As one of the newest media (and one that is still very much evolving), there’s quite a bit of measurement snake-oil surrounding the links between word-of-mouth marketing and financial value creation.
I don’t think we’re far off from bringing respectability to it, because all the necessary tools are there. But we won’t progress unless marketers stop being satisfied with simple “stroke counting” measures — like message delivery and open and pass along rates — and start building a roadmap that more clearly links WOM to revenue and profit.
Here’s a 6-step prescription for WOM measurement progress:
1. Define Objectives. Clearly and succinctly state the intended outcome of the campaign expenditure in economic or behavioral terms.
2. Test the effectiveness of your message strategy to determine the recipients’ behavioral outcome.
3. Develop test-and-control constructs to determine the true predictive value of the awareness or attitude change, and its effect on behavior.
4. Conduct post-campaign interviews with current and new customers, and those who still resist your value proposition to find out what did or didn’t influence their decision to act or not act.
5. Review your proposed measurement methodology with key constituents of the outcome (i.e., the CFO and CEO) in advance to get their feedback and to tighten any loopholes and gaps.
6. Be clear on your expectations. State them in as tangible of financial terms as you can. Then ask yourself the tough questions: Did you succeed in achieving your goals and expectations? Continue to adjust as you move forward.
As word of mouth grows into a recognizable line item on the budget, the measurement practice must improve along with it. Otherwise, it’s the wild, wild west all over again.
If you want to see more on measuring word of mouth marketing, read:
Is There a Reliable Way to Measure Word of Mouth Marketing?