What does word-of-mouth marketing mean today?

How often have you been on the hunt for a new skincare product, local restaurant recommendation or dinner subscription service, and turned to friends or relatives for ideas and opinions?

If they gave a positive recommendation then you probably ordered right away or made an immediate plan to buy the products.

Now imagine if you hadn’t heard any recommendations from your close friends and just checked out reviews online. There’s a high chance that you’d need to be persuaded to finally purchase anything.

The reason is pretty simple.

You trust your close friends more than just a random stranger who gives a positive review online.

In fact, 95% of people trust suggestions from friends and family more than advertising, according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. 

That’s the power of offline word-of-mouth marketing.

But how do you get people to talk about your product offline, and how do you (compliantly) find those conversations?

In this post, we discuss word-of-mouth marketing, its importance and how to drive offline word-of-mouth conversations.

What is word-of-mouth marketing?

Word-of-mouth marketing is a marketing strategy that is based on personal recommendations. It mostly focuses on creating connections with customers, unlike referrals which are based on likes. Word-of-mouth is based on human psychology and Robert Cialdini spells it out as social proof in his book Persuasion.

As humans, we are social beings and this also influences our buying decisions. We want to use the same products as our peers so we don’t feel left out.

Different types of word-of-mouth marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing can either be offline or online.

User generated content (UGC), blog posts, press mentions and shout outs are examples of online word-of-mouth marketing.

Offline word-of-mouth marketing is harder to track (until now – talk to us) but includes those conversations that customers have about your brand over a pint in the pub, at the school gate, in the supermarket, even in a WhatsApp conversation. And it’s super powerful, because two thirds of recommendations actually happen offline. 

Why is word-of-mouth marketing important? 

  • It builds trust among customers, as word-of-mouth is typically free. You can’t buy reviews and organic conversations, and often there’s no sales pitch requiring people to buy anything. It just happens naturally
  • It builds loyalty – As an eCommerce marketer, customer retention is one of the ways to build a strong brand. Word-of-mouth marketing strengthens your image and helps create loyal, repeat customers
  • It generates a high lifetime value. As we all know, acquiring customers through paid advertising is expensive. Customers acquired through word-of-mouth tend to lower your CAC

Benefits of word-of-mouth marketing

  • It’s cost effective (and offline, it’s free!)
  • It helps to build your brand image. If people give your brand positive reviews, you come across as a credible brand that can be trusted 
  • It generates fast results. Customers acting on a recommendation tend to convert much quicker, because they are prompted by behavioural cues rather than advertising or marketing

How to drive word-of-mouth conversations

While word-of-mouth marketing is very efficient to get buzz around your product, it’s also not as easy as setting up a marketing campaign on Facebook or Google. To get the most out of your offline marketing, consider pairing it with your online efforts.

Here are ways to drive word-of-mouth conversations:

  • Delivering a memorable customer experience. Managing customer expectations is key to creating positive conversations. Everything from order to shipping should meet the client’s desires. If there are any complaints, respond to them immediately and let the customer feel important
  • Create a reward programme. Your most loyal customers are your brand ambassadors and rewarding them will make them feel appreciated. Perhaps you can give them a discount, feature them on your social media pages or offer freebies
  • Partnering with an influencer. Picking your niche or micro influencer is also another great way to get word out about your products, especially if you are just starting out. One of the things to consider is their engagement rather than followers
  • Create great content. Investing in engaging content, whether it’s blog posts or social media posts, gives people a reason to come and check it out and even share it often if they find it useful

How this feeds into your marketing strategy

Here are some tactics that you could use to reap maximum benefits from word-of-mouth marketing:

  • Leverage reviews. The first thing people check before buying online is reviews, so take advantage of every opportunity to get positive reviews
  • Improve on your existing interaction touch points.
  • Have a unique brand voice that people can instantly recognise
  • Sell quality products
  • Discover where your brand’s offline conversations are happening (that’s where we come in!) and target your paid media in those areas so that the right people – those who’ve heard a recommendation – are nudged to purchase


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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