Word of mouth marketing has been a long-standing tool used for every type of business. Whether you’re B2C or B2B, word of mouth is always going to affect your business. One type of word of mouth that is heavily used is a product/service review.
People have a tendency to rely on reviews from others to help in their decision making.
Whether people are deciding which TV to buy, what web service to use, or who they want to have come fix their broken toilet, these potential customers are going to look to the company’s reviews before making a final decision.
Technology Gives Instant Access To Word Of Mouth Marketing
Word of mouth marketing isn’t something new that came with the advent of technology. What technology has done is give people the ability to instantaneously share their opinions and reviews of products and services.
Access to these reviews has also become easy and instantly available.
Before the telephone people would rely on the people that they knew around them, such as neighbors, to get information on products and services from. With the phone, you could call family and friends for their insight.
Now with the use of the internet, you can scroll to the reviews section on Amazon and read 200 people’s opinions and experiences with the product you’re looking to buy.
So what’s the difference?
People used to rely on the word of mouth marketing of other people they knew. They knew whether or not they could trust the opinion of that person and would rely on that when making a purchase.
Now people rely on the words of strangers to determine if they should make a purchase.
If 90 out of 100 people recommend a product then it must be good. If 60 say it worked great while 40 say it broke after a week, well, then it isn’t worth the risk and you find something else.
The use of technology has created a massive realm of feedback for even the most mundane products or services. Some businesses are even relying heavily on word of mouth marketing to sell their product/service, even if this reliance is not by choice.
Many restaurants, for example, will either make or break it based on the reviews of their customers. Customers can post reviews to sites like Yelp talking about their experience for other prospective customers to find.
How Mobile Affects Word Of Mouth
Mobile devices brought about a big change for word of mouth marketing. The widespread use of mobile devices not only changed the accessibility of word of mouth marketing but also changed how easy it is to create word of mouth marketing.
Before the use of mobile devices, a review came after an experience or purchase. If you wanted to write a review you went home afterward and got onto your computer to post a review online. By that time you would be looking at the experience with a generally more positive point of view.
With mobile devices in the picture, this isn’t as true anymore. Now everyone has the ability to write their review in the midst of a purchase or experience. Didn’t like the scene you’re watching in a movie? Well hop on your phone and tell the world how terrible that scene was.
Having a great dinner at a restaurant? Pull out your phone and take a picture to share with everyone just how great that food is.
Even our word of mouth marketing has fallen into the habit of instant gratification with the use of mobile devices.
These aren’t the only implications on word of mouth created by mobile though. Mobile reviews have a tendency to be more negative since they are created in the moment.
If you find something to have been a bad experience, odds are good that in the moment you will consider it to be a much worse experience than you will when looking back on it. Why? Because you are absorbed in the emotion of the moment.
In a study done by Nicholas Lurie, Sam Ransbotham, and Hongju Liu, they found “that mobile WOM is less reflective, more focused on the present, less subject to retrospective biases, more effective, less cognitive, more one-sided, more negative, and less socially oriented.”
This is the mindset that is common with mobile reviews because there’s no need to wait until an emotion is subdued to write the review. So whether it is a good or bad review, it doesn’t matter.
Most likely that review is going to fall at one end or the other on a rating scale, no middle ground here. So things become extremely amazing, or absolute garbage.
Sometimes this can be more telling though because when you write a review in the moment you tend to be more honest and blunt. If it reads as overly extremely people may dismiss the review, but some may take it as a more important review than other more in the middle reviews.
Taking Advantage Of Modern Word Of Mouth Marketing
Let’s reiterate, word of mouth marketing is nothing new. But with new technology comes new advantages and disadvantages. So how do you use the advantages in your favor while avoiding the many pitfalls of modern word of mouth marketing?
First of all, and this one should be obvious, create the best experience that you possibly can for all of your customers. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, your business relies on customers to stay afloat, they are your lifeblood, so make sure that you show your appreciation and make every interaction that they have with your company as good as possible.
Beyond the obvious, one technique to take advantage of modern word of mouth marketing is to stop asking for reviews on the spot. That, “How did we do?” sign on the counter might actually be hurting you. Mobile reviews tend to be more negative, remember?
So reminding your customers in the moment to review their experience might not work out in your favor. Instead, get their email address and reach out to them in a few days asking how you did.
This way if they didn’t have a great experience they won’t be writing their review in a state of negative emotion.
Also, you have the chance to get much better, and more actionable, feedback in regards to how to improve future experiences since they have more time to contemplate their response.
Another extremely important aspect of using modern word of mouth marketing to your advantage is addressing negative feedback quickly and effectively. Posting a “We’re sorry you had a bad experience, have a coupon” is not, and never has been, effective.
When addressing feedback that is less than positive, don’t rush to offer a solution every time. Apologize and look for feedback. If a customer has a bad experience, that will lead to bad word of mouth for your business.
They know why the experience is bad and most likely know what would have made it better for them.
Get this feedback and execute an actual solution, then communicate this to the customer. This can turn their bad experience to a great experience and now their word of mouth will be positive and good for your business.
Having good word of mouth marketing is always beneficial to business. Therefore, understanding how the technology affects word of mouth is just as important as having good word of mouth marketing.