With modern day technology, marketing is one of the most effective ways to develop an online business. Its impact can be transformative but is commonly underestimated. Marketing channels are influential in driving brand awareness and a strong customer base. In Canada alone, 82% of the population is active on some form of social media. Although marketing can be a costly and take time, social media has given marketing the ideal platform to flourish in modern day brand engagement.
By establishing a conversation with brands, consumers are immersed into a world of constant engagement and emotion. For example, Tim Hortons has become so deeply embedded into our lives, that the Twitter feed and Facebook updates have become a personal invitation to join its journey online.
The world of online and offline is becoming ever more interlinked and with the help of social media, word-of-mouth marketing (WOM) has become essential for businesses across the globe. The concept of creating a positive message, sharing it through widely used channels of communication is not just extremely efficient but very cost effective too.
This gives companies the opportunity to create content that can go viral and help to promote awareness, as well as reputation, both on the Internet as well as on the street.
Marketing expert, Geno Church, explains that the main consumer motivations behind creating conversation can be broken down into three categories:
- Function: Conversations are generated in order to make agreement and choose which brands are useful and which aren’t.
- Social: People converse about brands online to look good and to build up their own sense of reputation.
- Emotion: Brands that create immediate reactions are more inclined to be discussed in both online and offline situations.
Church also describes how the online and offline works within WOM marketing and their key differences:
- Online: The more public platform (also, voyeuristic) where people feel they have to show how brilliant, unique and special they are. This is called a ‘discontinuous conversation’ because you can actually decide when to respond, and you have the time to determine how you want to respond (depending on how good you want to look.) This is about making a social connection. Not an emotional one.
- Offline: The more personal space, where you have more instantaneous, face-to-face conversations. This is called ‘continuous conversation’ because it is naturally more emotional, more spontaneous, authentic and real.
Below are three case studies in which WOM marketing has been integral to brand success.
Seen as one of the most successful fashion brands through WOM over the last ten years, Superdry has found itself being a focal point in the media after celebrities like David Beckham and Justin Bieber were spotted wearing the brand. Having their clothing placed in the spotlight at such an early stage in their development, the company saw a major increase in growth and demand, conquering the wider market such as Canada, where they now offer free shipping in return for their customers trust and loyalty.
Raising over $100 million, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been one of the most memorable social media generated charity campaigns ever. Campaigns spiral particularly well if the emotion triggers passion, which was precisely the case with this example. The value of WOM marketing, done correctly, will give the company huge scope to become a major talking point, and whilst it may be difficult to track its success and potentially a lost message through mass communication, the result can present significant changes and an increased awareness of what the company is hoping to achieve.
Boosting your reputation by doing what you do best is a standard every company wants to live up to. A few years ago, if you lived outside of the US and Canada, you may have been forgiven for not knowing what WestJet was but now, every online user has heard of or seen the “Christmas Miracle” video. The video has been viewed online more than 35 million times since it was first posted last December and received coverage across the biggest newspapers in the world, and everyone was buzzing about their successful campaign. Since the video, WestJet’s Facebook page has up to six times the engagement of other airlines, has become a renowned company for their customer service and the entire production cost less than a typical TV spot.
Whether you have created a campaign that is intended to be a part of WOM marketing or it so happens that the Internet picks it up naturally, having people talk about your product or company (online or offline) is the ideal marketing tool to encourage a conversation that is far more free-flowing to boost social engagement and publicity of any brand.