4 Ways to Win Over Your Customer using Electronic World of Mouth (eWOM)


In this blog post, you will be inspired by the concept of electronic word of mouth (eWOM) and different eWOM strategies.

What exactly is eWOM?

A sensible way to conceptualize eWOM is 

“any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual or former consumers about a product or firm, which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions via the Internet”
(Hennig-Thurau, Walsh and Walsh, 2003)

You could categorize eWOM into two categories: organic and amplified. (Kulmala, Mesiranta, and Tuominen, 2013) 

On one end, organic WOM occurs naturally when consumers share their opinion regarding their experience with your product or any aspects of your company. On the other end, amplified WOM refers to the WOMs that are a result of marketing campaigns designed to encourage share of opinion. 

In real life, these two naturally overlap. If you provide a valuable and unique product or experience, people will want to share about you. Consequently, your eWOM campaign will likely be successful. Vice versa, if you employ a good eWOM strategy, it will increase your organic eWOM.

What makes eWOM important?

Academic studies have found that:

  • Many studies have found that WOM has a significant effect on consumer behavior (Daugherty and Hoffman, 2013; Litvin, Goldsmith and Pan, 2008)
  • Additionally, consumers consider eWOM as the most important source in buying decisions (Litvin, Goldsmith and Pan, 2008)

Now that you understand the strengths of eWOM, it is also important to be aware of its drawbacks.

Lack of control

One major disadvantage of eWOM is that in most cases, marketers will have limited control over the user content specifically, the negative ones. The findings of a study have shown that negative eWOM is also highly influential. (Bachleda and Berrada-Fathi, 2016)

Fake eWOM

eWOM could be utilized with malicious intent. Many businesses hire review services to generate unreal positive comments and reviews. On Top of that, some go as far as writing fake negative comments on their competitors’ products. (Cavazza and Guidetti, 2014)

The 4 eWOM Strategies

1. Promote User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-Generated Content is any type of content that has been produced and posted by non-sponsored consumers. UGC can be in many forms such as blogs, images, videos, text, and audio. UGC is usually being published on an online platform such as social media. 

How to UGC marketing

  1. Planning

Set SMART objectives for the campaign. SMART mnemonic stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-bound.

Choose the most appropriate platform and type of UGC. These two elements come hand in hand. The most popular UGC platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The most widely used types of UGC are social media contests, campaign hashtags, and Instagram Repost features.

Design the campaign and tell your audience about it clearly and simply. An unclear instruction could doom your campaign from the start because you might confuse participants and, as a result, receive wrong content. 

  1. Offer incentives. 

You could offer tangible incentives such as free gifts, discounts, and money. However, some marketers leverage a more emotional-evoking incentive such as donation on the user’s behalf and fame.

  1. Build a sense of community

When the campaign gains traction, you could start a snowball effect by showcasing the campaign’s UGC. In doing so you should always ask for permission and give credit to the content owner.

  1. Use hashtag

To monitor the campaign, you could use hashtags and tagging to discover participating users and content.

UGC case study

2. Share customer ratings and/or reviews

You usually see both of these together. On one hand, reviews and testimonials are qualitative content highly valued by consumers. On the other hand,  ratings are a form of quantitative feedback that is easier to manage, rank and analyze. They are social proof of your product’s quality, value, and performance making buying from you an easier decision.

How to feedback marketing

Ratings usually come in number, star or more recently emoji. Reviews are usually in a written form or video. You could enable feedback marketing on your site or collect data from review sites or social media tags. There are numerous review sites depending on your industry and locale such as:

  • Yelp
  • Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Trip Advisor
  • Google My Business
  • Trustpilot
  • Angie’s List

Once you have gathered ratings and reviews, there are many ways you could use them:

  • Create content with it
  • Promote it on a landing page, homepage, and/or product pages
  • Product improvements

If possible, it is good practice to show appreciation not only to positive feedback but that constructive criticism. For negative, raging, emotional or toxic ones, respond with an apology and try to solve the issue.


3. Employ a referral marketing

Simply put, a referral program is a process in which you reward customers for referring you to a new customer to your business. The reward is usually given after the referred prospect becomes a new customer.

How to referral marketing

Developing and employing a referral program online has never been easier. There is software that could help you with every step for instance: 

  • WooCommerce Referral Scheme (WordPress)
  • ReferralCandy
  • LoyaltyLion
  • InviteReferrals (free WordPress)
  • InviteBox

Case study:

4. Collaborate with Influencers

Social Media Influencers are:

“users in social media who have established credibility in a specific industry through their activity in this media”
(Stubb, Nyström and Colliander, 2019)

Influencer marketing is a collaborative marketing effort between a business and influencer to promote a campaign or a product.  

How to Influencer marketing?

  1. Identify the target audience

The first step is to determine who you are trying to reach with this campaign. A helpful tool in this step is buyer personas. (in this case audience persona) 

  1. Identify and evaluate candidates

Consider this 3Rs model to evaluate suitable influencers. 

  • Relevance
    Look for influencers who publish content relevant to your business. Moreover, their audience has to align with your target group.
  • Reach
    How big is the follower base and how much of these people could you reach with a collaboration.
  • Resonance
    Resonance is how much the followers trust and engage with the influencer. Engagement is demonstrated in likes, views, shares, and comments. 

3. Research and learn

To convince a suitable influencer, you have to be able to demonstrate that you know and appreciate their work.

4. Plan your budget

Free samples might do the trick for some low-reach influencers. However, for larger ones, you are expected to pay.  This guide gives a great model on how to pay influencers.

5. Reach out to influencers privately

6. Follow the rules

The Federal Trade Commission outlines a set of rules to address issues emerging within this marketing strategy.

Influencer Rules


Bachleda, C. and Berrada-Fathi, B. (2016). Is negative eWOM more influential than negative pWOM?. Journal of Service Theory and Practice, 26(1), pp.109-132.

Cavazza, N. and Guidetti, M. (2014). Fake online reviews: A study on eWOM influence when suspicions arise. PSICOLOGIA SOCIAL, 9(1), pp.71-82.

Daugherty, T. and Hoffman, E. (2013). eWOM and the importance of capturing consumer attention within social media. Journal of Marketing Communications, 20(1-2), pp.82-102.

Hennig-Thurau, T., Walsh, G. and Walsh, G. (2003). Electronic Word-of-Mouth: Motives for and Consequences of Reading Customer Articulations on the Internet. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 8(2), pp.51-74.

Kulmala, M., Mesiranta, N. and Tuominen, P. (2013). Organic and amplified eWOM in consumer fashion blogs. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 17(1), pp.20-37.

Litvin, S., Goldsmith, R. and Pan, B. (2008). Electronic word-of-mouth in hospitality and tourism management. Tourism Management, 29(3), pp.458-468.

Stubb, C., Nyström, A. and Colliander, J. (2019). Influencer marketing: The impact of disclosing sponsorship compensation justification on sponsored content effectiveness. Journal of Communication Management, 23(2), pp.109-122.




The Million Dollar Challenge: A Case Study of How GoPro Creatively Leverages User-generated Content Marketing


GoPro promo

My previous blog post introduces you to the concept of Electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) and its different strategies. Among those strategies was user-generated content marketing. In this blog, you will learn from an inspiring story of how GoPro promote their new cameras by integrating user-generated content marketing seamlessly with their branded content marketing.

About GoPro

GoPro is a leading American technology manufacturer and seller of action cameras, camera accessories, and its software. Action cameras are wearable and mountable cameras which you might already have seen or used one before.

What was the campaign?

October last year, GoPro launched its new cameras, HERO8 Black and Max. Traditionally, to promote a new product, technology companies would produce product-focused videos internally. GoPro, on the other hand, put the task in the hand of its community through the Million Dollar Challenge.

How did they do it?

Setting objectives

As technology advances within the consumer electronics industry, a daunting challenge facing technology companies is to communicate various technical features in an engaging manner. The challenge for GoPro was to promote awareness and boost demand for the newest cameras that have so many new features.

Katie Marylander, GroPro’s global social marketing manager, mentioned that the objective was to deploy a social media marketing campaign that will generate conversation while simultaneously educating (technical) and inspiring (the UGC campaign) their consumers.

The three-stage strategy

Stage 1: Creating social buzz

Two-and-a-half weeks prior to the launch day, the company released three teaser videos hint at the new cameras and its key features. Thanks to GoPro’s extensive digital marketing channels, the videos were able to create excitement, anticipation and buzz among GoPro community members and the press which perfectly set the stage for the next strategy. 

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10.01.19 #ThisIsAction

A post shared by GoPro (@gopro) on

Stage 2: The Feature Thrillers

The “Feature Thrillers” refers to a series of video GoPro released on the launching event and consequently on their channels. The series includes two videos, one for each product that is educational and product-focused but with energetic and thrilling characteristics. This type of video is traditionally released for every new GoPro flagship product which pleases the longtime GoPro fans.


Stage 3: The Million Dollar Challenge

Days after letting the community enjoy and engage with the educational thrillers, the finale came. The Million Dollar Challenge is a user-generated content initiative inviting HERO8 users to submit their videos for a chance of splitting $1,000,000 using the new GoPro cameras. Moreover, the winners’ clip will also be featured on the next promoting video which will be seen by people from around the world. 

Result Analysis

Over 4 months, 42,000 clips were submitted and by creators from 170 countries. The 45 winners were awarded last month. For a multi-billion dollar company like GoPro, this UGC was extremely successful as it benefited the company in many folds.

Firstly, it directly boosts the sale as participants were required to buy the new camera to shoot the video. 

Secondly, the winning clips were put together to create a product promotion video that won a Shorty Award for Best User-Generated Content. The video has been translated into more than 10 languages reaching people worldwide and exceeded three million views in over a month. 

Thirdly, the press covered both the launch and the innovative UGC campaign for free. Ironically, the fact that a university student from Thailand writing a blog post about it is another proof of its success.

Lastly, many participants, some are the top influencer in their field, upload youtube vlogs and social media posts about their journey of creating the video with the GoPro camera. As a result, GoPro was able to directly reach filmmakers, photographers and extreme sports athletes and adventure-seekers which are all target customer for the product. “How I won the GoPro Million Dollar Challenge” is one of the videos which itself alone reaches more than 2 million views. (See below)

Looking from the metrics-based result, this was the most successful product launch for GoPro. The social response was positive:

  • The whole campaign reaches more than 857 million people evoked 70 million engagements. The engagement rate is 8.1 per cent making it the highest record.
  • The UGC video has been shared more than 57,000 times.
  • A user journey analysis shows that the social media campaign has made more sales conversions than any previous one. (did not specify how much)
  • With a total of 42,000 videos submitted, it shows that the campaign successfully called for GoPro community engagement.

The key takeaways

One thing that appears consistently in every good eWOM marketing case is planning. In this case, the evidence of planning was obvious right from the objective setting. Even if it was not written explicitly, the complex three-stage strategy of this campaign could be an even better proof of a plan. Another key takeaway is the importance of performance tracking. The metric-based results show that the whole marketing campaign was monitored in meaningful ways. Tracking the results also helps diagnose of negative eWOM early, hence a better chance of limiting its effects. (Kirby, Marsden 2006)

Click here to learn how to plan for digital marketing campaigns using SOSTAC. (Chaffey and Smith, 2013)

The name “Million Dollar Challenge” clearly emphasizes the significance of incentives. Besides the economic incentive, the winners were also offered self-enhancement. The table below may offer you new incentive ideas.

(Hennig-Thurau et al., 2004) 

Stage 1 and 2, despite being a typical branded content marketing campaign, were included in this UGC blog post because they demonstrate that in real life, eWOM campaigns can be implemented with other marketing strategies. Firstly, stage 1 helped build up anticipation and also allow GoPro to test the waters. Stage 1 gives enough time for the product news to reach people. Without it, this campaign risks not getting enough attention.

Secondly, stage 2 ensures the success of the final UGC campaign. The obvious is that it educates people about the new features which are important for any buyers not only the ones that will participate in the UGC campaign. The less obvious is that the tradition is when GoPro launches new products, it always releases a top-notch promoting video which the long-time fans are expecting. Without the videos from stage 2, the fans might feel neglected which will generate negative social sentiment setting off stage 3 on a bad note. See “Work From Hawaii” case where an advertisement helped kick-started a successful UGC campaign. 

Looking at the case from a macro point of view, GoPro certainly understands the risks of eWOM very well. For example, lie behind the exciting surface of a challenge invitation a tight term and conditions mitigating legal risks occurred in the case of Chang v. Virgin Mobile. (2009).

Finally, GoPro seems to recognize the fundamental of eWOM that, at the end of the day, the best strategy to generate positive and limit negative WOM derive from the product, the company practice and the customer experience. If you provide something that exceeds customers’ expectations and share-worthy, you will naturally generate WOM. On the contrary, if your customers feel like they just got ripped off, no marketing campaigns would help. They are only going to make the matter worse.

You can learn more about other risks from the following studies:

  • Restricted control over the negative WOM (Lomax, Stokes 2002)
  • Fast spreading and highly influential ability of negative WOM (De Pelsmacker et al. 2007; Kirby, Marsden 2006)
  • Fake online identities and WOM (Litvin, Goldsmith and Pan, 2008) (Dellarocas 2003) (Cavazza and Guidetti, 2014)


Cavazza, N. and Guidetti, M. (2014). Fake online reviews: A study on eWOM influence when suspicions arise. PSICOLOGIA SOCIAL, 9(1), pp.71-82.

Chaffey, D. and PR Smith (2013). Emarketing Excellence: Planning and Optimizing your Digital Marketing. [ebook] Taylor & Francis Group. Available at: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ubrighton/detail.action?docID=114376 [Accessed 5 Feb. 2020].

Chang v. VIRGIN MOBILE USA, LLC, Civil Action No. 3: 07-CV-1767-D (N.D. Tex. Jan. 16, 2009).

Dellarocas, C. (2003). The Digitization of Word-of-Mouth: Promise and Challenges of Online Feedback Mechanisms. SSRN Electronic Journal.

De Pelsmacker, P., Geuens, M. and Van den Bergh, J., 2007. Marketing communications: A European perspective. Pearson education.

Hennig-Thurau, T., Gwinner, K., Walsh, G. and Gremler, D. (2004). Electronic word-of-mouth via consumer-opinion platforms: What motivates consumers to articulate themselves on the Internet?. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 18(1), pp.38-52.

Kirby, J. and Marsden, P. eds., 2006. Connected marketing: the viral, buzz and word of mouth revolution. Elsevier.

Litvin, S.W., Goldsmith, R.E. and Pan, B., 2008. Electronic word-of-mouth in hospitality and tourism management. Tourism management, 29(3), pp.458-468.

Stokes, D. and Lomax, W. (2002). Taking control of word of mouth marketing: the case of an entrepreneurial hotelier. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 9(4), pp.349-357.