This Guest Post is by Tara Hornor of Creative Content Experts
There was a time when word of mouth marketing could only move at the speed of human speech. Business owners handed out stacks of business cards to customers for their referral program. Neighbors leaned over fences to discuss the finer points of various products and services. Life was about keeping up with the Joneses. Oh, how times have changed.
Radio and television sped up this marketing technique significantly. Word of mouth marketing grew exponentially as use of the Internet became more popular. Now word of mouth marketing moves at the speed of social media, which sometimes seems faster than the speed of light.
Consumers are more likely to make a purchase or use a service if the product or service has positive reviews from family members, friends, acquaintances, even fellow consumers who are otherwise strangers. While word-of-mouth marketing sometimes just happens, there are a few techniques you can employ to help encourage and speed up the process.
Here are a few of the advantages of Web and social media powered word-of-mouth marketing follow by some useful tips to help you get the most out of your efforts.
Can’t Avoid Word of Mouth Marketing
Studies confirm that word of mouth marketing drives 20-50 percent of purchase decisions. First time purchases are especially affected. Purchases that offer a higher risk benefit the most from word of mouth exposure because consumers have much more at stake. For example, if your company is new, try to get some reviews of your products. This acts as a word of mouth reference for peers.
Consumers trust friends more than ad campaigns. Of course, circles of trust now include virtual friends as well as real friends. Word of mouth marketing offers businesses a host of tangible benefits, including:
Stand Out in the Crowd
Consumers are faced with abundant choices. Everyone is competing to be heard. Word of mouth marketing silences the competitors more easily by using trusted recommendations. This is where reviews, Twitter tweets, and Facebook posts about your products and services are priceless.
Savvy business owners who cultivate and nurture relationships with influential bloggers and commenters can leverage their authority. With the right tools and incentives, businesses can turn influencers into brand advocates. Having an influencer who authentically puts their weight behind your products and services can easily be the difference between a sale and a click away from your site.
Speed Up Sales
Word of mouth marketing enables consumers to decide faster. Input from trusted sources allows consumers to put aside any reservations and take a chance on a new product or service. Instead of “thinking about it” and maybe coming back to your site, with some word of mouth support an immediate sale is far more likely.
Modern Word of Mouth Advertising 101
The Internet offers an almost infinite number of hubs for virtual meetings to occur. Today’s version of the “fence out back” encompasses the entire world. Businesses can create virtual storefronts and communities for visitors to socialize in. The corner store has now housed itself in social media. Businesses can easily build brands by following a few simple word of mouth marketing techniques:
- Put audience interests in the forefront by engaging them with interesting posts and updates.
- Use photos and videos to show audiences, instead of telling.
- Design all content around the interests of the target market, focus on their agenda, nor yours.
- Show people using products, not just product still life images.
- Integrate reviews, likes, shares, and tweets from various social media resources.
- Encourage customers to write reviews on your site as well as via review sites such as Yelp.
- Provide incentives for reviews, both negative and positive, such as a discount or free gift.
- Make sure to include negative reviews with the positive, as this validates reviews.
Bonus resource: If you want more info on how to engage “influential talkers,” here’s a useful educational video via WordofMouth.org -> Ant’s Eye View’s Jake McKee on how to work with influential talkers
The typical social media user has an average audience of 100 or more. For the average person, that’s 4 times the immediate influence than in days gone by. Word travels much faster than it used to. Therefore, get customers excited about and involved in your company by engaging them on social media sites, your website, and blogs with interesting and helpful information.
Social media tools provide an excellent vehicle for businesses to connect with more consumers more efficiently. The modern water cooler conversation now takes place on social media sites and through product reviews. So get involved with your customers on these sites and be a part of the conversation. As the buzz around your business grows, keep an eye out for an increase in sales to increase alongside of your success with word of mouth marketing.
Tara Hornor has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design. She writes for PrintPlace.com, a company that offers online full color printing for business cards, catalogs, posters, brochures, and promotional postcards. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.
The new edition of our “It’s a Wonderful Web” enewsletter is out. It includes the follow short stories:
- It’s All About YOU (including Paul Simon quote)
- New Marketing in Another New Era
- Whipping Up Lower Cost Websites (fresh offer)
- Make Your Marketing More Effective
- New Custom-Designed Client WordPress Websites
- Is Your WordPress Website Safe? (new services)
- New News About NewMarU (update on our educational site)
- Luscious Links: More Useful Info, Just a Click Away (valuable!)
- Quick Hits: About the New Enews Format
If you’re not already a subscriber, you can read it online by clicking this link.
This week’s New Media New Marketing TheTVNews.tv report (Wednesday, not Tuesday, due to technical issues) covers four recent research reports that underscore the powerful, measurable growth and increasing impact of online video.
First, the video report (I’m at the top of this show). Then, all four referenced pieces of research on online video are linked below.
1. Eighty Percent of Net Users Watch Video as Global Consumption Explodes, comScore
Beet.tv’s interview with Tania Yuki, comScore’s VP product manager for online video research products has lots of insights, including her perception that worldwide, 80% of Internet users are watching video. Wow, that’s huge. And as a researcher, her observation of double-digit growth in time spent viewing as well as viewers are also impressive. Part 1 of the interview can be viewed right here:
2. Online Video Goes Mainstream
eMarketer’s report puts 18 to 34 year olds at the forefront and underscores that 29% of Internet users under 25 say they watch all or most of their TV online. Clearly there is a gravitation of TV viewers to the online realm and this trend is certain to continue if not accelerate.
3. Ad Agencies Shift Spend to Video
Another eMarketer report reveals that most ad agencies already saw online video as a place they need to be a year ago, with 87% in Q1, 2009 saying that they plan to devote more budget to online video. But the trend is towards “pretty much everyone” with 94% of ad agencies saying the same thing during Q1 of this year.
4. Online Video Ads More Effective Than TV Among U.S. Viewers
At the end of the day, the bottom line is effectiveness. No wonder the momentum to online video is accelerating. When the research tells you that the same TV ad presented online delivers more recall, more brand linkage, more likeability and more, how could you not make it a priority?
Have you produced your online video today?
Watch for more to come on my YouTube channel, for sure! 😉
Thanks for reading and, as always, I welcome your feedback, comments and YouTube ratings. Much appreciated.
Errol Morris is arguably one of the most important documentary film makers of our time. More than just an Academy Award winner (for “The Fog of War“), he has an amazing talent for listening to people and letting them tell their own stories in ways that inform and even illuminate reality.
Now, he has written for the NYTimes blog site an extremely insightful perspective, including an impressive selection of historical examples, on real “everyday” people in election advertising campaigns. This perspective, “People in the Middle” also includes discussion and links to Morris’ brand new web video site, PeopleintheMiddleforObama.org which was sponsored by People for the American Way.
About this new work, Morris says, “If you’re not going to put words in people’s mouths, if you’re really listening to what they have to say, you’re going to learn something. Admittedly, the evidence is anecdotal. I haven’t selected these people through some kind of statistical sampling. These people are self-selected. They wrote in and said that they were registered Republicans, Independents or switch-voters who were planning to vote for Obama. People in the middle. And I was interested in talking to them on film about why they were making the switch from voting for a Republican to voting for a Democrat.”
Most interesting to me was this conclusion, “The people I interviewed have embraced Obama. They are voting for a candidate, not against a candidate.”
I love the way these videos from an outpost in academia illuminate information’s revo-evolutionary process. IMHO, the insights are way worthy of reflection. Enjoy and appreciate the disruptive dynamics of our rapidly changing information society…
Here’s a video that’s not only entertaining and about seniors using the innovative Nintendo Wii video game, but it is also a clever form of viral video marketing which subtly promotes a senior assisted living company. Expect to see more of this kind of thing in the future. This one is unusually well done, and they save the low-key pitch for last. Appropriately putting the fun first…
We are way too early in this to be talking about blossoming, but the sprouts or seeds that are the revolution of the advertising business going totally digital, totally accountable, totally targeted and totally interactive are HUGE!
I cover the basics in my internet marketing ebook, and today’s New York Times covered how Microsoft is trying to catch up with Google in this arena. This is a good article packed with perspective.
At one point, this NYT article emphasizes how advertising-supported free media is winning out over subscription models by pointing out that, “In recent days, two prominent news Web sites — The New York Times and The Financial Times — said they were scaling back attempts to charge subscription fees for some of their content.”
And then Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer says, “As much as people sometimes like to pick bones with advertising, people much prefer an ad-funded experience to one that they pay for.”
Hey, isn’t this the guy who runs a software company that sells more software (and software upgrades) than any other company on earth?
He continues: “Even the basic software that we’ve delivered for so many years — if it can be ad-funded in the way it gets delivered to consumers, it probably will be ad-funded.”
In other words, free ad-supported digital media will rule, and digital advertising will blossom into channels of humongous proportions… proportions that make Google as it exists today seem small.
Bottom line, they all agree that it’s ALL going digital and this will change everything. Personally, I’m interested in building an advertising “on-ramp” for small businesses… A web application platform that would guide small business users so that they could leverage the advantages of the new media & advertising world. This is seriously needed by millions of small companies.
Like I’ve been saying for years, we need communication bridges spanning the grand canyon gap between people and technology… Anyone want to play?
I like it when two of the authorities on web marketing who I most respect get together. I’ve had personal contact with both Dr. Ralph Wilson and Catherine Seda (whose most recent book How to Win Sales and Influence Spiders looks excellent… I’ve not read it yet). Bottom line, like me, both of these people are committed to helping small and medium size businesses succeed with their internet marketing campaigns. This video offers three solid tips that are fundamental strategies. I know from experience that each of these will help you save money with PPC search advertising:
It’s been widely understood and acknowledged (ever since Google’s January 2006 acquisition of dMarc Advertising) that Google would be launching an interface to sell radio advertising based on it’s widely popular Google AdWords platform.
Well, the wait is over. It’s here. Now, anyone with an AdWords account can buy targeted radio advertising via a new tab at the top of their AdWords interface.
The impact of this innovation on the radio advertising industry cannot be overstated. Google facilitates the production of the spot as well as its placement (you can pick radio stations by audience demographic as well as geographic location, etc.). Thus this new service is truly revolutionary because it makes the whole process of advertising on local radio a whole lot easier and far more accessible than ever before.
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