Word of mouth marketing. As old as the hills but just as relevant today as it was when Queen Victoria and Pope Leo XIII were endorsing cocaine laced Mariani wine and prompting chatter amongst the hoi polloi of 19th century Europe.
Indeed, we are all so time poor, media bombarded, digitally exhausted (did you know we scroll through an average of 5 miles of content per year on our phone?) that peer to peer conversation about brands is right up there as our means to make purchase decisions. 74% of purchase decisions are influenced by word of mouth or recommendation.
And yet too many brands pay lip service to driving conversations about brands without really focusing in upon it as a key measure of communication success. Or too often there is an obsession with driving conversation between brands and consumers. As Mark Ritson points out consumers do not want to have a chat with their plate of chips.
No, what is important is that we tackle our word of mouth marketing strategy with a view to becoming part of the conversation. A recent study by Beckon reveals that 90% of content marketing is getting just 5% of engagement. A depressing statistic that illustrates the bombardment of noise that is being inflicted on the consumer and the dearth of properly thought through engagement material. Content is created for its own sake, to fill the airwaves with little regard to relevance.
So, what to do? Well there are three areas where marketers should focus when it comes to driving the conversation and enabling word of mouth marketing.
Experiential word of mouth marketing
Firstly, it’s about the experience. You sell your product, consumption takes place in whatever form and then are you just sitting on your laurels? Your hard-fought new customer just might say something nice or negative on line or in private but are you participating in the process? Are you encouraging feedback? Are you canvassing customer points of view? Are you learning from it? Are you harnessing the insights to influence future product development and marketing? Are you even responding to what is out there?
This needs an active experiential word of mouth strategy. Satisfaction surveys, advocacy schemes, feedback forms, invitations to post on social channels, incentivisation to recommend, recommender site monitoring and, content geared to purchasers and advocates are all no-brainers. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and a bird in the hand that is tweeting nice things is going to make a big difference to the bottom line.
Reactionary word of mouth marketing
Secondly it is about a reactionary word of mouth marketing strategy. How are you going to get consumers to respond and react to what you are saying? You need creativity. You need to spark conversations – in people’s heads, between people – about what you are, about what you are saying, about what you are showing. Content that drives likes, shares, views, clicks and purchase. It requires a way of thinking that focusses on involvement not broadcast. It manifests in ideas but it must also stem from insights and understanding of the topics that are live and relevant. Use listening, use research to understand what is hot culturally amongst your audience in and out of your category. And then step forward with topic relevant imaginative creativity.
Intentional word of mouth marketing
Thirdly it is about intentional conversation where you lead the process through the use of influencers and advocates. You set the direction, you define who you want to be your spokespeople. But make it natural and real.
Root your marketing communication strategy with due consideration to these three areas and you’ll stand a chance of being part of the chat. There is plenty more to consider such as the content of your communication, where you place it, from whose mouths and in what context, and of course the importance of measuring the impact of the word of mouth that results. We’ll be covering these off in upcoming blogs.
So, concentration on the conversation will make the difference. At Spinnaker, we call it the art of conversation. We think it’s time to talk.