Bring Word-of-Mouth Marketing into the Digital World and Transform Customers into Loyal Brand Advocates

by Friendbuy

March 30, 2021

Word-of-mouth is the holy grail of marketing, but until recent years it was difficult or even impossible to optimize and measure. Fortunately, technological advances have changed this, making it possible to not only accelerate your word-of-mouth marketing efforts, but also track them at a granular level. With powerful marketing tools at your disposal, you can not only gain new customers and increase sales, you can also create loyal brand advocates.

Learn how three brands did this with Friendbuy, and use their experiences to develop your own referral marketing strategy.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing in the Digital World

Early referral tracking methods for word-of-mouth marketing were not always the most accurate. They also had limitations that impacted the ease of building and deploying an effective referral program, such as:

  • Limited sharing channels that restricted the ability to expose a brand to more potential customers 
  • Lack of automation in the customer-facing experience that made it difficult to engage potential advocates 
  • Challenges around promoting the program to increase visibility
  • Inability to measure views and sharing
  • Time spent manually gathering and analyzing data
  • Manually distributing coupon codes/rewards
  • Lack of program integrity through business rules and fraud checks
  • Integration of the program into the merchant’s tech stack 

Maybe you’re still using some of these methods today with some degree of success, but fortunately, there’s a better way. Now, with a platform like Friendbuy, you can automate and track every metric through the entire referral funnel. 

With digital word-of-mouth marketing you can:

  • Share your referral program through your website, email marketing, social media, and SMS
  • Deploy referral widgets that create a seamless customer experience that requires just a few clicks to share offers and earn rewards
  • Create and display consistent content that aligns with your brand
  • Measure impressions, share rates, and conversions with built-in reporting tools
  • Drill down into the data that matters most to you and export it to share with others
  • Automate reward fulfillment to minimize the burden on internal teams
  • Maintain program integrity through business rules and built-in fraud prevention 
  • Integrate your referral program into your tech stack seamlessly

With all of these past challenges virtually eliminated, why wouldn’t you use modern technology to get the most from word-of-mouth marketing? When you incorporate referral into your overall marketing strategy you can improve your return on investment (ROI), reduce your cost per acquisition, and increase customer lifetime value.

SPANX Uses Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Spur E-Commerce Growth

Shapewear brand SPANX took organic word-of-mouth marketing digital in order to boost growth and transform customers into loyal brand advocates. SPANX burst onto the scene with a coveted endorsement from Oprah and rode the wave to massive retail success. However, as the brand matured, marketers realized that they needed to focus more attention on digital marketing and e-commerce. 

The brand already had a loyal customer base of people who were passionate about their products. How could they harness this using digital tools?

With hands-on help from Friendbuy, SPANX created a referral program that allowed customers to share the brand with friends through social media, email, and personalized urls (PURLs). The company launched simultaneous campaigns in their highest-growth product categories and amplified other high-volume moments like Black Friday. Frequent A/B testing helped refine the campaigns to increase both share and conversion rates of an email sharing widget. 

The results of these efforts were a resounding success, with a:

  • 8 percent higher average order volume from referred customers
  • 15 percent conversion rate from referred customers
  • 26 percent higher conversion rate with category-specific campaigns


SPANX already had a loyal following of brand advocates. Now those advocates can share their love of the brand through multiple channels and get rewarded for doing so.

FIGS Empowers Loyal Customers to Share the Brand

Sometimes, the impetus for launching a referral program comes from customers. This was the case with FIGS. 

Premium scrubs brand FIGS came to Friendbuy because their customers were requesting a referral program (you can learn more about this in our webinar that features the brand). With a strong emphasis on customer retention, FIGS puts the customer first in all of their marketing efforts, building lasting relationships, and creating an exceptional customer experience that goes beyond purchasing products.

With Friendbuy, FIGS makes it easy to retain their existing customers. They look at their program as a way to reward their loyal users for referring new customers while also benefiting from acquiring quality customers (and future advocates) at the same time.

The keys to their success include:

  • Building a strategy around how they communicate their referral program
  • Integrating it into the overall customer experience, from awareness to engagement
  • Testing segments to determine the best timing to send emails
  • Using net promoter score (NPS) surveys to engage customers who give positive feedback
  • Using A/B testing to optimize emails

Friendbuy was there to help every step of the way by:

  • Providing hands-on onboarding and setup
  • Mapping the customer journey with a referral program
  • Working closely with the customer success team to report and analyze customer behavior 

The results have been overwhelmingly positive for FIGS, and the brand has strong purchase metrics on orders made with referral codes. They regularly see spikes in referral shares and coupon redemptions during targeted promotions. 

Overall, their efforts around word-of-mouth marketing have generated exceptionally high lifetime value, high average order volumes, and a low cost per acquisition for customers who were acquired through referrals. This last point is key, because not only do those individual customers boost the bottom line with their purchases, they are also participating in the referral program to bring in more loyal customers.

Afterpay Responds to Customer Demand for a Referral Program

Afterpay, a service that allows customers to buy now and pay later, had customers that were asking to be rewarded for referrals. However, the brand didn’t yet have a mechanism in place to automate rewards. 

Prior to implementing Friendbuy, Afterpay customers were given their own referral links with no incentive to share them. They wanted to turn this rudimentary program into more of a referral engine to reward their customers for sharing and offer incentives to new customers. They also wanted to be able to easily track the flow of customer acquisition through referral marketing. All of these factors contributed to their decision to start using Friendbuy. 

After successfully setting up their referral program with an offer that gives a $10 credit to both advocates and friends, they wanted to put fire behind it. Afterpay had really ambitious customer acquisition goals and wanted to utilize what they had learned with their Friendbuy retailer referral program to reach those goals quickly. 

To do this, they employed a number of customer-facing strategies to encourage sharing, including: 

  • In-app push notifications on iOS and Android to encourage referrals
  • SMS push notifications when customers check their order history 
  • Advertising inside the app with banners and easy-to-find calls to action (CTAs)
  • Sending emails with PURLs to segmented lists of users 
  • Including a primary CTA on the website that links to referral landing page 
  • Having a CTA on the account page 

After implementing these word-of-mouth marketing strategies, Afterpay has seen a significant lift every time they send a push notification, with high engagement from advocates. 

Take Word-of-Mouth Marketing Digital with Friendbuy

Word-of-mouth marketing has come a long way in recent years, and Friendbuy has been at the forefront with innovative solutions. When you work with us, you not only get a platform that is always evolving with the latest technology, you also get the benefit of our team’s expertise. 

To learn more about how you can use referral marketing to take your brand to the next level, read Referral Marketing: The Essential Guide.

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