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Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Supercharge Your Brand for Free

sahil bajaj

Sahil Bajaj

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

February 27, 2024

17 min read

When a customer praises your brand as they get a compliment on their clothes, bag, shoes, jewellery or any other product from your brand, it creates a symphony of word of mouth (WOM) among potential buyers. For another instance, if you own a cafe and have designed Instagrammable or shareable interiors and offer delectable and visually appealing dishes that impress your customers, it will unleash a word-of-mouth marketing possibility for you. 

As happy customers make recommendations to their friends and family, the word about your product spreads, and those customers become loyal while roping in more potential consumers. A market research report reveals that 23% of people discuss their favourite products with family and friends each day. 

Word-of-mouth marketing is among the least untapped and reasonable marketing channels. Word of mouth happens when a brand succeeds in wooing its customers to tell their loved ones, colleagues, or acquaintances about it. However, there’s also a flipside to WOM marketing. While happy ones boast good products or services, unhappy customers won’t back down from talking ill about a product that didn’t meet their expectations. This will tarnish the brand’s image. A market study says that 26% of people are likely to completely avoid using a brand if their loved ones narrate a negative experience. 

These customer conversations may completely seem out of a firm’s control, but a company can use several strategies to compel people to talk well about its offerings. Essentially, word-of-mouth advertising is free advertising triggered by a customer’s extraordinary experience with a product or service.

Word-of-mouth marketing for your business

Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Defining the Marketing Tactics

Word-of-mouth marketing is different from word-of-mouth references in the way it is generated. It could come through a marketing promotion, encouragement, or other influential technique used by a business known as ‘Seeding’.

Word-of-mouth is encouraged by several word-of-mouth publicity stunts organised by firms or by tapping on opportunities to propel customer-to-marketer and customer-to-customer interactions. This concept is also known as word-of-mouth advertising, and it includes mediums like viral, emotional, blog, buzz, and social media marketing.

The promotional efforts put in by a company may involve several word-of-mouth marketing tactics. Some of the common yet effective tactics for WOM marketing may include:

  • Giving customers a reason to talk about your product or service by exceeding their expectations or offering exceptional customer service.
  • Creating a fascinating story around your company or products, something that compels people to share or retell to others.
  • Let your current customers know how much you appreciate their loyalty by offering a small gift relevant to your brand or product/service.
  • Extending your customer incentives to share information about your product or service or special deals with their relatives, family, or friends. 
  • Curating insightful, amusing, or controversial content that is shareable. 
  • Providing some special discounts or other benefits to those who buy your product/ service through referrals from existing customers. 
  • Organising special events and asking your customers to tag along a friend or loved one to the event. 

Digital Version of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Digital word-of-mouth marketing uses technology, especially the Internet, to encourage interactions. Social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), blogs, and review platforms are popular digital platforms that can help spark conversations. Customers can and do share their pleasant or unpleasant brand experiences through these renowned platforms. These reviews have an enormous influence on consumer purchase decisions. 21% of people start mistrusting a brand, regardless of whether they are a customer or not, due to bad word-of-mouth opinions about a product/service.

A delighted customer posting about his experience on social media after using a product or writing positive reviews on Facebook or Twitter are some word-of-mouth marketing examples. For instance, an influencer or blogger might talk about the relaxing experience at a spa or excellent beauty or hair treatments at a salon with their followers. 

Digital platforms or social media give marketers the space to run targeted online campaigns and use other methods to promote word-of-mouth marketing.

Significance of Word-of-Mouth Marketing 

Word-of-mouth marketing is a great way to multiply sales, fetch more loyal customers, promote products/services, and enhance your brand’s image. Several companies that want to leverage WOM marketing use different strategies to encourage customers to talk about their positive experiences and recommend the products/services to others. 

WOM marketing is more than just an initial interaction. It transforms into a string of follow-on interactions among people. Applying word-of-mouth marketing tactics can prove more cost-effective and beneficial compared to other marketing strategies. A market study shows that 88% of buyers display relentless trust in a brand when a family member or friend recommends it.

How Can Businesses Benefit From Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

In case you’re wondering whether or not to put in extra efforts to increase your word-of-mouth marketing, these benefits may give you the right motivation: 

  1. Higher Sales: As more and more customers recommend your product/service to other people, you get more sales from the free referrals. Moreover, you’re likely to get repeat sales from your existing customers, as they love your product/service enough to recommend it. It increases customer loyalty and further doubles your sales figures.
  2. Cost-effective Marketing: Word-of-mouth marketing technically comes at no cost, unless you plan to do word-of-mouth advertising. Your currency here would be the efforts to make your product/service stand out for providing an exceptional or shareable customer experience. As time passes and you create more happy customers, word of mouth will start spreading. It will give your brand recognition and would be a free promotion of your product/service.  
  3. Viral Marketing Growth Effect: With word-of-mouth marketing, your brand’s product/service may go viral. Creating considerable hype around your brand or giving your customers unforgettable experiences may encourage influential customers, like bloggers, famous personalities, etc., to help enhance your brand image. Word-of-mouth marketing is a gradual but concrete way to attract more customers and increase sales over time. Your brand is bound to grow at an expedited rate as the product/service becomes a sensation.

Strategies for Successful Implementation of Word-of-Mouth Marketing 

1. Give People a Reason to Talk

The most successful way of getting people to talk positively about your brand is to give them an exclusive experience. The brands that put relentless efforts into creating quality products/services win the race. Don’t stop at producing a great product/service. Go beyond that and provide extraordinarily satisfying customer service and support. It’s as important as the quality of your offerings to train your staff to interact with customers in the most pleasing way possible. They should also be able to resolve grievances quickly and efficiently. It will build a certain level of faith in your customers for your brand. Most people love positive interactions, and they talk about it to others. 

2. Establish a Unique Brand Identity

Another way to encourage word-of-mouth publicity is by giving your business or brand a unique identity that makes it note-worthy and differentiates it from other players. You may consider developing a one-of-a-kind product, designing creative marketing campaigns, or building an exclusive company culture. 

A good example of this marketing strategy would be the clever marketing by Apple.Inc. 

Apple focuses on innovation, sleek design, and user experience to build its unique identity. Their product launches generate a solid buzz and spark conversations among people and in media because they are highly anticipated events. While brands mostly lack the funds to execute such campaigns, they can still create a similar impact with easier ideas.

Your business can use its exclusive company culture or bizarre brand identity if it has one. People love out-of-the-box stuff and tend to talk about it, giving your brand attention and popularity. 

3. Leverage Social Media

Social networks are amazing channels for word-of-mouth marketing because they have a wide reach. A study by experts proves that 90% of people are more susceptible to trusting a brand recommended even by strangers. It’s no surprise that 71% of buyers are more likely to make purchases seeing social media referrals by influencers or others. For instance, one delighted customer who posts on Twitter or Instagram may influence numerous others to purchase the same product.

Therefore, an effective way to encourage WOM marketing is to build a strong and cohesive social media community. Communities create fellowship among people with similar interests and goals. It also helps promote engagement, emotionally bond people to your brand, enhance visibility, and attract more followers. 

There are a few ways to do word-of-mouth advertising through social media:

  • Hashtag Marketing Effect: When you create an online store or page, define a hashtag using your brand name, for example, #brandname. Initially, you’ll be the only one using it on your posts. But, eventually, as people become aware of your brand, they start using it as well when they share their experiences through social media. The hashtag gives more visibility to your brand, and customers can easily find you on social media using the hashtag.
  • Fetch Customer Reviews: Customer reviews are the modern form of word-of-mouth marketing and help drive more sales. Encourage a customer to leave a review for your product/service by requesting it through emails or messages after a purchase. You can also collect testimonials, do feedback surveys, etc. for word-of-mouth publicity and prominently display organic reviews wherever you can, like on social media posts, review websites, online marketplaces, and your brand’s website. When other potential buyers see the reviews, they’re more likely to buy the product, as 84% of people believe reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

4. Create Shareable Content

Curating viral or shareable content through social sharing is an impeccable WOM marketing strategy. There are a few key attributes that can get people talking good about your brand and drive word-of-mouth referrals: 

  • Social Media Currency: The more your product enhances the image of your customers, makes them feel good about themselves, or helps them create an impression, the more likely they are to share it on their social media. Curate content that thrills your customers. 
  • Emotional Connect: People mostly talk about things they truly care about. Create relevant content that brings out an emotion in your customers and makes them feel emotionally bonded. 
  • Publicity: Create relatable content that people would like to share. Organise events and share news about your brand. Try avoiding sensitive topics or other content that might discourage readers from sharing.
  • Insightful Content: People like to share useful information and help others. Make content that provides insights into topics your target audience is interested in. For example, address issues relating to those topics or list out the benefits.
  • Narrate Stories: Share stories about your brand, as it helps you connect more with your customers by spiking feelings of compassion and trust in them. They are also a good way to communicate essential information creatively. Customers tend to share interesting and unique brand stories. 

5. Increase Your Brand Advocates

Gleeful customers make the best advocates of your brand, driving in more customers and sales. According to Social Media Today, 85% of buyers believe user-generated content is more trustworthy than other forms of information about a product. So, encourage this happy flock of customers to do word-of-mouth marketing by rewarding their loyalty. 

With the growing visibility and popularity of a brand, customers begin sharing user-generated content. User-generated content refers to the content they create highlighting your products/services. For example,  posting a picture or video on Instagram wearing or using your product, where they rave about it.

You can encourage WOM marketing by having customers create content. Do this by posting or reposting photos of customers using your products on your brand’s social media handle or your product pages. Give these customers credit for it as well to boost their enthusiasm. Another way is to offer incentives to promote your product/service. You can also start a contest asking customers to send pictures of them using your product to win a gift. There are many other strategies to encourage your customers to make such content.

6. Create a Referral Programme

A referral programme helps push your WOM marketing campaigns toward success. You can appease the customers with perks at various levels of promotion. These rewards can be anything from discounts on first-time purchases and a gift card or coupon to cash payments or cashback and gifts. For instance, you may give a discount to the customer who refers your product to someone and further offer a cashback or discount to that friend on making a purchase through the referral. 

7. Host Giveaways and Give Freebies

Online and in-store shoppers both love freebies. Many brands like Nykaa, Sephora, and others use this emotion to their advantage. For instance, Nykaa gives its customers deals on purchasing products from a particular beauty brand or on spending a specific amount on shopping from Nykaa’s website or app. A gift pops up in the cart, which often encourages the shopper to finalise the purchase. Several brands also offer discounts or gifts on a customer’s birthday. As these customers share their excitement with their loved ones or with their social media followers, it acts as word-of-mouth publicity. 

Additionally, hosting giveaways and contests also generate a great deal of word-of-mouth referrals. You can offer a free product at your online or offline store. For instance, you can set terms like ‘share this post, tag your friend, or refer this to a friend to get a gift hamper from us’. This enhances your reach to get more customers.

8. Affiliate Marketing Channels

You can design affiliate programmes for effective word-of-mouth marketing. Ask the customers to join in this. You could engage existing customers to refer the products they buy from you to others on a commission basis. They get a percentage as a commission if their referral gets you a sale. Another strategy is to ask industry-specific influencers to post blogs about your brand or products and have them include affiliate links to get sales from the post. 

Many popular brands leveraged WOM strategies and created top-tier word-of-mouth marketing programmes to skyrocket their sales, stir emotion, and build stronger relationships with their customers. A market study reveals that 78% of people talk wildly about their exciting recent experiences to their loved ones or acquaintances at least once a week. 

Here are some of the word-of-mouth advertising examples by renowned brands:

Share-a-Coke Campaign By Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign is a perfect example of effective word-of-mouth marketing. The motto of the campaign, originating in Australia in 2011, was to replace the traditional Coca-Cola bottle labels with the personalised message ‘Share a Coke with [Name]’. It focused on establishing a more cohesive bond with customers and promoting joyous moments they shared with their loved ones.

The campaign became wildly popular after printing the top 150 most popular names in Australia on millions of bottles. This marketing activity prompted global replication with unique twists. 

Expanding on the concept, the ‘Share a Coke and a Song’ campaign debuted in the United States in 2016. It featured some popular song lyrics on Coke bottles. Notably, when Selena Gomez endorsed the campaign, her post became the most-liked photo on Instagram at that time.

Following that, in 2017, the UK version of the campaign introduced 75 holiday destinations on labels instead of names or songs. It helped diversify the approach to word-of-mouth advertising further.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing Campaign By Amazon

Amazon has a simple yet very effective word-of-mouth marketing strategy. People naturally tend to share their new purchases. Jeff Bezos had an inkling early on that the road to reach a customer’s heart is through a great customer experience. It makes people talk about your service and brand. He placed this strategy at the center of Amazon’s mission. 

Apart from offering a vast assortment and a one-stop shop for products, Amazon used strategies like creating an easy checkout to increase customer loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations. Authentic customer reviews and ratings also attract customers and enhance their buying experience. The quick redressal of issues and easy returns and exchanges from Amazon also appease customers. These facilities make shoppers praise their online shopping experience with Amazon.

Netflix’s WOM Marketing Strategy

You’ve most likely heard of or watched the popular Netflix show ‘Squid Game’. This show took the world by storm. It became one of the most talked-about topics of the year. The success of Squid Game shows the power of effective word-of-mouth publicity strategies.

Endless conversations with friends and family who couldn’t stop discussing Squid Game fueled the buzz around this show. These conversations and interactions flooded social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok with memes related to the show. This craze shows the massive influence of word-of-mouth marketing and how word-of-mouth spreads like fire in a forest.

The science behind this phenomenon is crafting a campaign so compelling that your target audience becomes enthusiastic advocates for your brand’s story.


Word-of-mouth marketing is exactly what it sounds like, your customers sharing their experience of your product/service with the people in their circle. This elevates the perception of trust these new potential customers have towards your brand. Imagine the level of trust that is instantly built if a husband tells his wife about your brand, a son tells his father, or a boss tells his employee. This also makes word-of-mouth marketing a very reasonable and effective tool for businesses as it takes no extra space in the marketing budget. Having said that, businesses can create such word-of-mouth advertising campaigns to kick-start some conversations about their brand. One big and trending way to do this is by creating shareable social media content. However, there are various other effective ways as well, such as building a social media community, creating unique experiences for customers, running affiliate programmes, and much more.

How should brands deal with negative word of mouth?

Begin by investigating the root cause of the issue. Let’s say the pain point for your customers is late shipments or damaged products. Then, change your suppliers or find a new fulfillment provider. Address the complaint by talking to the customer directly and suggesting a possible solution. If the complaint was in the form of a bad review or a comment on your social media post, then reply to the customer while showing compassion. As you tactfully reply to the grievance publicly, the other potential customers reading those comments also start trusting your brand. It creates a safe zone for the shoppers, and they continue buying from you.

What is the difference between amplified word-of-mouth and organic word-of-mouth?

Organic word-of-mouth happens as customers naturally talk about your brand without any marketing efforts from you. Amplified word-of-mouth is a series of strategies that help encourage customers to converse about business, like creating a referral programme or giving away freebies.

What does the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association do?

Some brands try to fabricate reviews to take advantage of the power of word-of-mouth marketing. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) is a body that created a checklist with a code of ethics for the industry, advising that the best WOM marketing strategies are credible, repeatable, social, respectful, and measurable, and dishonesty is unacceptable.

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