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Nurture Customers Through Digital Word-of-Mouth Engagement

Oct 8, 2013 1:29 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... Loyal customers who champion a brand or product are key drivers to building new relationships and market reach, according to the 2013 Social Word-of-Mouth Study by Colloquy. 

Retailers that pin their marketing efforts and hopes on social media alone are simply joining an increasingly cluttered world of competing messaging, hashtags and tweets; whereas, their energy should be on nurturing digital word-of-mouth engagement and creating long term, personal relationships through existing loyalty programs, the study found.  word of mouth

Colloquy's 2013 report compared data from its first study in 2010, identifying  consumers who were word-of-mouth champions, well-connected and communicative and found there were fewer (28 percent compared with 33 percent) champions in the general population at this point. Word-of-mouth champs in the affluent segment fell six percentage points to 34 percent, only 18 percent of seniors met criteria in 2013, down from 24 percent in 2010, and 37 percent of Hispanics were champs, down from 39 percent. But ''core women''  champions remained stable at 38 percent in both studies and there were more young adult word-of-mouth champions this year, at 40 percent versus 38 percent.

Brand loyalty program champions were indeed the most highly engaged, according to the survey, with 83 percent spreading the word of a brand or favorite product through face-to-face communication, 67 percent engaged the email channel, 64 percent by cell phone, 60 percent by social networking and 52 percent by mobile messaging.

Appealing to that important group of loyal followers on social media is more complicated since it requires the personal touch to be successful. The study identified top behaviors that consumers enjoyed most from their brands of choice, using  a scale of one (least favorite) to 20 (most favored) and warned brands to avoid ''creepy'' behavior. Respondents most preferred being surprised ''from time to time'' with exclusive perks; being altered to loyalty reward options; offered personalized deals  and being invited to engage in a contest for points or prizes. Behavior that scored lower on the scale included daily updates from brands, being monitored (either followed online or tracked by location) and being forced by the brand to like, share, tweet, post or pin.

Colloquy recommended that marketers identify their word-of-mouth champions first, since the loyalty program segment is usually delighted to help spread the word; use social and mobile methods as tool to ensure brand content is delivered in the format that best suits consumers' behavior and preferences and, lastly, build engagement with customer segments based upon customer touch points not the latest social platform.


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Tags: brand, colloquy, Jeff Miller, loyalty programs, marketing, retail, social media, survey, word of mouth
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