Growth hack: word of mouth marketing in a hyper-connected world

Growth hack: word of mouth marketing in a hyper-connected world

The ultimate marketing campaign spreads messages organically and exponentially. Here, word of mouth is the ideal channel, but how can you leverage it? This article reviews our top four hacks and shows why brands with purpose have the edge.

According to a Nielsen consumer report, the most trusted form of advertising is a friend’s recommendation, with 83% trusting word of mouth marketing for buying decisions. The report also found that people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.

To make the point, just consider which of the following you would be more inclined to believe:

>    A company you have no association with say that the products they produce are great.

>    A person you know, love, respect and trust tell you that a product they’ve just bought is great?

Word of mouth marketing is one of the most potent marketing channels you own. The only problem—you don’t really own it. But while you can’t directly control what others say about you, you can influence it.

There are two things to bear in mind.

1) Exceptional customer service leads to happy customers.

If you can go beyond that everyday 5-star rating and do something that’s off the scale or has wider social benefits, your audience will talk about it. Read our article on optimising customer experiences to find out how.

2) your audience needs an outlet to express their thanks.

Social media, feedback forms, digital surveys and Google reviews are all great places to start. Think about where your audience talks to their friends and family and join them there.

“The best advertising is done by satisfied customers.”

—Philip Kotler, distinguished marketing author

However, while this organic word of mouth approach is ideal, it’s difficult to achieve. But there are a few ways to hack the channel.

1. Referral marketing

Referral marketing takes this basic premise and goes one further. Rather than just relying on your customers to spread the message through their social networks, it gives them an incentive to do so. This makes every customer a potential brand ambassador.

This strategy works by giving them something in return for sharing the message and encouraging uptake. This could be a product discount, credits or a service upgrade.

This is doubly-effective when the reward works for both them and the person they’re referring to you. That’s because people love to help out their friends and will be more than happy to share something that has mutual value.

You can integrate referral marketing into your strategy through pretty much any channel, but this works best when you have the ability to track purchases with referral codes or forms. They can take a little bit of effort to set up, but just imagine the rewards if every new customer spawned three more a few weeks later.

Here’s a 90-second video from Saasquatch that shows you how to set up a refererral marketing programme in just 5 steps.

    2. Ambassadors and community outreach

    When a group of people have a similar interest, you’ll often not need an incentive to spread word of mouth marketing so long as it provides a mutual benefit. All this really needs is someone to lead the way, provide the materials and channels and inject a little motivation.

    Ambassador programmes that work well often focus on a social or local cause. So ethical businesses and social enterprises have a clear advantage. For example, environmental organisations may be willing to support a new product range that has a sustainable supply chain. Libraries and social centres may be willing to display the marketing products of a business that promotes reading for families. A group of business leaders in a local area may be willing to work together to promote commerce in the area or sector.

    Consider what organisations or local groups might be willing to promote your business (like Your Turn). Think about a mutually beneficial proposition that doesn’t just focus on what you sell but has wider social benefits.

    If there isn’t a group out there already, could you create one?

      3. Affiliate marketing

      Affiliate marketing centres around a business relationship between a brand and an affiliate. This is a performance-based marketing strategy, whereby the affiliate is paid for each qualified lead that it sends your way.

      While this doesn’t necessarily increase conversion rates, it does give you more traffic. And more traffic means more sales.

      While the affiliate may not be the ultimate source of trust, they are often well-respected news outlets, review e-zines and comparison sites. Better yet, they can have extensive, highly-relevant networks. Because of this, a good affiliate can do a large chunk of your marketing for you. 

      For many companies using Money Supermarket, Amazon, eBay or Not on the High Street, this is their main marketing channel. This is great if you don’t have a huge amount of resource for marketing. On the flip side, if this is your only marketing channel, your business success lies entirely in their hands.

      The key thing to consider is whether the ROI works out. Most affiliate programmes take somewhere between 20-60% per sale, so you’ll want to negotiate the best deal possible.

      According to Authority Hacker, affiliate programs generate 15%–30% of all sales for advertisers.

      4. Influencers and micro-influencers

      Billionaire teenage models, yoga-practising vegans, free-living daredevils, and uber-fashionable hipsters—welcome to the world of the influencer.

      We’ve all heard of Kim Kardashian, but many marketers still don’t really get influencer marketing.

      Thing is, it’s a big deal.

      Consider this: Instagram superstar Kylie Jenner earns $1m of advertising revenue per post. With one derogatory post about Snapchat, she reportedly took US$1bn off the stock value in a single day. Such is the power of the influencer.

      Influencers hold such sway because they are adored by vast tribes of highly-engaged followers who are often willing to do and believe everything they say. Influencer marketing taps into this power by paying the influencer to endorse brands.

      You can find influencers on pretty much any digital channel. But they tend to live on YouTube, Instagram and blogs. You needn’t pay out $1m per post to use influencer marketing. A current marketing trend is to identify relevant micro-influencers (anyone with a following of 1,000 – 1,000,000 followers or community members.)

      A micro-influencer may not wield the same power as a Kylie Jenner, but they are far more affordable and generally more cost-effective. This is due to the high engagement and conversion rates they own.

      On the lower end of the scale, a product sample or voucher may be enough to earn the endorsement of your micro-influencer who is growing their name. Better yet, if you have a clearly defined social purpose that aligns with the influencer’s brand, they may be willing to mention your cause for free.

      Start your word of mouth journey

      So there you have it, four go-to tactics for building networks and generating word of mouth marketing. If you’d like to start spreading your message, Your Turn offers free promotional support for social enterprises and ethical businesses in Yorkshire. Find out more about what we do here

        Social media marketing: choose your weapons and start a ruckus

        Social media marketing: choose your weapons and start a ruckus

        We live in a social world. As of 2020, 3.8 billion of us use social media. For any marketer worth their salt, this smells like opportunity. Here’s your definitive guide to choosing your social media marketing channels in 2020.

        Brand awareness

        More than anything, social media marketing is about brand awareness. Here, you can find and meet half of the world’s population with a few clicks. You can discover niche groups on specific platforms. You can broadcast your message en-masse, or one-to-one and you can do this all for free.

        This is the wide edge of the marketing funnel where prospects first come into touch with our brand. We need to suck them in from this first moment.

        Building brand awareness on social media is all about impressions. This is the number of times that your posts get served to your audience. To increase the number of impressions your content gets, you need to post quality content that drives engagement from a large collective of followers.



        Social media marketing is no longer a one-way street. People won’t respond when being told what to do and think by brands. They see straight through it. If you want to win in 2020, you need to have a two-way dialogue.

        Nowhere is this more evident and possible than on social media. On this channel, no brand is an island. You need to reach out and talk to your target audience on a personal level. Get them to trust what you say, to like what you do. 

        “I think that people just have this core desire to express who they are. And I think that’s always existed.”

        —Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO


        Brand reputations are difficult to make and even harder to refine. But on social media, they can be broken in an instant. That’s not an excuse to head for the hills. Your audience will be on social media even if you aren’t. It’s a reason to excel in social media brand management.

        If a customer makes a complaint, apologise to them directly. Fix the issue and try to treat them to something to make up for it. A free box of chocolates could turn your brand arch-nemesis into your number one advocate.

        Learn to love the haters. Welcome the complaints. Where else would you get minute-by-minute, real-world feedback of your products and services and be able to go and engage with that person on a one-to-one basis?


        Social media marketing isn’t just about standing on a podium and blasting out your message. It’s about nurturing a niche community of like-minded people. This is your target audience.

        To ensure that your message is reaching these people, you need to build a relevant following. Your posts will feature in your followers’ news feeds. So the greater your following, the further your messages will reach. 

        Delivering quality content will help to build your following organically, but it’s good to take a proactive approach. Search out, follow and engage with your target audience and they might just follow you back.


        If I asked you to develop a direct mail campaign aimed at LGBTQ+ women aged 24-35 who had an interest in sports nutrition, how would you reach your target audience? 

        The likelihood is, you couldn’t. But if I asked you the same question but swopped direct mail for social media, the task gets a whole lot easier. 

        Because the social media giants have been collecting, crunching and analysing users’ data for years, they can provide hyper-targeted marketing campaigns. Take a closer look at the available targeting features on social media ads and you’ll realise that Big Brother is digital. So effective are these channels that governments now use them to target swing voters, changing democracies by toggling ad settings.

        But you needn’t pay for ads to find your ideal customers. Start by choosing the right platforms, researching relevant groups and using the right hashtags.

        Lead generation

        While most of your marketing content on social media should be about sharing value through educational, inspiring or entertaining posts, there is an opportunity for lead generation, too. I like to go by the 80-20 rule. 80% of my content is designed to offer something of value, while 20% is subtle sales content. This isn’t a hard and fast rule; it depends on what your business does.

        Rarely will a social media post end with a sale. What we’re looking to do is drive traffic online where they can seek out more information and make the next steps. Limited time offers and free give-aways are a great place to start.

        Choosing the right channels

        Of course, one of the biggest questions in social media marketing is what channels to focus on. With your avatars from the Discovery phase, you should have a clear picture of who your audiences are. Now it’s time to marry up that information with the appropriate channel.

        Here’s a brief summary of the top eight social media players in 2020. It will help you discover what they’re for, how many users they have, what audiences they cater to, and what industry types they’re applicable to.


        Bio:Connect with friends, family and other people you know. Share photos and videos, send messages and get updates.”

        With well over two billion users, Facebook continues to rule the roost. It covers a wide range of user types but is dominated by generation X and millennials. It’s a great channel for B2C brand awareness and offers some of the most powerful (albeit pricey) ad targeting available.


        Bio: “From breaking news and entertainment to sports and politics, get the full story with all the live commentary.”

        With 335 million users, Twitter still has a significant reach. It’s mainly used for broadcasting public relations and news and for managing customer service. Because of this, it’s great for both B2B and B2C industries. The audience type is predominantly millennials.  


        Bio: “A simple, fun & creative way to capture, edit & share photos, videos & messages with friends & family.”

        With a billion users, Instagram is big news. It’s a great place to tell stories and post natural-looking media. This makes it perfect for all those rising influencer superstars. Because it’s part of the Facebook family, it has superb ad targeting functionality, too. This is a B2C channel mainly used by millennials.


        Bio: “Manage your professional identity. Build and engage with your professional network. Access knowledge, insights and opportunities.”

        LinkedIn weighs in with 645 million users. It’s all about business here. Users are developing B2B relationships, reaching out to prospective employees and discovering prospects. It’s a great place to identify prospects and develop leads. The main audiences are baby boomers, generation X and millennials. 


        Bio: “Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.”

        Built for modern video entertainment, YouTube has a whopping 1.9 billion users. It’s great for brand awareness and businesses are using it to create nifty how-to videos. It also provides some powerful ad campaigns, providing you have a video worth sharing. YouTube is B2C and is used by millennials and generation Z.


        Bio: “Snapchat lets you easily talk with friends, view Live Stories from around the world, and explore news in Discover. Life’s more fun when you live in the moment!”

        With 300 million users, Snapchat is still big news for generation Z. It’s a great channel for brand awareness for B2C companies and provides some of the best ROI in terms of social media advertising campaigns.


        Bio: “Discover recipes, home ideas, style inspiration and other ideas to try.”

        With a not-to-be-sniffed at 250 million users, Pinterest is perfect for visual advertising, showing off your products and inspiring other budding creatives. It’s mainly used by older-millennials and young baby boomers and appeals to the B2C market.


        Bio: “TikTok is the destination for short-form mobile videos. Our mission is to capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments.”

        The rising superstar, TikTok has 800 million users. The majority of these are in China, but the platform is rapidly gaining ground in Europe and the UK. TikTok is for generation Z and is very much a B2C platform with great potential.

        Messaging platforms

        There are now more people using the top four social messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and Viber) than the top four social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn).

        Globally, more than 5.19 billion people now use mobile phones, with user numbers up by 124 million (2.4%) over the past year.

        While it’s struggled to gain much traction in the past, SMS marketing is expected to be the biggest direct marketing channel in 2020. Bulk text messaging makes it easy to promote deals, send offers and inform your customers about new services and promotions. 

        Podcasts and Music streaming services

        According to Apple statistics, there are 525,000 active podcast shows with more than 18.5 million episodes.

        Most marketers will think about ads when they consider these channels. You’ll need a short script, a professional voice over (VO) artist and the usage rights for whatever channel it is that you’re looking to advertise on. 

        Advertising through Spotify is a simple process through the platform. Whereas advertising with a podcaster usually works through an agency. Of course, the other option is to set up a podcast of your own. 

        Niche channels

        People are becoming fatigued by the over-saturation of ads on the usual social media platforms. There’s a growing trend to join smaller, more niche platforms to share information. These could offer the ideal place to find your target audience and talk to them without all the background noise.

        A few channels to watch out for include:

        All recipes – “Search over 20000 recipes from home cooks. New recipes added every day!”

        Behance – “A social media platform owned by Adobe which aims “to showcase and discover creative work”

        BlogHer –  “A pioneer in community and conferences for bloggers and content creators.

        BurdaStyle – “A community website for people who sew or would like to learn how.”

        Care2 – “Empowering people to lead a healthy and green lifestyle while taking action on important causes.”

        Dogster – “For dog owners and lovers. Find info on training, vets, or breeds. Use the groups and forums to connect and share with friends.”

        Dribble – “Where designers gain inspiration, feedback, community, and jobs.”

        Gentlemint – “Centered on the idea of finding, sharing and collecting manly content.”

        Goodreads – “Be part of the world’s largest community of book lovers on Goodreads.”

        Houzz – “Browse 20 million interior design photos, home decor, decorating ideas and home professionals online.”

        Instructables – “A community for people who like to make things. Come explore, share, and make your next project with us!”

        Letterboxd – “A social network for sharing your taste in film. Use it as a diary to record your opinion about films as you watch them, or just to keep track of films.”

        Meetup – “Find Meetups so you can do more of what matters to you. Or create your own group and meet people near you who share your interests.”

        My Last Wish – “A new social network for those who are dying to help people fulfil their ultimate dreams.”

        Nextdoor – “The neighbourhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services.”

        Quora – “A place to gain and share knowledge. It’s a platform to ask questions and connect with people who contribute unique insights and quality answers.”

        Reddit – “A network of communities based on people’s interests. Find communities you’re interested in, and become part of an online community!”

        The essential guide to web management and SEO in 2020

        The essential guide to web management and SEO in 2020

        They say the new world is digital. Only it’s not really new anymore. For most, it’s a staple ingredient of everyday life. It’s business as usual. This is your 101 guide to web management and search engine optimisation.

        Mobiles, TVs, laptops, tablets, desktops. There are billions of these little windows all over the world. They’re open pretty much any time of day. On the one side are everyday receivers, on the other side are the broadcasters: a direct transmission between consumer and brand. Little wonder marketers focus on digital.

        Only today, it doesn’t just reach us through our screens, it’s permeated into all aspects of life. Now our homes, sportswear, cars and cities are smart. We talk to our devices and they talk to us. The internet of things (IoT) connects the world and everything in it by data.

        The digital marketer must always keep her eyes open to new opportunities. Let’s start with the web management basics…

        3 essential steps for web management

        Sell your brand in three seconds. Ready? Go…

        Not easy, is it? Like it or not, that’s how long you get online. All that research. All that branding. All that effort. And you get three lousy seconds. 

        That’s because it’s become second-nature for people to make instantaneous decisions about how they navigate the web. A quick scan is all it takes to decide if your site has what they need. There are no second chances or second glances. Three seconds is the time it takes to look, scroll and click the back button. If you want more time, you have to earn it. 

        It’s worth the effort.

        According to Statista, global e-commerce sales are expected to top $4.2 trillion in 2020 and reach more than $6.5 trillion by 2023. That’s why 63% of businesses say getting traffic and leads are their top marketing challenges (Hubspot).

        The truth is, there’s more to it than that. Your website is your new shop window. It sits at the centre of all your marketing with everything else pointing to it in big neon-lit signs. Here is where you’ll be judged against the competition. Here is where your business will win or lose. The question is: what can you do to wow your visitors?

        1) Think about the UX (user experience)

        Not only does your website need to look amazing, but it needs to be user-friendly too—no matter what device it’s viewed on (yes, that definitely includes mobile). It should be designed to communicate relevant information in a clear, helpful and compelling way. 

        Make sure your website caters to all audience types. This should be clearly signposted on your homepage, sending users on the right path straight away. Get into their heads and think about what they will be looking for. 

        Map out the various scenarios as user journeys and ask yourself how effective your UX user experience) and UI (user interface) designs are. What might they find annoying? What might make the experience more streamlined or interactive? Are there any delightful little surprises and giveaways that might keep them engaged and encourage them to take the next step?

        2) Focus on conversion

        Each page should have a function (to entertain, inform, persuade) and it should nudge users along the customer journey to the point of sale or contact. By incorporating a strong call to action on each page, you can keep users moving in the right direction. 

        Focus on landing pages that convert. If your social media goal is to send your audience to your website, design a landing page that is built to convert. This should feature clear benefits and the relevant product/service information they need to make a decision. To help, you can always give something away for free, such as a download, in exchange for contact details.

        Publish engaging content

        No matter how incredible your website is, if it just sits there, it’s dead in the water. Most digital marketing campaigns rely on fresh web content, such as blogs, news or videos which they can link to. Creating brilliant content will not only drive leads to your website, but it will also improve your SEO (more on that next).

        For flexible web management, you’ll want a robust Content Management System (CMS). I use WordPress as it’s highly functional and offers a vast amount of templates and plug-ins which make building, hosting and managing your website a cinch. It also integrates with other marketing platforms and systems resulting in lean, efficient and streamlined campaigns. Better yet, when it comes to revamping the design, all that content will switch to your new theme without the hassle.

        Search marketing and web management

        To get people to visit your website, you need to be visible on the search engines. Welcome to the murky world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

        In the internet olden days (2000 ad.), you could use black hat SEO tactics to boost your rankings. These included sly tricks like stuffing your web copy with keywords and getting link farms to connect to your website. These days, your website’s SEO ranking will be penalised for such foul play. That means less visibility, less traffic and less sales.

        Here’s some SEO advice I’ve taken straight from the horse’s mouth (Google [sorry Edge]).

        “We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can.” 

        When auditing a website, Google says you should consider the below questions.

        Content & Quality

        “Does the website offer original, high-quality content that isn’t just copied from somewhere? Are the page title and description appealing and do they reflect the content? If you were a webmaster, would you share the content with friends?”

        This is Google’s big focus. After all, their goal is to provide users with appealing content, not market your business (they have Google Ads for that). You can do this by publishing high-quality blogs, news and videos. Long-form blog content still ranks better on search listings. Aim for web page content that lands between 1,850 and 2,500 words.



        “Is the content trustworthy? Does the page contain errors? Would you, as a webmaster arriving at the page via Google search, trust the website you find?”

        Google supports credible websites. If your content references and links out to other relevant authorities, this is a good sign. The more people that use and share your content, the higher your expertise score will be. Where possible, aim to get relevant backlinks by sending your content to digital media agencies and bloggers.

        Presentation & Production

        “Does the content seem to be well researched and well-produced – or does it seem to be mass-produced fodder? Are there too many ads? Does the page load appropriately on all devices?”

        Avoid copying other website’s content. This tactic will only backfire to the detriment of your SEO score. Instead, focus on your specialities. Refer to your messaging architecture to break your website into niche topics of your own. This will give your website a clear structure, making it easier for search engine spiders to crawl, index and rank your content.

        You should also prioritise quick website loads times. Make sure that images are optimised, files are compressed and the server’s response time is reduced.

        Competitive comparison

        “Does the website offer added value when compared with its competitors? Does the content fulfil the user’s expectations?”

        Once again, being different is key to your success. Think about providing value at every step. This might look like a free video tutorial, an explainer blog series, how to whitepapers or interactive games.


        Remember, while Google might not admit it, keywords still play an important role in your web management SEO strategy. You can discover which ones are most effective by using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner. Then sprinkle these across key elements of your pages, such as headers, subheaders, links and page descriptions. 

        Your pages and posts should also have a focus keyword. For instance, in this article mine is ‘web management’. For an article of this length, I should use it approximately eight times. For good measure, here’s another sneaky one–web management.

        Pro tip: rather than using the same keywords over and over again, try to use similar and related phrases.

        Algorithms and quality score


        Google’s super-complex SEO algorithms will interrogate your website’s performance based on all the above criteria. This will calculate a ‘quality score’. The better the score, the higher up those Google rankings your site will be.

        And, for a few on-the-go, in-platform hints and tips about SEO friendly copy and tactics, install a plug-in like Yoast to your WordPress website. This will score your content using a traffic light system, making it pleasantly simple to crack the SEO basics. For a more advanced approach, check out the Google Search Console or take a crash course with the Google Digital Academy. There are plenty of highly specialised SEO agencies available to help you gear up to anything more advanced than that.

        The thing with organic SEO is that it takes a lot of time. Planning, creating, connecting, coding—then waiting for Google’s algorithm to index your site. There’s a quicker way to the top of the SERPS, but it doesn’t come for free.



        Pay-per-click does exactly what it says on the tin. By allocating a budget to Google Ads you can ensure that your website or landing pages feature at the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages) without all the effort.

        The key to pay-per-click is ensuring that the ROI is greater than the initial cost. If you can achieve this, they’re a scalable gold mine.

        Campaign types are centred around Google’s advertising networks: the Google Search Network, the Google Display Network, and the YouTube Network. Each of these ad types let you set a goal for your campaign and target customers with a range of criteria.

        Google Search ads


        These ads present your webpage in a typical search, with a header, description and various callout extensions. You should build out your campaign into various ad groups and then identify high-scoring keywords for each. Each ad group will then contain at least three ads where you can test their effectiveness over time.


        Google Display ads

        Display ads let you advertise on other websites using banner ads. The main purpose of display advertising is to deliver general advertisements and brand messages to site visitors. Display ads come into their own when running a retargeting campaign. These identify previous website visitors and serve them ads as they navigate other online content.

        YouTube ads

        These are short videos which display on YouTube during advertising breaks. They’re a great way to get your video ads to a highly targeted audience as they watch videos.

        Voice SEO

        The future of web management SEO is voice search. It’s estimated that, by the end of 2020, more than half of all searches will be conducted by voice. Voice search drastically changes the UX, meaning that users no longer need to type their search queries. Nor do they even need a screen. Programmes such as Google Assistant, Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa are all leading the way.

        Search engines are changing the way their SEO algorithms react to voice queries according to the changes. To get ahead of the game, consider how you can adapt your content.

        One of the key things to remember is to write the way that you speak. When users search on desktop, they use short, bullet-pointed phrases, such as “best phones 2020’. But if they use voice search, a user might ask “What are the best phones available in 2020?”

        Look to include these longtail keyword phrases into your copy. They work perfectly as headers, subheaders or leading questions in opening paragraphs. These phrases should be short and simple as voice search results are typically written at a Year 10 reading level.

        With 22% of all voice search queries focused on location, you should consider local content too. Adding words like “near me” or “in Sheffield” will improve your chance of getting picked up.