The insiders guide to word of mouth marketing

Mobile is a gift to word of mouth (WoM) marketing. As an excellent channel for consumers to receive, disseminate and even create brand messages, mobile offers even more to marketers than the PC Internet. This is helping to make WoM one of the fastest-growing segments of the media and communications industry, while much of the advertising and marketing business is expected to contract this year.
WoM marketing encompasses trendy, over-lapping marketing techniques such as:
* Viral – relies on consumers to distribute a message, video etc;
* Buzz – getting consumers and media excited/hyped-up/talking about your brand;
* Influencer – relies on opinion leaders to influence consumers;
* Consumer-generated media – content created by Joe public, which could include product reviews, endorsements etc;
* Loyalty/referral – encouraging customers to spread the word;
* Brand blogging and social-media – using blogs, social networks, Twitter etc to share information.

Let Masaki Iwata of Japanese creative agency Dentsu guide you through WoM marketing. Want to know more? Catch Iwata at the Internet and Mobile Marketing Summit, August 25-26, 2009, Manila, Philippines (mobiThinking readers get a 15 percent discount).

Q1. What is WoM marketing? Is it a new concept?
WoM marketing is a technique to include advertising messages in the conversation of consumers. It is not a new concept, but has been growing in importance as a marketing tool for the following reasons:
1) The advancement and popularization of Internet and mobile technology;
2) The influence of mass media is on the decline;
3) The ever-increasing speed with which information spreads;
4) The scope of the impact of information has extended;
This will all make WoM marketing one of the most important marketing communication techniques from now on.

Q2. What role does mobile play in WoM?
In Japan young people from teens to twenties are very active users of cell phones, so to deliver messages to them, it is essential to use the mobile channel.
The mobile phone is a great tool for creating and spreading, as well as receiving content. Young people commonly post messages to blogs and social networks using cell phones and, with the photo and video recording functions on phones, it is an ideal medium for creating rich media, which can be delivered in no time at all.
This wide range of content that is created and disseminated by consumers, whether by phone or other means, is called consumer-generated media (CGM).

Q3. How effective is mobile WoM marketing?
Mobile technology is now so advanced that marketers can do almost everything with the cell phone that’s possible with the PC Internet and more besides…
A mobile campaign can combine call, mail, Internet, camera, video etc, so there’s much more scope than with the fixed Internet. But it is essential that the campaign uses the right mix to engage the user.
One recent WoM-based campaign in Japan that used mobile to great effect was Axe: Chocoman Hunter (Unilever/Bascule). In this interactive campaign to promote Axe Darktemptation deodorant (Elsewhere Axe may be known as Lynx), participants hunted down quick-response (QR) codes (a type of barcode) in magazines, Internet and outdoor advertising in the bid to win one percent of Axe sales during the promotion. The campaign involved several different techniques to help spread news of the competition virally (from consumer to consumer) – to win you needed to amass a network of hunter friends, who helped you catch chocomen. In 90 days, the mobile site had three million page views and Unilever sold one million Axe products. See the case study.

Q4. What types of brands are best suited to mobile WoM campaigns? What campaigns stand out?
WoM-based mobile campaigns are best suited to brands that are targeted at young people (from teens to twenties).
These are my favourite campaigns that use WoM very successfully to spread the word. Each one uses mobile in a different way. The first two promote road safety, while the third promotes a music video.

Think! Camera phone (UK Dept for Transport/Leo Burnett)
This video graphically reminded teens to pay attention to the road rather than their camera phones. It was a big viral hit and received lots of awards, including gold at Cannes Lions 2006.
Let it Ring [OVK/Parents of Child Road Victims/Happiness]
In this interactive viral video in Belgium, the recipient unwittingly plays the starring role, helping to reinforce the message that using a phone while driving is dangerous (as well as illegal). The campaign received silver at Cannes Lions 2009.
Wish I could be true to myself [Sony Music/Dentsu]
To help promote the latest single of the Japanese singer-songwriter JUJU ‘Sunao ni Naretara’, a free mobile movie was released in five episodes. Using a specially developed technology by Dentsu called the Pair Movie, the video is played using the screens of two mobile phones held side-by-side. The Pair Movie was played 400,000 times in the first month and the single went on to become JUJU’s biggest hit. The campaign won gold at Cannes Lions 2009.

Q6. What is “influencer marketing”? Is this part of WoM marketing?
This is a marketing technique for circulating a message from opinion leaders who are trusted by consumers – this may be a celebrity (eg product endorsement) or a dominant member of a group of friends.
Influencer marketing can play a part in WoM, as there are cases where information spreads starting with the remarks, opinions and recommendations of an opinion leader.

Q7. Can you measure WoM/influencer marketing?
In Japan, at least, there are some services that measure the impact of WoM/influencer marketing by:
1) Tracking trends in key words of content posted to bulletin boards, blogs etc.
2) Analyzing the influence of bloggers, by measuring the density of communications in terms of the number of comments, trackbacks, links, etc.

Further reading on mobile marketing to WoM:

  • WoM 101 – Word of Mouth Marketing Association guide
  • Definitive guide to WoM
  • Top 20 viral videos in last 12 months
  • Mobile: interesting ground for viral marketing and WoM
  • Don’t miss:

  • Mobile marketing to teens: an Asian perspective
  • Upcoming conferences for mobile marketers’ diaries (with discounts)
  • Five-minute interview: Edward Kershaw, vice president mobile media, EMEA, Nielsen Online
  • The insider’s guide to buying mobile media
  • Why recession is a great time to invest in mobile
  • The Starting 11 – the essential mobile-marketing guide for the 2010 FIFA World Cup
  • Mike Wehrs: the mobiThinking interview
  • The Top Ten mobiThinkers 2009
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