by Rose Lugo
Word of Mouth Marketing (WoM) works. Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, heads of two of the most successful companies of our time, Amazon and Facebook respectively, are themselves big advocates of WoM. Nonetheless, there are several myths surrounding WoM that must be put to rest, for the benefit of discerning consumers and amazing brands everywhere.
Myth #1: Most conversations about brands happen online
People may be more connected now than ever before, but most conversations actually happen offline. In fact, a study from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association concluded that two thirds of the conversations that result in purchase take place face-to-face, and a whopping 91% of all conversations are offline, conversations about brands are not exception.
Myth #2: Marketers cannot control what consumers say
While it is true that it is impossible to control what people may say, conversations do not happen in the vacuum. Marketers who activate ambassadors have consistently shaped the conversations about their brands among influential consumer segments. Ultimately, earning coveted aspirational positioning for their brands, e.g., Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, and Netflix, for instance.
Myth #3: WoM will happen as result of other activations
Different marketing activations or a combination of a few will generate different results. Having executed 1000-plus brand advocacy programs, The Insiders are able to track conversations generated offline and online, and demonstrate how these conversations impact sales. Such KPIs come out of tested and proven processes that yield third-party verified metrics in sales lift and market share growth. These result from activating the right people, at the right time, with the right intensity. It is naïve to hope that similar results will come from peripheral activations.
Myth #4: WoM is ubiquitous and amorphous, it cannot be linked to sales
A competent partner specialized in activating ambassadors should be able to offer client brands with measurable results. The Insiders, for instance, have third-party verified ROI benchmarks across categories, with an average ROI of 2.3 (IRI), and sales lift ranging from 9%-33% following 6-weeks activations (Nielsen).
Myth #5: Only trendy brands can enjoy the benefits of WoM
Insiders—consumers who are members of The Insiders’ community—come from all walks of life. They use all types of products. An Insider may be a tech geek who tests a new smart phone; a new mom looking for a better diaper for her baby, or a coffeeholic who is eager to try a new flavor. Before they even advocate for the brand, consumers turn out to be ambassadors because they enjoy voicing their opinion and helping people. Their main motivation is not to support big brands, rather they want to spread the word about brands that in their view are the best. All brands can benefit from WoM, in fact 70% of Insiders’ activations revolve around launching new brands. Insiders create buzz supporting discovery and consideration, and ultimately getting consumers from competing brands to make the switch. Insiders activations deliver 15% to 21% in sales lift from conversion of new consumers (IPSOS).
Myth #6: Consumers misreport their brand advocacy activities
Consumers self-report the number of face-to-face conversations they had about the brand, the length of these conversations, and how many samples they shared. A reputable brand advocacy partner will adjust these metrics to ensure their accuracy. The Insiders as default deducts 30% of the numbers reported to account for social desirability. In addition, clients have access to KPI benchmarks in their own industry category, so they can analyze how their activation results compare against competitors.
Myth #7: WoM offers poor reach
One-one-conversations have a ripple effect. Each Insider generates on average more than 135 purchase recommendations offline. This number considers two generations, the people Insiders talk to directly and the people Insiders’ peers talk to as consequence. For example, in a activation launching a new coffee brand, 1030 Insiders spread the word with face-to-face personal recommendations to over 46 thousand people. In addition, Insiders produce a large volume of authentic user-generated content recommending the brand, which reached almost 570 thousand consumers online.
Myths aside, the fact is that marketers who include WoM in their marketing mix are in effect recruiting thousands of consumers to their sales force. Finally, here is a fact to keep in mind, McKinsey found that word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions. So let’s start woming.
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