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How to boost the effectiveness of your word of mouth marketing strategy

Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is perhaps one of the oldest forms of marketing but with 74% of consumers citing word of mouth as a key influence on their purchasing decisions, it is still more effective for promoting your brand than ever.

Word of mouth marketing is also one of the most cost effective methods of acquiring users, with a study from the Wharton Business School revealing that customer acquisition costs (CAC) for referred customers was US$23.12 less than non-referred customers. In addition to this, a study found that consumer trust in other forms of advertising is decreasing - only 42% of people trust banner ads, 46% trust social ads and 56% trust billboards.

Statistics on WOMM show that it is a tangible marketing strategy with real returns and measurable results. To be effective from an organisational viewpoint, both sides of the word of mouth equation need to be tracked — the customer who gives a recommendation and the customer who receives it. With the rise of social media and online forums, WOMM’s potential has grown as influencers and user generated content have the power to push your app to millions of users.

Types of word of mouth marketing

There are two types of WOMM - organic word of mouth (non-paid) and amplified word of mouth (paid). Word of mouth impressions result in 5 times more sales than a paid media impression and with the growth of paid influencer marketing, WOMM marketing campaigns can be actively created by using brand advocates for specific audiences. Both types of WOMM (organic and amplified) have their benefits and should be incorporated into your strategy.

Organic word of mouth

This kind of organic marketing arises from your users being so satisfied with your app or company that they voluntarily share and talk about your brand. Having a vocal audience singing your praises has been proven to boost impressions as well as conversions. People trust the authenticity of reviews from people that are not tied to your brand. Organic WOMM stems from brand enthusiasm, with no financial incentive or “marketing” involved. A Bright Local survey revealed that up to 94% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 87% read them regularly or occasionally. You can find plenty of platforms for user reviews, from Google and Facebook to websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, online forums or within the app stores themselves.

Amplified word of mouth

Amplified WOMM involves incentivizing referrals via discounts or rewards and working with influencers to showcase your product. With the growth of online communities, it’s easier than ever to converse with people all across the globe, hear their recommendations and read their opinions.

If you’re a marketer, a fruitful strategy for launching your marketing campaign and prompting your desired audience to participate in your WOMM campaign is using branded hashtags, teasers and influencer marketing to generate buzz. In comparison to organic WOMM, amplified word of mouth marketing does not always require funding but can offer substantial financial returns if invested in.

How word of mouth marketing works

Supplementing your marketing campaigns with an injection of WOMM can yield great returns. According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report, which surveyed more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries, 92% of consumers around the world trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

Spotify’s annual ‘Wrapped’ initiative is a perfect example of a successful WOMM campaign. By providing users with in-depth statistics about their listening habits, it encourages them to share these stats on social media. Recently, the Wrapped campaign expanded to include stats for artists and podcasters. This gave Spotify huge exposure as they had social media accounts with millions of followers providing them with brand exposure for free. Spotify’s  app downloads increased by 21% during the first week of the campaign's runtime, achieved simply by creating engaging content that users naturally want to share.

How to improve your word of mouth marketing

64% of marketing executives cite that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. Conversely, only 6% claim to have mastered it. In an article, McKinsey & Company revealed that word of mouth drives 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. The key to running successful WOMM campaigns is authenticity — WOMM needs to be generated from your users’ enthusiasm, which is what sets it apart from being just another advertisement.

Due to the lack of control over who spreads your message or how they engage with it, cultivating WOMM doesn’t always guarantee successful outcomes. By analysing the messages and narratives your users are likely to share with their peers, you can put a spotlight on these positive WOMM prompts to increase their impact and spread. Below are a few methods for improving your word of mouth strategy:

1. User-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is content created and shared by people about or including your product or brand. UGC provides your audience with a more authentic impression of your brand when compared to regular ad campaigns. With microformats such as TikTok becoming invaluable for quality UGC, finding an app or product showcase/review is easier than ever before.

This means that influencers on these platforms are more likely to be trusted when they recommend a product or brand. Although influencer marketing often requires partnership deals, it’s a channel that can offer impressive returns — in 2020, 65% of influencer marketing budgets increased, and 17% of companies reported spending more than half of their marketing budget on influencers

Millennials are spending nearly 30% of their total media time with UGC which adds up to 5 hours a day. That is a substantial amount of viewing time and with UGC being more memorable and trustworthy in comparison to traditional advertising, it can be an excellent avenue for improving your WOMM. Consider sharing and incentivizing UGC through reposts and giveaways, and don’t forget to create  hashtags to curate the posts you want to share with your audience.

2. Ratings and Reviews

People trust customer reviews above all other types of marketing as they reassure potential users about the quality of your app and brand. Positive reviews on review websites or even next to your app’s name on online stores or platforms can be the defining factor to whether or not a user installs. In addition to increasing conversions, review quantity and quality also plays a part in improving your search ranking and organic reach on app stores.

On the flipside, four out of five consumers have actively changed their minds about a recommended purchase based on negative reviews. Bear in mind that most users that go out of their way to post reviews do so because they’re either beyond satisfied with your app or are completely dissatisfied.

3. Make it memorable

To ensure that your app or brand is word of mouth worthy, consider whether you’re offering your users a unique experience that they want to share. In a crowded field where businesses are vying for attention, your app needs to stand out. By offering brand experiences that provide new means for expression, community and exploration, your audience will naturally gravitate towards promoting your business via word of mouth.

In addition to this, people are more likely to create and share content that either entertains or informs their peers. IAB’s Marketer’s Guide to User-Generated Content found that 44% of users are likely to share personal recommendations about brands, products and experiences. With younger audiences that are fixated on UGC, there’s a preference for seeing and hearing about organic experiences as opposed to a company’s carefully packaged, high budget ads. Think of your target audience, and what it is that they want from your app.

If you found this article useful, you may also be interested in our blog on user generated content. We also have resources for finding the best strategies to reach your target audience and Adjust’s global Mobile app trends report.

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