Word of Mouth Marketing is the one of the oldest forms of marketing that there is. It refers to the process of recommendations about a product or service from one consumer to another. This basic premise is still one of the strongest influences on purchasing behavior. New online tools have increased the importance of word of mouth marketing because they allow for greater and faster sharing of information among consumers. The bad part is that keeping up with new technologies is a 24/7 endeavor by itself. So instead of focusing on merely keeping up with technology, it’s much more important on using the right technologies in the optimal way. That’s where the three E’s come in:
- Engage – Engagment is the first step, assuming that you have already been listening to your consumers and know their digital hangouts. It involves reaching out and starting a conversation. There are many way to engage your consumers, such as blogger outreach, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, discussion boards, and the list goes on and on. Just remember if you are not engaging in conversation with your consumers, then you are missing valuable opportunities to make real connections—and you’ll wind up playing catch up when a crisis arises.
- Encourage – This next step has two main components: making all of your content shareable and making it really easy for your consumers to share your content. When you make content shareable, you encourage your consumers to talk about your products and services all over the web. But first, you’ll have to create content that people will want to share. All content a company produces should be from this frame of reference. Then, close the Encourage loop by putting all necessary share icons in place—Facebook, Twitter, Digg, del.icio.us, Stumble Upon, etc. A little research will tell you which ones matter most to your consumers.
- Empower – The is the last step in the three E’s process. It goes beyond encouragement, as it involves freely giving consumers the information or resources they need to become a brand advocate. A great example of this is the new Ford Fiesta campaign. Ford realized that, in order to encourage buzz around their new car, they needed to harness and empower individuals to do so. Ford gave away a number of the new cars and allowed select people to test drive them and share their experiences. By utilizing these ambassadors, Ford went from just encouraging organic sharing to actually empowering their consumers by recognizing them as brand advocates.
Despite the tactics you use, and which of these three steps your tactic focuses on, there is one more overarching E that also needs to be considered: the Emotional connection between a consumer and a brand. Because let’s face it, without this connection, it is very unlikely that a consumer will share their experience.