Innately, word of mouth is an integral part of human communication, whether it’s deciding what movie to go see or which dentist has the best practice. Therefore, businesses should expect that people talk about their products and services, and that word of mouth be integrated into their overall marketing strategy.
According to Business Dictionary, word of mouth marketing (or WOMM) is “oral or written recommendation by a satisfied customer to the prospective customers of a good or service,” and is “considered to be the most effective form of promotion.” What makes word of mouth so successful? According to Nielsen Holdings Inc., a global information, data, and measurements company, 92 percent of consumers follow recommendations from people they trust (such as friends, family and influencers) over all other forms of marketing and advertising. Additionally, 68 percent of consumers trust online reviews from other customers, while 75 percent of people don’t believe advertisements, according to Hubspot.
Besides overwhelming statistics pointing toward the effectiveness of WOMM, why else should a brand develop a word of mouth campaign? First, word of mouth is one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing. It comes with a degree of ease, as social media and other web platforms are usually free and readily accessible to all. Additionally, WOMM builds trust among consumers for the brands they support. This is important as WOMM can backfire if the product or service isn’t satisfactory, and it’s most effective when a brand offers a product or experience that is unique and solves a customer’s problem.
Your company’s brand is your company’s story, and effective WOMM ensures that your story is spread far and wide to those it relates to most. For example, Tintoretta Tattoo, a small shop located in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Missouri, is known for its inclusivity of women and minorities of color. This is significant because tattoo shops are often uncomfortable and unwelcoming toward people who fall under either of those categories.
According to the New York Times, only one out of six tattoo artists are female even though more women than men have tattoos. Tintoretta’s resolve to only hire female artists is a perfect example of a business offering a unique service that people are bound to talk about.
How does a brand go about cultivating word of mouth? Technically, word of mouth happens regardless. If a service is poor or ineffective, customers are likely to complain to anyone interested in their opinion. Word of mouth is word of mouth whether the feedback is positive or negative. The goal of a brand is to do everything in their power to give customers a reason to spread positive feedback.
Successful WOMM hinges on customer engagement. Customer engagement is when consumers of a product or service share their experiences with the brand in question. This is cultivated through excellent customer service, social media savvy, respect of all customer feedback (whether they were satisfied or not) and genuine understanding of what customers want and need.
Brands should also encourage their customers to leave feedback and reviews, both for the brand’s own understanding of what they do successfully versus what could use improvement, and to reach a broader spectrum of potential customers.
With quality products and services, acute awareness of what satisfies customers and meaningful engagement, a brand is well on its way to cultivating successful word of mouth.