According to The Nielsen Company, 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services- making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness. Nielsen also found that 92% percent of consumers trust recommendations from other people- even if they don’t know them personally- over promotional content that comes directly from brands. This statistic shows that customers are not just trusting opinions from people they know, but people that they have never come in contact with.

The 2017 HubSpot Marketing Statistics showed that 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases.This has changed the game for how businesses need to market. Before technology was so prominent, consumers relied on word of mouth before making large purchases. As detrimental as a negative opinion could be, it wasn’t as impactful before technology, because the negative word took longer to spread. Now almost all consumers use online reviews for advice before making larger and smaller purchases. This has changed the way businesses approach influencing their clients.

Some easy ways to use word of mouth as a marketing tool include identifying who your consumer influencers are and then targeting them. We all know people who have an opinion on everything and have no problem sharing it. Those people are called influencers. Reckitt Benckiser is a perfect example of this. Benckiser had created a product called Dettol, similar to Lysol, that he wanted to distribute in China. His ads were pricey and ineffective. Benckiser decided to team up with Advocacy WOM, and they created a campaign focused on influencer moms. They distributed 48,000 samples to 4,000 influencer moms. The influencer moms each received a sample kit plus 10 more to give to family and friends. After the campaign, brand awareness had increased five times, purchases doubled from 21% to 42% and sales increased 86% in only two months. They’re called influencers for a reason.

Another way you can influence your consumers with word of mouth is by connecting to their human emotion. Many non-profit businesses, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, have done this very well. Taking families and children’s stories and putting a face to their story pulls on the emotional side of humans. Even ESPN has grabbed onto this concept, by taking personal stories of athletes and highlighting them in special features. Not only do human stories work, but animals are commonly used to pull at human emotions. The most-shared ad of 2015 was Android’s Friends Furever, which showed clips of unlikely cute animal friends. This add tugged at people’s happy emotion, and had over 6 million shares. There slogan “Be together, not the same” was designed to set them apart from their competition, Apple.

Although marketing tools have evolved and grown over the years, word of mouth is still the oldest and most effective form of marketing. Regardless of how technology and culture changes, the way word of mouth impacts consumers will not change.


By: Christa Vandenburgh