At Newsletter Pro, a huge part of our mission is to create content so engaging and entertaining that customers read it and talk to our clients about it. The bigger buzz they create in our clients’ ears, the more they know their newsletter is working, and the happier they’ll be with us. When this happens, they are more likely to talk about Newsletter Pro to their friends.
Without going down the whole pipeline, that’s the gist of word-of-mouth marketing. It’s when customers are so satisfied or interested in a business that they talk about it with other people. This includes conversations with friends, family, and coworkers, as well as posts on social media.
If you don’t think word-of-mouth marketing matters, think about how often you check out a company’s review page on sites like Yelp, Facebook, or Google. Better yet, remember how many services you’ve used because your friend raved about them to you. We’ve all had moments when we’re looking for a new restaurant to try, and we remember someone we know talking about a cool new place that opened nearby. What do we do? We usually check it out! Even if it’s just one time, it still counts as a word-of-mouth marketing success.
Before we dive into word-of-mouth marketing examples or why you should care about what people are saying, let’s get into the specifics.
Types Of Word-Of-Mouth Marketing
People can refer your business to others in a few different ways. Really, any way people can communicate with each other counts, but in the eyes of a marketer, there are 4 that matter.
Referrals Between Friends
This is the restaurant example we talked about above or the services you’ve used because your friend raved about it to you. Peer-to-peer is probably the most reliable way to have your business referred because, at the core, it’s about trust.
If a commercial on TV tells us to buy an inflatable swimming pool, we probably wouldn’t think twice. Maybe we’d even change the channel. But if you’re grabbing dinner with a friend and they start telling you how they’ve been relaxing and enjoying their brand-new inflatable pool, you may suddenly find yourself itching for a swim.
An inflatable pool is a bit of an extreme example, but that was kind of the point of using it. It shows that even something as nonessential as a swimming pool can become a commodity if someone you trust recommends it.
In marketing, there is almost nothing more valuable than trust. Whether it’s trust between your company and customers or trust between customers and their friends, utilizing that faith is what will increase sales. If you can access or gain the trust of consumers and their peers, what you’re offering will become invaluable — even an inflatable swimming pool.
Between Sales Representatives And Consumers
In this type of word-of-mouth marketing, one of the mouths belongs to your company.
We’ll use Costco for this word-of-mouth marketing example because they do this often — and brilliantly.
When you visit this big-box retail store, it’s usually filled with people cruising around and filling their carts with bulk items. But above all the hustle and bustle, one sound comes in clear: the voice of the salesperson offering you food behind a little stand. For some people, the free samples are the best part about going to Costco because, well, it’s free food. But from a sales perspective, stationing representatives around the store to tell you about a product and let you try it is genius.
If it weren’t for these little stations, you’d probably never buy that food item yourself. It’s only after you hear the employee tell you about how it’s freshly sourced; free of x, y, or z ingredients; and only $9.99 that you buy it.
Word of mouth between sales representatives and consumers is a little less dependable as the consumer doesn’t know or have a bond with the individual they’re talking to, but they do trust that they’re the expert. The advertising is more obvious here, but speaking face-to-face with another person is always more effective than seeing a product on a shelf.
Have you ever seen someone walk out of a store and take a picture of their haul to post on social media? That’s user-generated content (UGC). Any time someone posts a picture, makes a video, sings a song, or creates a story about your business, that’s free word-of-mouth marketing. Similar to referrals between friends, UGC is considered authentic by those who view it. We believe the food our friend just posted a picture of tasted amazing, and now we want it too. Or when we see a video on our social media feed about how fun a new video game is, we believe them and will probably consider buying it.
Part of the reason this type of word-of-mouth marketing is so successful is that we believe the content is posted voluntarily. We know an ad on Google is paid for, but we believe our friend’s Facebook post is authentic. Today, much of the UGC we see is actually paid for, but a lot of the general population isn’t aware of that. The idea that someone took time out of their day to share how great a product or service is shows that it must work.
While UGC is very similar to peer-to-peer word-of-mouth marketing, it’s different in one important way. Users who aren’t necessarily friends with the person who posts the content can still see it. That means the whole world can access your brand if one person is talking about it.
In the last few years, this type of word-of-mouth marketing has become more popular than almost any other. This is especially true because it also includes sites like Tripadvisor or Yelp that exist to specifically share information about businesses like yours.
Aside from review sites, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest — anywhere people communicate online — are valuable sources of consumer information. With 70% of consumers reporting they always or sometimes take action based on online consumer opinions, what people say about your brand online matters.
Social media word-of-mouth marketing is any time someone on a social site posts about your brand. Whether the post tags you specifically or not, the simple fact that someone is mentioning your business online is social media word-of-mouth marketing.
Driving Word-Of-Mouth Marketing
In a word, trust drives word-of-mouth marketing. In general, consumers tend to trust other consumers over any business. They view them as peers pursuing a product, and only they understand what it’s like to be on the other side of that sale.
However, people don’t just do what other people tell them. So when it comes to the logistics of word-of-mouth marketing driving sales, Jonah Berger, author of “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” outlines 6 things that push that ball forward. For our purposes, we’ll discuss the two that pertain most to marketing.
Humans are social creatures, and deep down, we all want to feel included. If all of our friends are raving about a new fitness watch, we want it too because we want to feel like part of a special group. Social currency is 1 of 2 factors that cause people to act on word-of-mouth marketing. They hear the buzz created by their peers and want to be a part of it.
Companies exploit social currency by releasing things like “secret menus” or passwords to get inside their establishments. While these things are actually incredibly accessible, it’s the idea of exclusivity that drives people to seek them out.
A trigger is something that reminds a consumer of your business after a social interaction or being exposed to something in their environment.
For example, imagine your friend told you about a new treat their dog loves. This week at work, you find out your coworker has gotten a new puppy, and your department decides to put together a gift for them. You immediately remember that treat your friend’s dog has been drooling over, so you buy it for your coworker’s gift.
Hearing about your coworker’s new dog triggered the memory of your friend telling you about a product she loves and ultimately pushed you to buy it. Triggers are often what drive people to buy products after they hear about them because they have found a need to purchase something.
Word-of-mouth Marketing Examples
While it’s easy for us to spout off abstract examples of word-of-mouth marketing, we wanted to give some concrete samples as well. We’ll start with some we’ve come across at Newsletter Pro and then share a more famous example you might have heard of.
Newsletter Pro Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Examples
After being in business for 11 years, we’ve watched word-of-mouth marketing work its magic more than a few times for our clients and ourselves. Here’s a good example:
“A few years ago, I convinced the doctor I work for to switch to Newsletter Pro instead of using the previous dated-looking newsletter, and it was one of the best decisions we made … They keep me accountable and are always one step ahead of the game. I highly recommend using Newsletter Pro for your patient communications. I am confident that you will not be disappointed.”
This is a review we received online. It’s a great example of a referral between friends and social media word-of-mouth marketing. First, you can see that the only reason this client signed on with us is because we were referred to them by a coworker — aka word-of-mouth marketing. Because Jeneara shared our services with someone else, we acquired a new client. Not only that, but they go on to recommend our company to others, providing us with even more word-of-mouth marketing.
Here’s another example from a client:
“Newsletter Pro is a great service. It practically pays for itself with the number of referrals we get at our firm. Several times, we’ve have had a client reach out to us because of a newsletter article, or they’ve shared it with someone who reached out to us. It’s a great service, and we have been with them for the past three years!”
This is another example of how referrals from friends and family can drive sales. In this case, Kimberly’s clients talked about their firm’s newsletters with others, eventually leading them to use their services — word-of-mouth marketing at its finest.
Pabst Blue Ribbon
When you think of Pabst, you can clearly see the white beer can with its royal blue ribbon and red stripes. However, this wasn’t always the case. Until the 2000s, Pabst experienced a decline in sales and remained relatively unknown to the general public. So, they decided to employ a word-of-mouth marketing strategy.
The company noticed a few cities where, for whatever reason, Pabst Blue Ribbon did incredibly well. And by that, we mean sales had been increasing.
So the folks at Pabst decided to take a trip to these cities and see why, despite a general decline, Pabst was still a fan favorite for some. They found that their beer was so popular in these locations because they had a higher concentration of people we might call “hipsters,” a creative crowd that wasn’t attracted to flashy marketing schemes and valued authenticity.
Pabst decided to employ word-of-mouth marketing between sales representatives and consumers by purposely showing up to events they knew these hipsters would be at, like art galleries or skate parties. There, they would hand out free 6-packs and merchandise and initiate one-on-one conversations with the attendees.
Only a few years later, Pabst Blue Ribbon saw a growth of 55%.
Turns out, their effort to take time and talk to their demographic served them far more than any ad on TV.
Increasing Word-Of-Mouth Marketing Potential
We started this blog telling you that purposely using word-of-mouth marketing is a possibility for your business, and now we’ll show you how. While word of mouth may seem completely out of your control, you can do a few things if you want to start conversations around your brand.
#1: Being Interesting Enough For People To Talk About
If you aren’t doing anything worth talking about, no one will talk, plain and simple. The content you produce, campaigns you initiate, or events you attend all say something about your brand.
We’re not saying you need to do something outlandish or uncharacteristic, but consider posting content that’s fun instead of strictly informational. Remember, Pabst didn’t show up to grocery stores; they went to art galleries and skate parks, places that are inherently more fun and engaging.
#2: Creating Your Own Trigger
Remember those social cues we talked about earlier, with the pet treats and the coworker? You can orchestrate that yourself by attaching your brand to other things in consumers’ lives.
An easy way to do this is by starting an initiative that attaches itself to a day in the week. The most ubiquitous example is probably “taco Tuesday.” When people decide what to eat every Tuesday, the catchy phrase often comes to mind and pushes them to visit their local taco spot.
You can do this with any product, sale, or promotion, and it doesn’t always have to be a day in the week. Attach your brand to a trigger from your demographic’s social environment, and people will remember your company whenever it comes up.
#3: Being The Best
People don’t usually talk about awful products and services; if they do, you want to ensure your business is far away from it.
If you make sure your business is the best in your industry, whether your product or customer service, people will be more likely to talk about you to others. Ultimately, you don’t just want to exist; you want your business to add value to people’s lives, so they share your services with people they care about.
Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive people to your business because it utilizes trust. If you can use it to your advantage, generating a buzz around your brand will increase engagement, referrals, and your bottom line.
If you’d like to learn more about nurturing your clients and increasing your word-of-mouth potential, please fill out the form below to download a free copy of our Nurture Report.