Personal recommendations are one of the most important marketing tools. Below, we explain not only why word of mouth marketing is still relevant today, but also why social media plays an important role.
What is word of mouth marketing?
The English expression “Word of Mouth” is used to refer to what in Spanish we know as word-of-mouth marketing or word-of-mouth advertising. This discipline of marketing focuses on recommendations for products or services that customers share with other (potential) customers . Like verbal recommendations, the dissemination of recommendations or reviews through digital channels, such as email, are also relevant in this discipline of marketing.
A practical example of word-of-mouth marketing: A service provider, such as a roofer or local landscaping company, asks for a recommendation after they have provided their service to expand their clientele. Another example is companies that use their clients’ recommendations for advertising purposes, which often appear in promotional letters or even on the website itself.
The difference between referral marketing and multi-level marketing
Although the names suggest a similar marketing strategy, referral marketing or multi-level marketing is based on different marketing principles. In these cases, advertisers or promoters also use recommendations as purchase impulses. However, the people involved and who make the referral act as an advertising partner and benefit directly from the success of the referral, for example through a commission.
How important is word of mouth in marketing?
Word of mouth advertising is still highly valued today, as recommended products or services often enjoy greater credibility . If a smartphone enthusiast, for example, recommends a certain brand to their circle of friends, it can positively change their perception. Since, in general, the judgment and recommendation of an expert are considered especially reliable.
This marketing discipline plays an important role, especially when a tester’s opinion of a product is relevant. For example, if it is about technological products, whose performance or handling in daily life are significant. Hair dryers, hand blenders, and even headphones fall into this category of product, and there are many who search the internet for recommendations or reviews to learn more. Cosmetic products are also more likely to sell better if customers confirm good coverage, rich tint, or skin compatibility of a certain product.
What are the advantages of word of mouth marketing?
As we mentioned earlier, word of mouth marketing increases the credibility of products or services thanks to interpersonal exchange. In turn, this discipline of marketing is favorable and economical, since convinced customers recommend products and services on their own, without being pushed .
Personal and/or daily recommendations
The fact that the recommendations are based on real examples and the scenarios created are taken from everyday life is another advantage of word of mouth marketing. This increases the relevance of products and services in everyday life: if your neighbor, for example, recommends a hedge trimmer and at the same time you can see the results of its use, you have a good reason to buy that hedge trimmer and not another.
Popular on social media
Word of mouth marketing benefits from social media and expert forums, as users can exchange opinions on a given topic. Companies can use this to their advantage through specific marketing campaigns on social networks or social commerce, selling on social networks.
An example of word of mouth advertising on social networks: if you search for a new coffee maker on the Internet, you will surely end up on a forum of coffee experts. As usual, there is a majority that recommends a certain brand. Said brand has a coffee maker that makes good coffee and, at the same time, requires very little maintenance. Once you’ve noticed that the recommendation is repeated over and over again, it reinforces the impression that the product is a good buy. Therefore, instead of searching for more information about coffee makers and comparing numerous reports, you trust that recommendation from the coffee experts.
What is Electronic Word of Mouth (EWoM)?
The digital version of word of mouth marketing is defined by the mode of transmission, which in most cases is written. Due to the large number of online stores, test sites and special forums, the chances of customers receiving recommendations on products and services can be enormous.
As described above, word-of-mouth marketing benefits from digital possibilities, since recommendations used to only be made between friends and acquaintances otherwise. Thanks to digital channels, this marketing discipline has a greater reach .
In addition, online stores also include product recommendations so that interested users can directly find out the experiences of others with the product or service. It is no coincidence that comparison portals with recommendations from other users are popular when it comes to making purchases.
Why is word of mouth marketing so important?
With all the products, all the offers and promotional campaigns, word of mouth advertising helps customers make the right decision. TV commercials, banner ads on websites or announcements at the beginning of the next podcast: the media floods (potential) customers with powerful promotions and offers. Personal recommendations help to keep track of the essentials.
Unlike classic advertising, which is just looking to get attention, word-of-mouth marketing can seem like a diversion to real solutions and products. Due to the personal factor, interpersonal interactions take place, which has a positive impact on credibility.
In digital marketing, more and more money has to be spent so that a company’s messages reach the target audience safely. Word of mouth marketing is the solution to reduce costs, since satisfied customers give their recommendation for free .
Greater buying impulse
The AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) tries to explain how advertising reaches customers. According to this basic marketing scheme, word-of-mouth advertising draws attention to a product, the personal touch arouses interest and consequently desire. Thus, it covers all phases of the customer journey up to the action or impulse purchase, which is perhaps triggered by the decisive advice that the product is particularly cheap.
What is the difference between word of mouth marketing, viral marketing, and buzz marketing?
There are some forms and strategies of marketing that are similar at first glance, but fundamentally different in terms of procedure. Word of mouth marketing focuses on the interpersonal exchange of experiences and the credible and informative communication of benefits and application examples about products and services.
Viral marketing: maximum attention
Unlike word of mouth advertising, the viral marketing strategy is based on broadly penetrating different target groups to get maximum attention. Social networks are often used for this purpose, and marketing campaigns are transferred from one social network to another in the best of cases, thus creating large-scale media production .
Videos produced for viral marketing sometimes have many millions of views. As for businesses, they can use social media plugins to increase interactivity on their web pages and keep user data available for marketing campaigns.
Viral marketing is often particularly fun and unusual, which is why the campaigns appeal to very broad target groups. Surprise flash mobs in pedestrian areas or poster campaigns are part of guerilla marketing.
Buzz Marketing: promotion and influencers
Buzz marketing takes the basic idea of word of mouth marketing and uses scale effects to increase diffusion . In general terms, this marketing discipline focuses on motivating customers to actively talk about products and services to reinforce general knowledge about them.
Some companies use, for example, promotions that encourage their customers to share their user experiences with others. Others turn to influencers to introduce and recommend a new product.
Conclusion: Word of Mouth Marketing Is Important, But It Must Be Authentic
Word of mouth marketing is a relevant marketing discipline that is based on personal and/or everyday recommendations. It offers targeting to potential customers, is credible, and even saves marketing costs. As for the reach generated by WoM marketing, it can be increased through reviews in online stores, test websites and special forums (EWoM).
Different brands have long recognized the value that forum recommendations and product reviews offer, and use it to their advantage. Word of mouth marketing can be considered one of the most authentic and honest forms of advertising . These are two important features that customers often look for when making a purchase decision. However, especially in the case of EWoM, there are many who do not trust and want to check where and who made the product recommendation. Keep in mind that influencers often benefit from their recommendations beyond the value of the recommended product.
As always, nothing has changed: the experiences of the personal environment have greater credibility. Especially since this type of recommendation also usually allows you to assess to what extent it is reliable. This is not always so easy on the Internet. Here it is important that brands maintain credibility and ideally leave word of mouth marketing to their customers.