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Everybody Talks. How to Build a Powerful Strategy Around Word of Mouth Marketing

word of mouth marketing
11 minutes read

So, hear me out.

You’re at a lovely coffee shop with your friends. Before going there, you just received the product you ordered two days ago. It came in an exquisite box that made the unboxing process a delight. The product is exactly how you pictured it, maybe better.

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Once you arrive at the meeting spot, you feel like talking about your experience with the product. If not from the start, you’ll surely find the right moment (or create one) to insert your product recommendation.

We rarely recommend products or services that are average. Perhaps only when they have a huge discount. Otherwise, it has to impress us, make us happy, and only after we’ll spread the word.

This excitement is what triggers word of mouth marketing, aka WOMM.

We’ve all heard about word of mouth marketing but let’s also see how you can take advantage of it.

First, we should lay down the basics.

What Does Word of Mouth Mean?

Word of mouth is one of the fundamental ways of communicating, and it refers to passing information from one person to another through oral communication.

To understand word of mouth meaning even better, think of this. Everything you discuss with a person can be considered word of mouth communication—from giving simple directions to creating a powerful brand using word of mouth marketing strategy.

What Is Word of Mouth Marketing?

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM), also known as word of mouth advertising, is the digitized version of traditional word of mouth.

To put it simply, your customers are so amazed by the experience they had with your company that they feel compelled to do a bit of free word of mouth advertising for you.

Traditionally, wom marketing occurred only organically, from one person to another, based on recommendation. Today, we can also include the brands’ targeted actions to determine customers share their experiences.

Therefore, we can say there are two types of word of mouth marketing:

Word of mouth marketing works naturally on word of mouth, as its name suggests. But in this modern age, social media and other digital platforms are the new mediums for WOMM.

And because we are so connected and all the information we need is shared online, a single excellent recommendation can lead to wom marketing, increasing brand awareness.

What Is Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy?

Word of mouth marketing strategy refers to a company’s actions that trigger consumers to talk and share information about a brand, products, services, or significant experience.

Word of mouth marketing strategy also includes customers’ actions, which refer to sharing their experiences and influencing others in trying a particular product or service.

How Effective Is Word of Mouth Marketing?

Word of mouth marketing still remains one of the most effective marketing tools because consumers rely on other people’s recommendations, especially when it comes to new brands they haven’t tried yet.

To be more precise about the effectiveness of word of mouth marketing strategy, here are some statistics from Cision:

These stats point out the advantages wom marketing will bring to your business. In time, you’ll increase your sales without spending that much money on ads.

Moreover, you’ll build a community of engaged and loyal customers that will recommend your brand further.

Don’t think that word of mouth marketing will stop after a single interaction. Opinions, ideas, and images of your products/services will be passed from one person to another, continuously creating word of mouth promotion and increasing your brand’s exposure even more.

And this is why WOM marketing is something worth investing in.

There are a few things to consider before starting to rely on word of mouth marketing strategy, and they’re all related to what kind of customer experience you’re willing to offer.

Lay the Foundation for a Great Customer Experience

Before creating a word of mouth marketing strategy, the first thing you need to do is make sure you provide an outstanding customer experience.

Here’s what you have to focus on.

1. Offer quality products or services

I can’t stress enough how important it is to offer your customers only quality products or services.

Even if the rest of the experience is positive, starting with the moment a customer found you, if the product or service is not what they expected, it will trigger a series of frustrations and negative reviews.

Not to mention the impact this will have on your effort to build brand trust.

The bottom line here is that offering quality is the first step towards building a loyal customer base so you can receive positive reviews and recommendations from them. Only with quality products/services, you’ll start a word of mouth promotion.

Among word of mouth marketing examples, here’s a positive experience a client had with Sofitel Paris Arc De Triomphe, a hotel from Paris, which they shared on Booking.com:

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2.  Make your website easy to navigate 

Your website needs to run seamlessly and be visually appealing, as this is one of the key deciding factors for a customer upon purchase. A study by Intechnic showed that 23% of customers who had a positive experience told another ten people about it.

A visually pleasing website will increase the customer experience and trust in your brand. This is because they will recognize your professionalism and interest in offering your customers a great UX experience.

Besides, just think about the feeling you get when you enter a new website and discover an old design, like in the 90s. I bet it doesn’t inspire you too much confidence.

The same study shows that 70% of customers abandon purchases because of a bad user experience.

Here’s an example of an impressive website design.

If you scroll on Desponde’s website, the visuals go to the left, offering their customers an eye-catching journey.

If you run an ecommerce business, it’s a must to implement a smooth checkout process across all devices. Don’t make it too long, and keep the steps as straightforward as possible.

Adidas has a simple checkout process. You can see at the top of the page the progress you’re making at every step, and also how many it will take for you to place your order.

3. Deliver on your promises

If there’s one thing people hate, it’s when they receive something other than what a company promised to deliver. This rule applies to products and services alike.

So if you promise to deliver your product in 48 hours, then make sure to do so.

To understand just how important delivery is, 84% of customers said they would not return to a retailer after a negative delivery experience.

It may be difficult to send all the products on time, but it’s even harder to re-establish a lost connection with a customer.

This means you’ll have to make sure all your company processes are in place and running smoothly for the customers to have a flawless experience.

To deliver on your promises doesn’t mean just sending the product in the specified time or at least a decent amount of time, but it also refers to the product’s quality as advertised. We probably all know about those pictures of what I ordered vs. what I got.

Don’t be that kind of company.

If, for instance, you’re selling clothes, make sure the product your customer ordered looks the same as on the website and also has the fabric as mentioned in the description.

Here’s a good example from GAP. The shirt’s description matches the quality, and this review shows us the client is happy about it.

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4. Exceed expectations

Consumers remember brands that do things differently.

If you’re in the retail business, I find it incredibly thoughtful to add a handwritten note to the order and address the customer by their name. I’ve experienced this in the past, and it was the most personalized order I received.

With a thing like that, you have all the changes to get your customers to display the note on their social media accounts, increasing your brand exposure.

You can also use an elegant box, just like Manissi did, packed with a message inside that will bring a smile to the person that unboxes the product.

This is the free word of mouth advertising you need.

Once you have loyal customers, keep pampering your relationships with them by offering discounts, coupons, and other incentives that will keep them coming back.

When you’re sure your brand is ready to offer what customers want and expect, you can start working on the word of mouth marketing strategy.

How To Build a Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy

So you checked all the things I mentioned above and provided people all the reasons to talk about your brand.

In its essence, word of mouth is something that happens organically. Still, you can do certain things to encourage this behavior, which is what we’re going to talk about next.

1. Start within your company

You can start directly at the source within your company. Your employees are the ones that know (almost) everything about your business.

A happy employee who understands your company’s values will always share their thoughts and feelings with their close friends and on social media.

Content shared by employees is seen as a reliable source of information.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, an employee or an external, impartial person is more trusted than even the CEO of that named brand.

So, if your peers are not doing this already, find a way to entice them to be more active on social media and spread the word about your brand.

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2. Build word of mouth triggers

A word of mouth trigger relies on your business’ uniqueness. Offer your customers a memorable experience, and they will return the favor by offering you free advertising in their circle of friends.

The best part about these triggers is that you can link a concept to your product or service. The concept can refer to a personalized service, employers treating customers with empathy and respect, responsiveness towards your customers, or your brand’s attitude—all the core values and uniqueness you worked for will pay off.

A great example of a word of mouth trigger is Hilton’s famous cookies.

For over 25 years, DoubleTree by Hilton hotels has welcomed their guests with an in-house made chocolate chip cookie. Once someone stayed at the hotel, they most likely talked about the delicious surprise.

The staff kept their cookie recipe a secret until last year when the pandemic determined them to reveal it so people can create the cookies at home.

And this is how you create wom communication triggers.

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3. Spark WOM with great visuals

Since the dawn of time, people have responded and communicated through visuals. Besides being an excellent medium for passing information, visuals appeal to people’s emotions too.

Think of paintings and how each painter used specific shapes and colors to convey a sentiment or an idea.

Coming back into digital realms, you can use eye-catching visuals on your website, backed up by a smooth UX design.

When I came across this website, I had the immediate feeling that I have to share it.

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4. Help your brand stand out 

You can either create an innovative product/service or wrap and sell it in a new way.

The thing is, you should think of creative ways to make your brand remarkable.

The best places you can try creating something unique are your products/ services, the company’s core values, and the marketing advertising strategies meant to promote your brand.

When I think of creative ways of making your product/service stand out, the ads from MintMobile come to my mind. Ryan Reynolds, the owner of MintMobile, knows how to create a unique ad without putting in too much effort.

This is because he uses his way of seeing and doing things, which, let’s be honest, is very catchy.

5. Tap into people’s emotions

One of the most potent ways to help your brand get out there is to use emotional advertising.

We respond to the emotional part of the ads because it’s something we understand and feel. And basically, this is a natural, human response, through which you can create the basis for wom communication.

The ads that convey strong emotions are also sharable and easy to go viral. Every year, there’s a cute Coca-Cola ad for Christmas with that awww effect on people.

Among the word of mouth marketing examples triggered by heartwarming ads is the 2020 Christmas ad from Waitrose & John Lewis.

6. Take advantage of trending topics

Use trending topics to get your brand out there. This doesn’t mean you have to forget everything your brand believes in, but you can tweak your usual content from time to time and reach more audiences with these trending topics.

They can be related to events or holidays. To see the hottest trending subjects connected to a specific event, use Google Trends to perform a quick search and find the topic that interests you and has the potential to be connected to your brand.

Or, you can also rely on memes.

You probably know about Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 banana. Burger King knows too, and it created an ad based on that super hot trending topic.

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7. Invest in brand trust before anything else

Brand trust comes with time, and your attitude towards your customers sets it. This means you have to take all the necessary steps to reach brand trust. With that come loyal customers that will become your brand’s advocates, creating organic word of mouth promotion.

With the decaying trust in brands over the years, you’ll have to make an extra effort and put your customer in the center of all actions.

If you invest all your time and energy into keeping your customers because they’re showing trust towards your brand, you’ll also establish yourself as an industry leader.

There are a few ways to gain or maintain brand trust:

One great word of mouth marketing example triggered by a brand’s stand on social issues is Stella Artois’ partnership with Water.org. Every bought Limited-Edition Stella Artois Chalice provides five years of clean water for someone in need in the developing world.

This is an excellent way of creating word of mouth promotion while, of course, helping someone and making a change.

8. Maintain an engaged community 

You can foster word of mouth marketing through a social media community in which you can engage in dialogues with your customers, host contests, giveaways, and loyalty programs.

You can also announce upcoming events and feature releases in this customer base community first and make them feel special and cherished for being your loyal customers.

If you take a look at Adobe’s Instagram page, you’ll see they mention a lot of artists featuring their work. Besides this, they also host contests, giveaways, or challenges, like the one below.

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Final Thoughts

A proper word of mouth strategy can propel your business into the big league, with you as the leader.

But this doesn’t happen overnight. Word of mouth is based on a genuine connection, and it has to work both ways—from your brand and only after from the customers.

First, understand the real word of mouth meaning for your brand, and then you’ll have a clear picture of what you’ll have to do to trigger it inside your customers’ base.

Give consumers plenty of reasons to talk highly of your brand.

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