Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Alive and Well in the Digital Age

Word of Mouth Marketing

It’s easy to get so consumed with digital marketing that you forget that marketing existed a long time before the Internet. Yes, marketing was a thing before smart phones, computers, TV sets, old-style telephones, radios, and newspapers. People even advertised their goods and services long before the majority of their customers could read and write. When all sellers could do was talk, they could still effectively market.

In fact, marketers could even ask their current customers to pass on the word about which craftsman made the sharpest spears or which farmer had the fattest olives to friends and family, and maybe even offer them an incentive to do it. With the offer of an extra arrowhead or scoop of grain, perhaps early incentive programs were born in the minds of prehistoric marketing geniuses.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing: An Old Idea That’s Still a Good One

Back in the old days, they used word-of-mouth advertising exclusively. In the Wharton School of Business article, “Turning Social Capital into Economic Capital: Straight Talk About Word-of-Mouth Marketing,” this is called an old idea with new traction. As marketers keep moving forward, it’s important to remember that people still buy because of the same motivations they always had.

Referral marketing has worked, still works, and will always work because it increases consumer trust in a brand. Consider some statistics about consumer trust from a Nielsen report, “Under the Influence: Consumer Trust in Advertising:

  • According to respondents to a global survey, 84 percent said that recommendations from family and friends were the most trustworthy.
  • Also, interesting is the fact that 68 percent of the survey respondents said that they trusted consumer opinions that they found online even if they didn’t personally know the reviewer.
  • Both of these sources of consumer information about brands ranked higher for generating trust than any form of pure advertising.

Taking Word-of-Mouth Marketing Online

Where does digital marketing fit into referral marketing campaigns? With the Internet, brands can use their social marketing platforms and websites to reach a lot more people a lot faster. Instead of offering incentives to pass on the good word about a product or service to one customer at a time, thousands, or even millions of current customers can be targeted. However, referral marketing campaigns do more than just attract lots of people into a marketing funnel.

According to the Wharton article cited in the previous section, these potential customers are also very targeted. This may be because current customers know their social circle better than any market researcher can. They suggest brands, products, and services that they believe will meet the needs of their friends and family. The Wharton article also cited case studies that these referred individuals converted into customers at a high rate and stayed very loyal after they became customers.

Online Referral Marketing Automation

One of our earlier blog posts detailed “6 Ways Marketing Automation Does Your Work for You.” This is a great article to revisit because some of these established marketing automation platforms integrate with new referral marketing automation software or offer their own. By blending the old tactic of referral marketing with new automation, companies can enjoy increased efficiency and even higher returns on their marketing investment.

The Internet, Marketing Automation, and Word-of-Mouth Advertising

This is where the ancient tactic of encouraging word-of-mouth advertising meets the Internet. Companies can enjoy all of the benefits of referral marketing and online digital marketing automation. Still, this all works because of the trust your brand has already inspired in your current customers. So, why not let those satisfied customers start spreading the good word?

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