WOMM - Word of Mouth Marketing

WOMM - Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of Mouth, and the concept of marketing it, is certainly not a new idea. Yet, in this age of instant communication, mass media, and more media paths than ever before, the simple concept holds as much power as ever, if not more. In fact, as new forms of communication arise, marketers are discovering new ways of harnessing its power. WoM marketing is one of the oldest, and currently the strongest marketing tactic for any marketer. A newly launched product or service can become a hit or a flop due to word of mouth marketing. As the popularity and penetration of internet and social media rises, word of mouth marketing is becoming more and more important for all brands. 

Word of Mouth marketing definition

Of course WOM does not mean "Women On Mission".... but it could be sometimes!

When a customer experiences a product or a service, and recommends the product or the service to someone else, orally or via written communications, then that is known as Word of mouth marketing or WOM marketing or WOMM.

Can you think of the last time you saw something and you just had to tell your friends about it?

Do you remember having a great experience at a restaurant and later on tweeting about it?

This is, essentially, word of mouth marketing (WOMMA). It’s an organic way of spreading information which utilizes components of viral marketing, though unlike viral marketing, it spreads by more natural channels.

Word of mouth is a free form of advertisement or promotion. It’s shared by customers and triggered by an event the customer experiences. This event is something beyond what’s expected.

Word of mouth, the simple act of consumers sharing information with other consumers, is perhaps the purest, most honest form of advertising in existence. At its core is people’s natural desire to share their experiences with others. Word of mouth cannot be faked or manipulated, and its purity should be respected and protected. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s (WOMMA) Code of Ethics provides a wonderful framework for preserving the integrity of word of mouth. wom_diagram WOMM - Word of Mouth Marketing | ::: PHMC GPE LLC :::: Marketing & Corp. Communication Agency

There are many things that businesses can do to build on positive word of mouth and make the most of it -the core goal of word of mouth marketing. Successful (and ethical) word of mouth marketing techniques are based on the principles of customer satisfaction, open & honest dialog, and transparent operations & communications.

WOMMA describes the basic elements as:

  • Educating people about your products and services
  • Identifying people most likely to share their opinions
  • Providing tools that make it easier to share information
  • Studying how, where, and when opinions are being shared
  • Listening and responding to supporters, detractors, and neutrals

Within these basic elements, WOMMA provides 8 strategies, all of which involve “finding ways to support satisfied customers and making it easier for them to talk with their friends.”

  1. Encouraging communications
  2. Giving people something to talk about
  3. Creating communities and connecting people
  4. Working with influential communities
  5. Creating evangelist or advocate programs
  6. Researching and listening to customer feedback
  7. Engaging in transparent conversation
  8. Co-creation and information sharing

But do not misconfuse Referral marketing & WOMMA

Referral marketing is marketing that focuses on targeting a specific person, and is intended to encourage them to refer their friends. Referral marketing (and other referral type marketing) is a segment of WOMM, but it’s a more proactive way of generating clientele, as you have to actually control the referral process and track the process of conversion.

Instead of doing a mass shout-out, the idea of referral marketing is more personal. Referral marketing is more about creating a bond with specific people. That way they’ll refer friends and family.

Word of mouth marketing can be both – good or bad. It can be good if the recommendation is positive or it can be bad if the recommendation is negative.The reason word of mouth marketing is so important to marketers is because of it generally a personal recommendation by someone you know – and hence it is known to have a very high conversion rate – higher than any other forms of marketing.

For a fact, companies invest millions in advertising and marketing themselves. But word of mouth marketing means acquiring new customers just by keeping existing customers happy. As a result, the ROI is best when there is positive word of mouth or WOM marketing.

This article discusses word of mouth marketing in depth – its positive and negative effects, the tools for WOMM and how negative word of mouth a major curse to a startup brand. Here are some examples of word of mouth marketing.

Why is WOM Marketing Important?

Consumers trust their friends. This is why word of mouth marketing is the most valuable source of marketing.

According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than they do advertising.

WOM also doesn’t stop after just one interaction. One person will tell another, and that person will someone else, then that person will continue the chain and spread the word further, making it a great vehicle for exposure and distribution – if used well.

Of course, the same is true in reverse – negative news can spread just as fast, but the essential benefit of WOM in the connected era is personal endorsement, which is not only more readily available, but is seen as significantly more valuable to modern consumers.


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Using WOM Marketing - How to ?

Connect with consumers, as opposed to ‘collecting’ them.

Sure you might have millions of social media followers, but you have to establish connection with those users to generate any tangible benefit. If your audience is not interested in you, they’re not likely to help you grow. They’re collecting dust and clogging your real fan base.

You want real fans and supporters. The more passionate your fans are about you, the more likely they’ll share you. As noted, the passing of information through word of mouth is powerful in influencing others, it has a way of reaching parties that it might not have been able to do otherwise.

This is even more relevant when considering the rise of ad blockers and increasing ad blindness, particularly on digital platforms.

Here are four tips to help maximize your WOM potential.

  1. Provide value

If you establish yourself with a few people, they’ll share the experience with friends – you may not remember the last time you shared a mediocre restaurant or service with someone, but you’ll no doubt be able to remember an amazing experience or event.

For example, you might have gone to a great Japanese restaurant and had a good night out. You know a co-worker who loves sushi – you relate your experience to them

Sharing valuable information makes you valuable. Great, unique customer experiences, along with having a great product, can help increase your value, and thus, your WOM potential.

  1. Provoke Emotion

Creating emotion goes hand in hand with creating value. People are more likely to share something that promotes high arousal, and people are more likely to share experiences in which they had some sort of emotion towards.

No one shares an ‘OK’ experience. People share the things that make them happy or upset.

  1. Make Yourself Interesting

Think of it as social currency – share what makes you look fun/good/interesting. This entices sharing.

Consumers feel more confident in the information they’re sharing when they’re contributing something that’s worth talking about.

For example, research has shown that Facebook users are more likely to share content that educates their network, and/or makes them look good and reinforces a certain image of themselves. You can tap into such behavioral trends to benefit your messaging.

  1. Create a Trigger

Can you tie yourself into other things that your consumers do or use?

You can design products that are triggered by the environment, and create new triggers by linking your products and ideas to prevalent cues within that environment.

If people remember you, they’ll continue to talk about you.


A special mention needs to be given to social media and its power because of word of mouth marketing. Ever saw a recent movie being released and the movie going a FLOP within 2 days of its release? Who does that? Do people stand in front of theaters and shout that the movie is bad? Nope. They just need to type 2 lines on facebook or twitter. The more positive the feedback, the more the movie will be a hit.

In fact, Social media has become so powerful, that all political elections across the world are happening more on social media than offline. Many politicians are focused on improving their online image by regularly sharing the best pics and actions on social media. If they make a mistake, it is plastered on the internet.

In today’s day and age, if you want a positive word of mouth, it is impossible to get it if you do not concentrate on social media. On the contrary, have a positive social media image with the right social signals, and you are likely to generate more positive word of mouth and get lot more inquiries for your business. Today, Social media controls word of mouth in a major way.


The effect of Negative word of mouth

Negative word of mouth publicity is devastating for any business. Today, with the internet and Social media, negative word of mouth is a major problem for brands, products, and services. Just like positive word of mouth marketing means customers recommending the product to other potential customers, negative word of mouth means customers stopping other potential customers from buying the product or the service.

Negative word of mouth has a huge impact on the bottom-line or the profits of any organization. Product sales on any E-commerce platform is an example of how negative ratings can immediately result in a drop in sales.

However, there are many smart customers who take the negative ratings with a pinch of salt. The reason? People who have had negative experiences are much more likely to give negative ratings as compared to people who have had positive experiences. Hence, if you love a product or a service, ensure that you are giving a positive rating for it, otherwise, negative ratings will pull down the product or service and might obliterate it from the market.


These are not one-size-fits-all strategies. When considering incorporating any of these elements into your larger marketing plan, it is best to view them through the lens of your brand and your specific audience. What method fits the message and voice of your business/brand? What are the specific needs of your audience and how do its members talk to each other? Where there is overlap between the answers to these two questions, there lies the most potential for marketing word of mouth.

Customers are 4x more likely to buy when referred by a friend, and in today’s digital world, word-of-mouth interactions are readily available through email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Word Of Mouth Marketing isn’t a new concept - but with the emergence of social media in the last decade - it’s more important than ever for brands to harness its influence.


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