Performance Marketing for Word of Mouth Results

May 13, 2021
Stacy Wells

The growth in performance marketing is accelerating and will continue. Because real-time data collection and optimization are possible, performance marketing presents a significant opportunity for tracking and evaluation.

Performance marketing enables companies to determine exposure at each touchpoint and the resulting behavior. Actions such as a click, visit, download, form-fill, and purchase are all performance marketing events.

What Is Performance Marketing? 

The essence of performance marketing is paying only for performance. Unlike newspaper and television ads years ago, today, performance marketers know people saw and responded to ads. And the big advantage is, we only pay when a pre-set event occurs. 

According to the Performance Marketing Association, 

"Performance Marketing is a blanket term that refers to online marketing and advertising programs in which advertisers and marketing companies are paid when a particular action is completed; such as a sale, lead or click."

Standard performance-based marketing activities include pay-per-click (PPC), pay-per-lead, email marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and affiliate networks. You only pay when the goal is met in each of these channels. This means the cost or CPM is almost always smaller than a flat rate ad.

The promotional mix covered in performance marketing extends well beyond conventional advertising. Now it incorporates aspects of creative communications, public relations, and word-of-mouth activities. 


Marketing with performance-based strategies delivers a host of benefits.

Measure Marketing Activities 

After all the effort, creativity, and resources dedicated to marketing, every campaign boils down to one thing -- results. This is the very reason, so many companies rely on performance marketing. Not only can we measure and monitor marketing effectiveness, but we can also make adjustments to improve outcomes.

Preserve Marketing Budget

When you pay for performance, it lowers risk and saves your company money. The cost of a campaign accrues over time, rather than the spray and pray cost of traditional advertising. Focusing on exact behaviors and consistent interaction with performance marketing drives more meaningful overall success. 

Optimize Return On Investment

Performance marketing ends the cycle of never understanding how well things are working. The risks of performance marketing are much lower than traditional advertising because the cost incurred is based on the results delivered. And the rewards are higher when ads are optimized. Performance marketing is a near-ideal scenario.


Performance based-marketing is possible today because digital technology can record the complete customer journey. We have data for nearly everything. Savvy marketers couple the data and insights with plug-ins and apps to optimize experiences and drive increasingly better results.

Since performance marketing is commonly used daily for digital campaigns, a ton of information on PPC, social media ads, Google ads, and email marketing is available. We aren't going to rehash the particulars of these methods. However, this article will focus on grassroots, word-of-mouth marketing. Believe it or not, performance marketing even works in peer-to-peer channels.


While brands use growing amounts of time and dollars to spread their message, consumers have grown less responsive to these marketing tactics. 

According to a Nielsen report, 92 percent of people believe suggestions from friends and family more than they trust conventional advertising.

Consumers look first to people closest to them for purchasing advice, not marketing and ads. So this basically neutralizes the entire marketing industry unless companies can find a way to inspire people to talk and share their brand. 

As the customer shopping landscape changes, marketing is adjusting to keep pace. In fact, companies such as Wooly have systemized word of mouth marketing to provide many of the same performance marketing metrics. This is called WOMM or word of mouth marketing.

Measuring Word of Mouth 

People like to talk about products and services that can help their friends, families, and colleagues. But monitoring word of mouth has been challenging and even impossible. 

However, just like we can track visits and clicks, we can also measure WOMM. With the right infrastructure and software, marketers can follow word of mouth and even pay per result.  

The following areas are the principal word of mouth measurements and metrics.

Social Listening 

The modern communication capabilities of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube provide the ability to monitor WOMM. Social listening with Wooly enables organizations to easily know who is talking about you and what they are saying.

Social analytics record results for performance marketing

Social Analytics

Social media can and does fit under the performance marketing umbrella. 

By tracking posts, reach, and engagement, marketers know how well posts and campaigns perform.

Referral Programs 

A referral program has two parts: putting effort into getting the message out and then rewarding people when as it happens. This is performance marketing to a T. 

Most companies offer discount codes and link to track referrals. Once a discount code is used, a payment or reward can be issued. 

discount and links prove results for performance marketing

Encourage your brand champions to spread the word about your business with a referral rewards program that links incentives to promotion activities. A rewards program compensates people that build awareness through user-generated content (UGC) with payments, discounts, and products.

user generated content case study


Attribution is one of the most important performance marketing metrics. After all, the purpose of almost every other event is to generate money.

So we identify and quantify the value of each marketing and sales touchpoint. These channels are tied back to conversion events.

Performance Marketing Going Forward

New tools enable companies to see the progress and outcome of nearly every marketing activity. Performance marketing is a great strategy when you want to measure outcomes and get fast results.

Spend some time and think about your focus and initiatives. Could you improve results and reduce expenditures by leveraging a performance marketing mindset? 

If you need ideas for measuring WOMM or enlisting influencers to help, we would love to talk with you. 

Performance Marketing Infographic

Performance Marketing Infographic

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