In this blog post, you will be inspired by the concept of electronic word of mouth (eWOM) and different eWOM strategies.
What exactly is eWOM?
A sensible way to conceptualize eWOM is
“any positive or negative statement made by potential, actual or former consumers about a product or firm, which is made available to a multitude of people and institutions via the Internet”
(Hennig-Thurau, Walsh and Walsh, 2003)
You could categorize eWOM into two categories: organic and amplified. (Kulmala, Mesiranta, and Tuominen, 2013)
On one end, organic WOM occurs naturally when consumers share their opinion regarding their experience with your product or any aspects of your company. On the other end, amplified WOM refers to the WOMs that are a result of marketing campaigns designed to encourage share of opinion.
In real life, these two naturally overlap. If you provide a valuable and unique product or experience, people will want to share about you. Consequently, your eWOM campaign will likely be successful. Vice versa, if you employ a good eWOM strategy, it will increase your organic eWOM.
What makes eWOM important?
Academic studies have found that:
- Many studies have found that WOM has a significant effect on consumer behavior (Daugherty and Hoffman, 2013; Litvin, Goldsmith and Pan, 2008)
- Additionally, consumers consider eWOM as the most important source in buying decisions (Litvin, Goldsmith and Pan, 2008)
Now that you understand the strengths of eWOM, it is also important to be aware of its drawbacks.
Lack of control
One major disadvantage of eWOM is that in most cases, marketers will have limited control over the user content specifically, the negative ones. The findings of a study have shown that negative eWOM is also highly influential. (Bachleda and Berrada-Fathi, 2016)
eWOM could be utilized with malicious intent. Many businesses hire review services to generate unreal positive comments and reviews. On Top of that, some go as far as writing fake negative comments on their competitors’ products. (Cavazza and Guidetti, 2014)
The 4 eWOM Strategies
1. Promote User-Generated Content (UGC)
User-Generated Content is any type of content that has been produced and posted by non-sponsored consumers. UGC can be in many forms such as blogs, images, videos, text, and audio. UGC is usually being published on an online platform such as social media.
How to UGC marketing
Set SMART objectives for the campaign. SMART mnemonic stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-bound.
Choose the most appropriate platform and type of UGC. These two elements come hand in hand. The most popular UGC platforms include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The most widely used types of UGC are social media contests, campaign hashtags, and Instagram Repost features.
Design the campaign and tell your audience about it clearly and simply. An unclear instruction could doom your campaign from the start because you might confuse participants and, as a result, receive wrong content.
- Offer incentives.
You could offer tangible incentives such as free gifts, discounts, and money. However, some marketers leverage a more emotional-evoking incentive such as donation on the user’s behalf and fame.
- Build a sense of community
When the campaign gains traction, you could start a snowball effect by showcasing the campaign’s UGC. In doing so you should always ask for permission and give credit to the content owner.
- Use hashtag
To monitor the campaign, you could use hashtags and tagging to discover participating users and content.
UGC case study
- The GoPro Million Dollar Challenge (A product promotion video created using UGC, 2.1 million views in two weeks)
- You can find more UGC case study here
2. Share customer ratings and/or reviews
You usually see both of these together. On one hand, reviews and testimonials are qualitative content highly valued by consumers. On the other hand, ratings are a form of quantitative feedback that is easier to manage, rank and analyze. They are social proof of your product’s quality, value, and performance making buying from you an easier decision.
How to feedback marketing
Ratings usually come in number, star or more recently emoji. Reviews are usually in a written form or video. You could enable feedback marketing on your site or collect data from review sites or social media tags. There are numerous review sites depending on your industry and locale such as:
- Amazon Customer Reviews
- Trip Advisor
- Google My Business
- Angie’s List
Once you have gathered ratings and reviews, there are many ways you could use them:
- Create content with it
- Promote it on a landing page, homepage, and/or product pages
- Product improvements
If possible, it is good practice to show appreciation not only to positive feedback but that constructive criticism. For negative, raging, emotional or toxic ones, respond with an apology and try to solve the issue.
- You will find more examples of this on review sites such as hotels on Tripadvisor.
3. Employ a referral marketing
Simply put, a referral program is a process in which you reward customers for referring you to a new customer to your business. The reward is usually given after the referred prospect becomes a new customer.
How to referral marketing
Developing and employing a referral program online has never been easier. There is software that could help you with every step for instance:
- WooCommerce Referral Scheme (WordPress)
- InviteReferrals (free WordPress)
4. Collaborate with Influencers
Social Media Influencers are:
“users in social media who have established credibility in a specific industry through their activity in this media”
(Stubb, Nyström and Colliander, 2019)
Influencer marketing is a collaborative marketing effort between a business and influencer to promote a campaign or a product.
How to Influencer marketing?
- Identify the target audience
The first step is to determine who you are trying to reach with this campaign. A helpful tool in this step is buyer personas. (in this case audience persona)
- Identify and evaluate candidates
Consider this 3Rs model to evaluate suitable influencers.
Look for influencers who publish content relevant to your business. Moreover, their audience has to align with your target group.
How big is the follower base and how much of these people could you reach with a collaboration.
Resonance is how much the followers trust and engage with the influencer. Engagement is demonstrated in likes, views, shares, and comments.
3. Research and learn
To convince a suitable influencer, you have to be able to demonstrate that you know and appreciate their work.
4. Plan your budget
Free samples might do the trick for some low-reach influencers. However, for larger ones, you are expected to pay. This guide gives a great model on how to pay influencers.
5. Reach out to influencers privately
6. Follow the rules
The Federal Trade Commission outlines a set of rules to address issues emerging within this marketing strategy.
Bachleda, C. and Berrada-Fathi, B. (2016). Is negative eWOM more influential than negative pWOM?. Journal of Service Theory and Practice, 26(1), pp.109-132.
Cavazza, N. and Guidetti, M. (2014). Fake online reviews: A study on eWOM influence when suspicions arise. PSICOLOGIA SOCIAL, 9(1), pp.71-82.
Daugherty, T. and Hoffman, E. (2013). eWOM and the importance of capturing consumer attention within social media. Journal of Marketing Communications, 20(1-2), pp.82-102.
Hennig-Thurau, T., Walsh, G. and Walsh, G. (2003). Electronic Word-of-Mouth: Motives for and Consequences of Reading Customer Articulations on the Internet. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 8(2), pp.51-74.
Kulmala, M., Mesiranta, N. and Tuominen, P. (2013). Organic and amplified eWOM in consumer fashion blogs. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 17(1), pp.20-37.
Litvin, S., Goldsmith, R. and Pan, B. (2008). Electronic word-of-mouth in hospitality and tourism management. Tourism Management, 29(3), pp.458-468.
Stubb, C., Nyström, A. and Colliander, J. (2019). Influencer marketing: The impact of disclosing sponsorship compensation justification on sponsored content effectiveness. Journal of Communication Management, 23(2), pp.109-122.