How to Use Email Marketing to Encourage Word-of-Mouth Referrals

For centuries, businesses have depended on word-of-mouth marketing to attract new customers. With the advent of digital channels such as social networks, not much has changed.

Conventional marketing methods such as print and broadcast advertising, together with pay-per-click advertising can spread awareness of your brand. Still, regardless of how well you pitch your products and services, traditional advertising often fails to build trust.

For the most part, trust comes with experience. For this reason, shoppers have an intense interest in the experiences that other people have had with your brand. Even when a testimonial or product review comes from a complete stranger, it can have more influence than any branded messaging.

So, if you want people to believe that your brand is fantastic, you need to let other people tell that story. To make this happen, consider using email. The following tips will help you effectively use email to build word-of-mouth marketing campaigns.


Adding a hashtag to your email messages is a subtle way to spark conversations. As a matter of fact, by clicking the hashtag, recipients can instantly transition from email to social media. Also, by connecting with a hashtag, you will have a chance to monitor what people are saying about your message and brand.

Make sure that you choose a hashtag that accurately reflects your brand, so it makes sense to your users. Meanwhile, you want to control your hashtag while also making it easy for users to remember and use.

Hashtags also give you a good way to encourage people to share photos of your products in use. Regardless of where you post these images, your hashtag can tie them all together. Moreover, you can organize contests and other incentives to encourage people to share their experiences.


Include special offers in every marketing email that you send. When you do, you encourage them to share the opportunities and thereby promote your brand. Such referrals can result in a surge of short-term sales and build long-term goodwill for your business.

To accelerate your word-of-mouth results, provide special referral incentives that specifically ask your recipients to act. You may even limit such an effort to your best customers to reward them for their loyalty.

When you ask people to refer customers, treat them courteously and make the process as effortless as possible. In other words, give people the VIP treatment. This includes rewarding referees with discounts and freebies.



Connect with influential people in your industry to expand your audience and build the authority of your brand. You can get started by sending emails to prominent bloggers who might give your brand a mention or recommendation.

Essentially, you want to build an entire network of influencers whose opinions rank almost as highly as those of a friend. To find people who can promote your brand, search pertinent hashtags on sites such as Twitter. You can also find influencers in private Facebook groups.

Sometimes incentives can boost the responsiveness of influencers. So, consider offering them free products or special deals that will help them justify spending time and effort on your brand.


Getting messages opened and read presents a major challenge for many email marketers. Some simple practices can improve the performance of your email campaigns:

  • Wisely choose your email platform and a professional email address. Different providers may have different advantages. For example, Gmail offers high security while Outlook lets you recall messages.

  • Create short, personalized subject lines that both have pizazz and avoid spammy words such as “buy”, “discount” and “order.”

  • Carefully craft your content. Keep it focused on your message and avoid wordiness.

  • At the end, make sure you include a clear call-to-action and a button or link that is easily seen and clicked.

In summary, you can harness the power of email as part of an effective word-of-mouth campaign. By including hashtags and inspiring people to share, you can dramatically increase the number of referrals that you get. In the end, your efforts to include influencers and solid email practices will pay off in the form of steady sales growth.


Author bio: Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. Connect with Ashley via Twitter.