- Recommendations from friends (58%)
- Opted-in email newsletters (33%)
- TV ads (32%)
- Catalogs via mail (30%)
- Magazine ads (30%)
Friday, June 29, 2007
In the past month or so, I’ve heard TV and radio news programs report on this new trend. Both talked negatively about WOMM. But I think they were looking at the abusers of WOMM instead of those who are using it respectfully and accurately. The basic gist of WOMM is to encourage individuals to give an honest recommendation about your product to others. The realization is that people put more weight on the words from a friend or a person who has already experienced the product.
Abusers of this approach basically hire freelance sales reps to “sell” the product to people they know. Payment is usually received as free product or coupons. The companies strongly suggest what the customer needs to say about the product and the sales goal they need to achieve before a “gift” will be sent. When a company determines what a customer will say, it certainly is not word of mouth. When there are achievement goals to attain a "reward", it is not word of mouth. I don’t have a problem with the approach. But I do have a problem with calling it word of mouth marketing.
To properly entice a person to talk about your product, it’s okay to offer things to increase excitement or to let them know you are thankful they chose to spend their money with you. Usually notification of those gifts happen at the purchase or receipt of your product. What makes WOMM different from incentive programs, such as frequent flyer clubs, are the type of gifts you give. The goal is to enable the person to spread the word about your product with the gift. I suggest checking with the customer to see if they are interested in spreading the word. That can be done simply by providing a means to do so or asking if they want the item you offer to further the discussion. Things given as a “thank you” of course do not need to be opted into. Your return rate on those would obvious be proportionately smaller, but overall activity should be larger.
Other ways of encouraging WOM is to simply provide a vehicle to discuss your product. This can be via an “email a friend” link (although I’m personally not a fan), emailable sample chapters if you’re a book publisher, customer comments on your site, product giveaways for the buyer to give away, or even bumper stickers.
The most important part to remember in all of this is that you need a product that’s worth talking about. Creative marketing can only go so far. If you have a bad product, it’ll come out in WOMM. That was one of my concerns with my websites or products. What if people don’t like them. I’m then empowering people to talk negatively about my product. But even if you don’t attempt to further discussion of your product, people will talk about it anyway. In fact, they already are. The advantage of being more engaged in the discussion is that you’ll find out sooner if the product won’t perform. You'll then be in a better place to allocate your resources in directions you know will succeed.
For more information, I’d recommend a book by Greg Steilstra titled Pyro Marketing. I haven’t read the entire book, but I’ve met with Greg to get its gist and discuss some of my concerns with the WOM approach. He explains things well in the book. His fire metaphor makes understanding the WOMM concept clearer.
There is also an organization, named the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), that is committed to furthering and educating people about WOMM. They also conduct training sessions, webinars, and provide an email newsletter if you want to become a stronger advocate for WOMM.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
- eMarketer Daily (left side)
- MarketingVOX News (the very top-right of homepage)
- iMedia Connection (halfway down on left)
- BizReport.com (top-left on homepage)
- CNET Webware Weekly
Unfortunate in some ways, I typically don’t visit web sites or blogs to learn about information related to marketing or development. I suggest doing so if you have the discipline since many sites without an enewsletter signup can give you excellent information. I prefer information be delivered directly to me since I don’t always remember to visit sites for information and since the schedule of my day varies so widely. Plus, I can then easily archive the information for later reference and pass it around to others in the company.
Another option you can take is to start your own blog aggregator and look for site RSS or ATOM feeds. Internet Explorer 7.0 has an easy aggregator function within it. I haven’t had much luck finding other programs I appreciate. An aggregator enables you to go to one location to view the best content from your favorite sites. As an example, Thomas Nelson created its own aggregator combining blog posts from employees who have them. All of the sites I listed above have RSS feeds. The feeds typically include more information than what I receive from them once each week.
The study goes on to indicate that 9 out of 10 people in the study who eventually made a buying decision were reached by the ad in at least one other location (see chart below). We know that repetition is important in advertising. This article helps us know how much our repetitive advertising helps us.
One important note to make is that repetition is not best in all advertising applications. Plus, we should not simply advertise in various locations, but targeted locations where the same consumer visits. That requires a better knowledge of who is coming to our sites and where they shop.
Although, that could be a topic unto itself, I wanted to give you a couple recommendations if you're interested in learning more. Hitwise is a company that provides this data most accurately. But it comes at a steep price. There are some web analytic tools you can buy for your site that attempt to find out this information as well. Both WebTrends and Omniture provide this information if integrated appropriately. They can also be pricy, but if buying the WebTrends software (not the company's hosted solution) the use of the software can be depreciated over time. However, the best reliable option I quickly found for almost any size business is Google’s latest Google Analytics package. It’s totally free unlike the others, but Google then gains knowledge of your site’s performance and visitor behavior. Typically, that won’t be a problem. However, it’s certainly important to note.
The study is summarized pretty well by eMarketer. You can view this article until around July 4.