Why Word of Mouth Marketing Is Crucial for Your DTC Brand’s Success

April 19, 2023

Why Word of Mouth Marketing is Crucial for Your DTC Brands Success word of mouth marketing

People love to talk. They’ll talk about the good, the bad, and, especially, the ugly.How does the old saying go? All PR is good PR?

That may be the case in some industries, but in ecommerce, the name of the game is generating a healthy, positive buzz about your brand.

That’s why DTC brands are increasingly turning to word of mouth (WOM) marketing as a powerful tool to increase brand recognition, trust, and sales.

So how do you get your word of mouth flywheel going for your brand?

Today, we’ll cover the various types of WOM marketing, the benefits it can provide for DTC brands, examples of successful campaigns, and more.

Here we go ⬇️

Table of contents

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Harness the power of word of mouth marketing<cta-title>Design pages that convert and create a buzz around your brand. Start building for free

What is word of mouth marketing?

Word of mouth marketing is a strategy to drum up natural conversations and recommendations for a product or company. In other words, it’s getting folks to talk about your brand and products authentically in everyday dialogues.

WOM marketing is an effective way to reach new customers and build your brand through personal recommendations—a challenge to do through traditional ad channels.


Well, shoppers listen to the recommendations of those in their circles, and even those of strangers a la customer reviews more often than the brands themselves.

In fact, one customer study found that only 34% of participants have trust in a brand they’ve used, despite 81% saying trust is a deciding factor in purchase decisions.

You cannot control the reality that customers might talk about your brand. However, you can control their experience.

A positive interaction with your brand—whether it be completing a purchase or just browsing your site—will influence your brand’s sentiment (and how customers talk about you).

What makes for a successful word of mouth marketing campaign?

Of course, you can’t make people ‌talk about you, but you can create engaging online shopping experiences that get them talking.

Let’s cover a few components of any great word of mouth marketing campaign.

Engaging site content that anticipates customer needs

With 40% of customers shopping entirely online, creating an excellent ecommerce experience is table stakes.

An online shopping experience that includes quality visuals, clear calls-to-action, engaging product pages with plenty of details, and an easy-to-use checkout is the simple formula for a great ecommerce site.

For example, GE Appliances understands that buying appliances online can be daunting. So, their product landing pages focus on providing ample detail (both visual and textual).

GE Appliances Product Page word of mouth marketing

GE Appliances Product Page 2 word of mouth marketing

What’s more, if shoppers decide they want to see the product IRL before buying, they have the option to find a store nearest them with the product in stock.

GE Appliances Product Page 3 word of mouth marketing

A rewards program that encourages customers to share their experiences

Encouraging customers to share their thoughts in exchange for points or rewards is a great way to build up your word of mouth marketing.

For example, skincare brand Blume launched Blumetopia, a rewards system that allows shoppers to collect points as they complete different actions.

Blumetopia Rewards Program word of mouth marketing
The Blumetopia landing page is clear, engaging, and gives shoppers a run-down of the program that’s easy to understand.

Customers can get points for leaving reviews, making it a win-win situation for both Blume and customers.

Plus, 68% of customers will spend more to unlock certain reward benefits. So not only is a rewards program great for your word of mouth marketing strategy, it’s great for your bottom line.

Benefits of word of mouth marketing

Investing in word of mouth marketing means creating yet another revenue-driving channel for your brand.

By making it a no-brainer for loyal customers to sing your praises to other potential customers, you can boost your revenue and audience base.

Let’s look at the four core benefits of word of mouth marketing:

1. Fosters an authentic connection with customers

One of the biggest benefits of word of mouth marketing is forming a natural bond with potential customers by leveraging social proof.

By sharing positive experiences from real people who have used the item or service, DTC brands can demonstrate how their products are assisting real individuals tackle real problems.

This type of personalized communication generates an atmosphere around the brand which helps separate them from competitors and motivates customers to become devoted proponents for your business.

2. Develop trust and credibility

It’s nearly impossible to replicate the kind of trust between family or friends in traditional advertising.

One customer’s recommendation carries more weight than any ad since there is no reason for them to rave about your product unless they genuinely mean it.

What’s more, shoppers will trust the opinion of a complete stranger over a brand’s; good reviews and ratings are the second leading reason why customers trust brands.

Why Customers Trust Brands Marketing Charts word of mouth marketing
Source: Marketing Charts

Word of mouth marketing facilitates much-needed trust demanded by customers.

3. Enhance existing campaigns

WOM marketing is a great way to boost your other marketing campaigns due to the added reach they provide.

When shoppers share their experiences with your brand unprompted online or in conversations with family and friends, they act as influencers for your brand.

This can lead to customers (who might not know about your brand otherwise) connecting with you online and seeing your latest campaign.

4. Increase website traffic and conversions

More people talking about your brand in a positive light can mean more traffic to your site. And more eyes on your site can lead to a boost in your bottom line.

But if your brand makes a point of collecting and displaying customer reviews, it can have a profound impact on your conversion rate.

In fact, research shows that customers read at least 12 reviews before making a purchase.

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Boost your brand’s visibility with word of mouth marketing<cta-title>Create pages that convert and let your happy customers do the talking. Start building for free

Types of word of mouth marketing

There are several types of word of mouth marketing to consider.

When used together, you can create a powerful flywheel that keeps customers chatting (in a good way 😉).

Let’s look at each type ranked by impact for ecommerce.

1. Organic word of mouth marketing

Organic word of mouth marketing involves customers sharing their experiences with a product or brand without any incentives.

Because customers aren’t incentivized to share their thoughts, they can share their honest, unbiased opinion with their circles—on social media or IRL.

This type of word of mouth marketing is the most authentic way for new customers to learn about your brand.

2. Incentivized word of mouth marketing

This kind of word of mouth marketing uses rewards like discounts or points to motivate customers to spread the word about a brand.

Incentivized programs (like the Blumetopia example above) are highly effective in two ways:

  1. Customers directly benefit from sharing their experiences with points, discounts, or some kind of reward
  2. Brands collect reviews and user-generated content while learning about customers’ experiences with both their products and branded channels

Plus, with the average US consumer belonging to nearly 17 loyalty programs, it’s clear shoppers love a chance to save, earn, or both.

3. Referral word of mouth marketing

Referral WOM marketing is similar to the incentivized type, but slightly different.

This type usually involves brands giving customers a unique link or code to share with family and friends they can use to receive a discount or some kind of benefit.

Programs like the Amazon Associates Program fuel this kind of WOM. People sign up for the program and share products through a customized link.

amazon affiliate word of mouth marketing

This kind of word of mouth marketing feeds into influencer territory (which we’ll get to in a minute!), but customers don’t have to be an influencer with a huge following to participate.

However, they do ‌have to have some kind of qualified website traffic to be eligible for sign-up.

A great example of this in action is if you search “kitchen restock” or “pantry restock” on social media platforms.

You’re bound to see hundreds (if not thousands) of videos of users—influencers and non-influencers alike—stocking their kitchens with products they’ve purchased on Amazon.

LGQUEEN Home Decor YouTube Channel word of mouth marketing
Source: LGQUEEN Home Decor on YouTube

Notice how many views this video has…2.9 million 🤯

LGQUEEN Home Decor includes her unique Amazon store link in the video description, so it’s easy for viewers to see the products in the video and buy them, earning her a commission.

4. Influencer word of mouth marketing

Last but not least, influencer marketing involves working with popular social media users to promote your products.

Brands typically work with influencers on campaigns like sharing their experience with the brand and or products, an unboxing, some kind of “challenge,” or simply the influencer talking about it to their followers.

Mikayla Nogueira TikTok word of mouth marketing
Caption: Beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira posted a TikTok of herself trying on Rare Beauty’s Soft Pinch Lip Oils and announcing a giveaway in partnership with the brand as well.

Working with influencers can be a powerful tool for any brand looking to build more authentic relationships with customers who align with their values.

5. Social media word of mouth marketing

Though the social media waters have been choppier and more uncertain than ever, there’s no denying these platforms are still great places to build your customer base.

Youngblood to the social platform scene, TikTok, has certainly become a go-to channel for customer engagement, brand awareness, and audience building.

Plus, social media is where people go to rant, rave, and review (outside of review platforms like Google Reviews). Social media platforms are a great way to learn about what people are saying about your brand.

They’re also a great place to collect that coveted social proof.

The thing about social media (especially organic) is that it’s not enough to only post about your brand. You’ve got to engage with your audience.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Reply to comments and DMs in a timely manner
  • Share exclusive info about sales, upcoming drops, etc., exclusively on your social channels so brand fans are encouraged to follow you
  • Post engaging content customers want to see, like polls, quizzes, and style guides

6. Content marketing

Content links your brand and audience together. It’s a great way to connect with your customers in a way that goes far beyond, “I’m selling this product you might like.”

It’s a community driver.

The foundation of strong content marketing is providing value—whether that be education, solving a problem, or making people happy.

Best of all, content comes in all shapes and sizes—blog posts, live streams, try-ons, new arrival hauls, how-tos, and so much more.

Get creative with your content, see what resonates best with your audience, and build from there.

A great example of this is from Rumpl. Rumpl launched the Rumpl Artist Division (RAD) that features designs from incredible creators on Rumpl’s iconic technical blankets.

Rumpl Artist Division word of mouth marketing

Rumpl Artist Division 2 word of mouth marketing
Source: Rumpl

Not only is this a creative way to make unique products, but it pulls in the audiences of the featured artists, building Rumpl’s customer base further.

This way, Rumpl connects with customers they might otherwise not have who align with their values while building a strong, genuine community around their brand.

#cta-mini-pb#See how Rumpl boosted their conversion rate by 20% with Shogun Page Builder. Read more

How to build a successful word of mouth campaign

So, we’ve covered the types and benefits of a great word of mouth marketing campaign, but how do you build one?

Let’s look at four ways you can rev up your WOM marketing today.

1. Identify influencers with followings that align with your brand

Collaborating with influencers is a great way to create positive conversations around your brand. But working with influencers is by no means a set-it-and-forget-it approach.

It’s a partnership.

As we discussed above, working with influencers can be a great way to reach audiences you might not otherwise have access to—that is, if you work with the right influencers.

When researching potential influencers to partner with, think about these questions:

  • Do they have an audience that would find value in your product?
  • What kind of a relationship do they have with their followers?
  • Does this influencer align with your brand values?

We recommend finding and managing influencer relationships through tools like #paid, which we’ll discuss in more detail later!

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Create buzz-worthy ecommerce experiences<cta-title>Create pages that convert and let your happy customers do the talking. Start building for free

2. Establish a referral program

What better way to encourage positive conversations around your brand than by rewarding your biggest fans?

Referral programs are a great way to reward your super fans while introducing new customers to your brand/product, often at a lower or discounted price.

They pave the way for repeat purchases.

For example, luxury underwear brand LIVELY refreshed their referral program and saw a 21% increase in AOV and a 37% increase in repeat purchase.

“We recently revamped our loyalty program, the LIVELY Rewards, and have seen the percentage of online purchases using a LoyaltyLion code double,” said Michelle Cordeiro Founder and CEO at LIVELY. “Also, our active loyalty program members are now two times more likely to purchase compared to non-members.”

Offering incentives for customers who refer or share content related to your brand not only shows that you appreciate them, but will encourage them to continue sharing.

3. Collect user-generated content

You can spark conversations about your brand without links or referrals, too.

How? By capturing user-generated content (UGC).

UGC increases product and brand awareness while boosting engagement. It’s another organic way for customers to learn about your brand.

Plus, it makes for great website and social media content!

A great example of this is Liquid Death.

They’ve compiled customer videos and made a highlight reel of sorts that lives in the header of the homepage of their website.

Liquid Death 1 word of mouth marketing
Source: Liquid Death

This video is a great way to communicate their brand ethos as well.

As Liquid Death’s manifesto states, “Our evil mission is to make people laugh and get more of them to drink more water more often, all while helping to kill plastic pollution.”

This comes through in the UGC they feature across their marketing channels, and doing so has certainly created quite the buzz.

4 Tools for implementing word of mouth strategies

To get the most out of your word of mouth marketing campaigns, consider investing in software that will track conversions, help your team build campaigns, and measure overall WOM success.


LoyaltyLion word of mouth marketing

LoyaltyLion has long been a pillar in the referral and loyalty marketing space for Shopify brands.

With LoyaltyLion, you can launch needle-moving points and rewards programs and referral systems.

Their suite of customizations and integrations makes it easy to get up and running with your ecommerce stack in no time.

Pricing for LoyaltyLion starts at $399/month.


ReferralCandy word of mouth marketing

ReferralCandy helps brands build strong word of mouth marketing strategies through—you guessed it—referrals.

Your brand can quickly and easily create revenue-driving campaigns with ReferralCandy’s customizable templates, embedded sign-up forms, and best-in-class support.

Pricing for ReferralCandy starts at $47/month (billed yearly).

Shogun Page Builder

Shogun Page Builder 1 word of mouth marketing

Creating custom site content that differentiates your brand from competitors is the name of the game.

Page builder tools like Shogun enable ecommerce teams to simplify their workflows to launch pages quicker.

Choose from our 70+ readymade templates or build your own page from scratch using our drag-and-drop elements.

You know your customers better than anyone, and delivering an A+ ecommerce experience that fits their needs is a surefire way to drum up positive WOM conversations.

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Build landing pages that convert<cta-title>Create and customize landing pages with all the vital elements for conversions—or build a fabulous homepage quickly.Start designing today


hashtagpaid word of mouth marketing

#paid is another valuable platform to consider when creating successful WOM campaigns.

Their focus on creators > influencers suggests a bespoke approach to brand collaborations and generating buzz.

With #paid, brands get matched with creators based on criteria you set. From there, creators selected from a match list unique to your brand can pitch you campaign ideas.

#paid also allows you to chat directly with your creators, so all comms are centralized and everyone is on the same page—a recipe for WOM marketing success!

Pricing for #paid starts at $499/month with a three-month commitment.

Examples of successful word of mouth campaigns

Word of mouth marketing campaigns come in all shapes and sizes, as we’ve seen so far. But let’s dive into a few of the most memorable, conversation-provoking campaigns.

Lay’s ‘Smiles for Miles of Aisles’ campaign

There’s no question that the world as a collective needed more reasons to smile in 2020.

Lay’s launched their ‘Smiles for Miles of Aisles’ campaign which included printing smiles of “30 ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their communities.”

Smile With Lays word of mouth marketing

Source: PR Newswire

The campaign was to directly benefit Operation Smile with proceeds up to $1 million dollars.

Across Lay’s social channels, the brand highlighted these 30 community pillars and the incredible things they do—helping the houseless, veterans, youth, and elderly—to inspire hope across the world.

The response was overwhelmingly positive and had thousands of people talking about and sharing their photos with the smile chip bags.

Wendy’s viral social media

Sometimes you launch a single campaign that goes viral, and sometimes your entire brand becomes a viral sensation.

For years now, Wendy’s social media channels have been, well, a little unhinged—as the kids say. But it’s been working for them.

The start of it all was Wendy’s response to this tweet in 2017:

Wendys Viral Tweet word of mouth marketing
Source: Carter Wilkerson on Twitter

The tweet generated a mind-bending three million retweets and nearly 900k likes—the mark of an ultra-viral word of mouth marketing campaign.

Since, Wendy’s social channels include roasts, pop culture references, and memes galore. They’ve cemented themselves as a brand free of corporate norms often found with public-facing, branded accounts and it continues to drive high engagement.

Word of mouth marketing FAQs

Why is word of mouth marketing so effective?

Word of mouth marketing is a form of social proof rooted in trust among potential and existing customers. Shoppers are more likely to buy from a brand they’ve heard about through a trusted source, rather than the brand itself.

It’s also a cost-effective way to spread the word about your brand to folks you might not otherwise reach in comparison to traditional advertising methods.

What are the pros and cons of using word of mouth marketing?

The leading benefit of word of mouth marketing is that is rooted in authenticism. These conversations are had by real people with real opinions about a product or brand.

However, it can be challenging to measure the direct conversations without the right tooling.

How does word of mouth advertising compare to traditional advertising?

Data confirms that people trust recommendations from trusted sources like friends and family over recommendations from brands themselves.

Traditional advertising usually relies on visuals like logos or images that don’t always resonate with customers, whereas word of mouth marketing is much more organic.

Incorporating word of mouth marketing into your overall brand strategey

Creating online experiences that get people talking about your brand in a positive way can have a lasting impact on your bottom line.

The more people sharing about how great you are can mean an uptick in your customer base.

But measuring how often people talk about your brand in everyday conversations is nearly impossible, which is why leveraging loyalty and referral programs can be a great way to gauge success.

Building a buzz-worthy brand starts with a customized ecommerce channel.

Using a tool with drag-and-drop functionality like Shogun Page Builder enables your team to create engaging site content without code.

#cta-visual-pb#<cta-title>Harness the power of word of mouth marketing<cta-title>Design pages that convert and create a buzz around your brand. Start building for free

Kaitlyn Ambrose

Kaitlyn works on all things content at Shogun. ⚡

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