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For many companies, word-of-mouth marketing is all about using natural conversations to show off new products or services.

Data from Hubspot shows that consumers talk about brands 90 times a week and 90 percent of customers will also trust brand recommendations from friends. This is even more effective with millennials, who rank word of mouth as the top influencer in their purchasing decision.

If done correctly, word-of-mouth marketing should be a low-cost endeavor with a high return on investment, and even in today’s digital world it can still work, as shown by the following companies.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing for Food and Drinks

Wendy’s (Accidental) Word-of-Mouth Marketing Campaign

On April 5, 2017, Twitter user Carter Wilkerson asked Wendy’s a simple question: how many retweets should he get to qualify for a year of free chicken nuggets? The company said 18 million and the rest, as they say, is history.

In the span of a few months, Carter’s request became the most retweeted tweet in history. Many people did it to simply satisfy one man’s quest for free nuggets, but it also brought plenty of brand awareness to Wendy’s.

Today, the people behind the Wendy’s Twitter account continue to attract users to the fast-food chain with clever marketing strategies, which include snarky comments about competitors including…

IHOP Uses Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Spark Fury

For years, IHOP was known primarily for its pancakes, but the company teased a name change to promote its burgers.

The sudden change to IHOB quickly gained attention thanks to social media, which made it a point of conversation at work, drive-time radio, and parties.

As it turns out, IHOP wouldn’t change its name to the International House of Burgers, but it got you talking, didn’t it?

The In-N-Out Secret Menu: Word-of-Mouth Marketing, Animal Style

Since we’re on the subject of restaurants, we might as well talk about In-N-Out, a must-visit destination for those traveling to the west coast and creators of maybe the best word-of-mouth marketing strategy of all time.

The standard menu is simple and cheap, but many people will tell you that the secret menu offers more delectable options.

This simple exchange between In-N-Out veterans and newcomers is one of the reasons why the restaurant continues to attract so many people. The overwhelming popularity of the secret menu also prompted the company to market the “secret menu” as the Not-So-Secret Menu listed publicly on its website.

word-of-mouth marketing
Image courtesy of In-N-Out Burger

A Coke For Everyone

Despite its worldwide fame, Coke still has ways of appealing to new and younger audiences. Most recently, the company launched its “Share A Coke” campaign, which included the names of many people on its cans and bottles.

Lucky fans found their name on the product and posted it on social media, today’s version of word-of-mouth marketing. This prompted other consumers to visit grocery stores in an attempt to find their name among the hundreds of Coke products that lined the shelves.

If you don’t want the hassle of going to numerous stores to find your name on a Coke bottle you can always order it directly from the company.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing for Apps

A Grassroots Tinder Movement

It seems like Tinder arrived on the digital landscape overnight, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Initial brand awareness of Tinder started on college campuses. The app was a hit among students because of its simple swipe feature. These people then told friends and relatives about Tinder when they went home for the holiday break.

By depending on the word-of-mouth testimonials of college students, Tinder became a viral hit and it continues to be one of the most common ways to find relationships.

The Growth of Twitter

Twitter is one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, and it’s thanks to a surge of word-of-mouth popularity during SXSW 2007.

The company asked event organizers to allow flat-panel displays in the hallways of the convention center because the “hallways [were] where the action was.” By telling people via the screens to text “join sxsw” to a number, Twitter was exposed to a larger user base.

A majority of Twitter users at the time were also at SXSW, which also brought more attention to the then-new platform. In the 11 years since that event, the user base grew to encompass hundreds of millions of people from around the world.

Foursquare Uses SXSW To Its Advantage

Twitter wasn’t the only company to use SXSW as a way to get users. Foursquare’s early success was attributed to convention attendees in 2009.

The platform provided a much-needed solution for people at the show. They wanted interaction, but also places to check out in the downtown Austin area. By talking to people at the convention, co-founders Dennis Crawley and Naveen Selvadurai shamelessly plugged the app and encouraged people to try it.

Foursquare continues to be a major platform today, and it’s thanks to an early boost in user numbers.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing for Cars and Clothes

The Start of Under Armour

Under Armour is one of the top sports apparel brands in the world, and the company’s success was based on initial awareness through word-of-mouth marketing. Founder Kevin Plank spread the word about his product by giving it to friends who played football in high school and college.

Some of these players would eventually make their way to prestigious college football programs or NFL teams, which brought more attention to Plank’s new athletic clothing material.

Because of these connections, Plank landed contracts with professional and college teams, which led to Under Armour’s rapid growth into the apparel giant that it is today.

Tesla’s Referral Program

When was the last time you saw an ad for Tesla? The correct answer is never.

The company doesn’t spend money on marketing. Instead, it relies on word-of-mouth marketing to spread the word about its popular electric car.

word-of-mouth marketing
Image courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

Specifically, it uses current Tesla owners as ambassadors of the brand and rewards them for qualified referrals. The company’s referral program provides a few prizes depending on the referrals brought in.

Three referrals will net you early access to the company’s Solar Roof project while five referrals will get an invite to a future Tesla unveiling event.

The prizes are attractive, but using and showing off one of the hottest cars in the industry is enough for Tesla owners to spread the word to their friends and family.

Online Reviews: The New Word-of-Mouth Marketing

The growing popularity of online reviews makes it a new source that people trust when researching for products or services.

Research shows that 72 percent of people see online reviews in the same light as personal recommendations made by friends and family.

Your business is probably listed on multiple reviews sites as a way to gain more exposure and customers. However, it’s difficult to track and respond to critical feedback across different channels.

With a review management platform like ReviewTrackers you can monitor all reviews from a single dashboard, which should make it easier for you to cultivate positive reviews and word of mouth marketing to potential customers.

Rexly Penaflorida II

Rexly is a Content Writer for ReviewTrackers. Prior to creating content that helps businesses, he was a tech and video games journalist for three years. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri's School of Journalism.

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