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August 23, 2010

Going Deeper into Word of Mouth Marketing


Long-time Brand Autopsy readers know I’m a believer and practitioner of word of mouth marketing — written lots of about it and have worked in it with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. [Disclosure: I’m still doing some work consulting/presentation work with WOMMA.]

Recently I began working on a project with The Keller Fay Group.

For those deep into word of mouth, you should know Keller Fay. Since 2006, they have been tracking marketing-related conversations Americans are having both offline (person-to-person and face-to-face) as well as online (email, social media, and texting). I’ve quoted many of their research findings on this blog and in countless presentations.

What’s fabulous now is I’m going to have access to previously private TalkTrack® study statistics on word of mouth marketing. In essence, Keller Fay has given me the keys to unlock their data archives of research findings and share the information with you.

With keys in hand, I’ll be serving as Keller Fay’s TalkTrack Conversationalist by sharing interesting stats and providing marketing insights into the implications of Keller Fay’s findings. You’ll be able to read these short articles on the Keller Fay blog, WOM MATTERS.

An early TalkTrack® Abstract posting from me shares Four WOM Stats Every Marketer Must Know. A snippet is below ... the complete article is here.

50% of all consumer conversations about brands refer to a company’s marketing activities

That’s a significant number for marketers to consider. Even more significant is that Keller Fay data reveals traditional advertising (radio/TV/outdoor/print) drives 22% of word of mouth conversations where brand names are mentioned. The remainder of brand-driven conversations are sparked by in-store marketing signage, promotional campaigns, online/social media activity, and direct mail/email.

When designing marketing activities to spark word of mouth, a few basic questions must be asked (and answered). Is the marketing activity interesting? Is it entertaining? Will the planned marketing activity earn opinions from customers? If marketers design and deliver truly interesting and entertaining marketing activities, opinions will be earned and conversation from customers will be sparked.

The challenge then becomes do marketers have confidence that more positive opinions will be earned than negative ones. >> READ MORE


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Interesting to see that only 10% of word-of-mouth happens online. As social networking continues to go mainstream, do you see that increasing?

Lateef ... to hear that the FAR MAJORITY (90%) of marketing-related conversations happen person-to-person and face-to-face does get people's attention, especially social media marketers. I heard Brad Fay, of Keller Fay, talk about this at a conference last year. He made a great point by saying, “It’s not that the online conversation is so small. It’s the other is so big.”

The big number Brad refers to is … 3,000,000,000. (Ahem, we’re talking three billion here.) That’s the number of word of mouth conversations Keller Fay estimates take place on a typical day in America. If 1.3% of word of mouth conversations about companies happen on social media websites, then that’s 43-million daily conversations. A VERY sizeable number.

To directly answer your question ... yes, I would assume the 10% online WOM number will increase as more and more people use digital gadgets and social media to pass along information to others.

Online conversations are rarely about brands but of beliefs. Consider that traditional media was always in the hands of advertisers and newscasters, therefore the share of voice of brands was much higher. With social media, consumers finally have a larger share of voice - why would they spend it talking about brands when they would rather talk of beliefs, emotions, lifestyles etc. The brand noise is dying down because there are more important things to talk about. It is up to brands now to plug into these conversations (that are obviously not about them) and remain relevant to who they believe is their consumer base. Brands have to start aligning themselves to consumer conversations. The research agency could have tailored the research to identify the conversations that benefit brands and if brand owners are taking hold of those opportunities.

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