The Rise and Rise of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
‘Word-of-mouth’ marketing is set to become big business in 2009, according to industry analysts. NMK spoke to one analytical firm helping a number of firms maximise their word-of-mouth potential and therefore react quickly to changing market demands.
The rise and rise of the blogger has made it impossible for companies to ignore the ‘buzz’ of conversations on the Web, meaning they need to engage more with consumers and monitor what is being said about them, their industry, product offering and competitors online. As key blogger Jeff Jarvis stated; “Now consumers do not just consume. We spit back. We have our own printing presses.”
Retailers especially face tough market conditions in 2009 and gaining critical intelligence on the conversations consumers are having will enable them to be more competitive, according to Simon McDermott, CEO of monitoring firm Attentio.
What does Attentio do?
We run a number of sector projects, such as retail, to ensure we have knowledge of a space and how communities operate within that sector, often before a client specific need comes along.
What do you advise customers when engaging word-of-mouth marketing?
Many of our clients approach us with a specific campaign monitoring need. We often advise brands to also monitor their competitor set over time so that they can benchmark their share-of-voice in the market as well as measure specific brand messages.
How long does web analytics take to implement?
Chart generation can be almost instantaneous after adding the search criteria into our dashboard, however it usually takes around 24 hours to initially populate a project with data, dependent on number of terms tracking, number of languages or regions, and whether the client needs us to go ‘back in time’ to find conversations.
How critical is ‘word-of-mouth’ in the current market?
Andrew Frank, an analyst from Gartner, predicts this type of listening intelligence will be a three billion dollar industry by 2012. Certainly we think the effects of the credit crunch in 2009 will see an increase in 'word-of-mouth' investment as measurement and accountability for marketing spend becomes even more important.
Which sectors are most proactive?
Consumer technology and pharmaceutical brands make up a large proportion of our business currently. We'd expect the retail industry to invest more in this area in 2009 as a result of increased competition for consumer attention. Similarly in the last quarter of 2008 we've seen enquiries from personal finance brands almost double.
2008 has definitely seen the knowledge gap close between those who understand the value of this type of service and those who don't. Agencies seem particularly well informed with perhaps a slight bias towards PR as they have traditionally utilised media monitoring services such as clippings agencies.
Online reputation auditing and monitoring is offered by 57 per cent of agencies according the recent Online PR Industry Benchmarking Report from eConsultancy. However, we get inquiries from across marketing, advertising, PR, brand management and customer service as word-of-mouth monitoring is pertinent across a business.
How quickly can retailers react and change prices or products in response to ‘buzz’ monitoring such as this?
I guess that's a question for the retailers! But from our side we can provide them with a daily view of their conversational universe.
Compare this to traditional market research methods which involve expensive, labour-intensive focus groups and consumer sampling. These old media methods, while still useful, can't compete with the speed and immediacy of the internet for today’s digital savvy marketer.
Any predictions for 2009?
More multi-region co-ordination across digital marketing: When it comes to word-of-mouth analysis, nothing highlights more that online conversations don't have borders and marketing activity in one market can have even a global impact due to the spread of information across the Internet and the fact that of course consumers are talking to each other across countries.
It's always said but we will see further consolidation of marketing spend. Some customers have communicated they are investing in putting a service like ours at the heart of their business for multi-stakeholder access rather than buying market insights in from lots of different sources.