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3 Tips to generate more digital word-of-mouth (WOM)

In today’s modern digital environment, customers are in the driving seat together with brand owners. They no longer browse your company website for information or to find a solution to their need. No… They turn to their peers, their social media networks, refer to reviews, blogs, etc.

So, does that mean the role of the strategic marketer is evaporating? No! Brands have to put that audience to use. Digital word-of-mouth should not only be monitored but also promoted and used as an effective way of maintaining and gaining further brand equity. We’ll discuss three quick tips to get you started.

Pyramid of credibility

Let’s begin with a very easy question. Which of the following sounds more credible to you?

  1. Brand X: “We have the most reliable product in the market, come and buy from us!”
  2. Friend/family: “I’ve used Brand X’s products and they really outlast the competition. You should definitely try it!”

Well, we as strategic marketers would like to believe it is option 1. However in reality it is more likely to be option 2.

Why is that? Well  it’s all about credibility. In the end, it is our job to boost sales for our products. Customers understand that and start trusting other sources more when it comes to influencing their buying decision. This can be summarized in the ‘pyramid of credibility’.

Pyramid of Credibility – based on Burgers (2011):

Pyramid of credibility - based on Burgers (2011)

Just try to apply this to yourself. Think about any of your last purchase decisions and how you browsed for information. Think about what you perceived as credible information and what kind of material you didn’t trust…

Edelman (2007) already found out in his ‘Trust Report’, that customers trust peers 75% versus vendor PR at only 20%. When we looked at a more recent study (Little, 2015), it claims that 92% of customers trust peer recommendations over advertising and PR.

Importance of brand advocates

In the above pyramid of credibility, we have defined that ‘ambassadors’ or ‘brand advocates’ play a big role in influencing customers’ buying decisions.

Word of mouth in the digital world

Beard (2013) defines brand advocates as ‘highly satisfied customers who go out of their way to actively promote the products they love and care about’. He also quotes Rugetta (2012), who claims that brand advocates are 50% more influential than your average customer.

Why are these so important in today’s digital environment?

  • Increased brand awareness

Basically, it’s free publicity. You’re not paying brand advocates to promote your brand. They are doing it out of their own free will and by doing so, increase the exposure of your brand

  • Digital word-of-mouth fuels growth

Beard (2013) shares the opinion that this type of third person communication fuels business growth, as they are perceived as more credible by potential customers.

  • Customer loyalty

Brand advocates are happy with the products from a certain brand. So happy that they want to share their positive experience with the world. How much more loyal can you get?

3 Tips to generate more digital word-of-mouth

Great, so how do we get started? Well, it is indeed a fact that strategic marketers cannot just sit back and enjoy the ride when it comes to digital word-of-mouth (WOM). Active participation and monitoring the discussion is key into ensuring the right outcome.

Here are three easy tips to get you started:

  • Promote actively

Word-of-mouth doesn’t start by itself. Strategic marketers have to ensure that customers have easy access to test their products (trials) in order to start writing about it. OK great, my customers try out my product. What’s next?

Not every customer will be willing to write about his/her experience with your product. Even if you provide them with a platform to share their experiences, you need to motivate people to do so. This can be done by promoting it through online campaigns or setting up a proper online networking strategy.

And basically, also here we can talk about a snowball effect. Once you get a couple of customers to talk about your products in the right channels, other customers will hop on-board.

  • Engage in the conversation

Great. The discussion has started. Now what?

The strategic marketer has to turn to his/her moderators. The interaction with a brand can determine the likeability of brand advocates continuing to write about your brand. That same interaction might seduce other doubting brand advocates to also pick up their digital pen and start sharing their experience with their network(s).

When doing so, make sure you add a human touch to your interaction. Successful brands like Taco Bell, very often have funny discussions with their followers on Twitter, motivating other customers to share their experience.

how Taco Bell joins the conversation on social media

ut we could also take a step back and ask ourselves: “why do we need all this word-of-mouth? Is it only to promote our brand through different channels?” Well, the answer is simple: NO. These discussions, conversations,… can become really valuable as customer input for further R&D and product development. You get first hand feedback of how your products perform and whether they meet the market requirements. Put that information to use!

  • Reward loyalty

Brands like Apple have a large brand advocate base. Look at the cues they have outside their stores when a new iPhone is released… Thousands of brand advocates are waiting to share their experience with the newest innovation. Some of them do it already leading up to the launch, based on speculations, specs and potential improvements they see themselves.

It goes without saying that not all brands have that luxury. That’s why it is important to have a strategy in place when it comes to rewarding your brand advocates. Don’t get me wrong: you don’t have to send out discount coupons to your brand advocate base, just to keep them motivated to write about your product.

Every product, brand, industry,… can have a different approach. Wild ideas could be to involve the brand advocate actively in the development and/or testing of a pilot run of your newest product. Make them feel important and valued and you can rest assured that they will continue to share their experience with their followers. According to Scoutsheet (2017), non-cash incentives have been proven to be 24% more effective at boosting performance, compared to cash incentives.

Conclusion

Digital word-of-mouth is an easy and cost effective way to come to more revenues for your company (Scoutsheet, 2017). Because customers in this digital age have multiple sources of information, we have to understand the different levels of credibility. Brand advocates, who are mostly boosting your digital word-of-mouth, rank high.

Promoting to write about your product is thus extremely important. But never forget, they will always need access to your product first. So, keep in mind to potentially offer trials, based on the market situation that you are in.

When people are sharing their experiences, don’t shy away from jumping into the discussion. You will motivate other customers to start writing and maybe most importantly, you get instant and valuable market feedback to take back to your R&D department.

Last but not least, think about rewarding your brand advocates. Non-cash incentives are proven to be way more effective than cash incentives (Scoutsheet, 2017). So, make sure you think your strategy through.

Author:

Communication Coordinator Oil-free Air Division

Reference list:

Edelman. (2007). Edelman Trust Report. Retrieved from https://blogs.oracle.com/cx/who-do-your-customers-trust-more

Little, J. O. E. Y. (2015, March 24). Who Do You Trust? 92% of Consumers Trust Peer Recommendations Over Advertising. Retrieved January 13, 2018, from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/who-do-you-trust-92-consumers-peer-recommendations-over-joey-little/

Beard, R. O. S. S. (2013, December 24). What Are Brand Advocates? Why Are They Important. Retrieved January 13, 2018, from http://blog.clientheartbeat.com/brand-advocates/

Rugetta, R. O. B. (2012). Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force. USA

https://scoutsheet.com/2017/10/31/referral-marketing/. (2017, June 15). Retrieved January 13, 2018, from https://scoutsheet.com/2017/10/31/referral-marketing/

https://blog.hootsuite.com/brands-awesome-conversations-twitter/ . (2014, January 10)/ Retrieved January 15, 2018

Burgers, J. O. S. (2011). Geef nooit korting!. Culemborg, The Netherlands: Van Duuren Media.

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