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Word of Mouth Referrals: Tips to Expand Impact

Did you know that nine out of ten people believe recommendations from friends and family? Technology and various digital marketing methods have developed, but word of mouth referrals are still important. Not only does it help ...

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Word of Mouth Referrals

Did you know that nine out of ten people believe recommendations from friends and family?

Technology and various digital marketing methods have developed, but word of mouth referrals are still important.

Not only does it help to expand the customer base with more loyal consumers, but it also boosts your trust and credibility in the market.

Want to see your business get bigger and better because of happy customers? Keep reading to learn how to make word of mouth referrals work for you.

What Are Word-of-Mouth Referrals?

Word-of-mouth marketing referrals are recommendations of your brand made by your customers. They happen when customers suggest your brand or products to their family, friends, or community.

It includes efforts by your business to get people to share their positive experiences with others. Some popular examples are online reviews, shares on social media, and friend referrals. These referrals all act like free forms of advertising – word-of-mouth advertising for your brand.

The high level of trust and social proof makes this type of referral marketing so effective. Recommendations often come from friends, family, or others close to a person. That helps encourage future purchases among consumers.

What are the Benefits Of Word-of-Mouth Referrals?

Word-of-mouth referrals come with many benefits that can impact the growth and reputation of your business. It helps to save marketing expenses while building a loyal customer base and an engaging community.

Let’s discover such advantages in detail below!

Free of costs

One of this marketing method’s most appealing aspects is that it’s free.

Paid advertising campaigns often require substantial budgets to reach your target audience. Meanwhile, word-of-mouth marketing spreads organically. The experiences and satisfaction of your customers drive it.

This natural form of promotion saves you money. It also carries a level of authenticity and trustworthiness that money can’t buy.

A natural attraction to customers

These referrals start a great cycle of happy customers spreading the word about your brand.

When customers are happy, they often tell others about their good experiences despite being asked or not. This helps bring in new customers and makes existing ones even more loyal.

You know, 92% of consumers surveyed by Nielsen trust personal recommendations from their friends and family more than any type of advertising. So, the impact of referrals in driving purchase decisions is undeniable.

Such referrals contribute to building a group of fans who love and care about your brand. They and their honest mouth recommendations can attract others to your brand. Such attraction is more authentic than regular ads.

Community growth

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Such referrals also help create and grow a community of customers around your brand. The community is invaluable to a brand. It contributes to the success of your business.

Word-of-mouth referrals can have a strong support in building this community. It includes people who really get into what your brand stands for. It’s a space where everyone feels a strong connection to your brand.

Such a community makes customers more happy and more loyal. That also encourages them to keep spreading the word about your brand and attract more people.

How to Drive More Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Go beyond customer’s expectation

To get people talking about your business, you need to give them something special to talk about. This often comes from good customer experiences with products or services.

You can easily imagine it by considering when you had a fantastic meal or received great service. You also want to share that experience, right?

The secret to getting your brand mentioned a lot is to be valuable. This could mean your product fixes a problem well or offers excellent customer service.

When customers receive value from your brand, they will stick with you. They will also tell their friends and relatives about you.

If you’re really helpful or different in a good way, you’re more likely to get positive feedback. This way, you keep your customers happy and get many great customer reviews about you.

The best way to do it is to figure out what makes you different and focus on and emphasize that. For instance, Zappos concentrates on providing outstanding customer experience. That makes them stand out, build a strong reputation, and become a business of billions of dollars.

In short, when your business brings above-and-beyond experience, it’s easier to reach wide customer referrals and benefit from that.

Set up referral rewards

Once customers want to share about your business, how do you keep them sharing?

You may set up a referral program with nice rewards to do so. Such a program encourages customers to tell their friends, family, and work buddies about your brand.

If a customer brings a new buyer to you, you give him or her a discount, free product or service, or even cash. This keeps them talking about your product or service.

You should choose incentives your customers love to make the program and rewards effective. The reward mechanism, e.g., for leads or sales, is also worth considering.

You need to make it simple for your customers to share. It’s also necessary to make people aware of your program, especially after a great experience.

Keeping track of referral results and giving rewards are also required. These things make them trust and keep referring.

Do you think the above stuff is complicated?

Don’t worry! You can leverage the support of referral program software to make it. For example, you can use UpPromote to set up a program and track, manage, and pay those who refer customers to your business.

The software makes it easy for both your customers and you. With its automatic mechanism, you can expand your referral program to enjoy the maximum benefits.

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Ask for referrals at the right time

Don’t hesitate to request referrals from your customers. If satisfied with your service, they will probably gladly assist you.

But when will be the right time to ask for referrals?

Ray Silverstein, the president of the President’s Resource Organization (PRO), advises saying thank you after a transaction and asking clients if they know anyone else who can benefit from your services.

The best time to request a referral is when your customer is really happy with what you’ve done for them. This means they see how good your business is.

It can be right after they buy your product or after you have fixed a problem for them. Or maybe when they give you positive reviews or high scores in a satisfaction survey.

No matter what your business does, once your customer is satisfied, you can ask them for a referral.

Generate valuable content

Did you think of what kind of content your audience would like best?

You can build up your social currency and get people talking about you by always giving your audience what they enjoy with your content. That’s related to content marketing strategies.

People usually share things that they think will make them look good. That’s because sharing is like putting their own reputation on the line.

They will only spread the word about your brand if it satisfies such a purpose. So, make sure you create something that your audiences like and want to share with their friends.

Making content that touches people’s feelings is another great way to get shares. Whether it’s something happy, sad, funny, or anything else, if it makes people feel something, they will want to share it.

If your brand has its own unique personality, that can also get an emotional reaction. Use what makes you unique to appeal to people’s emotions. And do it in a way that makes you stand out.

An outstanding example for your reference is Taco Bell. They have engaged with their audience through humorous social media interactions. Their casual and funny brand voice makes them stand out in the fast-food industry.

Partnership with influencers

Usually, if people hear someone saying good things about your product, they may want to try it. But if the recommendations are from influencers, they are more likely to want to buy it.

According to Forbes, 66% say influencers often influence their buying choices. In addition, 72% of people say they trust influencers more now than before.

Actually, when they see someone they look up to using your product in real life, it makes them even more interested.

That’s why having influencers show off your product can help. When these people share pictures or talk about your product online, others want to try it, too.

There are many methods for this partnership.

You may collaborate with them on a series of posts or videos that showcase your product.

Another approach is hosting live events or Q&A sessions with influencers, where they can interact with your audience. Meanwhile, boost the connection between your brand and potential customers.

You could also create unique discount codes or links that influencers can use to share with their followers. Your business will provide incentives for purchases and track the partnership’s success.

Whatever method you choose, clear communication and shared values are key to a successful partnership that resonates with audiences and drives results.

Leverage social media and user-generated content

Besides paid promoters, you also need your followers and fans for word-of-mouth referrals on social media. The closer you are to your followers, the more likely they will become big fans and help spread the word.

What do big fans do?

They tell others about your brand, helping you reach new places you might not have reached alone.

That’s user-generated content when your fans talk about you and make their posts. Leveraging that will help your business be seen by thousands or even millions more people.

Of course, you can’t control exactly what they post, but you can encourage them to share in ways that help your brand.

To do so, you can use special hashtags for your brand that fans can add to their posts. You may also comment on posts you like to connect with the fan and say thanks for sharing.

Another method is showing the best fan posts on your social media and website (with their permission). Or you can hold contests or giveaways where the best user-generated content wins cool prizes.

How to Measure Word-of-Mouth Referrals?

Measurement is crucial for understanding the effectiveness of this marketing method. It allows you to refine your word-of-mouth marketing strategies and foster more organic advocacy.

Here, we’ll go through two effective ways to measure such referrals.

The first option is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), developed by Fred Reichheld. This method is great for measuring how happy customers are and if they are likely to recommend it to others.

It works by asking customers a simple but powerful question on how likely they would be to recommend your business to a colleague or friend.

Based on their responses, customers are categorized as promoters, passives, or detractors. Promoters are enthusiastic fans who are likely to spread positive word-of-mouth, while detractors might share negative feedback. Passives are satisfied customers but not enthusiastic enough to promote your brand.

The NPS helps you understand the overall sentiment towards your brand. It enables you to identify both your strongest supporters and those who are not satisfied.

This insight supports you in deciding strategies to increase your promoters and reduce detractors. This way, you can boost your brand’s reputation and customer loyalty.

The other method for measuring word of mouth referrals is leveraging referral tracking software like UpPromote.

The software allows you to automate the tracking process. It provides an efficient way to monitor by assigning unique codes or links to each referral.

Thanks to technology, businesses can follow the performance of this marketing strategy, optimize it, and enhance customer engagement.

This leads to a more targeted approach to rewarding and encouraging loyal customers. As a result, it ultimately drives more successful referrals and business growth.

Examples of Word-of-Mouth Referrals


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Airbnb gives both the person who recommends Airbnb and the new user they bring in some travel credits to use on the site.

This method makes people happy to tell their friends about Airbnb because they get something back. It also makes it easier for new people to give Airbnb a try.

The word-of-mouth marketing efforts have helped turn its users into fans who spread the word. It contributes to Airbnb’s success in becoming a big name worldwide.

People naturally like to talk about their travel experiences and cool places they’ve stayed. At the same time, they can tell others about Airbnb.

That has turned into a powerful way for Airbnb to get noticed without spending a lot on ads. It’s all about making their customers happy and getting them to talk about it.

This strategy has supported Airbnb to grow its community worldwide through word-of-mouth.


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Dropbox, an online storage service, also uses word-of-mouth to grow its customer base. The brand offers more free space – that’s something many people love.

It gives new users and friends who refer them an extra 500 MB of storage for free. This offer works like a powerful tool, making a lot of people talk about it.

Imagine telling your friend about Dropbox and both of you getting extra space without paying a penny. It’s a deal too good to ignore!

This referral strategy has helped the company quickly increase its number of users. That means they could boost revenue significantly.


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Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” word-of-mouth marketing campaign, which kicked off in 2014, was a great word-of-mouth marketing method. It’s a brilliant move to make drinking Coke a shared, personal experience.

Coke bottles were personalized with common names, encouraging people to buy for themselves, friends, or family. The campaign was more than just about buying drinks; it was about creating a moment of connection.

The brand turned its consumers into active promoters by urging them to post pictures of their personalized Coke bottles on social media. The posts will go with the hashtag #ShareaCoke.

The campaign quickly became a sensation, with millions sharing their Coke moments online. It turned each shared bottle into a personal endorsement of Coca-Cola. It’s a viral marketing campaign.

The word-of-mouth strategy was used very cleverly in this campaign. They combined it with personalization and social media marketing.

This tactic not only boosted Coke’s visibility but also fostered a sense of community. That drives word-of-mouth referrals naturally and authentically.

Wrap Up

Now, you have understood the power of word of mouth referrals, right?

They remain one of the most powerful marketing strategies even in the digital age. They not only enhance brand visibility but also build trust and loyalty.

So, if your brand hasn’t adopted this strategy yet, consider adding it to your marketing picture!

Ellie Tran, a seasoned SEO content writer with three years of experience in the eCommerce world. Being a part of the UpPromote team, Ellie wants to assist Shopify merchants in achieving success through useful content & actionable insights. Ellie's commitment to learning never stops; she's always eager to gain more knowledge about SEO and content marketing to create valuable content for users. When she's not working on content, Ellie enjoys baking and exploring new places.