Marketers already understand the value of building relationships with top spenders, but the power of the consumer runs far beyond his or her own wallet.
In fact, a recent study found that Millennials (people between the ages of 18 and 32) are more influenced by word-of-mouth than their advertising-reliant Baby Boomer (ages 49 to 67) counterparts. To reach this tech-savvy, yet advertising-averse generation, progressive marketers will make 2014 the year of a renewed focus on word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM).
Consumers are becoming immune to the online rants of self-proclaimed industry/product experts, thanks to the saturation of social media with marketing messages. The power of offline, interpersonal relationships and influence once again reigns supreme. Simply put, people are more likely to buy what their friends buy--and those friends with real sales influence typically aren’t the 500-plus Twitter followers filling their online worlds or even the biggest spenders in your customer pool.
Marketers have spent too much time and money trying to prove the sales value of social media marketing and so-called “influencer” marketing programs that traditionally ignore tangible sales results.
“Social” influence can no longer stop at social media. While social media serves as a fantastic relationship-building and awareness tool, it is incredibly difficult to monetize social media influence using tools like Facebook and Klout scores. And let’s be honest, at the end of the day, marketers need to support sales efforts, and being able to increase sales conversions and drive revenue are the true measures of marketing success.
There has been a clear shift toward ROI-driven marketing initiatives with measureable sales impact, paving the way for the next step in WOMM--purchase influence. Thanks to advances in big data and predictive analytics, this new spin on the beloved classic is quickly emerging as the most powerful tool in any marketer’s arsenal. Data-driven WOMM that taps purchase influence can improve the ROI of any campaign, whether it is an email, direct mail offer, or a seasonal catalog.
Pinpointing Purchase Influence
Influence that delivers real business value needs to be tied to action; it needs to have direct sales impact--a chain reaction of purchases within a connected Web of existing relationships.
We’ve found that real-world relationships based on concrete bonds (e.g. family, co-workers, college roommates, neighbors, and teammates) are more influential than online interactions when it comes to people’s purchasing behavior. Meaningful relationships, not tweets and likes, turn prospects into customers and inactive customers into buyers. Marketers need to better target customers who influence the purchasing decisions of their friends, family, and other close personal relationships, as well as the prospects more likely to buy.
To find and target consumers with the most influence and power to generate sales results, marketers just need to take a new cut at their existing data. New data analytics and social graphing techniques empower marketers to unlock the full lifetime value of customers and prospects while improving customer relationships and loyalty.
Combining the offline connections between existing customers and prospects based on information on the open Web like class rosters, event attendee lists, work history, and transaction data, marketers can accurately predict who is more likely to buy and get their family/friends to follow suit. Armed with this information, marketers can bridge the gap between marketing campaigns and the P&L by properly targeting campaigns to reflect each customer or prospect’s relationship with the brand to drive sales through WOMM.
More Than Words
Unlike some recent marketing fads, WOMM campaigns based on purchase influence can easily prove ROI and direct sales impact. Need an example? Brands like Orange and Sony (both Pursway customers) are already tapping the power of purchase influence to drive bottom-line results. Like many large retail brands, Sony needed to tap into its vast database of customer and prospect data to increase sales.
Mapping out powerful, real-word relationships helped Sony get more from its existing prospect and customer data. Sony identified the contacts in its databases with not only the most purchase influence, but also those most likely to be influenced to take action. By pinpointing the customers with the most purchase influence and the prospects most likely to buy, Sony significantly increased response rates, drove new customer referrals, and reactivated customers.
Now is the time to take WOMM to the next level, making it measurable and creating significant sales spikes. Do you really know who the most influential customers are in your database? Or which of your prospects would be the easiest to convert? It’s time to start finding and better targeting existing customers and prospects who are more likely to cause a domino effect of sales.
The longer you wait, the more sales you are leaving on the table for competitors.