What is it?
The concept of word of mouth marketing is extremely simple, and as old as time. Any strategy or policy of encouraging people to talk to others about your brand or business, is word of mouth marketing. It’s that simple, hence the name. You don’t need research to know that this kind of marketing works, but none the less there are countless studies stating the obvious. The more people who talk about your company in their personal and social lives, the more people will come to know of your brand. It’s arguably the oldest and most successful marketing strategy of them all. Yet word of mouth marketing has in recent decades come to be neglected in favor of more modern methods. Still, it can and should be used by any business, no matter how large of small it is.
There are multiple ways of deploying word of mouth marketing, some more subtle than others. Among the more direct methods is to offer discounts or other benefits to people who bring more clients too you, like a sort of finders fee. The affectivity of word of mouth marketing works because of basic elements of human psychology and behavior.
Why it works
Humans are social beings, constantly looking for social proof. We do this when looking for potential mates, potential jobs, even holiday destinations. Social proof can help us choose anything. If there are a lot of people singing the praises of a certain product, we are surely more likely to buy it. That’s why online stores like amazon have user reviews.
Even when the reviews are from strangers it makes us more likely to buy the product or use the service. But when the recommendation comes from people we know in real life, this effect is even more pronounced. You’re four times more likely to buy a product recommended by friends. There are so many statistics and studies on the subject – I could write a whole article just on research into word of mouth marketing. Word of mouth marketing has been well studied since the 1960s when market research really took off. In modern times, marketers seek to inspire buzz. Marketing buzz is just when a large group of consumers talk about a brand or service, often on social media. Twitter is especially effective for generating and measuring buzz thanks to it’s micro blogging format.
Word of mouth marketing strategies
There are many easy ways to make effective use of this kind of marketing. Like I mentioned earlier, you could start a referral program to push for growth and engagement. Or you could clearly feature customer reviews and testimonies on your site to push for conversion. But ultimately, the greatest way is to create shareable content. Consider writing a blog post you think people are likely to share on social media, indirectly bringing your product to where people are already having conversations. Anything like this, that makes people want to share your product or website with their friends, can massively drive word of mouth marketing.
The only major downside, in my opinion, is that some methods of word of mouth marketing can sometimes be seen as shallow. When people find out the buzz around a product was almost entirely manufactured by the product provider, they can feel duped and come to see you in a negative light. Despite this, it would be unwise for any business owner or marketer to neglect this field. As mentioned previously, no marketing strategy is even close to being as effective.