Accelerate Your Business Growth: 8 Proven Strategies to Amplify Word of Mouth Marketing
Word-of-mouth has long been touted as the most effective form of marketing. In spite of the ever-evolving digital marketing ecosystem, the strength of authentic personal recommendations has remained a constant force in driving consumer trust and reigniting business growth.
In this article, we’ll delve into real-world success stories, taking a closer look at how one Mention Me client, PUMA, partnered with Mention Me to harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing, recording a whopping 500% return on investment.
This isn’t just theoretical advice. It’s a set of practical steps to bring you tangible results, all of which you can achieve by applying strategic solutions to capture and encourage spontaneous, real-life word-of-mouth referrals.
1. Develop an Exceptional Product or Service
PUMA, an iconic name in the sportswear and footwear industry, is a testament to the idea that excellence is the cornerstone of customer advocacy. From its inception, PUMA has put innovation, performance and style at the heart of everything it does. This commitment to creating products that resonate with athletes and everyday sports enthusiasts alike has been a driving force behind the brand’s lasting success.
The company’s journey starts with understanding its customers’ needs and preferences. Immersed in the world of sports and lifestyle, PUMA designs products that align seamlessly with the aspirations of its diverse target market.
PUMA has also masterfully cultivated an emotional connection with its customers. Its products are both functional and stylish, slotting seamlessly into the lifestyles of its target audience, with one of the company’s most well-known messages being, ‘Be Forever Faster and enjoy every moment on your way’. This emotional resonance becomes a conversation starter among consumers, driving positive word-of-mouth.
What really makes PUMA stand out is innovation. The company not only focuses on aesthetics but also invests in advanced technologies to enhance the performance, comfort and durability of its products. This innovative spirit dates back to as early as 1986, when the company pioneered the integration of computer technology into its design with its RS Computer Shoe, which aimed to track and enhance running performance.
2. Encourage and Incentivise Referrals
Similar to any marketing endeavour, PUMA’s had to gradually optimise its referral programme over time with the help of the Mention Me team. These strategies included promoting referrals through pivotal touchpoints, pausing competing promotions and conducting A/B testing with distinct user segments. This approach allowed the sports apparel market leader to gain a deeper understanding of its best customers and identify what drives them to take action.
A particularly enlightening experiment that PUMA ran revolved around testing the impact of ‘give’ versus ‘get’ messaging. This test was extended across major European markets, revealing stark variations in behavioural patterns. Notably, German and French audiences were more motivated by the chance to give referral rewards to friends, while the English audience was predominantly motivated by personal reward.
Leveraging these customer insights, the PUMA team devised bespoke referral campaigns for each individual country. They meticulously tailored elements such as messaging and imagery to guarantee the biggest word-of-mouth impact. With the recent expansion of the referral programme to 19 additional countries, this personalised approach proves instrumental in driving increased engagement for every campaign.
3. Cultivate Strong Customer Relationships
As you can see, PUMA’s success extends beyond just selling products; it’s about fostering a community of loyal customers. Its approach isn’t transactional — it’s relational. This mindset has translated into creating experiences that resonate with individuals on a deeply personal level.
PUMA’s customer engagement doesn’t end at the checkout. Through various touchpoints — from social media to loyalty programmes — it remains in constant interaction, keeping customers connected and invested in the brand. PUMA doesn’t just sell products; it curates experiences that create lasting memories and serve as a word-of-mouth trigger. A prime example here is PUMATRAC, a groundbreaking approach to training that redefines how individuals experience getting fit.
In a world where staying motivated on the path to fitness can be a challenge, involving solitude and routine, eventually leading to boredom and wavering motivation, PUMATRAC introduces a dynamic shift. It infuses the social factor and creates a unique and enjoyable spin on the journey to better health by forming a vibrant community of like-minded enthusiasts. This social dimension taps into our innate human desire for companionship, turning fitness into a shared journey.
4. Leverage Influencer Marketing
PUMA’s strategy extends beyond traditional advertising channels, collaborating with influencers whose lifestyles and values align seamlessly with the brand. The company doesn’t just work with any influencer; it seeks individuals who resonate with its brand ethos. This alignment creates authentic connections that resonate with both the influencer’s audience and PUMA’s target demographic.
PUMA recognises that diversity in influencer partnerships adds depth to its marketing efforts. Collaborations span athletes, artists, activists and more, allowing them to tap into various communities and perspectives. In the worlds of both sports and social activism, few moments have left an indelible mark as powerful as the one created by PUMA athlete Tommie Smith. His victory in the 200m sprint at the 1968 Olympic Games not only secured a gold medal but also became an emblematic symbol of the fight against discrimination, apartheid and racism in the United States when he raised a fist wearing a black glove — an act of bravery that is talked about to this day.
Credit: PUMA official website
Instead of overt endorsements, PUMA and its influencers have always crafted stories. These narratives showcase how PUMA’s products integrate seamlessly into the influencers’ lives, making the marketing feel more like an authentic experience rather than a promotion, spurring further word-of-mouth.
5. Create Shareable Content
PUMA understands the visual language of the digital era. The company invests in creating visually striking content that catches the eye and encourages users to engage and spread word-of-mouth communication.
In March of this year, PUMA orchestrated a captivating control challenge for football players. This ingenious concept pitted one of PUMA’s own employees against Oleksandr Zinchenko, a prominent Ukrainian left-back defender playing for Arsenal, a team that clinched the runner-up spot in the previous English Premier League season.
The video capturing this electrifying challenge quickly escalated into a viral sensation, amassing millions of likes, comments and shares across platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
6. Implement a Customer Advocacy Programme
One month after signing the agreement with Mention Me, PUMA launched referral campaigns across all six major European markets. The onboarding process was seamless and hassle-free, as a simple tag on the website was enough — no complex coding required.
To elevate its performance further, PUMA seamlessly integrated Mention Me with Emarsys, its CRM platform, to drive even more impactful results with word-of-mouth advertising.
Firstly, this integration empowers PUMA to facilitate seamless customer journeys that increase referrals. This includes actions such as sending out reminders for customers to use their reward coupons, or motivating referrers to introduce additional friends to the programme.
Secondly, the real-time feeding of first-party referral data into the CRM platform significantly enriches PUMA’s marketing database and provides an entirely new level of customer insights.
Recognising the immense value of customer advocates, PUMA tailors its approach to communicate with them differently. Mention Me introduces a layer of data and insights that PUMA would otherwise not possess, playing an integral role in shaping its entire contact strategy.
This newfound perspective inspires PUMA to refine how it segments and targets consumers, grounded in a more holistic comprehension of their behaviours. This includes creating cohorts based on customer interactions and where they are within their advocacy journey.
The retailer is currently collaborating closely with the Mention Me team to glean additional insights into advocacy data, which are pivotal in optimising performance across various marketing channels.
7. Monitor and Respond to Online Reviews
Online reviews are a powerful tool that can shape a brand’s reputation and influence consumer decisions — while also nurturing customer advocacy. It’s highly important that brands monitor and respond to these reviews, and PUMA has shown its passionate commitment to this practice by taking it a step further through a pioneering partnership with Salesfloor.
The Indian branch of the company has elevated the art of customer engagement by incorporating a special widget on its native digital platform, enabling users to seamlessly connect with store associates or style consultants in real-time. This innovative approach allows customers to receive personalised guidance on sizing, styling and product recommendations while shopping online for PUMA products.
Following a successful pilot in 2022, this visionary approach has been launched in 80 PUMA stores across India. The partnership proves the significance of staying attuned to customer feedback to improve customer engagement.
By monitoring and responding to online reviews, and using innovative solutions to do so, you can enhance customer experience, bolster customer loyalty, and exceed customer expectations in the digital landscape. Just as PUMA India has harnessed the power of personalisation, your brand can pioneer new avenues to connect with your audience on a deeper level.
8. Engage in Community and Event Marketing
Speaking of forging deeper connections with audiences, community and event marketing are a way to go. PUMA, once again at the forefront of innovation, has embraced these concepts with a disruptive twist: blockchain technology. This innovative approach exemplifies how staying ahead of trends can revolutionise how brands engage with their communities.
PUMA’s partnership with Gutter Cat Gang for the OpenSea-hosted GutterMelo MB.03 collection showcases the company’s pioneering spirit in community and event marketing. This limited-edition digital collectible is not just an artefact; it’s an evolving digital creation that transforms into an exclusive, unreleased pair of MB.03 sneakers designed in collaboration with basketball star LaMelo Ball, which, after a designated redemption period, turns into a tangible, limited-edition MB.03 sneaker, merging virtual and physical experiences.
PUMA’s step into community and event marketing, accompanied by distributed ledger innovation, highlights its commitment to pushing boundaries. By embracing trends and reinventing engagement strategies, PUMA showcases the potential of staying at the cutting edge of marketing evolution and boosting word-of-mouth promotion efforts at the same time.