Counting on Word of Mouth to Boost Sales
Consumers have always shared their candid opinions about brands to family and friends… and sometimes to complete strangers. Marketers have long realized that great word of mouth could boost a brand in ways that carefully crafted ads could never replicate… and that poor word of mouth could sink their best-laid plans. It’s obvious that consumers trust each other far more than they do marketing communications. But activating truly authentic discussions and quantifying their business impact and ROI has been difficult for many companies.
The Internet has certainly made it easier to listen to consumers. With virtual megaphones in hand, they aren’t shy about sharing their opinions. The advent of social media has turned consumers’ comments about brands into an open conversation, and brands can actively participate. But even among their strongest advocates, it has been easier for brands to generate “likes” than it has been to drive sales. Moreover, digital tools haven’t had the ability to track and measure the majority of consumer discussions that take place offline.
Recent research, however, has uncovered some groundbreaking results that not only allow marketers to understand how online and offline advocacy contributes to sales, but also how to cultivate that advocacy in a systematic way that builds brands and drives sales. In other words, marketers can finally harness a consumer’s natural emotional bond with a brand, and parlay it into actual sales rather than just intangible “good will.” It turns out brand champions are not only your best ambassadors; they can also be a key part of your marketing plan.