The potency of consumer conversations and word of mouth in shaping product performance has been a long-recognized fact by marketers.
In the current digital age and managing through a downturn, marketers and business leaders face new challenges due to the constantly evolving landscape. The emergence of new tools such as ChatGPT and alike that utilizes artificial intelligence to engage in natural language conversations, and the increasing significance of digital advertising make it crucial to comprehend the power of consumer conversations.
Engagement Labs recently conducted a study on the Most Loved Brands in America, which underlines the importance of engaging with customers and providing a positive brand experience.
To succeed in today’s cutthroat environment, brands need to prioritize establishing strong relationships with their customers and consistently delivering positive experiences. This entails investing in unique marketing strategies that cater to both social media and real-world conversations.
The most loved brands in America
One example of the power of consumer conversations is the success of the most loved brand in America. Engagement Labs most recent study found that Trader Joe’s and American Family Insurance are the most loved brands in America in offline and online respectively.
These brands have consistently shown their ability to engage with their audience and deliver a positive brand experience. They have successfully managed to cultivate loyal customer bases that continue to support them through their purchases and recommendations. Happy customers are more likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family, which can lead to more sales through word of mouth.
Our findings have profound implications for marketing strategy. Consumer conversations, both in social media and in real life, drive nearly one-fifth of all sales. Even more importantly, offline and online word-of-mouth leads sales by up to 4 weeks. Social performance is a reliable predictor of sales, and a critical data point for marketers as they plan how to stage their marketing for product launches and promotions.
Engagement Labs emphasizes the importance of understanding and leveraging these conversations to drive business growth, “Brands that can deliver a consistently positive experience and build deep relationships with their customers will succeed in today’s competitive landscape.”
The Most Loved Brand Award is given to brands with the highest net sentiment scores online and offline. Offline data collected and analyzed from more than 37,000 surveyed and demographically balanced to US Census for ages 13 to 69 through the use of sample quotas and weighting for age, gender, educational attainment, race, ethnicity, and geography. While online conversations are measured using social listening.
Real-life conversations vs. social media conversations
Marketers devote ever larger portions of their efforts in social media, but real-life conversations matter as much as and often more than those on social media. Face-to-face and voice-to-voice drive half of the impact consumer conversations have on consumer purchases. Social media influences the other half. However, social media and real-life conversations are very different, and one is a poor predictor of the other. Social media conversations are the visible tip of an iceberg of total conversation but provide almost no indication of the size and shape of the often-hidden offline conversation that exists below the surface.
It’s also important to note that social media conversations are often just the visible tip of an iceberg of total conversation. Offline conversations, which can be more difficult to track, can have a significant impact on consumer behavior.
Therefore, while it’s tempting to think a strong marketing performance on social media will create similar results with real-world conversations, marketers must invest in and plan unique marketing strategies for each.
The amplifying effect of word of mouth
Consumer conversations are a key factor in the success of advertising. A quarter of the impact of advertising on sales “passes through” word of mouth, both online and offline. In other words, advertising prompts or reminds people to talk about brands, and those conversations often lead to purchase. Word-of-mouth does the tough work of persuasion in a way that a paid message cannot.
As expected, our data show the main driver of consumer talk, both offline and online, is TV. But radio is also a surprisingly strong driver of conversations. And while media drive both offline and online conversations, online is more responsive to media efforts. To get more out of their marketing budgets, advertisers must plan for the amplification of advertising through WOM.
The risk of ignoring word of mouth and under-valuing social influence
Ignoring the impact of word of mouth can have adverse consequences for brands.
Underestimating or overlooking the impact of social influence can negatively impact a brand’s bottom line. Marketers need to understand that all marketing should be designed to encourage conversations and recommendations, as a way to amplify the impact of marketing expenditures and drive purchases. Consumers are making purchasing decisions while talking with other consumers, whether that’s at the water cooler, at social events, or while chatting with friends on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat.
Brands that prioritize customer service and experience are more likely to see positive word of mouth, which can lead to increased sales and brand loyalty. It’s important for marketers to encourage and incentivize happy customers to share their positive experiences with friends and family.
Consumer conversations: A powerful tool for brand success
Every day, consumers are faced with countless choices when it comes to purchasing products and services. With so many options available, how can a brand stand out and gain the attention and loyalty of consumers? One answer lies in the power of consumer conversations.
According to Engagement Labs’ data and analytics, these consumer conversations drive 19 percent of all purchases. This has been evidenced in Engagement Labs articles published in the Journal of Advertising Research and the MIT Sloan Management Review written with Dr. Koen Pauwels.
So, what does this mean for marketers and businesses? It means that word of mouth should not be ignored in the marketing mix—it should be a key component of any marketing strategy.
In conclusion, word of mouth is a powerful tool for brand success. By focusing on customer service and experience, advertising, and encouraging positive conversations, brands can harness the power of consumer conversations to drive sales and gain.
This article originally appeared on the Engagement Labs blog; reprinted with permission.