THE WORD OF MOUTH POWER IN THE DIGITAL ERA
Welcome to the STRUGZ platform where life principles, careers, and business tips are shared. Word-of-mouth happens to be the best form of marketing and advertisement. People have always talked about their experiences, emotions, needs, and also products, services, and brands. This week's edition offers more variables into what can be achieved by word-of-mouth marketing/advertisement (what it is, how it works, why it works, how it is linked with social media).
The arrival of the digital era along with social networks and new digital marketing techniques is a reality in our day to day, and especially in business. However, the power of word of mouth influences our purchasing decisions in a more direct way since, undoubtedly, it is one of the forms of communication that has greater credibility due to the sources where it comes from.
Despite the fact that this technique has always been used, this branch of marketing has been coined some decades ago as WOM by its acronym Word of Mouth, which literally means from mouth to mouth. One of the key aspects of the management of business associations we do from STRUGZ is the use of word of mouth through business networking that takes place in the events. At STRUGZ we are fully aware of the importance of knowing how to transmit the message accurately. We must understand what we want to say in order to get the receiver to understand the message and intention.
Word of mouth happens all the time and everywhere. People communicate in many ways: from face to face interactions to telephone calls and writing letters or exchanging opinions via email, blogs, and so on. the customer talks across all possible channels and is increasingly becoming channel-agnostic. People "talk" and exchange thoughts and opinions about many things: the weather, their children, their health, the news, other people, the latest gossip, their feelings, recent events, the good old days, you name it.
Word-of-mouth occurs everywhere people get together: at the local pub, at home, in the sports club, and increasingly online and on social media. And there are many reasons why people like to talk about their experiences with products and brands. Brand experiences and individual customer experiences, as well as overall opinions regarding perceived levels of overall customer experience, customer service, satisfaction, etc., are shared and often have a very personal and subjective nature. But they increasingly happen in very public space: the social Web. They occur, whether we like it or not. They can have a positive impact on our brand or hurt it.
In the social media age, word-of-mouth can travel very fast. The scale, speed, and real-time nature of the social Web and the increased possibilities for people to share and express themselves play a crucial role in this.
The fact that word-of-mouth is so important online is one of the reasons why businesses must be active in social media and social content marketing. They need to listen to what is being said about them, their brand, and their competitors. People love to listen to what is being said about them their brand and competitors, they need to learn from what they “hear” and also respond when necessary. They have to, as the expression says, “join the conversation”.
Here are some of the main benefits of WOM
· WOM is customized to the digital network society: Word-of-mouth marketing is an extremely powerful marketing instrument. It has an exponential effect that is strengthened by the online communication channels and the consequences of the network economy. The rise of online media and communication means has markedly increased the speed at which messages are shared. At the same time, the cost is often much lower than that of other forms of marketing and the ROI better.
· WOM presents a powerful answer to modern marketing challenges: The explosion of media and the changing consumption thereof have made the marketing-communication reality a lot more complex. Consumers are exposed daily to an abundance of advertising messages, while the impact of conventional communication is simultaneously dropping. The fragmentation of the communication landscape is however also one of the most important feeding grounds for WOM and therefore generates a significant response to all these challenges.
· WOM is an answer in the client-oriented economy: In a discussion, you personally decide who you want to talk to. Word-of-mouth occurs between people who personally determine what they want to share, for instance in viral marketing, and who to believe in order to acquire information, opinions, etc. in their buying journey. The impact of a recommendation from a reliable person, like a friend, is much stronger than that of an advertising message of a biased source, namely a company. The message in WOM is per definition customized for the consumer. After all, we talk to others about the product that we are interested in at the moment, in order to make informed decisions. An interesting message ensures a worthy WOM-campaign.
· WOM is/appears reliable: This coincides with the previous but is crucial. The advice from friends is much more reliable in the consumers’ perception than that of a seller or marketer. Since people participate and personally create media, amongst others via blogs, you get a new group of opinion leaders. It is obvious that identifying these opinion leaders is an important job for the marketer.
Here are few tips about word-of-mouth to bear in mind. There has to be communication with several target groups in an intentional manner and the content has to be message share-worthy. Also, always thank people who refer business to you with a letter of appreciation and a small gift, this show of gratitude helps to have them refer you again and again.
Rewarding those who refer customers to you requires knowing that it happened. And tracking how many customers you’re getting through word-of-mouth can help you understand the concrete effects of your efforts. You don’t need to use sophisticated software: simply remember to ask customers where they heard about you, and write it down. This will help you identify how your WOM is spreading, and who is helping it happen.