By Toby Britton, co-founder of Miappi
It’s said that the best things in life are free, and the world of marketing is no exception. Forget your glisty TV spots and celebrity influencers (although they do have their place if you can afford it), it’s all about good old fashioned word-of-mouth, a marketing force almost as old as time. Well, as old as markets.
The stats speak for themselves – 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising (Source: Nielsen) and 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision (Source: Ogilvy/Google/TNS). So is it possible to harness this undeniable power of word-of-mouth and shape it into a marketing strategy? The answer is an emphatic ‘yes!’ Word-of-mouth marketing is not only possible, we believe it should be the beating heart of your marketing strategy.
Why is Word of Mouth Marketing so important?
Before the internet (if you can remember that far back, ahem) most word-of-mouth recommendations happened one-on-one in person or on the phone, and were usually limited to immediate family and friends. Since then, the internet age and social media has given us huge possibilities for connection, allowing us to engage instantly with not only extended friendship and family groups, but strangers too. Recommendations can happen one-to-many or many-to-many, and there’s a potential for huge organic reach.
And there’s more good news – the power of word-of-mouth isn’t limited to family and friends, that is, individuals that we know and trust. 68% of consumers trust online opinions from other consumers (Source: Nielsen) and 72% say reading a positive customer review increases their trust in a business. Powerful stuff!
When consumers recommend a product or brand, they have the potential to set in motion a chain of referrals that can build up a web of consumer recommendation in the background. If you’re able to encourage this – and your brand or product is worth talking about of course – you’ll get a near-continuous stream of customer leads and purchases with little marketing effort and spend.
A low-budget, low-maintenance marketing strategy is every marketer’s dream of course, but there are other reasons to pursue a word-of-mouth marketing strategy. If you have a strong network of consumer advocates who are driving recommendations to other consumers constantly, your brand will be resilient enough to weather changing budgets and uncertain consumer times.
How does Word of Mouth Marketing work?
Trust lies at the core of any good word-of-mouth marketing campaign. If a consumer sees a recommendation or product demonstration from another consumer that they can relate to, it gives them greater confidence at the point of purchase. But there are other strong drivers that make word-of-mouth effective. Our innate desire to be part of an exclusive ‘club’ can drive both how we are influenced to purchase and how we get talking about a brand – think brand ambassadors, secret product launches and members’ events. In addition, seeing or hearing word-of-mouth marketing can act as a trigger to be reminded about a brand or a product even when we don’t see direct advertising.
What is UGC and how does it fit in with Word of Mouth Marketing?
User Generated Marketing (UGC) is content created by consumers about a brand or product. It could be a review, product demonstration, photo, or something more creative. Marketing with UGC works because it is an endorsement from one like-minded consumer to another, building on all-important word-of-mouth power in the digital age. UGC might already exist having been created by highly-engaged existing customers, or it could be encouraged by a brand with clear instructions e.g. a follow-up email to leave a review online, or a TV spot asking customers to upload a photo of themselves using a product to social media, along with a pre-specified hashtag.
How to build a Word of Mouth Marketing strategy using UGC
A lot of great UGC might already be out there, but many brands will need to encourage the creation of UGC with a bit of careful thought. You need to have a product, activity or event that’s worth talking about, and encourage people to talk about it and create content around it. It’s not enough to put out a hashtag as an afterthought; you need to give consumers clear instructions. More than 50% of consumers want a brand to tell them what type of content to create and share, but only 16% of brands actually do (Source: Adweek).
When it comes to the Call To Action (CTA), if you can appeal to the values of your consumers and/or create an activity that resonates with the values of your brand, you’ll reap the rewards in UGC. When we worked with Dove on their recent award-winning #ShowUs campaign, we saw first-hand how powerful this effect can be. By staying true to their own long-held commitment to celebrating diversity, and aligning themselves with the goal of improving diversity in beauty representations in the wider industry, Dove’s network of engaged consumers and like-minded individuals generated the world’s largest photo library for women and non-binary individuals.
How to gather and use UGC
It’s possible to gather UGC manually, but we don’t recommend it as it can take many tens of hours a month. Fortunately, using a content aggregator such as Miappi not only makes the job a cinch but with an easy-to-use platform aggregates and curates UGC with advanced AI, and you can obtain the correct licensing for UGC with suggested pre-written form templates and a few clicks.
And that’s just the start of the journey for UGC. Through our platform, you can place UGC at key points in the purchase path online to supercharge your e-commerce strategies, as well as republish on your social media channels and broadcast elsewhere – the sky’s the limit. With the correct permissions you can creatively remix UGC for use in other campaign communications in all kinds of eye-catching ways.
Who needs costly on-location shoots with expensive models when a well-placed photo of a satisfied customer will not only do the job, but better? The stats don’t lie – It’s hard to beat word-of-mouth marketing for creating consumer confidence. And it’s never been easier for brands to harness this power through the combined power of social media and content aggregator technologies. So, what are you waiting for? Get your customers buzzing about your brand and let them take care of the content creation. You’ve earned it.