Why Creative WOM Beats Ad Unit Economics

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Word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective long term strategies for brand recognition and customer loyalty. The aim of any word of mouth marketing is to embed your brand as a known entity in your market, be that local or global, and have people associate your brand with quality products or services, and desirable purchasing.

To achieve this level of success, brands often rely on longevity to establish their reputation as reliable and trustworthy. For those new to the marketplace, this can be a little harder to establish without the help of reliable word of mouth marketing.

Paid social media advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as Google Ads, have become significantly more competitive for eCommerce merchants in the past few years, adding pressure to brands’ gross margins compared with customer acquisition costs.

Word of mouth marketing requires far lower cost investment, but higher time investment. The creativity, promotion channels and customer maintenance requirements are far higher to develop organic word of mouth, but the long term results are also far more quantifiable as customer loyalty and new customer acquisition become a continuous loop.

To create a conversation about your brand, first, you need to do something that motivates your target audience to want to talk about your brand. This can be achieved in a few different ways, but ultimately your conversation starter needs to focus on your brand values so that loyal customers will want to talk about your brand.

Create an experience.

One of the first things that your strategy needs to address is your customer service experience. If your website or mobile access is poor, or your shopping cart is not secure, you will not get the positive feedback you need.

Studies show that 65% of consumers will abandon a brand over a single poor experience. It cannot be overstated enough, your brand needs to focus on providing an exceptional experience that motivates people to want to be loyal to your brand.

To develop an exceptional experience, you need to check your data, find where your potential customers are falling through your sales funnel, address pain points and overhaul your website and mobile site to fix any issues.

You need to ensure that your social media channels are fully operational, with automated replies and live chat enabled so that people can make contact with your eCommerce. Your online presence needs to be consistent and industry-focused. You need to use these channels to reiterate your brand values and really connect with your target audience.

You also need to invite people to give their feedback. Post customer reviews, allow people to comment on your brand and encourage testimonials. People want an honest opinion of your brand, especially if you are new to the marketplace, so promoting reviews help start that conversation, develop customer trust and forms part of their experience.

Sell quality products & focus on feedback.

Your product or service must meet your customers’ expectations. If you are promising a product or service of the highest quality, you need to ensure that customers are happy with their purchase. For example, if you are selling luxury handbags, they must conform to the idea of a luxury brand. The bags should be manufactured using the highest quality materials, crafted without errors, like dropped stitching or crooked seams, and they should be delivered to the customer in exceptional packing. If your brand is making a promise, and asking for customers to pay larger sums for the fulfilment of that promise, then you need to deliver.

The other side of this means that you need to develop a real customer service strategy to deal with any issues. Sometimes a customer will get an item that has passed quality control when it should not have, so how do you deal with this issue? Holding customer reviews on your website and responding to feedback is an important part of developing a brand. One of the most successful eCommerce merchants made a promise that any shoes bought on the website could be returned free of charge up to 12 months after purchase if there were issues with the shoes. While there were many people who took advantage of the generous customer care policy, overall, it accelerated the growth of the business and made the brand known in all its markets, as well as some that it didn’t operate in.

Seamless website and mobile shopping.

According to studies, 93% of consumers consider visual appearance to be the key deciding factor in a purchasing decision, while another claims better UX design could increase conversion rates by up to 400%.

Your eCommerce site needs to be appealing. White space, clear product images and descriptions, dynamic displays and seamless navigation are only the first step to creating a visually stunning website. You also need to consider your cart experience, the ease with which people can create a wishlist, add or remove products, check details like taxes and delivery destinations and payment types. All of these factors determine if a customer ultimately makes a decision to purchase or abandon a cart.

Use tech that supports your eCommerce.

A recent report found that 49% of consumers would shop online more if delivery services were improved and 57% of online shoppers are reluctant to use a retailer again if delivery is late.

This means that eCommerce operations need to invest in logistics. Whether you are shipping from your own warehouse or using a drop shipper, you need to be very clear with your customers about delivery times, tracking options and any restrictions or additional costs that packages might encounter entering some international markets.

Your inventory needs to be kept up to date, and you should remove any products that you are no longer stocking. Some eCommerce technology allows you to provide an email to inform customers when an item that has sold out will be back in stock. This is a great option to include on your eCommerce website for items that are very popular or have been trending because of the work of an influencer or word of mouth campaign.

Your Word of Mouth Marketing Strategy.

There are different approaches to a word of mouth strategy, and which one will work best for your brand depends on your market and your values. For example, a shoe company promises that for each customer purchase of their shoes they will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. This philanthropic approach not only gets the attention of certain customers who want to feel that they are making a conscious shopping choice, but it also gets their brand displayed on social media by people who want to be associated with the brand and its values.

Not all messages need to be positive. Some brands thrive by adopting an unpopular opinion or even a hardline attitude. This appeals to many people who want to understand the rules. Such brands tend to focus on a ‘no frills’ attitude and this is also appealing to shoppers who want the item or service without having to move through a world of content and marketing to understand the core of the product and its applications.

To monitor the progress of your strategy there are some simple tools and tips that will help you stay ahead of the conversation, and always in a position to respond, rather than defend.

Word of mouth triggers.

A word of mouth trigger is the experience that makes your brand memorable, and one that people want to talk about. It could be the way you express your values through philanthropic ventures, or how you use Instagram to connect with content, or even your product placement on a reality TV show that gets people interested.

Your brand then needs to follow up on leads and customers by sending emails, or online messages that connect with the lead, reminding them again of your brand and the work you are doing.


Creating content that people want to share, or even recreate, is one of the best ways to start a conversation and get brand recognition. Think of the sportswear brands that are ubiquitous with certain stars or events. Other people then want to be associated with the process of the brand, and then want to recreate the images that they see by posting themselves wearing ‘those’ shoes or ‘that’ jacket.

Your brand should be visually appealing to your target audience and it should be easy to distinguish, share and recreate. The more people like the design, the more they will want to spread it around, be that by wearing merchandise or posting images.

Your unique sales proposition.

Knowing your USP is, of course, vital to your marketing, but finding a way to share that proposition is how you find your customers. While your eCommerce might sell the same things as another site, you need to define what makes your eCommerce different.

For example, a website that sells books does free worldwide delivery. The drawback is the lengthy delivery times that are sometimes unpredictable. The positive is the reduced cost due to the free delivery service. The website is popular worldwide and is one of the earliest established and most successful eCommerce sites available for such services. The brand has not deviated from its USP – free delivery on all orders.

Encourage user-generated content.

User-generated content has a far higher value for leads and customers than anything that your marketing team can produce.

According to research, 85% of users find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos.

Invite people to be part of your brand online, particularly on social media by rewarding people who post pictures of them using your brand, or videos of themselves interacting with your products, with a discount or free delivery or other incentives.

Ask people to give their feedback, publish reviews and participate in competitions on social media that promote your brand. People enjoy the personalization aspect of marketing, so ensure that you engage customers, develop loyalty and secure your customers through word of mouth marketing.

  • Consumers read an average of seven reviews before trusting a business.
  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business.


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