What if there was a way to get tons of new eyes on your products that required little to no effort from you at all? Marketing is one of the most frustrating things for ecommerce retailers, because it takes a whole lot of effort and the benefits aren’t always instant. But today we’re going to talk about word of mouth marketing, a strategy that seeks to get your customers to do your marketing for you.
Word of mouth marketing is exactly what it sounds like. It refers to any method intended to get people to promote your brand by talking about it amongst their social circle.
For example, instead of posting a tweet yourself advertising your new product line, if you brainstorm methods to get other people to post tweets, you’re using word of mouth marketing.
Word of mouth marketing is a form of inbound marketing, meaning you’re attracting customers to your assets naturally. Contrast this to disruptive direct advertising like non-targeted banner ads. However, word of mouth marketing is somewhat different from most inbound marketing, because instead of managing distribution yourself, you find ways to get your audience to handle distribution.
When done correctly, word of mouth marketing provides an excellent additional source of traffic for your site and raises brand awareness in your industry/niche.
The Benefits of Word of Mouth Marketing
Word of mouth marketing has several benefits over more traditional forms of marketing.
- It’s organic. As millennials become increasingly hostile toward traditional forms of advertising, marketers need to embrace more organic methods to increase the visibility of their products. People are naturally more likely to believe the recommendation of a friend over an advertisement.
- It’s (generally) inexpensive. In traditional marketing, you have to pay for the distribution process. That could be paying to place a banner ad on a popular website, or bidding on pay-per-click keywords on a search engine. Word of mouth marketing, however, has less costs since successful campaigns will end with audiences performing your distribution for you.
- It’s inherently targeted. Figuring out which keywords to bid on, which social networks to post to, and which audience segments to target is a long and difficult process. Plus, as good as technology is getting at cataloguing our interests, our friends still know us best. Word of mouth marketing naturally targets likely buyers, as people spread the information based on which of their friends would be most interested.
The Three Types of Word of Mouth Marketing
There are three generally agreed upon avenues for word of mouth marketing. Each presents its own challenges and rewards.
#1 Cultivate High Levels of Satisfaction (Organic Word of Mouth)
This is the totally “above the boards” way of doing word of mouth marketing. In this avenue, you sell great products and provide great service. Your customers are so impressed that they run out and tell their friends about your store just because you’re awesome. It’s not always that easy, unfortunately. People are less likely to share their experience with a brand if that experience was positive. Still, creating a great brand is the first step to word of mouth marketing.
#2 Build Buzz (Indirect Word of Mouth)
Most of the time, getting significant results out of word of mouth marketing will require a little push from you as a seller. Call it buzz, hype, or (ugh) viral, but the smartest brands are the ones that know how to get their potential buyers talking. It’s why Super Bowl commercials like Puppymonkeybaby are so weird sometimes: the goal is more about getting people to talk about Mountain Dew than it is about advertising their product.
#3 Control the Conversation (Direct Word of Mouth)
This is the most controversial form of word of mouth marketing. It involves directly influencing the conversation surrounding your brand. Rather than waiting for customers to start talking, direct word of mouth marketing involves any method to start or steer the conversation on your own. This oft-derided form of marketing is often called “shilling” online, due to the perceived deception in trying to present a targeted marketing campaign as genuine discussion. Is that really any worse than indirect word of mouth marketing? I would personally say no, but where the line is drawn is up to each individual business owner.
Word of Mouth Marketing Ideas
Now that you’ve got a basis in word of mouth marketing, I’d like to leave you with a few ideas that you can implement yourself. See how these ideas work out for your business. Feel free to leave a comment to let us know what successes you had, so we can put our money where our mouth is on word of mouth marketing.
- Post a teaser for a new product
- Ask influencers to post about your product in exchange for freebies
- Start an affiliate program
- Share positive mentions on your social channels
- Launch an exclusive club/program for buyers
- Create a reward program that gives discounts in exchange for recommendations
- Get creative! What other ideas can you come up with