Measuring Offline Vs. Online Word-of-Mouth Marketing

By Mikal E. Belicove|For|November 23, 2011

The now commonly held notion that social media-related marketing is a requirement for business success may not carry as much water as once thought.

Despite all the technological advances in recent years, especially in the realm of social media, a recent study suggests that the vast majority of public discussion about products, brands and services occur in everyday word-of-mouth encounters with others, not online.

A yearlong study from the New Brunswick, N.J.-based research firm the Keller Fay Group, which included more than 32,000 participants, found that 91 percent of respondents’ information about brands came as a result of face-to-face conversations or over the phone. Just seven percent of word-of-mouth conversations about brands occurs online.

The report shows that a well-rounded approach to word-of-mouth marketing and consumer participation is every bit as important as blogs, Facebook posts and tweets in getting the message out, says Chris Laird, CEO of Tremor, Procter & Gamble’s in-house word-of-mouth marketing organization, which commissioned the study.

Your customer or potential buyer needs a reason to engage, a reason to care and a reason to tell others about your brand. It comes down to having something sharable that you can get out there, Laird says. Here are his three tips for getting the most out of word of mouth:

  1. Drive real-world conversation. Laird suggests that companies use social media tools to drive conversations out into the real world. In other words, discover ways to find and engage customers in online and offline conversations. As an example, the survey shows that 60 percent of respondents said they were “highly likely” to make a purchase based on an offline word-of-mouth interaction about a brand. Match that figure against engagement brought about by your social-media tools and you start to see why offline word of mouth is so much more valuable.

    Not only that, but the study shows that 67 percent of references to brands in offline conversations turn out to be positive in nature — yet another good reason for businesses to…

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