Why Word of Mouth Marketing is Still King

Think back to the last time you made a major purchase. More than likely, you asked a friend, family member, or co-worker for recommendations before deciding on a final brand or product. At the very least, you probably read reviews online to get insight from other consumers, and you did all that asking around because you value the opinion of “real” people more than faceless companies that can basically print and say whatever they like — true or not.

Of course, I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. Word of mouth marketing has remained a fundamental promotion tactic for businesses throughout time, and the age old business owner’s admonition to “tell a friend” will likely never disappear. Still, with new technologies constantly emerging and the advertising world regularly evolving, it’s important to reemphasize the value of word of mouth.

The Facts

How can I better my advertising campaign

To prove the point, recent reports from both Nielson and WSL/Strategic Retail found consumers trust the opinions of their friends and family for purchase information far more than any other source. In particular, the WSL study found that 69% of consumers trust the advice of their friends and family entirely, with lesser amounts of respondents trusting websites, traditional media, sales associates, emails, and social networks. Interestingly, only 26% of consumers say they rely on social networks as purchase information sources; however, considering people spend a fair amount of time using social networks to discuss products, it’s safe to assume some respondents may have underestimated the influence it has on their buying habits.

How to Use this Information

How can  be better at advertising

Knowing what influences you as a consumer can provide considerable insight when you put on your advertiser “hat.” Consider all your marketing tactics from the standpoint of a consumer (something we all are) and ask yourself if such a strategy would cause you to trust a company. If not, come up with something else. More specifically, pay attention to how consumers are choosing to interact with businesses, as it’s always in flux, and modify your methods to meet those preferences. For instance:

  • Focus on the soft sale: Since you know shoppers trust friends and family for advice above anything else, don’t try to push your brand on them. While you might be able to win over some customers with the used-car-salesman approach, you’ll have much better luck quietly attracting consumers to you through word of mouth marketing and other inbound strategies.
  • Use social networking: Although, people may say they don’t use social networking for product research, there’s no denying users are talking about what they bought, what restaurants they visited, where they’re going on vacation and more. These casual discussions are undoubtedly influencing individual communities of friends and serving as endorsements for particular brands. On top of that, users are checking into businesses, posting reviews, and interacting directly on business pages — all behaviors capable of persuading other consumers. Essentially, social media has the potential to take word of mouth marketing to unprecedented levels, and if you can get people talking about you in a positive light, your brand can reach more people than ever before (with the stamped approval of a trusted friend, no less).
  • Offer quality service and products: This should go without saying, but the only way to accumulate positive word of mouth advertising is to offer stellar products and service. If you can do this, people will naturally want to talk about your brand. That said, in the digital age, “mom-and-pop” type service may not be enough to impress customers. You also need to have an online presence through a website or social page (or both) and respond quickly and often to visitor’s comments, as it shows consumers you care and are modern. Also, by including social buttons on your pages you make it even easier for people to share your brand with others.
  • Combine word of mouth with other strategies: All of this discussion of word of mouth advertising isn’t to say paid advertising isn’t effective — it is! In fact, you’ll get the best results if you can execute a good melding of many strategies. Also, instead of thinking about each marketing medium as an independent thing, view your various tactics as one comprehensive plan where all elements enhance the other. Separating paid ventures from social is becoming increasingly difficult anyway, as paid elements can also include social aspects and vice versa.


Thankfully, word of mouth advertising isn’t a complicated concept to understand. If you deliver awesome products and services and interact with consumers on their “turf” you can expect news of your brand to spread. And with social networks helping to share information at lightening fast speeds, businesses today have a bit of an advantage in the word of mouth game, but you have to be an active participant to reap the rewards.