What is Word of Mouth Marketing and How to Use It Effectively

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is one of the oldest and most powerful forms of marketing. It is the process of influencing and encouraging organic conversations about your brand, product, or service. It is also known as word of mouth advertising, as it is a free and natural way of spreading the word about your business.

Why is word of mouth marketing important?

Word of mouth marketing is important for several reasons:

  • It is trusted and credible. People tend to trust recommendations from their friends, family, and peers more than any other source of information. According to a survey by Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust word of mouth recommendations over all other forms of advertising.

  • It is influential and persuasive. People are more likely to buy a product or service if they hear positive feedback from someone they know or respect. According to a study by McKinsey, word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and customers acquired through word of mouth have a 37% higher retention rate.

  • It is viral and scalable. Word of mouth can spread quickly and widely, especially with the help of social media and online platforms. A single satisfied customer can reach hundreds or thousands of potential customers through their network of contacts. According to a study by Wharton, a 10% increase in word of mouth can lead to a 0.5% increase in sales growth.

Types of word of mouth marketing

There are two main types of word of mouth marketing:

Organic Word of Mouth Marketing

Organic word of mouth marketing is when customers naturally and spontaneously talk about your brand, product, or service without any prompting or incentive from you. This can happen when they have a positive experience, such as receiving exceptional customer service, exceeding their expectations, or solving their problems.

Amplified Word of Mouth Marketing

Amplified word of mouth marketing is when you deliberately initiate or enhance word of mouth by using various strategies and tactics, such as creating buzz, launching campaigns, or engaging influencers. This can happen when you want to reach a larger or more targeted audience, generate more awareness, or drive more action.

Strategies for word of mouth marketing

There are many ways to create and boost word of mouth marketing for your business. Here are some of the most effective strategies:

  1. Provide value and quality: The first and most important step is to offer a product or service that delivers value and quality to your customers. Make sure your product or service meets or exceeds their needs, wants, and expectations. Provide a unique selling proposition that differentiates you from your competitors. Create a loyal fan base that loves your brand and your product or service.

  2. Encourage referrals and reviews: The second step is to encourage your customers to share their opinions and experiences with others. Ask them to refer your business to their friends, family, and contacts. Offer them incentives, such as discounts, rewards, or freebies, for doing so. Ask them to leave reviews, ratings, or testimonials on your website, social media, or online platforms. Respond to their feedback and thank them for their support.

  3. Create stories and emotions: The third step is to create stories and emotions that resonate with your customers and inspire them to talk about your brand, product, or service. Tell them the story behind your business, your mission, your vision, and your values. Show them the impact and the benefits of your product or service. Make them feel happy, excited, surprised, or grateful. Use humor, creativity, or authenticity to capture their attention and interest.

  4. Leverage influencers and advocates: The fourth step is to leverage influencers and advocates who have a large and loyal following and can influence the opinions and behaviors of your target audience. Identify and partner with influencers and advocates who share your niche, your values, and your goals. Provide them with your product or service for free or at a discounted price. Ask them to create and share content, such as blogs, videos, or social media posts, that showcase your product or service. Engage with them and their followers and build a long-term relationship.

  5. Generate buzz and excitement: The fifth step is to generate buzz and excitement around your brand, product, or service by using various techniques, such as launching campaigns, hosting events, or releasing news. Create a sense of urgency, scarcity, or exclusivity that motivates your customers to act fast and spread the word. Use social media, email, or other channels to reach and engage your customers and prospects. Use hashtags, contests, or challenges to increase the visibility and virality of your message.

Examples of word of mouth marketing

Here are some examples of successful word of mouth marketing campaigns from different brands and industries:

  • Dropbox: Dropbox is a cloud storage service that used a referral program to grow its user base from 100,000 to 4 million in 15 months. The program offered both the referrer and the referee 500 MB of free space for every successful sign-up. The program was simple, easy, and rewarding, and it resulted in a 60% increase in referrals.

  • Airbnb: Airbnb is an online marketplace that connects travelers with local hosts who offer accommodation. Airbnb used a strategy called “surprise and delight” to create word of mouth among its customers. The company sent personalized gifts, such as chocolates, flowers, or wine, to its guests and hosts, along with handwritten notes, to thank them for their business. The gifts and notes generated positive emotions and social media posts, and increased the likelihood of repeat bookings and referrals.

  • Tesla: Tesla is an electric car company that used a strategy called “product seeding” to create word of mouth among its customers. The company gave away its first 100 cars to celebrities, influencers, and journalists, who then shared their experiences and opinions with their fans and followers. The cars also had a feature called “insane mode” that allowed them to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, creating a wow factor and a viral sensation.


Word of mouth marketing is a powerful and effective way to promote your brand, product, or service. It is based on the trust and credibility of your customers, who can influence and persuade others to buy from you. To create and boost word of mouth marketing, you need to provide value and quality, encourage referrals and reviews, create stories and emotions, leverage influencers and advocates, and generate buzz and excitement. By doing so, you can grow your customer base, increase your sales, and improve your reputation.

Word of Mouth Marketing is the organic, informal spreading of information about a product or service through personal recommendations. It’s crucial for its authenticity and the trust it builds among potential customers.

Encouraging positive word of mouth involves delivering exceptional customer experiences, providing quality products or services, and actively seeking and responding to customer feedback.

Customer satisfaction is fundamental. Satisfied customers are more likely to share positive experiences, becoming brand advocates who contribute to positive word of mouth.

Yes, businesses can leverage social media platforms to encourage and amplify word of mouth. Engaging with customers, sharing user-generated content, and running referral programs are effective strategies.

Turning customers into advocates involves creating loyalty programs, requesting and showcasing customer testimonials, and providing incentives for customers to refer friends and family.

While negative feedback can be challenging, businesses can turn it into an opportunity by addressing concerns transparently, showing a commitment to improvement, and turning dissatisfied customers into advocates.

Word of mouth can be measured through metrics such as customer referrals, online reviews, social media mentions, and the growth of brand communities.

Influencer marketing involves leveraging individuals with significant social followings to promote a product or service. While not traditional word of mouth, it can amplify a message and influence audiences similarly.

Storytelling creates emotional connections. Successful word of mouth campaigns often have compelling narratives that resonate with customers and motivate them to share their experiences.

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