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78% of people rave about their favorite recent experiences to people they know at least once per week. Surely this is a good enough indicator of why ecommerce brands should double down on word-of-mouth marketing. But that’s not all, we could go on and on about why word-of-mouth marketing matters so much to brands in this era—brand discovery, brand consideration, influencer on purchase—but we’ll let the examples speak for themselves.
Here are four ecommerce brands on Shopify that have outdone the usual word-of-mouth marketing and from which your brand can learn from.
Maude has an interesting way of bringing customers back with their referral program—that’s because they’ve rewarded them with points instead of giving them the cash back. For every $5 an advocate gives to a friend, advocates get 50 points back in their account. A point system works especially well if your brand has established a strong relationship with your community and in this case, it’s a definite yes from Maude.
Where do these points go? The automatic assumption is that there’s a certain level of affinity between the advocate and Maude and hence inserting the perks of a loyalty program here would amplify that effect. Advocates that are successful in referring friends can earn unlimited points that go to their individual loyalty accounts. Those points allow them to redeem Maude’s products—which they already are presumably huge fans of.
Things we like about how they’ve promoted their referral and loyalty program? They’ve made it pretty clear in their navigation bar that they’re giving back to their loyal fans, with both call-to-action buttons.
And here’s how we know they’ve built a strong community for their case—their blog, also known as The Maudern. They’ve created quality content around sexual wellness, providing facts about various aspects including health, relationships, science, etc. All of which are again redistributed on their social media platforms and to generate discussions. Again these tactics work in the favor of leveraging their existing word-of-mouth marketing channels.
Baleaf is a contemporary activewear brand that has created a sustainable way to keep up with fitness trends without having to stockpile new gear for every activity. Calling out all fitness junkies that love the excitement and adrenaline rush of trying out something different each time.
What’s prominent about their word-of-mouth strategy is that they have a well-established affiliate program. And it’s very much visible on their store homepage.
Their affiliate program doubles up as a community—where individuals come together to share their passion for sports. It’s great way to instil the brand loyalty by leveraging a common goal and bond. As it says on their affiliate program page, “Get to know more people by sharing your love for baleaf. Our alliance are an extension of baleaf and represents our brand through social outreach, community engagement, and innovation."
It doesn’t just stop there with the community, Baleaf also encourages active engagement with the brand and “alliance” by providing amazing perks. Exclusive community access, discounts, free products, receive sponsorship, and more.
The ecommerce brand also has a referral program that rewards existing customers for sharing their love for the brand with their friends and loved ones. Since customers already love the brand, it’s likely that they’ll be sharing about how great the products are with others. Why not reinforce that behavior by providing incentives to further motivate them? And that’s exactly what Baleaf is doing with their referral program!
Even on their social media platforms, Baleaf actively shares about their community through their stories and highlights. They also frequently post their customers wearing the activewear, not just on Instagram but even on their website.
There’s an entire page dedicated to loyal fans of the brand and they’ve made it interactive so that potential customers can even “Shop The Look” from their community. While this doesn’t require any “words” to spread the hype about the products, the user-generated content is good enough evidence of how much people are enjoying Baleaf’s activewear.
This sustainable home care product community is a huge one and dropps has been playing an active role in this space. Similar to the previous brands mentioned above, they’ve really been pushing hard on their word-of-mouth channels. There’s a whole segment in their footer just dedicated to “Sharing The Love”.
We love how they have different channels for different target audiences. First up, is their referral program. Their incentive for advocates alone is more than enough to cover a box of laundry detergent pods—that’s pretty enticing. It’s nice how they played on the altruistic side of helping the environment by sharing their product with friends and family.
For individuals that are slightly more committed to the whole sustainable environment movement, and have bigger followings on their blogs, social media, and YouTube, dropps has an affiliate program for them. While it works on a commission basis, individuals are more likely to be motivated by the fact that dropps gives back to the community through their partnership with Oceana. Think of this as a second-tier amplification of their brand, products, and mission on a higher level.
And lastly, for individuals that just love the products so much that it makes sense for them to be ambassadors, dropps has a program for them too. In this case, there’s no cash reward or incentive, instead, they get points in their accounts or discounts for their next purchase.
But hold up, who said that word-of-mouth marketing channels had to be only via referral programs, ambassador programs and affiliate programs? Dropps’ packaging and unboxing itself is a word-of-mouth channel. It speaks for itself by clearly stating its ingredient list and source. And there’s product education on the packaging as well. If we’re talking about reusing the packaging for other purposes rather than throwing it away, then dropps has pretty good suggestions from their customers that they share on their Instagram too.
This ecommerce soft drink brand took a different approach to word-of-mouth marketing. We shared about brands doing referral marketing, affiliate marketing, etc. But Punchy collaborated with their favorite photographers on user-generated content for their Instagram.
As part of their relaunch for “Liquid Sunshine”, they engaged three photographers to focus on one flavor each, and to capture the essence of their interpretation of that flavor. And this was well-received judging by the sparked discussions in the comments under the posts. It’s an interesting take because rather than going through the same ‘journey’ that most businesses do, they’ve tried something different and it works for them.
Of course, with that said, Punchy also has an ambassador program where they feature these ambassadors, hold product giveaways, provide exclusive discount codes and also open up collaboration opportunities.
Word-of-mouth marketing is the future
Build trust. Leverage social proof. Be human. Word-of-mouth marketing encapsulates these elements which are important for ecommerce and DTC brands to capture the attention of the consumers in this era.
Gen Z and millennials are the main target audience and they pick which brands they support. Rather than trying to build that trust from scratch, it might make more sense to work with customers that are already loyal to the brand and reach out to the people around them.
Bear in mind word-of-mouth is not just a one-dimensional channel. Sure customer acquisition may have the most direct and visible impact on your sales, but the improved brand affinity that comes along with strong word-of-mouth marketing goes an even longer way in your brand’s growth.
If you're interested in trying out a referral program to boost your current word-of-mouth marketing efforts, here's a quick Shopify setup.
Here are some relevant articles to help you build a strong word-of-mouth marketing strategy:
- Word-of-Mouth Marketing: A Complete Guide (2021)
- 10+ Top Ecommerce Referral Programs to Learn From
- How to Use Referral Marketing to Scale Your Organic Customer Acquisition
- How to Start Influencer Marketing for Your Ecommerce Business (With Examples!)
- How to Collaborate With Influencers Besides Sponsoring Posts