Definitive Guide to Word of Mouth Marketing
What is Word of Mouth Marketing
Why Word of Mouth Marketing is Important
– Pitfalls of Advertising
– During Product Creation
Elements of Word of Mouth Marketing
– Buzz Marketing
– Influencer Marketing
– Viral Marketing
– Social Media Marketing
The Web’s Influence on Word of Mouth Marketing
What Elements Facilitate Sharing
– The Content
– Ease of Sharing
– More Reading
In it’s simplest form Word of Mouth (WoM) Marketing is tapping into the conversations that occur between people to sell your product. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WoMMA) defines it as:
Word of mouth marketing: Giving people a reason to talk about your products and services, and making it easier for that conversation to take place.
Effective WoM strategies cultivate and amplify these conversations, understanding that they are the most powerful way to convince a consumer to buy your product.
The Internet has redefined the power of WoM Marketing, removing a majority of the obstacles placed on it. For example, online we’re able to track the conversation with buzz monitoring tools, and we’re able to minimize the effect of geography. The web’s ability to bring us all together also breaks boundaries for conversations.
As the consumer has evolved, WoM Marketing has become more effective. Savvy buyers have become skeptical of traditional advertising, and use the Internet to research before buying. They look for everything from professional reviews to what other consumers are writing about the product.
Empirical evidence suggests that advertising claims (in ads that are processed) are frequently not accepted. Calfee and Ringold (1994) reported the consistent observation in public opinion polls that roughly two-thirds of consumers claim they doubt the truthfulness of ads. Previous research (Obermiller and Spangenberg 1998, 2000) supports the proposition that consumers are socialized to be skeptical toward advertising, and the extent of their skepticism is a determinant of their responses to advertising. Credit
Television advertising has become largely ineffective, as marketers are attempting to reach a large audience with a broad message. Not only is the message not targeted, but most consumers simply don’t trust them.
The least trustworthy of advertising is online ads, which rank less than “Ads before movies”. The most trusted, after “Recommendations from consumers”, are newspaper ads. However, they have problems of their own.
Newspapers are experiencing a large drop in readership and are being forced to re-think their business model. Traditional printing is much more expensive compared to publishing online and many newspapers are buckling under the economic strain. As a result, newspaper advertising has become more expensive.
If Word of Mouth Marketing is introduced as a strategy during product creation, it can lead to exceptional products. When product creators emphasize ‘wowing’ their consumers instead of bettering their bottom line, the latter comes from the former.
Word of mouth marketing is an over-arching category for multiple strategies; of which are buzz marketing, influencer marketing, viral marketing, and social media marketing. The techniques all require conversation between consumers, but differ in how the conversation is started, cultivated, and where it occurs.
Buzz marketing is creating something that everyone talks about. Whether it be your product or a service, it’s effected people in a way that they need to tell their friends about it. The message (not one that you’ve defined, but the abstract message – that your product is something worth sharing) will pass from person to person.
Whereas buzz marketing leverages a shareable product to get everyone talking about it, influencer marketing requires outreaching to influential individuals. The hope is that if the product is good, an influencer will talk about it to everyone they influence who in turn pass it to their friends.
Convincing an influencer to recommend your product requires that you be able to identify who an influencer is. You can use multiple criteria to do this: length of posts, number of comments, inbound and outbound links, velocity of posts, or social media friends.
Viral marketing is creating a story, video, or ad that is passed from consumer to consumer. The difference with viral marketing is that your message is being passed, compared to the recommendations passed from influencer and buzz marketing.
This form of word of mouth marketing maintains the most message control, however it’s generally a hit or miss with what will go viral. There’s no formula to what people are likely to love, and what’s likely to be dumped in the trash.
Social media marketing stands out because it requires a medium for which to market. Unlike the other forms of Word of Mouth marketing, which can occur online or offline, social media marketing is specifically using social networks, blogs, social media to facilitate word of mouth marketing.
Word of mouth marketing occured before the Internet became an integral part of our everyday lives. But in those days word of mouth was limited by geography, and the number of relationships we could keep. The Internet has broken down the barrier of geography, increased the number of friends we can connect with, and increased how quickly we can reach out to people. It’s given us a number of new tools.
Social networks are the first, allowing us to visualize our relationships and keep in touch. Sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn allow us to segment out who are friends, who are colleagues, and quickly reach out to our entire network.
As more and more information is being archived on the web, Internet users turn to social news aggregators and social bookmarking sites to leverage friends when finding what’s important on the web. As users vote up or bookmark specific stories, the time required to find something we might like is reduced.
The Internet has also changed our psychology on personal and private life. Things that would once be considered private are published freely on blogs. We’ve also changed our mind on what constitutes free versus paid content, as professionals begin publishing their thoughts and ideas. Both blogs and micro-blogging platforms (Twitter) afford us the opportunity to share our insights, our thoughts, our feelings, our experiences to the world.
There are certain elements to word of mouth marketing that can help a message spread. They are not based on statistics and studies, but experiences and a general idea. The three elements are “the actual content”, “the ease of sharing”, and “asking to share”.
This is the most important element of word of mouth marketing. Is your content, your product, your service so good that I’d tell my friends about it? Does it make me feel good when I share it?
Telling a story usually helps generate conversations. Not a story as in a fairy-tale, but a story that brings me into it. For a restaurant this might be the ambiance, for a product maybe how it’s better than the rest. People love to tell stories and making your marketing a story, makes it easy to share.
The simplicity of sharing media online is what makes it so easy for content to spread on the web. Internet users are so used to quickly skimming articles and surfing on. Give visitors the ability to share, and they’ll do it. Don’t expect readers to take the extra effort to pass it on.
To remove those obstacles, add buttons like “email this” or “share this” to invite consumers to pass things on. The “email this” button removes the obstacle of forcing a reader to open their email application and find their friends. While the “share this” button allows users to add the article to social sites without having to open a new browser window and navigation to the social site.
You work hard to remove steps from check-out on an e-commerce site, and removing steps from sharing is no different for a strategy that is dependent on work of mouth marketing.
Lastly, simply asking your consumers to pass along your information helps. Dan Zarrella did a short analytical look at what defines a “ReTweet” or the passing along of a message across Twitter. He found that a tweet that included the word “Please” was ReTweeted 5 times more often than one without. Although this is by no ways definitive, it gives us an idea that simply asking (nicely) can help compel users to pass along the message.
Once your message begins to spread you’ll need some way of tracking it. Figuring out who’s talking about you, what they’re saying, and if the message is even spreading, is important for the success of any campaign. Consumers and bloggers that have written about you should be highlighted as people to reach out to in the future when there are updates on your product or service. But how do you find people talking about you? There are a few ways, some of which are paid and some are free.
The first and what will pass for most people, is to use the free Google alerts. You can create an RSS feed, where Google will alert you whenever a page that includes the defined keywords is indexed. For example, I have one created for the term “Samir Balwani”. Whenever someone mentions my name, I get an alert in my feed reader to let me know where. With this information I’m able to track mentions of my name over time.
Word of Mouth Marketing 101 from WOMMA.org
Influencers Handbook from WOMMA.org
Word-of-Mouth the Most Powerful Selling Tool: Nielsen Global Survey
eMarketing: Word of Mouth Works Worldwide
Marketing Vox: WOM Builds Loyalty as Businesses ‘Tribalize’
Marketing Vox: Consumers Seeking Products Online Share Findings via WOM