Measure Word of Mouth Marketing: Is It Possible?

By Ted Wright August 9, 2018

By Ted Wright
Unlike other forms of marketing, Word of mouth marketing works slowly. It has to go slowly if it’s going to work at all.
It may not increase your sales this quarter or even the next one, and if you’re accustomed to seeing a sales spike after investing in TV commercials or print ads, that may be hard to stomach, but it will work. And although it requires patience, it’s an option worth investing in when you consider many alternatives out there don’t work as well any more.
Word of Mouth Marketing works when you allow an influencer to deliver a message at their own pace. Influencers are just 10% of the population, but they love to share.
They may not see the person they want to tell about your product for three or four weeks after they learn about it, but they will certainly talk about your product whenever it’s socially appropriate. Real influencers aren’t pushy which helps make the products they discuss be both authentic and slow moving.
With Word of Mouth Marketing you need patience for two reasons:

  1. To stick with the plan
  2. For measurement

Measuring word of mouth marketing is extremely challenging, but it can be done.

How do you measure the dollar value of a conversation?

We can use some rules of thumb to track leading indicators of our progress:

  • Number of conversations – Create a tally of the intentional, face-to-face conversations you, your team, and ambassadors are having each day. Forming a culture of word of mouth marketing takes time and practice. If your rate of conversations is consistent and growing, it would indicate that you are following the plan, and progress will follow.
  • Web traffic — Is your website suddenly getting more hits? This would be a very good indicator that you are creating a customer journey that leads to your website.
  • Engagement — Are you receiving more comments on Facebook/Instagram/LinkedIn? These are all great indicators that people are taking an interest in your business.
  • Consideration – Are you receiving more requests for quotes? Are you being considered in the customer evaluation process more often?
  • Advocacy and recommendations – Word-of-mouth referrals correlate to sales more than any other metric.

It’s difficult to measure the impact of WOMM, but there’s difficulty in measuring any kind of marketing. What’s the ROI of a billboard or ad? Marketers have always relied on math to help answer these questions, and we can for WOMM too.
It may be tempting to use social media mentions as a proxy for your success (and it may be a factor), but depending on your product, there may be no social media chatter at all, especially if you’re in B2B.

When it comes down to it, measure what you treasure!

When developing a measurement dashboard, it’s smart to combine what we can observe and quantify (like the number of conversations we’re having, reviews, and web traffic), with what we can’t (estimating how many conversations are occurring without us).
Decide what might be useful indicators and estimates for your business and plot out a plan to achieve those goals.
If you launch a solid word of mouth marketing campaign today and stay with it for one year, then 12 months from today you will be sitting in your boss’s office celebrating your sales increases.

Ted Wright is the founder of Fizz, the world’s leading word of mouth marketing (WOMM) agency. Ted is also an acclaimed WOMM keynote speaker and the author of Fizz: Harness the Power of Word of Mouth Marketing to Drive Brand Growth

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