Nowadays, despite there being more marketing channels than ever, a lot of business promotion still lies in the hands of the customers. Even in this technological age, something as simple as word of mouth is still hugely effective in driving new customers to a business. Yet, many companies are reluctant to implement their own word of mouth marketing campaigns.

Why Word of Mouth?

People can be naturally distrustful of businesses. Generally, they need to see evidence of a positive track record before they will part with their hard earned cash. They are more likely to trust recommendations from people they trust, i.e. their friends and family. This is what makes word of mouth so powerful. It also specifically targets the kind of people who are interested in the products or services that you offer.

In the past, businesses have shied away spending money on word of mouth campaigns because of how difficult is it to monitor their success and ROI. However, people communicate in very different ways these days. Word of mouth can theoretically take place on social media, message boards and via email, making it much easier to track results.

Email provides a great medium to encourage word of mouth amongst your customers. Messages can be forwarded to an almost infinite number of people, and conversations that start in an email can continue on social media, or even offline. Here are just some of the ways email can be used to generate word of mouth:

Start a Conversation

Rather than just using your email marketing campaigns as a product showcase, you can use the medium to encourage conversations between people both online and offline. You can ask them to share stories, experiences, reviews or even photographs. Recently, one of the ways businesses have been encouraging conversations between their customers is by including hashtags in their marketing emails. With a hashtag, conversations can move seamlessly between email and social media, and businesses can easily monitor what people are saying about their company.

Mobile phone network Three created a hashtag to promote their customers being able to use their phone abroad at no extra cost:


Lingerie company Bravissimo took the hashtag trend one step further by offering a prize to people who shared their stories:


As well as encouraging a discussion, this campaign had the potential to introduce Bravissimo to both the person mentioned in the post and all their Facebook friends, with very little effort on the part of the company.

As well as starting your own conversations, you can also take advantage of other popular social media ‘trends’, basing an email marketing campaign around them. The most notable example of this recently was the photograph of the dress that found its way onto social media (was it blue and black or white and gold?). When discussion about the dress took off all over the Internet, fashion retailer Roman Originals (who produced the dress in question) ‘hijacked’ the hashtag and used it in an email marketing campaign:


Reward Referrals

Not everyone is inclined to share stories about businesses on social media. Perhaps they haven’t experienced anything exceptional enough for them to talk about with their friends and family (even though they’re perfectly happy with your business). Some people need a little extra push to encourage word of mouth. A referral campaign, where you reward customers for introducing their friends to your business, is the perfect way to do this.

Many companies run campaigns like this. In this example, DW Fitness Clubs offered their members a £20 gift card if a friend of theirs joined the gym:


Certain people can be reluctant to spend money on a new product purely on a friend’s recommendation. They may want to try the product for themselves first. Beauty company L’Occitane used this as the motivation for their referral campaign. They emailed their customers a code that three of their friends could use to claim a free gift box:


This is a great way to both increase mailing list subscribers and to get more people using their products.

Word of mouth campaigns offer a simple and affordable way to open your business up to a whole new audience. By using email to encourage word of mouth among your customers, you also have the added benefit of making your messages feel more personal and engaging.

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