How community can influence the marketing funnel

We talk a lot – ok, all the time – about the power of community. But how can we leverage that influence to positively impact our marketing campaigns? And how should we think about it for each section of the marketing funnel?

We sat down with Ed Barter, Herdify’s lead data scientist, to find out… 


Studies show that it takes 5-7 impressions for people to remember a brand.

Word-of-mouth (WOM) and recommendations spread through communities can reduce this number of impressions (ie the number of ads you need to send out), because people implicitly trust a recommendation from someone they trust.

The Baader Meinhoff phenomenon is a good example of this. When someone introduces a new concept to you – a word, a product, an idea – you suddenly see that thing everywhere. Say it’s a car brand, a red Mini. There are no more red Minis on the road, but your brain has previously filtered out the unfamiliar.  

How to activate

  • Think about communal ads – ie billboards, Tube wraps, community activations that get people talking. The goal is to encourage conversation 
  • Make sure you align on-product branding with your ad brand. For example, for a trainer company, show exactly how those trainers look with your branding alongside. Then when someone is told about your trainers, they make the association when they see the ad 
  • Improve the purchasing experience, send samples, create talking points – really anything to seed community recommendations


Verification is key here – customers asking questions of friends and family. 

This is where social proof comes in. If a prospective customer sees a friend using your product, they are more likely to purchase. If they see a number of friends using it, the likelihood increases further.

If we examine behavioural change and take a subscription service as an example, a prospective customer might question their friends and people in their community – “Will we use it?” “Is it the right amount?” “Will it last?”

This is the verbal version of FAQs – you don’t necessarily believe a brand’s website, but you do through a friend. 

How to activate

  • Improve customer experience. Customers need more of a brand connection to feel able to answer these questions for their friends and family. Make sure they have the right answers to hand through clear post-sale marketing
  • Target your brand’s offline communities (we can help with that) so that you get more of the right people in the funnel who will spread the right message 
  • Consider an enhanced customer experience in certain areas where you have strong communities. You could give them a free gift, or invite them to be part of an elite club – in choosing only certain areas, you reduce the overall impact on the business


If customers are unsure and waiting for a prompt to convert, their communities in the real world remind them to do it. 

As we’ve discovered, targeting through communities means that customers are more likely to convert quickly. 

Organic marketing is driven by these conversations, and there are so many factors that lead to someone clicking on your ad. Essentially, targeting ads to the areas where people are already talking about you means that you’re putting them in front of customers who are warm to your message.

How to activate

  • Make it personal. Adapt your ad copy to acknowledge strong communities – “you’ve probably heard this from a friend already” or “all your friends are doing this” or “over 200 people in Bristol already trust our brand”
  • Match intent data with ad copy. Ask customers why they subscribed / purchased, or what they like most about your product. Use that to determine your ad copy in those areas 


The fear of going against the herd is real. Remind customers that other people like them are using your product and prompt the “keeping up with the Joneses” effect. 

Take election results. Post-election, people often lie about who they voted for as they want to be seen to be on the winning side.

Loyalty encourages longer customer lifetime value and higher average order values, because customers feel a connection with the brand and feel guilty shopping elsewhere.

How to activate

  • Serve ads that remind customers how many people are using your product in their area. For example, a popular car advertising tactic is to make people who own the car feel good about it, reinforcing a “being in the club” mentality
  • Make customers feel like they are early adopters. They love to see the brand grow and it makes them feel happy that they got in early. Try releasing products to loyal members for early test-and-review 


Loyalty also promotes advocacy, circling back to the awareness and consideration phases when finding new customers. 

Brand advocates are the authentic version of influencers, and, referring back to the trust attached to recommendations from people we know, they can be hugely powerful.

How to activate

  • Create a limited sign-up campaign or limited stock – for example, customers need a referral code to get in. This makes brand advocates feel special – and it’s a message they’re likely to pass on 
  • Host pop-ups and sample sales. Customers tend to attend as groups (prompting group advocacy and referrals) and for one-off events, there is a sense that you are missing out if you don’t go
Friends in conversation | Herdify

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Ignite your brand power: Why your offline community is the real influencer

“Social communities grow more powerfully offline, yet most marketing tactics tap into the online element. 92% of word-of-mouth – the single biggest influence on consumer buying behaviour – happens offline."

~ Ed Barter, Lead data scientist at Herdify

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