All businesses know that marketing is extremely important. However, as the world moves into a digitized age, the face of marketing is changing. Now, digital word-of-mouth marketing has emerged as a top strategy for effective brand advertising.

WHAT IS DIGITAL WORD-OF-MOUTH MARKETING?

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Before the days of billboards, TV commercials, and paid advertisements, there was a much simpler – yet more effective – means of marketing: word-of-mouth. Through word-of-mouth marketing, people have been sharing stories and reviews, comments and questions, about their favorite products with other people for decades. And despite the advent of other marketing and advertising means, word-of-mouth marketing has prevailed as the single most effective way to promote a brand.

As things become more digitized, word-of-mouth marketing (colloquially referred to as WOM by those in the marketing world), has evolved alongside smartphones, tablets, blogs, and social media. While in days of past consumers were limited to talking about their favorite products over the phone or in person, today, people are using digital means to connect with a larger audience than ever before. Hence, traditional word-of-mouth marketing has transformed itself into digital WOM marketing.

 

BENEFITS OF DIGITAL WOM MARKETING

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WOM marketing is beneficial for a number of reasons. First and foremost, WOM marketing is earned (and free) media for a business. When people talk about your product or brand, it doesn’t cost you a thing. What’s more, word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most credible forms of marketing, if not the most credible form of marketing, available today. In fact, a 2012 Neilson Report revealed that a whopping 92 percent of people trust brand recommendations from people that they know, and 70 percent of people trust brand recommendations that are posted by consumers online. Not only does WOM create trust, but it also creates long-term value, and builds your brand’s reputation.

While the benefits of regular word-of-mouth marketing are huge, the benefits of Digital WOM marketing are monstrous. While WOM of the past was limited to an individual’s family, friends, and circle of acquaintances or colleagues, WOM marketing of today allows people to connect with more people than ever before – we’re talking thousands of people at once. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ allow a consumer to voice an opinion about a brand and have that opinion shared instantaneously with hundreds of other people. And then, those hundred people can share the information with their own hundred people. And so on, and so on…

Digital word-of-mouth marketing opens the door for on-going conversations about a brand, product, or service. And, it allows a consumer to receive immediate feedback about a brand that they’re curious about. While you may not know someone personally who has used the auto shop downtown or tried the new salsa flavor at your favorite restaurant, a quick post about either on a social media site is bound to generate some traffic.

 

HOW TO START A DIGITAL WORD-OF-MOUTH MARKETING CAMPAIGN

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While providing a great product and great customer service are certainly important when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing, a strong online presence and actual digital WOM marketing strategy is important for generating positive conversations about your brand online.

The first thing that you should start working on is building up your online presence on social media and blogging sites. If you don’t already keep a company blog, you should start doing so immediately. The same thing goes for social media sites – if you’re not using all of the main ones, you should set up an account and get posting today. But having an account or a blog alone isn’t enough; you need to make sure that you’re adding friends, making connections, and posting regularly and consistently. The more consistent you are, the more you’ll start to build up a loyal base of followers. Read more about becoming a social influencer.

To help you establish yourself as a social media-lite, it’s important that all content that you post is high quality, and relevant to your audience/followers. Each post should be something that your audience can connect with, and everything posted should be high quality – pictures should be formatted well, videos should load quickly, and text should be free of major grammatical and spelling errors.

At this point in the game, you should have built up a pretty tight-knit community of followers on your social media platforms of choice. Now, it’s time to do something that will get those people talking about you. Developing a campaign idea that is creative, edgy, and engaging enough for people to talk about and share is by far the most difficult part of digital WOM marketing. But, it’s not impossible. For example, one way to get people talking is to announce a new product line or a really great promotional special for your brand. Another way is to post a picture that is extremely engaging, funny, or thought-provoking.

If you have the time and the resources though, you can do something even more enticing and catchy. For example, putting forth a challenge or competition can ensnare user engagement like never before. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that it’s original, meets your brands goals, is measurable, and is honest.

Because of the huge impact that the evolving digital landscape has on word-of-mouth marketing, your WOM marketing campaign has the potential to go viral if you make it great.

 

DON’T FORSAKE TRADITIONAL WORD-OF-MOUTH MARKETING

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There is no doubt that digital WOM marketing has completely revolutionized traditional marketing strategies and approaches. That being said, don’t forget about the importance of in-person word-of-mouth marketing, too. There are some marketing companies out there who claim that 9 out of 10 word-of-mouth conversations about a brand happen offline rather than on it. Whether or not the numbers are really that high is beside the point – word-of-mouth marketing does happen offline, and earning a customer recommendation through in-person interactions is extremely valuable. Providing great customer service, going out of your way for consumer needs, interacting with the community (not just the online community), and offering in-store promotions will all help to build your word-of-mouth effectiveness, both on the Internet and off of it.