Welcome to another edition of the Data for Bluffers podcast. Off of the back of last week’s podcast and, frankly a question that we get often asked, we wanted to dive a bit deeper today into what exactly is word of mouth. So with that in mind, what we’re going to talk through today is a study conducted by McKinsey. For those that you don’t know, McKinsey are a kind of global consulting firm. But what I wanted to do is walk through that because they actually frame the different types really well. But then give some practical examples of actually how you can use this in your marketing day to day. As usual, I’m joined by Ed. Ed, how’s things?
I’m good, thank you. How are you?
Great. So last week, on the podcast, we talked more broadly about word of mouth. And you know, the first question that we talked through is what is word of mouth? So it’s really the kind of first thing I wanted to ask today. It’s like, why is it important to break it down into more detail of exactly what it is,
Everyone sort of has a, you know, a vague idea of what we’re talking about when we talk about word of mouth, but to actually use that information and activate it and utilise word of mouth, in our marketing, it really helps to understand at slightly deeper level exactly what it is we’re talking about. I think, as I say, like, everyone has this sort of fuzzy idea of it. And we spoke about it briefly last week, where we were talking about the word of mouth association study, and they had defined word of mouth is any consumer to consumer conversation, all sorts of different types of compensation could be, could be included in that bracket. And the effects of those on your brand, and on your marketing are going to be different, right? A very simple, you know, difference we can talk about is positives and negatives, right? You know, unless all publicity is good publicity, or some people say, but that doesn’t actually turn out to be the case.
I literally just got off the phone from Levi’s where my DPD told me, they delivered my jeans, but they didn’t, because I’ve got a ring doorbell like most people, they just didn’t show up. So they delivered them to a depo 20 minute drive away for me to go and pick up.
When you tell people about that customer experience, then you’re unlikely to be in the form of a recommendation.
Yeah. And I think that’s the interesting thing, I think people are quite aware of, you know, positive and positive and negative conversations like this. But actually, you know, word of mouth can be thought of much more, I think that’s the interesting thing from the report. And actually, if you think about it, if you if you break it down, you can be a bit more specific, I guess, with with how you try and activate each of the different areas, you know, some some you don’t have any control on but others others, you might, you know, high level, how does it kind of break it down
In McKinsey’s kind of framing of it, they really talk about three sort of separate types of word of mouth, as they call them. Now, I would say that they’re there to a certain extent, three points on a scale, rather than necessarily three very distinct categories. So one is probably what a lot, or what the most common thing that people go to when they think of word of mouth is, and that’s experiential word of mouth. So people sharing their experiences, be them positive or negative, you bought your jeans from Levi’s, and you didn’t have a great customer experience and telling people about that. And that sort of recommendation almost would be included in that as well. So people saying, Okay, on, you know, I’m looking for a new pair of jeans, I’ll ask Tom because I liked his jeans where he got them from. So that sort of, you know, direct experience that comes from your customers. And that’s an important distinction that can only be had with in the case of experiential word of mouth that comes from your customers and your customers only as people who have interacted with the brand. Now, we’re going to talk this a little bit more. But this can actually also be amplified, though, by non customers. So people might say, I’ve heard really good things about this brand. So we’ll come back to that later. But that’s experiential, as its termed in the report. Secondly, we could talk about what they term consequential word of mouth. So that’s word of mouth that is triggered by advertising, but unintentionally, so traditional advertising, brand advertising, potentially even you know, internet ads, if people are sat together, looking at a phone, or sat together, as people are often these days, both on their phones. And that idea of people talking about your brand, because they’ve seen it in an advert. There might be because someone hasn’t seen your brand before. So ask the people that will Oh, I don’t recognise this brand. Have you heard anything about it? It could also be negative actually, as well. So that’s the sort of the positive form. A much more negative form is something my partner has said to me on multiple occasions. I keep getting ads for this thing on Instagram. don’t want it. Why do I keep getting ads for that sort of conversation, right? So a conversation triggered by marketing, but the marketing and this will, this distinction will be important as we go to the third type. That marketing itself is not designed to necessarily generate conversation in its as its first purpose. And then the third type we might talk about is the opposite of that. So marketing, which is designed to generate conversation. And that’s what we might call influential word of mouth. A very prominent example of this is influencer marketing. So having someone try and create discussion online, about a brand by promoting that brand, and being someone who has lots of followers and lots of likes, and can get lots of likes and all that, however, is worth thinking that influential marketing also happens offline. I had a door drop to my house recently, where they were advertising jobs in the nursery. And the printer the copy on the on the door drop was, Do you know anyone who works in a nursery? So it was instead of asking just one person it’s asked, it’s trying to get people to a spread that information wider and be create a conversation about it?
Yeah, I think there’s, there’s an interesting one I’ve seen in in the UK recently, go compare the insurance company that I’m sure most people know, their call to action on their, their TV campaigns, you know, isn’t isn’t such for this or go to this website. It’s telling your friends and family, you know, so they’re, they’re trying to trigger this intentional word of mouth, through their, through their TV advertising, which I probably usually biassed and more susceptible to picking up on that because of, you know, what we talk about every week. And Brother, it’s really interesting that brands are, you know, shouting that out, you know, really trying to really trying to get stoke that fire of word of mouth, as opposed to you know, driving an individual person to a website.
Yeah, definitely. And I think I think brands in general are looking for two things there. Firstly, the, an increased sort of number of impressions. So you get the impressions of the people who see the ad on TV, and then you also get the impressions of the people they tell about that ad? Yeah. So you’re increasing the number of impressions for your ad. But also, we know from behavioural science, that recommendations from friends on discussions with friends make more impact than TV ads? Yeah. So actually, what you’re not, you’re not only just getting more impressions, you’re getting more high quality impressions. Yeah,
I really like that as a kind of grouping. You know, experiential is, I think what most of us would consider as word of mouth, you know, people talking about it, what really interests me is, you know, as we then moved on to consequential and unintentional was in the consequential space, you know, we kind of have a lot of discussions about, you know, when people are doing demographic focus, you know, that they’re, they’re selling products to, you know, particular demographic, and they only want to target that demographic, which, you know, we always kind of say that, that can sometimes limit your, your, your passage of message between people, as, as an example, I think I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, but it just works as an example. You know, being being a Foo Fighters fan, you know, when their lead singer released a book, both my mother and mother in law, who are, you know, white middle class, you know, 70 year old ladies, they probably don’t listen, so won’t get offended that I’m putting their their age out there. But from demographic point of view, they’re definitely not in, you know, that book sales demographic. But they both independently saw ads for the book, and, you know, spoke to me about that, you know, they both sent me, you know, have you seen that this guy’s got a book out, which falls squarely into the kind of consequential bucket. And sometimes I think if it can be important to make sure that you’re thinking about this bucket and your word of mouth travels between demographics, right, and it’s just as important with word of mouth to trigger that information flow, rather than just the people who are going to be your end consumer, buying it.
It’s kind of getting out of the experiential mode out of thinking that all word of mouth is from your customers in between your customers.
And then where does like influencer marketing fit on this this guy I love word of mouth because, you know, I think the definition you give and you’ll probably do better so I won’t hash it, but it’s around two way conversation and one way conversations. It’s quite an interesting way when you frame it that way.
My opinion on this is that influencer marketing has very little directly to do with word of mouth, it takes place in the same space as word of mouth happens a lot. So you know, Facebook, twits, Twitter, places like that, where people do share messages, and has the ability to be really good trigger of word of mouth, because people do talk about what influencers are doing. However, it is called an influencer impression is another type of digital impression, I think, yeah, attaching it to that personality is a really great way of getting people to talk about it, because people will talk about their personality anyway. So they talk about the things that personality are doing. But it’s not traditionally what we would consider word of mouth, the interactions between the influence and the audience on the interactions between the members of that audience are very much word of mouth. And I think influences are very good at triggering those conversations. But yeah, the influencer to audience that’s really, I know, influencers do discuss with their audience. But that’s very much a one way sort of marketing impression, right.
Yeah, I think that frames it really well as a trigger event for the intentional part of this, these three that we’re talking about, is not that the influencer is doing the word of mouth, but influencers can be good at triggering word of mouth.
Ed 11:02 E
xactly. I think working with influencers to generate buzz and discussion is very much where the word of mouth part of influencer marketing comes in.
Yeah. And I think that that word bars is probably a really interesting one to pick up on in this intentional segment, because that that’s really what we’re trying to do. How do you create a buzz in the most efficient way, because, you know, it’s no mean feat. And I know, this, people have been doing this for a long time, but actually putting a frame around that, that you’re intentionally trying to create, you know, this buzz to get a big group of people talking about you to benefit from word of mouth is, it’s just a, I think it’s an important differentiation, that this is really important that you kind of how you call that out, that is not just about someone who’s had a good time on your product, you know, you can actually create and build this, this piece outside that organic, if you like, offered up opinion of product experience.
I think people people really understand this, when they think about how it works in their own lives, like these categories are not, you know, completely separate, right? If you’ve had a bad experience with a product, then the marketing we’ve tried to get you to talk about that is going to get you to talk about your bad experience is not going to get you to suddenly become an evangelist for the product.
The other thing I wanted to pick up on, and I briefly addressed it a minute ago, but how this interacts with individuals and groups, because again, another thing we talk about is the power of, of groups. You know, ultimately, I think 95% of us is the status short of areas, but that we’re followers, you know, we like to take our, our decisions from people we trust, you know, our friends, or our peers. And when I sort of think about word of mouth, I kind of I’ve always got two images in my head one about, you know, a one to one conversation, and how powerful that can potentially be, but also a many to many conversation or, you know, a one to many conversation when the group of people is talking about it. And, you know, if you think about any situation, you’ve probably everyone’s been in, when you hear one recommendation from a friend, it’s great. When you hear three or four or five times from different people, you kind of sit up and take notice a bit more. So just want to kind of explore really how that group dynamic might add to what we’ve talked about within these sort of different types of word of mouth
groups are really important for word of mouth for a lot of reasons. At its core, reinforcement of any message is important, right? So we’ve spoken about the fact that a recommendation from a friend is better than an impression from an ad. But what we know from a study that we’ve discussed previously, I think, by Damon Santo bucket in 2009, I think the study was. So what we what we know from that is that the second time something is recommended to you that’s more impact than the first. And the third time has more impact than the second and even up to the fourth time may, in certain situations or normally has slightly more impact than the first and the second and the third. So each each time something’s getting recommended to you. That’s having more impact on you than the previous recommendation. And the same. The same goes for all sorts of messages that we receive, the more we hear them, the more likely we are to take them on. That makes sense. So someone who hears two recommendations is not just as likely to take up the recommendation as if they heard it the first time. Yeah, that kind of doubly is likely.
Yeah. So that that brings into the importance I guess then of being being more deliberate being more hands on with word of mouth because most people you know, think about experiential as word of mouth and I think most people wrongly believe they’re passive to that as in customers are going to talk about it customer’s going to talk about it. But if you can bolster that with intentional word of mouth, no. So if you’ve recommended, you know, a good pair of jeans to me, and then I hear that from two or three other people to use Tyler’s numbers, that’s going to have a, you know, an outsized impact versus just the experiential piece on its own.
I think it becomes even broader than that, when we start thinking about, you know, non experiential word of mouth as well. Right? So, really, what you could think about is, is we’ve consequential and then intentional, as the kind of the involve part of of consequential word of mouth. Yeah, you’re really looking to start conversations, they everyone knows that conversation is generally work better, when both people have an idea of what the conversations about right? You know, it’s a two way discussion about an advert that they’ve seen, then that conversation is going to last longer and going to leave more impression in their mind, than if it’s one person telling someone about the advert they sort of, yeah, we’ve touched on that before, definitely. And kind of extend that even further, you know, conversations go on longer when they’re in a big group. So when you have a big group of people, and everyone can kind of contribute to their experiences, or what they’ve seen about the brand, or they’ve heard about the brand, now that conversation lasts much longer, which means you’re you know, to boil it down to impressions in inverted commas, you’re making more impressions, it’s also worth saying that the impression that you get from a discussion, and we’ve mentioned this before, as well, is both on the person who may be bought up the conversation, and on the person who’s being introduced to the ad, you know, if you see an ad, and then you go and talk to someone about it, obviously, it’s in your mind, but also you’re being reminded of it and thinking about it, so that your awareness for that brand is increasing.
Yeah, this is how you’ve just explained that it’s kind of a bit of a light bulb is going off in terms of their I know, again, we’ve talked about before, but but how how messages move and how they spread out. And you know, if you really harness you can harness word of mouth, that’s how you can kind of get to massive scale. By speaking to a customer this morning, who, you know, they had aspirations to target a really big area. And we were talking about when actually, if you can identify a small area within that large area that you’ve got word of mouth, that’s driving sales, you know, we can we can monitor it, you can monitor how that potentially spreads out. But framing it with these lenses, you know, where they’ve got the sales, you’ve probably more likely got more experiential word of mouth happening, because you know that that in itself is his driving, probably driving a lot of the sales going back to Sentosa as people start hearing it 234 times. And then, you know, the advertising around there, potentially, kind of stimulate some consequential word of mouth. But actually joining those two together and bringing some intentional word of mouth in there is is is the kind of the framing if you like to help expand, expand into that area, strategically, rather than just, you know, brute force and big budgets,
you can definitely talk about an expansion strategy, which takes into account the fact that the people who already know your brand are much more likely to notice your ads. Obviously, when you’re going into a new market or a new region, that’s what that’s precisely what you don’t have. Now, you can do lots of stuff with creative to try and generate that conversation and generate a brand out of nothing, but that job is so much easier if you can borrow from places where you do have influence, and you do your brand has recognition.
Yeah, and often there’s geographic benefit from just how close it is to an area you’ve already in, just because of the ripples now, again, you know, as humans, I think we like to your phrasing itself sought. If I if I live in a particular area, I’ll have a ripple effect of where I know people as well my friends, and there’ll be overlap and they’re almost this these cut almost consequential seeds that can be planted i the PEEP there’s going to be likely to be more conversation because it’s more likely they’ve heard of it, but they might have only heard of it from from one source right and we’re trying to get them to hear about it more. Yeah, hence why using the intentional PCE to drive up the call it the number of impressions but number of word of mouth impressions each of us
here Yeah Is that is actually driving sort of sort of impressions or word of mouth impressions to people who are likely to be getting some naturally but you can get them that second and third impression that starts built really building an image of the brand in their mind.
How can we how can people start to use some of this in their in their day to day How should the people thinking about this? What practice What advice can we can we lay down Ed 20:01 the key is to firstly, I guess except your position in the word of mouth world, right? And say, it’s not just random, and it’s not something you have no control over. And then to sort of think about how you can really connect up, I guess, the experiential word of mouth with your consequential word of mouth. I think that’s the key step for most people. How can you trigger more experiential discussions? Like? That’s a very simple question. Now, you can talk about that in terms of copy, but also just in terms of putting your adverts in front of people who might be advocates for your brand, or putting adverts in spaces where people who would be advocates for your brand, or who have had good experiences might be with other people, and that sort of idea of your ad almost becoming something to start a conversation?
And does that differ? Do you think depending on your size, and scale of your brand, you know, whether you’re going through a household name, or whether you’re not household,
I think I think very much so I think, you know, if everyone knows who your brand is, then a people pay more attention to your adverts. Anyway, if everyone knows who your brand is, what you really want to do is connect impro impressions together in time. So you’re top of mind, as we call it, when someone does want their new pair of trainers. So that’s a you know that in that situation, you really want to have your brand awareness in discussions, but also in much more subtle things like, even like branding on your items themselves. Right? If you’re a much smaller brand, it’s a slightly different situation. It’s harder in some ways. But I think what we would call for there is really specialisation. Right? So and we, I think we’ve used this phrase before, right? You can’t be the biggest, biggest brand in the world overnight, but you could be the biggest brand on a street, or at least the most front of mind brand on the street. And the way to do that is to is to target your adverts at locations where there are people you know, you have potential customers, or you have satisfied customers, for example, and then try and get those people to generate conversation.
And, you know, putting in the inevitable plug here, that’s the type of thing that our service will allow, right that rather than just where you’ve got satisfied, it can tell you where that buzzes. So if you haven’t got national buzz, you can identify where it is. Or even if you have got national bars, it can tell you where most of the buzz is in order to prioritise your spend. You know, I think especially now when budgets are against the wall a bit. prioritisation is also the piece. What about something I often I often talk about is kind of the personalization to those audiences. You know, personalization is a bit of a buzzword, so we maybe need to break it down a bit more. But I always kind of think of stand up comedians are a great example. Right? They have one show, but they deliver it around the country. And for the first three, four minutes, you know, they riff about the local town, you know, rivalry with other towns or whatever it might be. So the audience feel they’ve got a personalised experience, but the contents the same in terms of, you know, word of mouth, and localising it if you like, to those audiences is that important?
Personalization is a really good example of a marketing tactic, which plays across quite a lot of different aspects of this. So personalization makes people more likely to notice your ad, instead of saying, nine out of 10 people in the UK prefer this washing powder. Nine out of 10 people in Bristol prefer this washing powder or new to Bristol, right? Something like that. Yeah, me. I’m using Bristol as I live in Bristol. Now, does that mean that I, as someone from Bristol pay more attention to the ad? Yeah, it also means I’m more likely to discuss that ad with other people in Bristol, because you’re playing on a commonality that we have there. Right. Also, if you’re outside of Bristol, you’re more likely to bring that up with me if you know I’m from Bristol. Yeah, because of that, you know that connection? Right? Yeah. Now, it literally goes a little bit back to the sort of Foo Fighters example that you brought up earlier, where obviously that wasn’t in the ad, necessarily. Right. But you know, fasm Foo Fighters and watch out. Yeah, it’s that idea of when you know, someone and you connect them with a piece of information that is delivered along with the message. Yeah, then you’re more likely to try and reset share that message with them. Yeah, yeah. So it’s like the the example I bought earlier with the door drop from the nursery looking for recruitment. So in that situation, now, they’re looking for a specific thing, but by asking, Do you know anyone who works in a nursery that puts it on a very concrete footing of some someone I would know to share it with? So I I am kind of challenged to find people I know who work for a nursery. And then when I remember who they are, I’m instantly It’s okay. These people are the sort of person that I should be sharing this message with.
Yeah, that’s a really interesting kind of thought experiment. You know, if, if someone drops up to my door today, they said, was trying to get me to buy eco products, but rather than, say, Buy UK product says, you know, do you know anyone who cares about the environment? Of course, right. But, but by the very fact, it’s asking you a relatively easy question to answer about yourself and your social network. You almost want to start processing, processing the answer. And I said, I’d love to, I’d love to, I’d love to run the experiment on this. But if that happened, and I was like, oh, yeah, and I can think of three or four friends who, you know, top of my list if you like, if that when I saw them, I would say, Oh, do you know what to say? I was gonna tell you. That’d be a really interesting thing to Yeah, test. Maybe we can run that experiment one day?
Well, I mean, it’s very, it’s very interesting what to think about, actually, as my partner’s parents also live in Bristol, right? If they were advertised something that was talking about Bristol, they probably wouldn’t bring it up. My parents don’t live in Bristol. If they accidentally got some advert about Bristol, they would almost certainly bring it up with me and asked me what’s going on with it? Because they’re not in Bristol. They’d be like, Oh, but it is he’s the person we know in Bristol. So we’ll say next, obviously. And we’ll be like, Oh, have you heard of this brand? Because I mean, we got adverts for it. And we’re not even in Bristol. There’s a lot to unpack there.
The other one, just to touch on very briefly, before we wrap up. Social media is commonly attributed when you talk about word of mouth, people just think social media, it was certainly in the last sort of 15 years. That is there. And it’s not I think this conversation has has illustrated that word of mouth is much more than than just social media. You know, it plays out, it does play out online, but you know, it plays out offline. And if you listened last week, it predominantly plays out offline. But are there any, I guess approaches, tactics, you know, anything from social media that we can use in these sorts of different probably probably more than the intentional word of mouth area, or anything we can learn from them that way.
There definitely is so so a lot of social media content is designed to drive word of mouth style interaction. It’s designed to drive shares and be them retweets, or tagging, and comments and things like that. All of those you could think of as like word of mouth style interactions. Right? Now, what’s great about social media is that all of that can be measured. Every post that goes up, we can measure how many likes it gets how many shares how many retweets, what I would say we can learn from that is the sort of things that people like to share. Yeah, and a lot of them in offline word of mouth. The same rules are true, but we just can’t measure it. Now, that’s a challenge because it means that experimentation is much harder. Yeah, we don’t get the instant feedback. But there’s certainly a lot of the rules of thumb that go on in social media that you can learn, you know, a lot of the trends you can learn about your posts that drive likes and shares, we can borrow that and use that in our offline intentional marketing. Just to remind people when we talk about offline, we mean not publicly available on the internet. So it’s not, it’s not uncommon for me to get sent screenshots of Instagram in WhatsApp messages. And that is a word of mouth engagement that isn’t being picked up inside Instagram, because someone’s taking it off Instagram and, and sending it around offline, for make
Tom 28:48 sense, who says I think the cautionary lens the other way is making sure that it does drive to actual follow through engagement as well, depending on I guess, the objective, but the example I always think back to is the saved for campaign on Facebook, it was hugely successful. And I think if you’re going to use this, for your fear marketing homework, if you’re studying don’t use this number, because it’s wrong, but it’s ballpark it was about 7 million to about 7 million engagements in terms of likes and reshares. But less than 1% Those people actually donated. So it created a huge ripple in terms of you know, well, there’s a lot going on here. But in terms of probably the metric, the charity really cared about donations, it did very little. So I think that’s the some of the the other side of the social media conversation spark we got to be very conscious of if we’re trying to replicate it in our intentional side of things, any more wisdom you want to empty out today. If
people go away and they try and try and think of word of mouth in those categories. So experiential, consequential and intentional and basically think about how they can asthma as people in marketing, influence those conversations.