reference is authentic. We just need to give our customers a satisfying experience that creates a story they can tell.

It is truly incredible when consumers speak well of our brand, and they do so for the simple pleasure of sharing their experience with others and showing how something or someone helped them solve what was “keeping them up at night.”

If you build a great experience, customers will recommend it to others

Jeff Bezos, Amazon

Although the basis of WOM is the conversations that occur in traditional and digital communication channels, if we want to capitalize on it as a marketing tool, it is important to consider certain actions such as a digital PR strategy with organic micro-influencers from market niches with reach, contextual credibility and sales flair, sharing valuable and authoritative content that attracts and retains the target audience, increases brand awareness and visibility, and fosters customer loyalty to help our business continue to grow.

Strategies to improve word of mouth marketing

To be successful with word of mouth marketing, you must apply the following steps:

1. Create your buyer persona

The main thing in word-of-mouth marketing is to discover who your audience is and to what type of people you are projecting all your efforts as a brand. Knowing your target audience is essential work, therefore, being able to describe it in as much detail as possible will help you identify the best way to solve their need.

The more specific the problem you are attacking is, the more segmented and specific your audience will be. So, the key is to try to reach your clients’ lives by having the solution they need.

If you manage to meet the needs of your audience, they will have many reasons to want to become ambassadors of your brand and apply word-of-mouth advertising.

2. Know your product and your market

Word of mouth marketing requires you to be in all the details related to your brand. This implies that you must know the advantages and disadvantages of your products since you must know how to explain them perfectly to your consumers.

Likewise, it is essential that you master information such as the following:

  • Who are your competitors?
  • The context of your industry.
  • The problems within your market.
  • What is the mission and vision of your company?

The idea is that you are able to talk about any aspect related to your merchandise and your company. Regardless of whether you comment on it personally or professionally, the key is that you know how to resolve any type of doubt that arises from your audience.

Speaking with confidence and ease helps people feel more confident about the information you are conveying. It is essential to get your audience to trust you since you are asking them to put their reputation at risk to promote your product.

3. Design a good community on the networks

Social networks are excellent allies of word of mouth marketing. They are one of the most important means of dissemination today, so you would do well to consider them within any strategy you have in mind.

It is essential that, when knowing your buyer persona, you know the type of social network they use. In this way, you will be able to prepare a much stronger community within these platforms.

Once you start designing it, you must make sure you monitor it and are constantly interacting with its members. It is not about having a group of followers, but about generating true links so that the word-of -mouth marketing strategy can be successful.

4. Look for the influencers in your community

Influencers are the figures that have the greatest impact on the public that is a regular user of digital environments. And your community will not be exempt from their influence, so you need to know how to recognize the figures who stand out within your audience (or you can even consider looking outside of it).

Both you and the influencer can mutually benefit from word-of-mouth advertising: they from the benefits of your merchandise and you from their influence. So, having this type of personality will help you connect with users, whether or not they are part of your community.

5. Check who influences your influencers

All people have their own criteria, but they also extract information from various sides. This also happens with influencers, so if you know what type of content they frequently upload or how their community works, you will be closer to making word-of-mouth marketing work.

You should not only be concerned about what your influencers say but also the community close to them. If you contribute and participate in these groups on a regular basis, they will be a great help in running your word-of-mouth advertising campaign.

Of course, avoid being invasive: if users feel that you are not genuinely interested in them and are only interested in selling, you will not get the desired effect.

6. Consider taking advantage of exclusivity

Although you don’t completely control the word-of-mouth marketing that your customers do (mainly to those who tell them about your brand or how they convey the message), you can regulate the access of the people who have access to your products: especially if they are in an early stage of development. Therefore, you can give your article a feeling of exclusivity and take advantage of it.

The fact that users consider that not everyone can have access to your products, once it is launched on the market, it is time to take advantage of the moment. For the launch or testing, you can invite influencers and personalities related to your community to test it and offer feedback to help your advertising campaign.

Key Takeaway 

Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t so much about creating super clever viral content. Rather, it’s about offering amazing value that people can’t resist sharing with others. It pays to be attentive and kind to your customers. Word spreads when you offer stellar service and show appreciation. If you continue to meet expectations, customers will become ambassadors of your brand for a long time.