The Power of Word-of-Mouth Influence in Business

Posted on November 2, 2017 | Updated on January 25, 2023

There are many forms of useful marketing and advertising techniques in the business world. The trouble is, many of them rely on an internal team or support system. Print and radio advertisements, for example, are built, designed, go through storyboarding and calls for actors and participants, and then are actually filmed or recorded. And this is all before they are made available to the public.

Many marketing and advertising strategies are highly involved. But there is one super-powerful, hands-off approach that can offer a ton of benefits and insights into your business and products. Want to take a guess at what it is?

If you guessed word-of-mouth, you guessed right! And if you didn’t, you’re still in for some solid and helpful advice. Ready to supercharge your business?

Word-of-Mouth Is a Game Changer

Word-of-mouth marketing is most commonly associated with the written or spoken word. This includes product reviews and demonstrations on places like YouTube, Amazon, Yelp and more. Of course, it also includes personal blogs, news sites and content marketing platforms. Then there’s the old-fashioned word-of-mouth where customers simply share with one another, or friends and family, about their experiences.

But a more modern and hyper-vigilant form of this is social media. Social media users are constantly sharing new stories, experiences, ideas and more. One user may share an exceptional experience they had in your store, on your site or with your products. Another may feel the need to express disappointment or reach out for advice to solve an issue.

And all of this is available publicly for others to see, along with how your brand or reps respond and what happens in terms of resolution. In this way, word-of-mouth has gained its power. To add to that, 92 percent of consumers say they believe recommendations from friends or family over all forms of marketing and advertising.

It’s a game changer! Make no mistake about it — word-of-mouth will make or break your business. Word-of-mouth influences up to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. In addition, it generates two-times the sales that paid advertising can offer.

The Psychology Behind Human Referrals

According to Dr. Robert Cialdini — Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University — we are more likely to follow a behavior and see it as “correct” to the “degree that we see others performing it.” In other words, if a friend, family member or colleague does something, it must be good, right?

There’s a certain human element or “touch” offered via word-of-mouth advertising and referrals that simply cannot be replicated any other way. Reviewers all over the world could say a product is amazing or good. However, it’s the word-of-mouth referrals from acquaintances that people listen to more. There’s a sense of candor and honesty in these shared experiences.

Buyers’ remorse and instant gratification are both concerns for nearly any consumer, whether they’re making a big purchase or a small one. Hearing the positive experiences of others helps alleviate these emotions and feelings and make one more likely to dive into a transaction.

Furthermore, it builds trust and loyalty in your brand and products, only in a more natural and dynamic sense. Let’s say, as an example, that a father teaches his son to always use Craftsman-brand tools and products because he always does and has never been let down. That son will likely not only follow his father’s advice and insights, but may even share it with friends, family and colleagues. That fosters years and possibly even decades of loyalty and trust in a brand you simply cannot buy with advertising dollars.

The trick, of course, is to ensure word-of-mouth marketing leans in your favor. You can accomplish this in several ways.

How to Improve Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing

First, find your influencers and loyalists. Do what you can to nurture and accommodate them the best you can. See about sending free product review units or samples. Reach out to them to answer questions or concerns they have about products they own or blogs and articles they’ve written. Pay attention to the user and audience comments below a review. And reach out in response to some of the customers.

Next, do your best to nurture online reviews and user demonstrations. We already mentioned sending out review or preview units to the appropriate parties. However, you can also create review sections or tools on your own site or retail space — and be sure to leverage this content where you can. Share testimonials and important reviews via social. Include comments and recommendations on your product packaging, adverts and promotions.

Finally, simplify and speed up the referral process any way you can. Adding social sharing and comment buttons on your site or portals is a great start. You can also use tools like Wufoo to create and deploy existing social posts that your customers can share quickly. The content is already populated, so all they have to do is hit share or post. It cuts down on the amount of work they have to do to share your products and content.

But always remember: your core focus should be on providing a positive, shareable and engaging experience to your customers first and foremost. If you are offering them the kinds of experiences and events that are worth sharing, it will happen naturally. You’ll find that both your brand and products lend themselves well to word-of-mouth advertising — be it social, written or spoken.

Final Thoughts

You will never be able to force your customers or audience to do what you need or want, but you can gently influence and persuade them. To do this, simply provide them with the tools, experiences and desire to spread information.

If you give them something worth talking about, they probably will.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at

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