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How to leverage word-of-mouth marketing to boost eCommerce sales

How to leverage word-of-mouth marketing to boost eCommerce sales

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The last time I bought something online, it wasn’t because I came across a skip pre-roll ad, subscribed to an email list, or watched a TV commercial. It was because of a personal recommendation from a family member.

And the amazing thing is, I’m not alone. The numbers show that 92% of consumers prefer making purchases via word-of-mouth recommendations because they trust it more than traditional advertising.

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That’s the power of word-of-mouth marketing (WOM). So it’ll only make sense to leverage a marketing method that is that powerful, to boost your eCommerce sales.

But before we get to how to leverage on WOM, what is word-of-mouth marketing and why does it work?

What is Word-of-mouth Marketing?

Word-of-mouth marketing is a marketing method hinged on personal recommendations. And it’s a strategy that’s been in use since the days of traditional marketing.

Nowadays, word-of-mouth marketing happens at the speed of light, thanks to the fact that personal recommendations can be shared online mainly through social media.

Most of these recommendations are generated from online reviews, social media influencers, and pleased consumers sharing their positive experiences.

And if WOMM is perfectly implemented, the results are huge (we’ll see more of that in a bit).

Is Word of Mouth Marketing Worth It?

A word-of-mouth marketing strategy won’t just get you purchases from fresh customers, it’ll help you boost sales with your current customers. Here’s why.

1. Word of mouth Marketing Amplifies your Profits via Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty becomes valuable when you know that it is 6 to 7 times less expensive to convince existing customers to return than to get new customers.

Plus, boosting your customer retention by only 5% will shoot your profits up from 25% to 95%. That said, how does this retention occur? The idea behind word-of-mouth marketing is to give your existing customers such a pleasant experience that they feel compelled to rave about your offer.

And if they’re happy enough to recommend your product to family or friends, then you’re assured of their loyalty, which means they’ll spend more.

2. Trust Trumps Paid Ads

As we saw in the infographic above 94% of people skip pre-roll adverts, on the other hand, consumers are 50 times more likely to purchase if the item is recommended by a valued family member or close friends.

This says that consumers trust the recommendations of people in their lives over a random advert when making a purchase.

As we saw above, 92% of consumers trust WOM recommendations. Another survey even stated that not only did consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations, but 74% of consumers will make purchasing decisions based on WOM recommendations.

So why waste valuable cash on fruitless ads when all you need to do is create a positive experience for your customers, have them talk about your offer, and watch the sales come in?

How to Leverage on Word of Mouth Marketing?

1. Get and Share Online Reviews

Just provide a good product and customers will rave about it for endless ages. Unfortunately, that’s not always a reality. Sometimes you must give your customers a nudge by requesting reviews.

Do reviews work exactly like family or close friends’ recommendations? Absolutely. 88% of consumers trust customer reviews exactly how they trust organic WOM recommendations.

That said, if you aren’t sure how to ask for reviews from your customers, here’s how:

  • After a closed sale, send the customer a message asking for a review of their experience for a discount on future purchases. To make this seamless you can use email automation, which will enable messages to be sent out to customers without your continuous involvement.
  • Send the customer a message after a completed sale asking for feedback regarding what they liked about your product and what improvements they would want to see.
  • Ensure that your website architecture is simple enough to navigate as this will make it easy for customers to leave a review. If the process is complex, they may bounce off halfway. If you’re up to designing your own website, investing and reading up on UX tools will help you get ahead.

A great example of how to get reviews is from Etsy. The brand sends you a simple email days after you make a purchase, politely asking you to leave a review. And you can do this right from your email inbox.

That said, once you get reviews, share them on your social media touch points. Why social media? Research shows that 75% of Americans state that information found on social media regarding products influences their buying decisions on those products.

Basically, see reviews as user generated content that tells your brand's story from the customers perspective. And promote it like you would any other content via backlinks, social shares, email, and more.

2. Offer a Unique Product

Do you know that 97% of customers are more loyal to brands that implement customer feedback? When you listen to your customers, not only can you increase brand loyalty and trust, but you can also give consumers what they really want to get. In other words, it also helps to offer a unique product.

Apple rules in the realm of WOMM as the brand has mastered the art of putting out newsworthy products to the world. Think of the iPhone, it was so unique that the product created a new class of its kind.

The iPhone allowed users to do more with their phones than any other mobile device had permitted, and this alone made it newsworthy with over 700,000,000 iPhones sold as far back as 2015.

The iPhone story shouts loud that if you can make your product unique enough, you’ll generate some organic word-of-mouth recommendations.

People won’t talk about your product because it’s good, but as long as it has that “cool” factor to it, most people who buy it would want to let their friends or social media followers know that they got one.

3. Start a Referral Program

Without a massive patient bone in your body, waiting for tiny droplets of organic word-of-mouth recommendations to get to potential prospects is a draining process.

So what do you do? Start a referral program. And to do so is a fairly easy process, as there are so many solutions out there that can help you run a referral program effectively.

The way these referral apps work is by sending out carefully worded automated emails post-purchase that tell customers to refer your product to people they know for an incentive.

All you need to do is pick your incentive and referral apps handle everything else.

Keep in mind, it’s always a good idea to give further incentive to your customers for these referrals. As an example, if an eCommerce brand sold pet products, they may want to consider building educational courses that they can give to customers who refer others as a reward.

Not only does this incentivize the customer to refer others, but it also allows the eCommerce brand to further solidify themselves as experts in the eyes of their customers.


Word of mouth marketing is parallel to none. People trust recommendations from other people and through WOMM you get to achieve this trust.

However, there are things you can do to facilitate WOMM for more sales and they’re starting a referral program, gathering and sharing online reviews, and offering a unique product.

So why the wait? Get started with your word-of-mouth marketing and boost your eCommerce sales!

Raul Galera is the Partner Manager at ReferralCandy and CandyBar, two tools helping small and medium businesses run customer referral and loyalty programs. He’s been working in the tech sector for the past seven years and regularly writes about marketing, ecommerce and tech.