This post was originally published on May 25, 2017, and was updated on April 2, 2020.
You’ve likely heard the term influencer marketing, especially if it’s part of your own digital marketing strategy.
But, have you ever thought of this type of marketing as the modern version of “word-of-mouth”? Combining fresh technology and a classic marketing strategy, digital word-of-mouth marketing is receiving unprecedented uptake among a wide range of markets. Digital word-of-mouth marketing encapsulates a wider audience outside of mainstream social media channels, such as personal blogs and online discussion forums, review sites, and paid influencers.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Tried and True
Word-of-mouth marketing has been around for centuries. Before marketing really existed it would be common practice to choose a business or service provider based on information from other people. These referrals were the only way that businesses could bring in new customers aside from the ones who just happened to be walking by.
Whether it’s being used for marketing, sales or something else entirely, there’s nothing new about the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Word-of-mouth has been the primary method of discussing and describing all matters of significance (and insignificance) in communities across the globe for centuries.
But while the power of word-of-mouth marketing remains unchanged, the means in which we take advantage of it has. The internet, above all, has radically transformed how we utilize word-of-mouth messaging as a means of marketing. Enter the age of digital word-of-mouth marketing and influencer marketing.
Digital Word-of-Mouth Marketing
When it comes to making buying decisions, people trust information from their family and friends more than any other form of information. They turn to their community for recommendations before purchasing any kind of good or service. Consumers will default to the opinions of their friends, family, colleagues and social peers with far greater frequency than they’ll listen to even the most polished or compelling marketing pitch.
However, the evolution of the internet coupled with the meteoric rise of social media use in the last decade has catapulted traditionally private word-of-mouth exchanges into the public domain.
Now instead of picking up the phone to call a colleague or going to get coffee with a trusted friend, consumers (especially Millennials) are hitting up blogs, firing out Tweets, creating threads on Reddit or accessing consumer-advocacy websites to get purchase-related questions answered.
Whether the product to be acquired is big ticket or small, consumers are turning to the internet (particularly social networks) as a source for trusted opinions, reviews and advice more frequently than ever before.
When shopping for any type of item, consumers turn to online reviews to make their decision. These trusted words — even from online strangers — are an incredibly important part of the buying process.
- 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews
- The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business
- The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision
[Source: Local Consumer Reviews, 2019]
Influencer Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Social media has changed our world, and the world of marketing. It’s become an integral part of people’s lives, and a key way for brands to connect with their existing and potential customers.
Social media also gave rise to influencer marketing. With social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter becoming ingrained in consumers’ day-to-day lives and habits, consumers are becoming content creators themselves, curating and crafting their own personal brands.
Influencer marketing is essentially the use of paid and unpaid content created by online users to promote or recommend a brand/product. It improves brand awareness, increases traffic, and drives your brand’s message to your target audience. When done right, it adds credibility and authenticity to your marketing message.
Influencer marketing uses digital word-of-mouth marketing and social proof, which we know are key pillars to any successful marketing strategy.
- 49% of consumers today depend on influencer recommendations for their purchase decisions. 60% say they’ve been influenced by a recommendation when shopping in-store.
- 89% say ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels
People Trust People
Moving forward, digital word-of-mouth marketing presence will be where the value is in marketing online, but it can also be the downfall of a brand if not monitored and managed carefully. Just look at all the ways social media interactions can go wrong in a hurry. This is why digital word-of-mouth is so much more powerful (and sometimes dangerous) than the traditional, face-to-face method.
While clicks and impressions are still relevant today, they will become progressively less important in the years ahead when it comes to measuring the health of campaigns.
As the tools and methods for measurement become even more refined, digital marketing strategists (and their clients) will become far more focused on evaluating word-of-mouth presence. Digital buzz — upvotes, likes, pins, shares, retweets, and days trending — are becoming the focal statistical indication of strategic success.
Optimizing Word-of-Mouth Marketing
So now you know that the bulk of word-of-mouth referrals are happening on the internet, in plain sight. But what if you’re having a hard time generating those referrals from your customer base or need to build a customer base in the first place?
A large part of digital word-of-mouth marketing these days is customers (or even prospective customers) sharing content that the company made available to them. It makes it easy for a customer to tell their network why they like a product or service, without having to put in much energy. So if you’re not producing engaging content, you’re really missing out here.
Your first step towards more word-of-mouth referrals begins with determining what your company does really well. If you’re struggling to come up with something, your problem runs deeper than marketing, and you may want to work with our team to develop strong messaging and positioning. But, if you know what your strengths are, then it’s time to remind your customer base of them on a regular basis, so they feel inspired to share what they are with their network.
You can then start to build your influencer marketing strategy to amplify the message through trusted sources that your customers are already engaged with.
Ready to capitalize on the power of digital word-of-mouth and influencer marketing? Contact TPM today and discover how we can help you.