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Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing is one of the most effective and long lasting techniques for increasing traffic to a web site. This session detailed effective word of mouth marketing campaigns and how to integrate them into your online advertising mix.

By Louise Rijk of Advanced Media Productions, Inc.
and Greg Hartnett, President of Best of the Web

Louise Rijk:

Word of mouth is the oldest form of advertising that’s been around. It’s transferring honest information to other consumers. WOM is driven by influencers with large social networks who are inspired to talk positively about a brand, product or service. Organic WOM occurs naturally when people become advocates because they are happy with the product. Amplified WOM is when marketers launch campaigns to accelerate WOM.

Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) happens when people are given a reason to talk about a product or service online and offline. It is based on driven customer satisfaction, two-way dialog and transparent communications.

Online WOMM uses internet tools to exchange ideas about services or products or brands. Online WOMM does not dissipate after a conversation as in the offline world. Online WOMM’s share is small but growing.

WOMM is based on the principal that users “influencers” to spread a message online and offline. Activating online word of mouth is not free any more than activating word-of-mouth in the offline media. Success of the “pass-along” effect is largely dependent upon the value that prospects receive in exchange. The Key to WOMM is how many users you reach.

How do you recruit the influencers?

About 10% are power influencers (i.e. on Digg). 90% of the rest of the people are moderate influences, who will pass the message to their family and small social circle. But if you can get to the small 90%, you should do it. A lot of big brands only focus on the small 10%.

Once you find the influencer, you need to motivate them to carry your message.

Then you need to keep the influencers.

WOMM Strategies:

Start with listening online about what people are saying about your product to get the unfiltered insights.

CGM monitoring – blog monitoring, news alerts, online discussion forums, etc.

“Listening services” – CGM analytics vendors – Nielson, Buzzmetrics, Umbria etc.

Customer Service department – CRM system in house

Encourage communications! Develop or use tools that make sharing easy to execute.

Give “influencers” something to talk about! Make sure you have a good product or service.

Be part of a community. No one will listen to you if you are not part of a community.

WOMM vs. Social Media Marketing (SMM)

WOMM relies primarily on influencers to spread the word. SMM spreads itself by the social web and relies on passing messages along from person to person. The messages must be entertaining or outrageous to attract attention. SMM is not always relevant to the brand. SMM usually generates a short traffic spike. SMM is online only. WOMM is online (20%) and offline (80%) so you are using some traditional media.

Why is WOMM important?

-Major brands are moving from testing WOMM to including it into fully integrated campaigns.

A WOMM campaign generates more online buzz when supported by traditional media buys. Greater paid media spend = greater online buzz. People react more to hearing an ad on TV or radio (will look it up) then an ad on the Web.

So, how do you plan a campaign?

-Set goals

-Define target audience

-Brainstorm about an idea

-Plan and develop a message that will travel

-Develop a traditional online ad campaign

-Select and identify influences

-Motivate and empower them

-Keep them engaged

-Track and measure everything

Gregg Hartnett

Two good books I recommend are Word of mouth marketing by Andy Sernovitz and Creating Customer Evangelists by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba.

The 5 T’s of WOMM:

  1. Talkers – why we talk: you, me and us: they like you or your stuff, they will listen to me as a speaker, they are part of a group. Finding your talkers: Happy customers, online talkers, sweet shwag, eager employers, fans or hobbyists, professionals. The money shot: identify industry opinion makers! Go to conferences!
  2. Topics: what will they talk about: give them a reason, a great product or service, special sales or discounts, extraordinary customer service (how you deal with an issue), partnering with a charity
  3. Tools: Ask for the referral. Some people don’t pay attention to this. Say – hey, tell a friend! Newsletter/email. Anything you ever do for word of mouth marketing should be in an email. This is the easiest way to spread your message, it gets forwarded around. The social network effect – now is a good time to be an online marketer – Digg, Facebook, great power to meet the masses so quickly and easily! Blogs are another great deal to create, spread and monitor your message. The power of shwag – free stuff with your logo! Try to be edgy without being offensive.
  4. Taking part in conversation: Get involved, steer conversations. Help, not hype. Build your rep, don’t push your company. No one wants to hear it. Company blogs, industry blogs. Be transparent and honest. Eventually it will come back to you.
  5. Tracking response: Google blog search tool ( – they have alerts and RSS feeds. Technorati, BOTW Blog Search (

Ultimately, happy customers will be your best source of advertising. Focus 100% on this. Be respectful and ethical. Under promise and over deliver.

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