A Comprehensive Guide on Leveraging Word of Mouth Marketing in 2024

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Marketing strategies never remain consistent. One day you’re paying for billboards, the next it’s Facebook and Google ads. With the digital landscape revolutionizing every day, brands need to evolve their marketing strategies.


With that said, one age-old strategy remains timeless: word of mouth marketing. This marketing type has been around for decades yet remains as effective as it was fifty years ago. 


While businesses continue navigating the marketing dynamics, it’s important to figure out what works for your business. In fact, word of mouth marketing may be more effective than other tactics like digital marketing in some cases. 


Ready to dive deeper into word of mouth marketing and how to utilize it for any business, big and small? We’ll cover that and much more with practical tips to implement each strategy in this guide.


What is Word of Mouth Marketing?


Word-of-mouth marketing was the oldest strategy before billboards, TV ads, and social media came into play. 


By definition, word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is a technique where your existing customers buy from your business and share the experience within their circle. 


Whether it’s a group of friends discussing the best hair product or a family member reviewing their latest customer support experience over dinner, WOMM takes diverse forms.  


Coming back to the current era, word of mouth marketing continues to be a reliable marketing strategy. This marketing strategy is organic, i.e., non-paid, in direct comparison to paid advertisements. 


What is Word of Mouth Marketing


Not only is word of mouth marketing efficient, but it’s also effective. As a business, you’re reaping the benefits of getting people to talk about your brand without spending any bucks. 


Additionally, with e-commerce booming nowadays, the audience relies on genuine brand or product reviews instead of paid advertisements for their next purchase. 


With billions of social media users on various platforms, WOMM has taken another leap with it. Besides face-to-face conversations, your audience is bound to interact with their circle and social media influencers on these platforms. 


While paid ads have brought a sudden boost in online marketing for businesses, too, word of mouth continues to be the deciding factor for 40-50% of purchases. 


So, if you’re among the percentage of marketers that overlook WOMM, it’s time to rethink your marketing strategy. Wondering how to get there? Keep reading to find out!


Types of Word of Mouth Marketing


Before diving into the most successful strategies for WOMM marketing, it’s important to know the types. WOMM spans multiple types, but the following are some of the most popular categories:


Buzz Marketing


Need to give your new startup or collection an awareness boost that breaks the internet.


Where other marketing types focus on a gradual increase in audience reach, buzz marketing offers the ‘next viral sensation’ angle to your business when done right. 


Buzz marketing focuses on the immediate virality of a new company, product, or campaign. In other words, buzz marketing is all about creating hype for your next launch. 


Most companies integrate the suspense factor in getting people to talk about what’s coming up. 


If you’ve ever seen ads with intriguing taglines and/or images that don’t give away the entire idea before the big reveal, that’s a great example of buzz marketing. As a result, it instigates curiosity in viewers and provokes discussions. 


Teasers on a company’s platforms or billboards are a good idea, but this is where other WOMM types can blend in as well. 


For instance, companies can utilize buzz marketing and influencer marketing by onboarding influencers to share teasers and reviews on their platform without revealing the company or product.


Contrary to common misconception, buzz marketing and viral marketing are not similar. Buzz marketing creates sudden hype, while the latter gravitates towards building widespread awareness over time.


As an example of viral marketing, let’s take a look at the COVID-19 pandemic. The marketing type came in handy in terms of educating the masses regarding the virus, symptoms, and the vaccine over time instead of an immediate short-term hype.  


Content Marketing


Another method to get your brand to be a conversation starter is implementing a content marketing strategy. 


This marketing type includes various content forms, including blogs, carousel posts, podcasts, reels, etc.


Content Marketing


People are always attracted to informative content, whether you’re a makeup brand subtly incorporating your company’s cruelty-free initiative in a blog or publishing a video on the top makeup trends in 2024. 


Besides becoming a go-to for the latest industry information, your audience starts actively engaging and discussing your brand using content marketing.


However, it’s equally important to note that your audience interacts with millions of content types every single day. If yours isn’t standing out from the crowd, it’s time to reassess your content and whether it’s benefitting your company’s WOMM initiative. 


To ensure that your content marketing is successful, experts suggest pushing out content that your audience is actively searching for, implementing a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach, and encouraging engagement by asking questions from your audience. 


Referral Marketing


The name should give it away – referral marketing comes from references. For this marketing type, brands offer incentives once an existing customer leaves reviews, ratings, or testimonials on the company’s website or any other social media platform. 


Referral marketing packs a powerful punch for startups and big names alike. At the end of the day, your potential customers are more likely to trust an honest review from other customers than paid ads and influencers.  


Referral marketing allows businesses to have a pool of brand advocates. Think influencer marketing but on a lower scale. 


The difference is that instead of millions of followers that influencers reach, referees may only be able to reach their social circles or the audience that is already visiting your platforms.


The best ways to establish a solid referral marketing resource include offering monetary or product incentives to your existing customers. An example is offering a 10% discount or free shipping if a customer leaves a review on your website.


Social Media Marketing


A look back at the past shows that traditional WOMM mainly relied on face-to-face conversations. However, the digital landscape is evolving, and so is the marketing dynamics. 


With more than 4.7 billion social media users worldwide as of January 2023, accounting for more than 55% of the global population, social media marketing is an essential resource.


Nowadays, if your brand doesn’t invest in an online presence that caters to existing customers as well as attracting new ones, your competitors will soon put you out of the race.


Social media marketing is significant because customers prefer brands that they connect with. 


Social Media Marketing


Consider this – you have two local coffee shops in your area. One actively engages with its social media followers, answers queries and complaints, regularly publishes content, and hosts online events.


Meanwhile, the other shop only posts once in a blue moon and doesn’t respond to its followers and customers. 


Any customer would be more inclined to follow, engage with, and build a long-term relationship with the former coffee shop.


It’s important to not only create an online presence but to build a social media community that trusts your business and becomes long-term customers and advocates.


Top 5 Word of Mouth Marketing Strategies


Ready to have the most effective WOMM strategies at your fingertips? The following strategies are solid goldmines for any business no matter your service/product, market, and existing brand positioning!


1.Know Your Audience


Most companies believe that everyone is their audience. While that may be true for some industries, you still need to define your primary target audience. 


Rather than generic marketing, customers are more inclined towards brands that understand them, speak to them, and resolve their specific issues. This can only happen when a company specifies its audience and truly knows the ins and outs of its demographics and psychographics.


One of the first steps to get there is to conduct market research. See what audience your competitors are targeting. You can also conduct a social media analysis to pinpoint your primary consumers or potential customers. 


Once you have that sorted, create customer personas. A customer persona is an imaginary profile of your primary audience representing a distinct customer. Some businesses might have more than one customer persona to target their multiple audience categories. 


We’ve covered a step-by-step guide to identifying your brand’s target audience and conducting an analysis.  


2.Build a Strong Foundation


Think of WOMM as a skyscraper, if your foundations are shaky, the building won’t stand tall too long. Therefore, it’s important to have a solid grip on your bases, which include your brand and the industry.


First things first, be clear on where your brand stands concerning its visions, mottos, and goals. Consider your brand as a person instead of an innate object to make things easier. 


Answer questions like does your brand want to go global in the next phase or stick to a strong local community? In terms of SDGs, is your brand more focused on gender equality or green initiatives? 


In the second step of this process, research your industry. What are your competitors doing? What’s their target audience and how are they utilizing different marketing tactics?


Knowing this will enable you to be aware of what’s happening in the industry. In other words, what’s hot, what’s not, and what’s missing. 


See a relevant topic that hasn’t been discussed by your competitors yet? Become the thought leader and be the first to initiate a conversation!


Build a Strong Foundation


Staying ahead of the industry lets your target audience know that you’re a maestro in the service/product you’re putting out in the market. As a result, they’re bound to trust your opinion, ultimately increasing brand trust and loyalty. 


3.Establish a Social Media Community


If you’re overlooking the aspect of a strongly knitted social media community, it’s time you invest your time and efforts in it.  


Nowadays, a brand’s social media community tends to get the word across to a large audience. Therefore, you need a loyal community of existing and potential customers who interact with your content and showcase your business to their online circle.


Going back to target audiences, you can’t engage with your primary audience if your content and tone of voice don’t appeal to them. 


Consider a medicated mattress brand whose target audience is mostly in their late 20s to 40s and needs to engage. Now think about one that sells graphic tees. The social media platforms and engagement will differ between the two. 


While a mix of informative and emotional health-based appeal would work with the former, you need quirky and up-to-trend social media content tactics with the latter.


E-commerce analytics is what leads brands to the right strategies. Hence, dig deep as far as the target audience research goes. Study your audience’s social media usage and behavioral patterns. Know what tone of voice and topics resonate with your audience, and what puts them off. 


Once you get those questions right, you’ll know what makes your target audience interact with brands. Regularly posting and engaging with your audience, including replying to their comments, posting Q&A polls, etc., will build a community that listens to your brand and speaks for you. 


4.Identify Influencers


Before you jump into throwing your hard-earned bucks at influencers to get those sales escalating, wait a minute! Let’s not forget there are dozens of other ways to increase those sales digits, and we’ve covered the top 12 in our guide.


Coming back to the topic, to hit the jackpot and successfully make the most of influencer marketing, it’s essential to understand the influencers that go behind it. 


Identify Influencers


Every audience has a different influencer type that they follow and engage with. For instance, tech geeks will spend their time viewing their favorite tech reviewers on YouTube. Meanwhile, fashion fanatics would have a bunch of lifestyle content creators in their following.


For this reason, spend time on collecting data on which influencers your primary audience follows. Another trick is to watch which influencers your competitors are collaborating with. 


New to dropshipping and wondering how to grow your business with influencers? Read through our blog on How to Grow Dropshipping with Influencer Marketing.


If you’re willing to shake things up, don’t always settle for influencers that have the highest percentage of your target audience in their followers. Instead, mix and match and target a few influencers with large followings. 


This way, individuals who may not be actively searching for your brand’s product/services may be interested when an influencer they trust posts about it.


5.Promote User-Generated Content 


You think you’re selling something out of this world. The problem is, with a little research, you’ll find out that there are thousands if not millions of sellers out there doing the same.


In today’s digital e-commerce industry, it has become more important than ever for brands to set themselves apart. Almost every other brand out there is following a handful of WOMM strategies. So, what will set yours apart? 


Your existing customers are free-of-cost brand ambassadors for your potential customers. The trick is to engage your existing customers, or even individuals interested in your brand, through user-generated content. 


While some user-generated content could come from loyal customers, most are encouraged through an incentive. For instance, you can announce a giveaway for the contest or challenge, motivating more people to participate in it.


Promote User-Generated Content


See those creative campaigns around where customers post a shot taken by them through a specific brand’s camera and add a hashtag in the comments. Maybe you’ve seen one where someone is using a brand’s sauces to make a dish. Other examples include showcasing a recent purchase, such as a new bag on their Instagram.


All of these are examples of how brands can engage their audience to create content for them and indirectly promote the company. When your potential audience sees that UGC going viral, they’ll get intrigued, ultimately increasing the chances of turning them into your customers. 


Final Verdict


Word-of-mouth marketing hasn’t gone out of trend just yet, and it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon! Why not capitalize on this strategy and watch your sales multiply?


Word-of-mouth marketing is diverse. It’s no longer just customers discussing your brand with their circles. Instead, think about viral campaigns, social media buzz, and much more all with WOMM strategies. 


When done right, these strategies hit the ball out of the park for any business’s success. Remember – conversations around your brand are as impactful in gaining customers as offering unique products/services and exemplary customer service.


We’d like to end it on this note: seize the opportunity, build a connection with your audience, and let them be your brand ambassadors to take your brand to new heights.

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