How to use word of mouth marketing to drive sales for your small business

9 min read
Janah Jackman

Since they launched in June 2015, Monzo, an app-only bank, has experienced impressive growth.

This hasn’t been without its challenges – Monzo rebranded from their original name, Mondo, in 2016 and were only granted a banking licence 18 months after they launched.

Despite these hurdles, as of June 2018, Monzo has 750,000 current account holders – most of whom are shouting from the rooftops about how happy they are with their new bank.

A huge part of Monzo’s success is down to word of mouth marketing – and in this post, we’ll look at how they encourage their users to spread the word about their brand to drive this success – and how you can do the same for your small business.

Why word of mouth marketing?

Word of mouth marketing is highly effective – it builds trust in your brand and attracts quality customers to your business. After all, 77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends and family, meaning that most new customers that come to you this way already have a good impression of your business and are more likely to stick around.

The best thing about word of mouth marketing? It’s free! And for a start-up or small business trying to keep costs down, anything free that also drives sales is ideal!

How to use word of mouth marketing

Word of mouth marketing sounds easy in theory – especially when compared to having your own marketing department - but it’s actually way more than putting your feet up while your customers drum up business for you.  Not only do you have to provide your customers with a product or service they love (so they’ll be encouraged to spread the word naturally) – but you also have to build a relationship with them. Let’s explore how Monzo has done this to achieve the steady success they have seen.

Make your customers a part of the brand

One reason that Monzo has been able to build a brand that people love is because their customers are involved in so much of the decision making. A lot of the features in the app have come from user suggestion and feedback – proving that Monzo really listens to their customers to provide them with a service they truly want.

In this article, Monzo’s head of marketing, Tristan Thomas explains the logic behind this:

“[The goal] is broadly to get to a stage where customers are referring their friends because they love the product and feel like they’re a part of the mission — you need to take customers away from being ‘standard customers’ to being advocates who are feeling like they’re part of it.”

Monzo has turned their users into a community, something that’s key to successful word of mouth marketing, by creating a forum where users can get together to discuss their experiences and the features they’d like to see next.

This actively encourages their customers to interact with each other and talk about the brand, while also providing Monzo with key information that they can use to build a better-received service and drive business. Win-win!

You can involve your customers and find out more about they want by simply asking them. Host polls and surveys enquiring about products or features they’d like to see next. You can create these quickly and for free, with a service like SurveyMonkey.

Another popular option is to create a Facebook group where you can have your customers get together and build a community of your own.

Use social media to your advantage

Social media gives you a direct way to speak to your customers – don’t waste this! This is your chance to show off your brand personality and leave users with a lasting impression of who you are, while learning more about them and what they need from your business. Monzo cleverly encourages social media feedback by displaying a feed of their latest Twitter mentions on their website:

Another thing to note is that they are also very good at responding to their user’s mentions and comments. Be sure to reply to as many people as you can – this will make your followers feel valued. If you don’t have time to respond to each comment personally, you can always show you’ve acknowledged it with a ‘like’.

Social media is one of the quickest and easiest methods you can use to build relationships with your customers - positive interactions will keep them happy and increase the likelihood that they recommend your brand to other people.

You can find some great social media tools for your small business here.

Ask for feedback

We touched on this earlier on in the article, but let’s delve a little deeper into why gathering feedback from your customers is a crucial part of word of mouth marketing.

Trust is a huge element in building a customer base for any business.

But for a banking business without a physical branch to visit if things go wrong, trust is vital - yet users have flocked to Monzo in the hundreds of thousands and that number is only growing. How have they done it?

Part of their success comes from the thousands of great reviews their customers have left about them on Trustpilot and the App Store.

The more people can see that others are using and enjoying your service, the more confidence they will have in your brand.

Seeking out reviews also shows your customers that you care about their thoughts and opinions about your business. Why not try reaching out them by email and asking them to fill in a survey or poll?

Make it as easy as possible for happy and loyal customers to leave reviews. You can do this from your Facebook page, on your website or even on a third-party service like Trustpilot. You can read more  about customer surveys in this guide.

Have a standout customer service strategy

Customer support is a huge part of any business and will likely be a talking point for your customers, so it’s important to get it right.

There’s lots to think about - how will you offer help and support to your customers? What channels will you use to get in contact? Here’s where you need to be innovative, because people are getting more demanding and less patient.

With so many businesses now offering many different mediums of support, from telephone to live chat, WhatsApp, Twitter and even chatbots, there’s no excuse for not having a handy and convenient way for customers to reach you directly.

Monzo is well known for its customer service – it provides in-app chat support as well as telephone and email support for more urgent issues.

They have made their customer service experience enjoyable for their target audience by making a point of matching the tone of voice of their users, which is why their interactions in the support chat, their website and social media are all peppered with emoji’s and free from jargon.

This is a good lesson to learn from Monzo. Customers appreciate that human-to-human connection, especially when they need assistance and you can achieve this by actually speaking like a real person, especially in this day and age where the use of bots for customer service is becoming more commonplace.

No matter what channel you use to provide support, be sure to make it a priority to respond to your queries in good time. Remember that word of mouth marketing works in both ways - it only takes one bad tweet or Facebook post about your business to ruin all your hard work.

Referral marketing

If you want to encourage word of mouth marketing for your business, a quick and effective way of getting the word out is through referral marketing. Monzo’s referral marketing strategy was solid and a huge contributor to their widespread success.

Before Monzo’s banking app was even completed, the start-up had people from all over the world signing up to receive one of their bank cards. They did this by using an interactive waiting list where you could see your place in the queue and move higher up the list by referring friends:

It’s pretty extravagant, but there are simple ways to do referral marketing that work just as well to get people recommending your business to others.

Why not set up a scheme where your customers can receive discount codes for referring a friend for a discounted/free trial of your product or service? This a successful strategy used by Uber, Graze and many other businesses worldwide.

Create a buzz

Sometimes you’ve got to put yourself out there to get people talking.

From hosting giveaways to attending charity events, there are lots of ways you can put yourself out there as a business, regardless of your size or budget. Stay up-to-date with local causes and events going on in your area and try to get involved in as many things as you can.

Monzo invites its community to host Monzo Meetups, where the Monzo team will come along to support and promote events led by its users who have ideas and projects to share. They also connect themselves to causes such as Mental Health Awareness Week.

Getting involved helps people to understand the kind the kind of brand that you are – what you’re passionate about and what you stand for, but another big bonus is that it can expose you to bigger audiences.

Summing up

Let’s round up the key elements of a successful word of mouth marketing strategy:

  • Create a community around your brand
  • Engage on social media
  • Ask for feedback and reviews
  • Provide amazing customer support
  • Try a referral marketing scheme
  • Get involved in many events and schemes

Word of mouth marketing continues to drive Monzo’s success to this very day. Now you have all the information you need to use their amazing strategy and create the same success for your own business.