Why Marketing Automation Should Be a Priority If You Want To Drive WOM

Tina Donati
Tina Donati
September 26, 2022
2 min read
Why Marketing Automation Should Be a Priority If You Want To Drive WOM

In this article

We all know how important word-of-mouth marketing is for a brand’s growth. In fact, it’s the most influential psychological driver for anyone making a purchase.

20% of North Americans who became aware of a product through word-of-mouth made the purchase instantaneously. Additionally, word-of-mouth affects the purchase decision of 54% of consumers

Unfortunately, though, word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing is difficult to scale—data is hard to track, and because of this marketers tend to focus on other tasks. 

Thankfully, there are ways you can drive WOM without taking time away from your other tasks. It’s through something called automation.

You’ve probably heard of it before, but aren’t quite sure how it applies to your brand, right? As an automation expert, I’ve heard this time and time again from marketers, founders, and operators of many ecommerce brands.

If you fall in that category, then this article is for you. 

Here’s the truth… You can’t control how people talk about your brand, but you can control the experience you give each person. WOM marketing and your customer experience (CX) go hand-in-hand. That’s why this article is going to show you how to level up your CX with automation to drive more WOM.

Even as a lean team, you can build up your CX and run memorable campaigns—without adding extra effort or time to your busy schedule.

Have I piqued your interest? Great. Keep reading.

The benefits of automating your WOM marketing channels

We all know the benefits of word-of-mouth marketing: it improves brand discovery, helps you beat competitors, and influences purchase decisions. Not to mention, it’s an organic channel with a high return on investment if you scale it successfully. 

But why should you implement automation on the channels that drive WOM? Here are a few reasons:

1. You can make data-driven decisions about your WOM channels

We all know what it feels like to discover a metric in your reports that doesn’t add up… You’re stuck spending the next few hours (or days) trying to understand why the numbers are wrong. And, usually, the culprit is due to a data silo.  

Data silos are created when you use tools that aren’t integrated together. Because of this, your team is manually pulling information from a variety of sources and compiling it together. Without realizing it, they make a manual error, and then they’re stuck trying to discover where the discrepancy came from.

With automation, you can build workflows to pull metrics from various tools in your tech and automatically send it to a Google Sheet, your Shopify account, or another data software—all in real time. 

Your team can easily access this data to make smarter business decisions about the WOM channels they should double down on and why. Additionally, they can earn time back from not having to track down why their reports are wrong.

2. Your team can earn valuable time back

Imagine if your word-of-mouth marketing engine could run on autopilot: your campaigns send at the right times, and you get to spend your time focusing on other initiatives. 

Automation is exactly how marketers like you are able to accomplish so much in their day.  

For example, you can trigger responses based on actions shoppers take on your site, automatically respond to important questions and inquiries, collect and organize reviews, and even segment customers based on buyer profile data. 

These tasks usually require someone on your team to operate manually, but automation takes them off your plate for good. You can do more with less. 

3. You can scale your WOM channel faster 

As you automate more parts of your marketing and operations, you’ll be able to take on more tasks without relying on more resources or budget. 

Think about all of the ways you’ve been wanting to personalize your email flows… Or how you’ve wanted to improve your customer support. These experiences have a direct impact on how satisfied customers are with your brand.  

So if you can take on more—without needing more—you can improve your CX channels with minimal effort, deliver a quicker time to value for each shopper and scale your word-of-mouth engine organically. 

The must-have channels you should be automating 

As an expert in ecommerce automation, there are a few must-have marketing channels I recommend if you want to increase your brand’s word-of-mouth, including 

  • Email and SMS 
  • Referrals and loyalty
  • Influencer and UGC 
  • Reviews 

I’ll explain why these channels are critical and show you a few ways you can automate them using Alloy (an ecommerce automation platform that I’m familiar with). 

Email & SMS 

Marketers use automation for their email and SMS channels to remove tedious tasks, like organizing data, so they can offer personalized experiences without needing more resources. 

These personalized shopping experiences drive loyalty—and loyalty is how you drive word-of-mouth. According to Segment, 60% of consumers are more likely to become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience with a retailer. And brands that offer positive experiences receive 3X more word-of-mouth.

But here’s the catch: personalization requires a lot of manual work. 

However, automation allows brands to create these experiences without investing too much time. I’ll give you some examples… 

Sample workflows brands have built: 

  • Create automated flows tailored toward segments or via customer actions: This could include sending transactional updates, winback campaigns with upsells from customer tags, product education after a first-time purchase, or loyalty program updates (number of redeemable points and product suggestions to use them on). 
  • Combine email and SMS triggers: build a multi-step workflow that includes both email and SMS touchpoints, so you can reach customers at the right time and through the right channel. 
  • Segment shoppers based on zero-party data: For example, you can build a VIP list, organize customers by their preferences, or split shoppers between first-time and repeat buyers. 

Here’s what a workflow that segments customers into Klaviyo lists by specific tags looks like in Alloy:

Referrals & Loyalty 

Customers who are a part of your loyalty program are 70% more likely to refer your brand to others. And you can automate many parts of your loyalty and referral program so your customer retention takes care of itself. 

That means you don’t have to worry about CRM updates, customer tagging, API integrations, or even certain communication (for new sign-ups, milestones, and rewards).

Sample workflows brands have built:

  • Automatically send thank you messages: When a new customer signs up for your program or when they refer a friend to your brand who uses the referral code, you can trigger a message to thank them.
  • Flag fraudulent referrals: Are customers shipping to the same address but referring themselves by using different emails? Are their friends purchasing so they get the referral benefit, but then returning the item right away? It’s hard to track this manually, but automation can help make sure you aren’t being hit with referral fraud.
  • Send free gifts or offer discounts to certain members: You can automate the process of adding little freebies into loyalty members’ packages or send them a discount based on the number of points they have.

Here’s an example of a workflow in Alloy that adds a free gift to certain orders: 

Reviews & UGC 

According to G2, 95% of customers read reviews before making a purchase. That means positive reviews and user-generated content is often the difference between a new customer and an abandoned cart. 

Automation tools help you scale reviews and UGC collection—without scaling your team. How? You can trigger requests based on customer actions, incentivize a customer for the content (if you want), and sync that information with any other marketing tool you use. 

Additionally, you can automate internal communication around your reviews. For example, set up a Slack channel to get notified when a new review is created. You can also send reviews to a Google Sheet to keep track of which customers are leaving reviews and on what products. This can help you make smarter decisions about your best-selling products and high AOV customers.

Sample workflows brands have built:

  • Manage and segment reviews: Once per day, trigger a workflow that runs through all of your recent reviews and appends them onto a Google Sheet.
  • Invite customers to make a review: After a customer’s package arrives, send an email to them after a certain amount of days and ask them to review the product. 
  • Follow up on reviews: Anytime a new review is made—whether it’s positive or negative—you can follow up with the customer. Thank them for the review, and if it’s negative you can ask about how you can improve the product or experience. 

To see a workflow that automatically follows up on reviews, check out this example made in Alloy below. 

The automation triggers when a new review is made, syncs the review data with Omnisend, splits the review between positive or negative using an if-else condition block, then emails the customer based on their response.

Bonus channels to improve your CX and drive word-of-mouth

The truth is, you can automate every part of your business—not just your marketing channels.

In my opinion, there are other channels that are just as important for driving word-of-mouth because they directly contribute to whether or not your customers have a positive experience with your brand.

Customer support

Customer support reps are under a lot of pressure: if a customer feels satisfied with their interaction with your business, 96% will return and will be more likely to tell the people around them about their experience.

The best way to help your reps is by making sure your support platform has all important customer data readily available to them. Most customer support platforms have basic integrations and standard automation functionality for simple tasks like collecting NPS scores, but you don’t have to be limited by that. 

Sample workflows brands have built:

  • Automate responding to common questions: The most popular question a CS team gets is “where’s my order?” You can automate responding to this question—and never leave a customer waiting. 
  • Create satisfaction survey reports at a set time: What are you doing with your NPS data? On a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you can take all this data and build a full report to learn which customers had a positive experience versus those who did not.
  • Sync data to your support platform: Any customer information you have from any platform (ESP, loyalty, paid ads, etc) can automatically be sent to your help desk, so your CS team has access to key information about a customer the moment they create a ticket. 

This is what it would look like to pull order and tracking information from Shipbob into Gorgias, for example:

Subscriptions 

Subscription platforms typically integrate directly with ecommerce platforms and CRMs to transfer data like payment processing, churn or downgrades, and checkout information. Yet even with these basic integrations, managing multiple pricing models can become complex. 

With automation, your subscription program can operate a lot smoother while improving your customer experience. For example, with minimal effort, you can upsell them into more expensive tiers, and retain them on your program longer—all through hands-off automated workflows.

Sample workflows brands have built:

  • Reach out to churned subscription customers: Ask these customers for feedback about their experience, or try to win them back with a special offer.
  • Reward recurring customers: Brands do this by adding surprise gifts to packages, rewarding them with bonus loyalty points, sharing a discount, or giving other incentives to prove loyalty back to the subscription user.
  • Automatically swap SKUs: If your subscription program offers customers a new product to try every month, it shouldn’t be difficult to manage. Automation allows you to rotate through your products to make sure customers aren’t getting repeat items from one month to the next.

Here’s a quick video walkthrough on creating an SKU-swapping workflow: 

Operations (fulfillment, shipping, logistics) 

Anyone who works in ecommerce knows how much of a headache the operations side of the business can be. From shipping delays, out-of-stock products, and orders not being fulfilled properly, customers can be in for a frustrating experience. 

Thankfully, there are many ways to automate the shipping and fulfillment process to improve how quickly orders are fulfilled and delivered to customers.

Sample workflows brands have built:

  • Send personalized collateral with packages: Based on customer data or order tags, you can automate telling your warehouse to add notes, letters, or educational collateral in certain packages. 
  • Speed up shipping delays by automating tasks that become bottlenecks: You can easily fix bad addresses, confirm high-risk orders, generate pick lists for warehouse workers, and do any other tasks that are slowing down your shipping process.
  • Generate monthly inventory reports: Automatically retrieve a list of your products, loop through each product and variant, retrieve all the inventory levels, and record the information in a tool like Airtable.

Here’s what a monthly inventory report workflow would look like: 

How L’AMARUE is using automation to drive WOM marketing

Now that you’ve seen the ways you can automate your ecommerce brand to improve your WOM, let’s look at how one skincare brand has implemented this for their business.

L’AMARUE sells effective, easy-to-use products for the full spectrum of skincare. Each product is formulated around their patent-pending all-natural Heart to Heart Complex® to help customers create a healthier relationship with their skin.

Even though this brand is doing a lot with its marketing and operations, there are only two people behind-the-scenes: a mother and a daughter who co-founded the business together.

As a company being run only by two people, automation was necessary to create a personalized customer experience: “Automation can be hugely helpful for brands trying to build their word-of-mouth because of the endless different CX journeys that you can create with it,” said Co-Founder Ande Sozzi. 

At the beginning of their automation journey, Ande and her mom, Nicole Manke, started with just three workflows. In their opinion, these three workflows alone are saving them over 12 hours every week

Now, with additional automations set up, you can only imagine how much these two are accomplishing with extra time…

So what are Ande and Nicole automating? Here’s a quick list: 

  • Purchase orders: L’amarue has a single Google Sheet as its source of truth, which includes all of the ingredients the team has in stock and the quantity of each. If there’s an ingredient in the sheet that dips below a certain amount, a workflow triggers a purchase order by creating an invoice in QuickBooks. 
  • Physical pamphlets: Since every skin concern requires a specific product (and education on how to use that product), Ande came up with the idea of giving customers a physical pamphlet in their orders based on their skin concerns. They automate this process by sending customer tags to Shopify and Shipbob.
  • Referrals: L’AMARUE has a “Friends and Family” referral program, and they decided to be strategic about who they share it with. If particular data suggests that a customer would be likely to share L’AMARUE, they’ll automatically send that information to Gorgias and reach out to that customer on a certain date.
  • Customer-based landing page data: L’AMARUE built landing pages for specific skincare pain points (for example, autoimmune skin concerns). By using the traffic source and content on these pages, Ande built pop-ups to split out Klaviyo and Postscript segments based on the pain point the customer has. 

And how do these workflows directly impact L’AMARUE’s word-of-mouth? It all comes down to CX. 

“At the end of the day, anything you can do to become friendly with your customers and delight them goes a long way towards word-of-mouth. The more positive things they experience with you, the more they will talk about you to other people. Everyone wants to share good things with people they care about.”  - Ande Sozzi

Automation will drive word-of-mouth without you working harder

Feeling a bit of information overload? I understand. There’s just so much to learn about automation! 

Thankfully, you can keep learning. I’m going to share some tools that were mentioned in this article that can help you get started: 

And if you feel like you need to learn more about word-of-mouth marketing first, no problem. 

Check out these articles: 

Tina Donati
Tina Donati

Tina Donati is writer, storyteller, and ecommerce enthusiast. With over five years of writing experience, she currently works full time as the content marketing lead at Alloy Automation, while running a freelance writing business with clients in the ecommerce B2B SaaS and agency niche. Living and breathing content 24/7, Tina has worked with clients across the globe. She holds a Master’s degree in journalism and communications, which has helped her combine advanced storytelling and investigative journalism techniques to hunt down credible sources for her writing. Passions aside from writing? Geeking out over SEO, walking her dogs, and hunting for the best burrito.

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