Introduction to Word-of-Mouth (WOM) Marketing
Word-of-Mouth is a marketing or promotional technique which involves sharing genuine experiences and recommendations by customers with their colleagues and relatives about a particular product or service or business. It is a form of free advertising from the customers’ end, after all happy engaged customers are the most effective tool for marketing a business.
Word-of-mouth is a two-edged sword as it is based on experiences and personal attributes to those experiences. Different people experience the same things differently. There are multiple internal and external factors which either enhance one’s experience or create noise. Therefore, word-of-mouth marketing is very unpredictable. The benefit and disadvantage from word-of-mouth is highly dependent on how customers perceive the product/service during the moment.
There are instances when businesses have benefitted from word-of-mouth marketing. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Growth of Tiktok, Tinder and Netflix etc. are some of the examples that reflect the power of word-of-mouth marketing. WOM is one of the most convincing forms of advertising as it involves personal approach and first hand experience. Similarly, there have been many more examples which reflect the negative side of word-of-mouth marketing. Victoria’s Secret “The Perfect Body” campaign slogan was heavily criticized across the world, Burger King’s “Women Belongs to Kitchen” tweet went viral and was heavily criticized.
Significance of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
In this web era, word-of-mouth marketing has become a significant strategy for businesses. Today, news flies in no time and people are more reactive than responsive to such viral news, reflecting the impact of such marketing. Some of the statistics about this free marketing are;
- 86 % of customers trust word-of-mouth reviews and recommendations – Referral Candy
- WOMM invites 5 times more sales than any paid-marketing campaign.
- 88% of customers trust online reviews and recommendations.
- People are 4 times more likely to engage when referred by friends and family
- 82% of Generation Z trust on friends and family advice on products or services
- 74% of customers suggest that WOM is a critical influencer while making decisions.
Word of Mouth Marketing Strategies
There are various approaches to word-of-mouth marketing. There are various strategies which can enhance word-of-mouth marketing. Some of such marketing strategies are:
- Hashtag Effect
- Referral Program
- Influencer Marketing
- Active on Social Media
- User-Generated Content
- Freebies, vouchers, giveaways and hampers
- Online Reviews and Recommendations
- Affiliate Network
Advantages of Word-of-Mouth (WOM) Marketing
- WOM builds good relationship with customers, as it involves personal approach
- It is cost effective than other marketing strategies
- WOM is quicker medium to reach the audience
- WOM offers amazing scalability
- This marketing has larger audience and larger acceptance
- WOM is impactful as it is derived from experiences
- Word-of-mouth works best with any other promotional strategies.
Disadvantages of Word-of-Mouth (WOM) Marketing
- WOM marketing is unpredictable. Therefore, the direction of this marketing is undefined and uncontrollable. It will reach a large audience but may or may not reach the targeted audience.
- Word-of-mouth has a specific content i.e. only a limited message or information is shared via WOM marketing. It is good only for creating a buzz in the market.
- We cannot control WOM marketing i.e. we cannot control what people say.
- It is very easy to get a bad impression i.e. negative marketing in WOM is as easy as positive marketing.
- WOM marketing is so convincing that people might change their opinion based on the shared mass opinion.
Why Word-of-Mouth (WOM) Marketing
For most brands, products, or services, WOM marketing is one of the most significant methods of marketing. The explanation behind this significance is given below:
1. Impact: It is the cheapest and the best form of marketing. Reports suggest that 86% of customers trust WOM reviews and recommendations.
2. Huge returns on investment: It is a fallacy that word-of-mouth marketing is free but it is a cost-effective form of marketing. For WOM marketing, one must invest in providing excellent service and product. Comparing the direct investment on WOM, this marketing has high return on investment.
3. Using brand advocates: Some customers may become so satisfied with your brand that they become brand advocates. These are the consumers who generate the most revenue for you through word-of-mouth marketing – at no expense to you!
4. Power to small businessmen: Word-of-mouth marketing is becoming very significant, particularly for small businesses and local companies who do not have a large marketing budget. Because of the personal relationships that they have established, they are able to provide excellent service while reaping the benefits.
5. Negative WOM marketing means huge loss: Negative word of mouth can result in massive loss for a newly introduced product or brand. When the Tata Nano was first introduced, it suffered a significant blow to its brand image because it was dubbed the “poor man’s automobile.” That is why businesses must always prioritize positive word of mouth.
Real Life Example: Word-of-Marketing
1. Coca Cola Campaigns
Coca Cola always invests a lot in their marketing domain. Most of the campaigns of Coca Cola are widely stretched and they are liked around the world. Such creative and likable advertisements by the company creates the buzz in the marketing. “Share A Coke” is a campaign of 2011 and people still remember it. This campaign has been in the mouth of people. Similarly, there are many other campaigns which are remarkable and are people’s favorite.
Netflix is always trending with its content. Users of Netflix self-generated the content for Netflix and marketed the Netflix as best content providers. Users of Netflix buzzed the social media every time Netflix came with excellent shows, movies or series. Content like Squid Game , Money Heist, Stranger Things made users write about Netflix and the shows so much that Netflix managed to get self-promotion.