Based on accumulated data spanning six categories, researchers have concluded that consumer conversations, both on- and offline, are responsible for 13% of all sales, translating into $6 trillion in annual spending. Furthermore, WOM accounts for 20% of sales for higher price-point items.
So what can you do to capitalize on this or even use it? Zombies, drugs and motorcycle gangs are already taken - so how do can you make WOM work for you? What is its secret?
Hope Nguyen, Sr. Marketing Director at NetBase, has a theory: “Understanding what your audience is saying about you is extremely valuable. If you don’t know what they’re saying, and how they’re influencing others, you miss out on responding and interacting with them (and potentially redirecting the conversation). And WOM is one of the most valuable marketing tools your brand has.”
The WOMMA study came to a similar conclusion. They found that although high profile ads may get the conversation started, consumers trust each other's personal experience much more than a paid sales pitch:
“The results contain good news for practitioners of both paid and earned marketing. About one-third of the sales impact is attributable to word of mouth acting as an "amplifier" to paid media, such as television, with consumers spreading advertised messages. But most of the impact of word of mouth works independently of advertising, whether stimulated by product or customer service experiences, public relations, owned and earned digital content, referral marketing, and so on.”
The conclusion? If you are in any kind of business with a product to promote, you need to be paying attention to not only what potential customers are saying, but also when and where. Here’s why:
“Word of mouth's impact happens closer to the time of purchase than traditional media — often within two weeks.” That’s a tight window, friend – you need to know what’s being said as it’s being said.
Having an awesome product isn’t enough - if you want your brand to be Zombie-popular, you need real-time insight into these consumer conversations. And, as Nguygen points out, you need to have a better than average understanding of sentiment analysis too.
“It’s not only the words consumers are saying, it’s the sentiment behind the words – and keyword searches won’t parse that information for you.” Citing an example from the NetBase websitespeaking to this phenomenon, “Language is hard. A single word can completely change the meaning of a sentence. For example, the sentence, “The iPhone has never been good,” is actually a negative statement in spite of the fact that it uses the word “good.” On the other hand, “The iPhone has never been this good” is a positive statement.” Add to that the colloquialisms, misspellings, slang and sarcasm commonly found online and “traditional text analytics produces social media sentiment analysis that’s wrong more often than it is right.” Yikes.
You need to expertly eavesdrop and encourage WOM to happen by offering relevant (and – even better: personalized) experiences for consumers – and you need to do so quickly if you have hopes of kicking engagement into overdrive.
Are you currently capturing every opportunity to amplify consumer WOM? And if not, why?
This Post originally appeared on Examiner