Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is a very effective field of marketing since 92% of consumers prefer recommendations from family and friends over all other forms of marketing and advertising. Companies should be taking a stronger approach towards this field when 64% of marketing executives believe it is the most effective form of marketing however only 6% of those marketing professionals say they have mastered the skill.
What makes this field so difficult for marketers is WOMM is about connecting rather than collecting. In other words, it is more valuable to have 100 really passionate fans that enjoy the product rather than 100,000 fans who signed up for a promotion. Those 100 passionate fans are more likely to start a buzz among their friends which will exponentially grow as for the 100,000 will most likely decline as promotions begin to fade away. Those passionate fans will lead to a higher conversion rate among referrals and continue a buzz throughout their communities. They will continue to tell a friend who then that person will tell a friend who will also and so on and so on – those referrals will lead to an increase in sales.
Social media is a great way to start the buzz however research has shown the majority of WOMM takes place away from the screen. This makes it difficult for companies to research and control the conversation. This is probably a likely reason why consumers prefer word of mouth over all other forms of advertising.
It is difficult to control word of mouth marketing but there are three different routes to managing a WOMM campaign:
- Build a strong word of mouth foundation
- Exceptional levels of customer satisfaction
- Trust and commitment with consumers
- A specialized product that people want
- Business that creates conversation (ambiance, service, quality)
- Indirect word of mouth marketing management (moderate control)
- Controversial advertising
- Teaser campaigns
- Customer membership clubs
- Email distribution list
- Direct WOMM management (larger control)
- Paid WOMM agents (paid consumers who talk about experience)
- Incentive based surveys and ratings (Yelp offers)
- Bring a friend participation
- Respond to Twitter followers
Make sure to stay credible, social, repeatable, measurable and respectful. Never ever be dishonest to the consumer because that word travels faster than all others.