How Word of Mouth Marketing Has Changed and How Your Business Can Adapt

May 6, 2021

The concept of word of mouth marketing has been around since the beginning of the human race. It’s a simple idea, someone uses an item or has a positive experience and tells someone they know about it. It’s basically free promotion for your brand, product, or services. But if people are spending more time online than they are in person, how does that shift word of mouth marketing for the modern age?

What is Word Of Mouth Marketing Today?

In the 21st century, word of mouth marketing, or WOM marketing, has evolved to words shared verbally, as well as, words shared online. A large portion of WOM marketing takes place on social media networks where people review a restaurant, talk about a product they like, post a picture at an attraction they visited, and even a post about a poor experience they had with a brand or service.

Brands and companies they have a mindset where word of mouth marketing is just when people verbally mention their products or services will be quickly left behind. Brands must evolve to view WOM marketing as a fluid idea that can take place in-person and online.

How to Use Modern WOM Marketing Tactics

The basic principles of word of mouth marketing have stayed relatively the same, even if the medium of communication has changed to incorporate more ways people interact with each other. The idea is that when another person or customer speaks favorably or unfavorably about your brand, products, or services, it is more influential on decision making than traditional marketing or advertising executed by the brand. This influence is even stronger when the individual sharing their experience is a close friend or family member.

This boils down to the fact that one person’s opinion can have a stronger effect on someone than any ad you show them.

Examples of Word of Mouth Marketing in the Modern Age

Since word of mouth marketing is when a person’s opinion or experience is shared with others, it can take many different forms in the modern world. Some examples of WOM marketing are easy to imagine while others might surprise you. Here are just a few examples of the various forms of word of mouth marketing in-person and online:

In-Person WOM Marketing Examples

  1. Face-to-face conversations
  2. Bumper stickers
  3. Yard signs
  4. Pins and stickers
  5. Wrist bands, T-shirts, and other apparel or accessories

Online WOM Marketing Examples

  1. Social media posts
  2. Influencer content
  3. Online reviews
  4. Comments in online help forums or customer service social media accounts
  5. Video content
  6. Memes
  7. Referral programs

Where to Look for Word of Mouth Marketing

You can find WOM marketing in many places in-person and online. Social media networks are a common source of word of mouth marketing and one of the best places to start. Online forums are another virtual space for WOM marketing to thrive. Here are a few places where word of mouth marketing is happening today:

  • Social Media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • LinkedIn
    • Pinterest
    • YouTube
  • Forums and Question/Answer Services
    • Quora
    • Reddit
    • Niche community forums
  • Blogs
  • Review sites 
    • Software review sites like Capterra
    • Product review sites like PC Mag
    • Service provider review sites like Angie’s List
    • Company review sites like GlassDoor

Don’t Forget About Negative Word of Mouth Marketing

We’ve metioned negative interactions above and it’s important not to view WOM marketing as purely positive praise. Word of mouth marketing is only the process of people sharing their opinions or experiences, and those thoughts can either be positive or negative. Because of this, it’s crucial to address both positive and negative comments in a different way. 

Positive comments should be highlighted by sharing them on social media or using them as a testimonial. Get a screenshot of the comment to use in your next business presentation or use the positive words in your next branded video.

Negative comments on the other hand are more urgent and time-sensitive. Always address negative comments as soon as possible and if done well, you have a chance to get those negative comments amended or even removed. One negative shared experience can have a bigger impact then multiple positive ones, so it’s important as a brand to show that you care about people’s feedback and are doing your best to address their issues.

Lay the Groundwork for Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing can be tricky because it doesn’t always happen naturally without any outside influence. Some people are more inclined to share their experience or opinion about a product or service and others are not. It’s also common for negative experiences to be shared more often than not because they feel driven to express their dissatisfaction. 

That’s why it’s so important to arm customers with the opportunities to engage in word of mouth marketing because when you’re the one setting the stage, you have more control over the outcome. Here are a few ways you can give your customers, clients, and fans an opportunity to participate in WOM marketing:

  1. Offer an incentive for writing a customer review such as a discount or free product.
  2. Send out a survey to customers with a drawing for those who participate for a chance to win a prize.
  3. Build an affiliate marketing program so bloggers and other influencers have more of an incentive to talk about your products or services.
  4. Sell or give out branded merchandise to your customers to build brand awareness.
  5. Create a referral program so that happy customers have the desire to share their experience with others so they can earn a discount.
  6. Set up a contest that encourages people to share how they use your product and what it means to them.
  7. Develop a reward program where customers can earn points through actions such as sharing a review on social media, inviting a friend to join, or posting a picture of the product.

Even though word of mouth marketing has evolved to become better adapted for the digital age, the effectiveness of WOM marketing strategies has remained strong. Whether it’s online or in-person, word of mouth marketing is game-changing for businesses and brands. Find the best word of mouth strategies that fit your business’ needs and goals for the most effective outcome.

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