Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

8 Audience Marketing Examples – How Brands Sell By Selling To Audiences

It’s easy to think of customers just in terms of numbers and revenue. One lesson we’ve learnt through successful companies, however, is the power of connecting with customers, and the amount of invaluable word-of-mouth this connection can generate.

Whether featuring customers on the company’s social media, or even hand delivering their product to them, attempts at acknowledging customers for their loyalty often pays off. Every personalised connection becomes an experience the customer will never forget (and always keep talking about)!

Here are 8 examples of how successful WOM companies used the tactic of connecting to customers with great success.

featuring customers

1. Moleskine: Featuring Art, drawn on their products by their users!


Moleskine often features budding artists who use Moleskine products on their Instagram. With a reach of 48.6k followers, it’s often an honor for fans of Moleskine to get featured.

Featuring artists not only proves the fact that very talented artists enjoy using Moleskine products, it also establishes a personal connection between Moleskine and its fans, encouraging its fans to share their art on their moleskine books online in hope that it will be featured.

Free publicity and happy customers? Sounds great to me.

2. Ikea: Creating a community for their users to share their latest interior designs

ikea bathrooms sharespace

Ikea created The Sharespace, a place for Ikea fans to share their own spaces at home, browse for inspiration and even discuss interior design tips and tricks! Ikea features different interior designs weekly, from the best-designed bedrooms, bathrooms and even corridors!

There’s even a design blog, run by Ikea, that shares tips and tricks with their fans on how to perfectly style that Ikea drawer you just bought.

This allows fans of ikea to show off how they use ikea’s products creatively, which is obviously great (and free!) publicity for Ikea. Ikea’s fans also feel valued and a part of its community, providing a sense of brand loyalty.

What we can learn: Showing off how your customers use your product in the best way possible not only acts as free advertisement, the featured customer is bound to feel special and acknowledge as well.

letting customers choose

3. Dove: Letting women decide what ads they want to see

dove real beauty campaign

Dove started their ‘Dove campaign for Real Women’ in 2004, and it has grown into one of the most remarkable and unforgettable campaigns ever.

One of the best examples of their fantastic audience engagement was from the ‘Ad Makeover interactive campaign’, which was a venture that allowed women to replace advertisements that tapped onto the beauty insecurities of women (weight loss, cosmetic surgery, ughh..) with one of the eight feel-good messages designed by Dove.

Users could also create their own uplifting images, which Dove would feature on ads (instead of all that nasty stuff).

The results were remarkable: 171 million banners with negative messages were displaced, 5.5 million unique women were reached. And the best result? 71% of women said they felt more beautiful after the campaign.

A campaign that allows you to touch the hearts and minds of women, all over the world – Dove achieved that brilliantly.

4. Buzzfeed: Letting the community create content that they want to see

buzzfeed community content 

Buzzfeed started out by aiming to be website that featured viral content, which makes the premise of the site founded on content created by other people. W

Naturally, it started relying on community-created content to huge success, with some of it’s most popular posts coming from community members rather than staff.

Seeing your own post being shared thousands of times is always incredibly satisfying, which keeps both buzzfeed and their fans very, very happy.

5. Zumba: Give your members multiple roles in the ecosystem and contribute back

 zumba workout members

What happens when you’ve gone for your 500th Zumba lesson, you’ve mastered all the moves and you’re ready for something new? Zumba’s got you. By providing Zumba Instructor tests and certification, even the most avid of Zumba lovers will never get sick of the experience.

This works particularly well as it keeps the supply of Zumba instructors stable, while marketing Zumba as well – if you work hard at it, you can even get good enough to teach it and share the joy! Providing jobs to it’s fans might be the greatest gift, ever.

What we can learn: Want to show or give people content that they actually want? Let them decide it for themselves. This has the added bonus of engaging with your fans, and allows them to feel some ownership to your brand.

something personal

6. Spotify: Delivering users piping-hot, personalised playlists every week

 spotify discover weekly

Spotify realised that in order to differentiate themselves from the many other music streaming services out there, it needed to provide something special – and ‘Discover Weekly’ was one such tool.

Discover Weekly is a playlist that Spotify creates for the user weekly. It provides with the user 2 hours of custom-made music recommendations, and selects those tracks based on the user’s listening history, as well as their friends. As Spotify puts it, “It’s like having your best friend make you a personalised mixtape every single week.” 

Even if it is technically just a bunch of algorithms, the surprise and satisfaction of pulling out your ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist and finding tons of fresh new songs that you really like is unrivalled. 

Personalised music, delivered every week. 

What we can learn: Anything that’s personalised and feels special will always get brownie points in your customer’s eyes.

feel exclusive

7. Nandos: Recognising dedicated fans

 nandos challenge

Who can forget the crazy Nando’s challenge where dining at all the Nando’s outlets in the world would get you a lifetime’s supply of Nando’s? And who else would forget the guy who actually tried to

Publicity events like these have the huge capacity to attract tons of fans, and daredevils that would do their best to finish the challenge (and give your company huge publicity while they try!) It’s not only an affirmation that people really, really like your product, it also allows Nando’s to give back to customers who have been loyal to them.

8. Starbucks: ‘Exclusive’ reward systems for returning customers 

starbucks gold card

Drink Starbucks everyday? Starbucks might thank you for it via it’s exclusive Gold Card. Individuals who have chalked up enough points in their ordinary card can qualify for program.

Qualifying for Gold Card entitles you to one very shiny, personalised Gold Card with your initials, which will be delivered right to your doorstep. It gets your free drinks for less points, special upgrades, complimentary cake and loads more.

Starbucks succeeds by making their loyal customers feel special and exclusive via the special rewards, and keeps them incentivised to keep buying more coffee.

Recap: How these 8 companies meaningfully connected with audiences and generated huge WOM by…

  1. Featuring talented customers using your products
  2. Creating communities for customers to share how they use your products
  3. Letting customers play a role in determining what they want to see
  4. Personalising the product
  5. Letting customers play other roles in the system, like trainers/advocates
  6. Providing exclusive rewards for the most loyal of customers

Melody Madhavan

Melody is a history major and part of the pioneer batch of Yale-NUS College. She hopes to be able to bring forgotten historical narratives back to life, and learn how to make the perfect latte.

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