Word of mouth is not a new concept; it has existed since the dawn of time.
Even in ancient times, renowned doctors, architects, merchants, and craftsmen were sought after and paid extra. They got the majority of their business via recommendations or simply by “word of mouth.”
This kind of promotion is persistent even in modern times. We have much more trust and confidence in people who are recommended by our friends and family. Around 90% of people will seek out a specific professional recommended by their friends or known circle.
Here are some interesting stats regarding word-of-mouth marketing or WOM:
- Consumers are four times more likely to buy a product or a service that is recommended by their friends.
- The concept generates twice the sales of paid ads.
- 62% of people will check online reviews before buying a product or a service.
Importance of modern word of mouth marketing
So obviously, this is something that works. But how well does it work, and what differentiates it from the traditional word of mouth?
Strangely enough, modern WOM is more important than what it was during previous decades. This is mainly due to ad oversaturation.
In a world where everyone’s investing in ads, people have become less and less trusting. We have become accustomed to recognizing ads, and due to this bombardment, we are increasingly less inclined to buy from companies that are aggressively advertising on the web or TV.
Instead, we focus on brands that are recommended by people close to us.
Today, word of mouth is done via the internet. It is an ideal platform as it is more personal than TV or radio, it allows numerous consumers to share their opinion presented in their own voice, and promotion happens in an instant through simple link sharing.
Here are some of the main differences between the two:
- Unlike traditional word of mouth, WOM is meant to provide results. It is a purposeful action that is performed through stages where ultimately people will like your product and start sharing it with their friends.
- Word of mouth marketing can be measured, analyzed and if necessary, changed to meet our company goals.
- Modern word of mouth presumes initial investment. Companies will give their products to influencers and other interested parties who will test them. Alternatively, they can pay influencers to promote these items for you, but the best results are achieved when impartial consumers are reviewing your products or services.
The whole process starts by having a premium product or a service. Unless you’re certain you have one in your hands, it is much better not to start a campaign. In one of the following chapters, I will explain how to create a product that will attract enough attention so make sure to stick around.
While there are numerous things that can be controlled, nothing can be done about people’s reactions and how they pass a message on. This is the biggest advantage and flaw of the whole process.
What are the biggest WOM advantages?
Word of mouth marketing is similar to other marketing forms in the sense that it provides brand loyalty and increased exposure. However, it also has certain advantages of its own:
- Expenses are different compared to other types of ads. You can create a big buzz with a one-time investment. You need the initial buzz that will continue in perpetuity compared to standard paid ads where you continuously have to invest to stay on top.
- The focus is on real people and real experience instead of artificial feelings and messages.
- You can accomplish higher brand loyalty faster with less invested.
- Word of mouth marketing has much better potential in terms of exponential growth.
- It can have better targeting compared to other forms of ads. Sending your products and services to the right influencers can allow your message to reach their followers who are likely to be interested in the same thing.
- This kind of promotion is focused on building a community. That same community will be an excellent brand ambassador for years to come.
- By giving your product to impartial users, you can quickly detect potential issues that it has and which you might’ve missed during manufacturing.
In a nutshell, WOM can create a more personalized customer experience. It is also much better than traditional or even modern ads where most companies “spray and pray.”
But is everything as great as it seems?
It might be; it all depends if you do it the right way.
What are the biggest WOM disadvantages?
As you can presume, there are quite a few disadvantages to this approach, and in general, it boils down to the lack of control.
Here are some of the main obstacles you might encounter along the way:
- As already mentioned, the company doesn’t have the same level of control as they would have with other types of online ads.
- The precise type of message or impression will vary from person to person. Even if your product has lots of benefits, people might praise it for different things while also omitting some of the benefits you initially wanted to promote.
- It can backfire big time if done improperly. It can even become an anti-commercial.
- Time frames are a bit skewered compared to traditional advertising where you know when and how your ad will be shown to potential users.
- The promotional process has to do with the product review as it has with your relationship with the reviewer. Sometimes, you might get a bad review because you didn’t manage to establish a proper relationship with an influencer.
Like with everything else, we suggest that you hire a reputable marketing agency that has experience working on these projects. This will help you mitigate some of the risks while also maximizing the benefits.
Should you still consider other marketing strategies?
Based on all the data gathered so far, you can quickly that Word of Mouth marketing is head and neck in front of other marketing strategies. But as I mentioned before, it does have its flaws.
If you ask any economist for advice, he will tell you that you can never invest enough in marketing. While this is definitely true, you need to make sure this money is properly distributed.
In this modern digital society, it is very important to create messages that are sharable and can be used on any platform. This is the greatest thing about WOM as its form always changes. It is not a video but it can be; it is not a review but it can be. A simple line of text can be used to convey the message to other people thus increasing the popularity of an item.
So, what are the other marketing strategies that can go well with word of mouth marketing?
- Search engine optimization – Some of the reviews will be posted on your site so it makes sense that improving your position in Google will bring in more exposure thus making your word-of-mouth strategy more effective
- Social media marketing – In a way, WOM doesn’t work that well without social media marketing. Yes, you can share your message with influencers and focus on your site reviews but ultimately, most of these people will want to interact with others. That place should be your Facebook page (or a page on some other platform depending on the industry)
Why did I only mention these two marketing channels?
One of the main reasons why you should use WOM is to create an organic, personal experience. If you use Facebook or YouTube ads or if you advertise in Google, you will lose one of the main benefits that word of mouth brings.
Even if you’re investing money in promoting your items, customers shouldn’t know that.
This is especially important nowadays as people hate companies that are stuffing ads down their throat. Young people love products that are cool, hip and most importantly, ones that other young, hip people are using.
Here are three tips that will help you create an awesome WOM strategy
1. Put a focus on users’ content
As already mentioned, one of the biggest advantages (and risks) of WOM is the fact each user will create their own unique response. However, it is also a necessity.
In order for a campaign to succeed, it needs to feel as organic as possible.
The best way to do it? By stimulating reviewers to create their own content!
Here are some numbers to back it up:
- 84% of people say that user-generated reviews are the best way to “figure out” a brand. They can also be strong indicators of quality.
- The same content can increase your sales by 20% (if the review is positive of course).
- Young people have more confidence in user-generated posts than posts created by the company itself.
So, how can you incentivize users to create such posts?
The best way is by giving more free stuff. Whoever creates such posts can be given additional products, discounts or vouchers. You can then post these reviews on your own site in order to gap the bridge between potential customers and your brand.
2. Create individual sections where you can showcase reviews
You have to remember that it’s not enough for users to create their own posts and reviews; you also need a platform where you can share them.
Where can you put them then?
I suggest that you create a special section on your site for such reviews. A lot of brands are also opting to showcase them on their homepage but it is also good to put them on your Facebook or other social media profile.
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of these reviews is the fact you can use them on the product page itself! People who land on these pages definitely have a high interest in what you’re offering so the best way to close them is by providing an additional incentive in the shape of happy customer reviews.
How impactful are these testimonials?
According to studies, 79% of people trust them as much as they trust a direct recommendation from their friends!
3. Showcase ratings
Some people don’t like spending time reading or watching reviews. Instead, they will simply settle on a numerical or star rating of a product.
These numbers give you a piece of instant information regarding a product or service and how it compares to similar things on the market.
Ideally, you should have these ratings on your own site. As soon as a person leaves a review, the comment (together with the rating) will remain on your pages for everyone to see. While this gives more transparency and is especially great for good products, it can backfire for bad services and items.
Here is how site reviews can help your company:
- 63% of people prefer buying from sites that have a review system.
- They lead to 18% sales increase on average.
- People trust them 12 times more than the descriptions provided by the company.
Although reviews have their drawbacks and some entrepreneurs might be reluctant to add them, they are very important for building a bridge between you and your customers.
Hiring a marketing company to monitor the process if your best bet.
Word of mouth marketing takes time and all these reviews will have to be monitored throughout the process. Even when you decide to stop the campaign, it is advised to have a person who will remain active on social networks as well as the web in general.
Regardless of what kind of product or service you have, there is a good chance that WOM marketing will be the perfect solution for you.
It can work well for lots of different products especially those that people can receive in the mail and review online. Of course, you don’t need an influencer in order to use this strategy. You can do a lot by simply managing positive reviews and asking people to share their opinion on various platforms.
Ideally, you should hire an experienced marketing company to perform this task for you.
And remember: while one word of mouth campaign can provide awesome results, it’s always advisable that you use this approach on a constant basis.