Almost anytime I talk about viral marketing, the subject of offline word of mouth verses online word of mouth comes up. People ask questions like which is more powerful, which has more potential and which leads to higher conversions and purchases. The truth is, it depends on the campaign and the product. Still, two new sets of data have been released about word of mouth marketing that are worth looking at.
Jackie Huba covers them over at Church of the Customer today in a thought provoking post on the difference between online and offline word of mouth. In it, she talks about the studies that examine the way people spread ideas and advice about products and services they've used.
Here's the data:
|Active online researcher||All adults|
|Regularly gives advice||47.0%||29.4%|
|Occasionally gives advice||49.8%||63.4%|
|Never gives advice||3.2%||7.2%|
Source: BIGresearch, SIMM 11 (December 2007)
After searching, how do you communicate with others about a service, product or brand? (Check all that apply)
|Online communities (e.g. MySpace, Facebook)||11.8%|
Source: BIGresearch SIMM 11 (December 2007)
Jackie writes:"Apparently, the value of eye contact, voice and perhaps even non-verbal communication provides a boost to credibility and the likelihood that we'll do something about what we've learned," said Brad Fay, a study co-author.
I tend to agree with Jackie here. We build up a level of trust based on our past history with someone. Credibility is gained over time as we demonstrate our ability to make solid recommendations and we're able to establish shared interests, tastes and connections.
That said, I see the potential for some of this data to be misconstrued and used against those of us who push companies to explore online word of mouth, or viral marketing.
Here's the comment I left to Jackie's post:The Keller Fay study says:
I find the data interesting, but in my mind, it only serves to reinforce how important word of mouth marketing is becoming.
There's already a lively discussion going on in the comments, including some debate about exactly how much extra weight an "in-person" recommendation carries.
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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