HP-WOMMA-Summit-15While WOM is a top driver and the most trusted form of discovery, according to Nate Elliott of Forrester, word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is still an immature discipline. Too many brands “post and pray” instead of having an integrated approach to WOMM. Elliott made these remarks as a keynote speaker at WOMMA’s Annual Conference and stimulated debate and conversation among the event’s attendees.

“Brands put too many resources behind generating organic posts, which only generate 2% reach. Yet, WOM is responsible for $6 trillion annually in consumer spending. Brands should take the WOMM discipline more seriously by dedicating budget, resources, and practices to capture a share of this opportunity.”

64% of brands believe that WOM works or drives value. Elliott noted that WOM falls into three categories with different degrees of appeal to brands:
• Customer advocacy: 34% plan to use
• Employee advocacy: 50% plan to use
• Category influencers: 76% plan to use

In this age of platform proliferation, only 33% of vendors focus on identification of category influencers; most focus on activation. Brands want identification and best practices for engagement.

Another challenge according to Elliott is measurement, which he deems is a mess. No one agrees on which metrics matters and “results inflation” is rampant.

Both marketers and vendors need to do better. Vendors need to offer platforms that allow marketers to manage all of their advocacy and influencer programs from a single platform. Metrics aligned with meaningful KPIs should be part of the admin suite. Marketers need to start treating WOM as a renewable, real channel rather than a one-off campaign.

Nate’s final comment sums up a trend that is too prevalent: the belief that the right platform will be the silver bullet. Elliott concluded: Technology is not a substitute for strategy.

Forrester just released a new study that analyzes the state of word of mouth platforms (WOMP).

Kathy Baughman
Kathy Baughman

Kathy’s forte is enterprise content strategy, content marketing and thought leadership. Over the past 40 years, she has worked with both emerging brands and large enterprises in developing content and thought leadership strategies. She has written several research reports, white papers and has been a key contributor to Forbes Publish or Perish Report.