6 Ways to Leverage a Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategy

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Are your customers talking about your brand with friends and family? If so, what are they saying and where are they spreading the news? These are just a few of the important questions to ask when thinking about a word-of-mouth marketing strategy.

When your customers say things like, this product is the next big thing or they have awesome customer service on social, are you listening?

What we do know is pretty much everyone else is tuning into peer recommendations. An Investp infographic stated word-of-mouth marketing impressions drive 5 times the impressions than paid media marketing.

invesp infographic on word of mouth marketing

And consumers simply trust each other for product recommendations (88%) more than brands or other advertising methods. Whether or not people discuss your brand might seem like something that’s out of your hands. But it’s not.

In fact, that’s what word-of-mouth marketing is all about. First, let’s define word-of-mouth marketing for the modern age:

What is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

Word-of-mouth marketing is the process of generating conversations and buzz about your brand online in a way that attracts new customers. In many ways, it relies heavily on user-generated content, which is content related to your brand, but created and posted by consumers.

For the most part, a word-of-mouth marketing strategy can be done with little-to-no budget, and the results it produces are completely organic (and incredible).

Unlike other advertising strategies, word-of-mouth marketing is a constant process. It means more than just sending out content on social media and hoping for a response. Instead, this strategy is all about creating a community and engaging with the people in it.

But if this is going to take so much time, is it really worth it?

Consider these facts from a Hubspot infographic stating 75% of people don’t believe advertising, but 62% have trust in online customer reviews.

hubspot infographic graphic

While advertising may get your brand the attention of those who see it, wouldn’t you rather work with the audience who will tell their friends and family about you?

Since word-of-mouth marketing lets your fans do most of the work for you, this method draws in more traffic to your website. But more than that, when your fans are bringing their friends to your store, they’re already primed to purchase.

This means you’re not just getting more traffic, you’re getting quality views from consumers much further down the path to purchase. So, now that we know how valuable word of mouth marketing is, how can you implement your own strategy? Follow these six tips to create your own word-of-mouth marketing strategy:

1. Create a Memorable & Digestible Hashtag

Creating a viral hashtag may seem a bit daunting as a first step toward word-of-mouth marketing. Getting a hashtag to be successful at all isn’t an easy task. But following the best practices to get your hashtag seen will only help your efforts.

We know the success of #shareacoke, but we’re not all Coca Cola. Instead, brands have to get creative, but keep it simple at the same time. So, how can you actually create a hashtag that sticks in people’s minds? Here are some quick tips to follow when crafting a hashtag meant to be spread by word of mouth:

  • Simple and Clear: The more letters, words and complexity to a hashtag means it will be difficult to share and remember. Keep it short and sweet and simple–even if it’s weird or out of the box.
  • Capitalize Your Words: The first letter of each word in your hashtag needs to be capitalized. This helps avoid confusion or possible double entendres.
  • Unique and Distinctive to You: Make sure your hashtag is unique by checking for all versions across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter
  • Try to Add Branded Keywords: It’s smart to Include branded keywords whenever possible. This helps people associate your brand with your products and vice-versa.
  • Start a Contest: Encourage your followers to actually use the hashtag by sharing prizes or product giveaways. The more buzz, the better.

2. Give Your Audience a Chance to Make Their Friends Jealous

Like we just mentioned, giving away a unique experience is a great way to generate buzz. A share-worthy story is just the thing that pushes people to talk about your brand to their friends.

So, how can you give them that unique experience? Whether it’s a day at the amusement park or a discount on their next purchase, giveaways help encourage people to talk about your brand.

Because who doesn’t love to brag to their friends about the cool stuff they got for free?

post purchase email from PowerReviews

This is why post-purchase emails are absolutely essential for both brands and retailers. By sending your customers a recap of the products they bought, you can ask for reviews, tips and general thoughts on their purchasing decisions.

This method uncovers so much about your customers and their overall wants and needs. And if you’re struggling to get customers to fill out review forms, try to incentivize. When you offer a future discount, you encourage shoppers to return and to provide content.

A real win-win for both sides!

Don’t Forget About Social Promotions

Giving something to get something is not a new idea. But it doesn’t have to cost you a future to implement. Check out how West Elm promotes their Instagram with their own a rewards system:

west elm instagram ugc example

With an offer so simple (yet so tantalizing) as a regram, West Elm has sparked a ton of user-generated content, and has grown to almost 2 million followers. Your brand can try something similar. By rewarding your audience, you’ll give them something they can’t help but brag about to their friends. And if it makes their friends jealous, they’re more likely to become your new fans.

3. Steal Their Hearts With Video Content

If you create video content that your audience enjoys watching, Hubspot says 83% of people would consider sharing it with their friends.

It’s true, people love watching and sharing video content online. It doesn’t matter if it’s branded content: if it’s entertaining or moving, people will watch and share.

Just look at what companies like Dollar Shave Club or Warby Parker have done with video marketing. Brands are seeing the impact of video content without even relying on sound. Instead, it’s all about catching shoppers’ attention and providing a clear explanation and benefit to what you do.

Video content can still be branded content and even blatantly promote your products. Video is also known to help product descriptions on purchase pages as well. However, you want to do so in a way that produces plenty of engagement and entertainment from your audience. Be authentic and personable, and people will connect with your brand as its own personality.

Many brands use Instagram Stories to help increase word-of-mouth marketing efforts because it’s short, to the point and often visually pleasing. The best part is you don’t need an entire video design crew to post some of the catchiest content.

marshalls instagram story example

Marshalls does a wonderful job at using simple videos of the in-store shopping experience and by highlighting new products and deals. It’s not over the top, but still fun to quickly look through each post to see the products and follow the story.

4. May the Most Engaged Customer Win

What is it about contests that draws in new fans? Maybe it’s the competition or possibly the award you’re offering. Whatever the case, social media contests can be a great way to generate more word of mouth conversations.

For instance, Southwest teamed up with Dr. Pepper to run a contest of #12DaysofLOVE over the holidays. This got hundreds of people entering to get their content on Southwest’s Instagram and a $1,000 gift card to use toward flights.

This is just one example of the hundreds of successful contests that many brands have done online, with fantastic results. If you’re looking to run a contest, just make sure to follow these quick tips:

  • Get Legal: Make the requirements are short and clear, but ultimately follow your state’s or country’s specific contest laws. Do your research before you start the contest.
  • Have Clear Rules: Decide in advance what criteria will define the winner and make sure it’s not overly confusing.
  • Offer Cool Prizes: If you’re a tax company, it might not super fun to get 20% off your taxes. Instead, try to offer a cool prize that people want (giveaway, experience, recognition, etc.)
  • Get Branded: Use a branded hashtag that’s specific to the contest or a product launch. Southwest’s #12DaysofLOVE is a perfect example to follow.

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5. Get More (and Better) Reviews

Reviews mean so much to today’s consumers. In fact, the PowerReviews Power of Reviews report found 89% of shoppers look for reviews prior to purchasing. Even more so, is 70% said they wouldn’t make a purchase online without at least consulting product reviews first.

Reviews give you social proof, and help people to see just how great your products work for others just like them. Authenticity is crucial toward product purchases and your shoppers want to know what others think.

But how do you get more reviews?

One of the best ways is just to ask.

For example, you could set up an autoresponder that gets sent some time after a customer makes a purchase on your website, thanking them for their purchase and giving them a quick link to review the product when they’re ready. But what if you’re trying to launch a new product with zero reviews?

With the added boost of our Influencer and Product Suite, you can connect to our massive everyday influencer list to help gain authentic product insights and reviews through sampling campaigns. A smart Instagram influencer marketing campaign could truly help your new product gain the social proof it needs to drive more sales.


online reviews financial impact

In fact, data from PowerReviews, gathered from Northwestern with other partners, shows just five reviews can increase the likelihood of purchase by 270%. This is a significant advantage to brands increasing the number of reviews and the overall quality.

6. Be the Human Connection Your Audience Needs

Sometimes, the best word-of-mouth marketing strategy is better connecting to your customers, whether it be on social media, email or in person. Brands are trying harder each day to be more “real” with their viewers, and while it can get you some likes, authenticity drives actual product confidence.

Even though the centennials are the new craze for marketers to target, you don’t want to come off fake to your audience. Try to avoid getting swept up in the Twitter beef world, but instead, be true to your company mission and products.

A Centennial Shopper Report from PowerReviews found 44% of this age demographic said they wouldn’t trust the quality of the product if there’s no negative reviews. That’s the sort of connection you want to build with your shoppers.

By monitoring branded keywords and conversations where your brand has been tagged, you can be ready to jump in and respond to your online community. Sometimes having that authentic marketing touch is all that people need to fall in love with your brand.

Stand Behind Your Causes

Several brands have made it clearer about the causes they stand behind. While we’re not touting brands to get extremely political, it is smart to show people the causes you stand with.

Shoppers have their concerns and by simply providing some insights into your stand on organic only, locally resourced or equal pay for your staff, you generate conversations with your shoppers. People like to trust brands that have beliefs in specific causes.

Just make sure you’re not hopping on anything you think is a fad. If your brand truly believes in ditching plastic straws, make sure you’re covering your bases on all environmentally harmful plastics and items used.

TOMS has become well known for its one-for-one campaign by giving a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair bought. The company also frequently gets involved in other causes and events to help things like gun violence.

These causes are close to the company’s heart, and have resulted in incredible growth for this brand. So, reach out to a cause that is close to your brand and invest in your stances.

Take Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategy to the Next Level

Whether or not your brand has a presence on social media, it’s always a good time to start working on a solid word-of-mouth marketing campaign.

Focus on the content you create and your shoppers will appreciate your efforts. All of these tips will help your brand build a loyal community that has no problems spreading the word. Want help on your campaign? Talk to the PowerReviews team to see how we can help you with product launches, build engagement and connect with your customers.

Amy Copadis

Amy Copadis is a writer and blogger covering various topics including digital marketing, travel, natural health and ecommerce.