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Marketing: How to engineer word of mouth

Picture this: you see a nice advertisement for a product, and you consider buying it.

But then your friend recommends a different, yet similar product they had a positive experience with.

Which one are you more inclined to buy? If you’re like most people, you’re going to buy the product your friend recommended.

As Darko Gjorgjievski points out, word-of-mouth marketing allows us to create a growth loop. Each user brings more users, helping you rely less on traditional marketing cycles.

Each user brings more users, helping you rely less on traditional marketing cycles.

And believe it or not…

… There are a couple of ways to architect your word-of-mouth strategy…

#1 – Refer a friend. It’s something email newsletters like to do.

It’s a simple method. When a user subscribes, you ask them to refer a friend in exchange for a gift, a discount, access to the product, and so on.

If you get 10 users to refer 3 more users, you save 30% on acquisition costs. Nice!

#2 – Target audiences that have exposure. The best social proof comes from people that are already speaking to a large audience.

For instance, Cameo—a popular on-demand service for personalized celebrity videos—had celebrities post Cameo videos to their social media feeds.

Doordash recruited restaurants who told customers they could take delivery from Doordash, which caused them to sign up to the service.

#3 – “I want to become like you” approach. Leading by example? How about acquiring by example? This approach turns your audience into brand ambassadors… and even partners!

Think of Airbnb. You enter their website as a traveler, but then the website nudges you with a little “Become a host” button at the top of the page. You remember your empty flat…

And suddenly, you start renting and promoting that property. Super effective, right?

#4 – Give yourself credit in the output your users create. For example, a live chat widget can have a little “Powered by [brand]” at the bottom of the chatbox.

LiveChat did this and it increased new leads by 50%. All from the “powered by” link! Substack does this by hosting newsletters on their platform—you can’t miss it in the domain name.

So ask yourself: how can you take more credit from the output your users create?

Need a real life example? Scroll to the bottom of this email and see how we do it!

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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