20 ways you can boost word of mouth referrals today

Word of mouth is your most powerful, and cost-effective form of marketing.

84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family and friends

…making this the most trusted source of information about a product or service (source: Nielson).

How to increase word of mouth?

The best way to prompt word of mouth referrals is through great product/services and customer support.

Brands that inspire a higher emotional intensity receive up to threes times as much word of mouth as less emotionally-connected brands (Source: Keller Fay Group).

Additionally, highly differentiated brands have greater levels of word-of-mouth, as these brands allow consumers to share own sense of uniqueness. (Source: Journal of Marketing Research).

However, you should still be proactive mobilising your customers, turning them into an effective sales force.

50% of people are more likely to give a referral if offered a direct incentive, social recognition or access to an exclusive loyalty program.

39% say monetary or material incentives such as discounts, free swag or gift cards greatly increase their chances of referring a brand. (Source: Software Advice).

Quick and easy wins to increase customer referrals

With all this in mind, here are 20 quick and easy ways you can mobilise your customers to sell for you, and increase word of mouth marketing.

  • Use NPS to highlight your promoters
    Don’t treat your customers like one homogenous mass, pick and choose who you want to spend resources on mobilising


  • Don’t treat all your referrers the same
    Segment your customers based on their referral value (count ands value).


  • The more you love them, the more they will love you
    Send your power customers/VIPs a physical gift bag with exclusive badges, stickers, notepad etc. so they can show off their allegiance with you and feel part of an exclusive club.


  • Set up a monthly/ annual votes driven award
    E.g. ‘Website of the month’ – they can then promote and get people to vote for them.


  • Links in welcome emails
    Dropbox referrals start with their welcome email. They include a link to their storage bonus page with instructions on how to claim it by advertising them via social media or referring a friend. You can do the same!


  • Give customers something physical to pass on
    At the end of your transaction/ correspondence with a customer, send them something tangible they can pass on to friends and family. This can be as simple as a handful of business cards, a leaflet with your contact details or a full blown brochure.


  • Send regular discount/coupon codes
    You can encourage your customers to refer people through financial incentives that they personally benefit from. For example, give them access to coupon codes they can spread around, which in turn gives them money off their next order if someone then uses it.


  • Create a points system
    The more people they refer, the more points they earn, which they can use for future purchases.


  • Gamification
    If you already have a badge system, create one for the number of customers referred.


  • Thank your customer for sending any referrals
    They are much likely to continue if you do. A very simple, but effective idea!


  • Create one click sharing to their social media profile so they don’t even have to type!


  • Educate new customers
    Include a dedicated email about referring customers in your onboarding – new customers are naturally happy with you, they just bought from you!


  • Share this
    Add a form on your order confirmation page to share their purchase (like Amazon).


  • Tier your rewards
    Reward customer based on how many people they refer e.g. 1 – 10 get 5% off, 11 – to get 8% and so on.


  • Run a campaign
    Email your customers with a voucher code they can pass on to their friends and family for a discount.


  • Reward both the referrer and the new customer
    E.g. recommend us to a friend and you’ll both get 50% off your next order.


  • Create a targets
    Give targets for the entire customer base to hit which unlocks a prize or discount e.g. If your customers refer 1,000 new sales in a month they will be entered into prize draws to win some amazing prizes.


  • “Hey, have you seen this?”
    Help your customers start a conversation with their friends by creating content they want to share.


  • Listen to your customers and act
    Brands that actively engage with their customers and make changes based on their feedback are loved forever.


  • Add a social layer to your business
    This could be a forum or BuddyPress, but the idea is the same. Become a hub for your customers to share ideas and help position you as a thought leader.

In summary

I want to emphasise that these ideas are all the icing on the cake. They rely on you having solid foundations, and a product/service that customers are willing to associate themselves with.

They are not substitute for excellent customer service and valuable products and services.

If you already have that in place, then start mobilising your customers, and turn them into an effective sales force.

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