What’s the Difference? Understanding Word of Mouth Marketing

john-schnobrich-2FPjlAyMQTA-unsplashIn a world where the digital connection is essential for growing businesses, word of mouth marketing is becoming more reliable than traditional advertising. But over the years, word of mouth marketing has evolved, and it now takes multiple forms — all of which are similar but apply different approaches to customer acquisition.

Word of mouth marketing is essential in today’s culture of viral content, as its ability to generate buzz far beyond its initial point of contact is immensely efficient. Below are some of the basics to navigating word of mouth marketing in 2020 and beyond so your brand can take advantage of reducing your digital media spend and increasing your lowest CAC channel — organic marketing.

Referral Marketing VS Affiliate Marketing

Referral marketing is a way for brands to incentivize passionate customers in exchange for spreading their love of your brand to their friends and family. This is often done by offering rewards or discounts in exchange for a referral to their friends and family. 

This form of marketing creates a win-win because it greatly benefits both the passionate customer as well as the brand — the customer provides the extra traffic, and the brand provides the customer with types of rewards that drive brand loyalty.

Affiliate marketing relies on third-party brand advocates (who may or may not be customers) — often publishers with a large reach or distribution — to drive customers to you. An affiliate marketer earns a percentage-based commission in accordance with the number of leads, sales, or transactions they are able to generate through link sharing and promotion. No leads or sales = no payment. This form of marketing works as an effective and reliable way to drive extra leads, sales, and data, beyond the brand’s initial marketing research.  

Unlike a customer referral — affiliates must indicate to their following or reader that they have a paid partnership with the brand.

Influencer Marketing VS Partner Marketing

Influencer marketing is similar to affiliate marketing in concept but very different in practice. While affiliate marketing practices use multiple volunteer affiliates with varying followings to generate as much attention as they can within their limited networks, influencer marketing consists of a brand seeking out a singular figurehead with a large social media following to promote the brand to their massive network, typically on a pay-per-post basis. 

It is important to remember that influencer marketing can be incredibly effective if your brand is able to identify relevant influencers that have built an authentic and truly engaged audience. A little advice, be on the lookout for influencer fraud, because it is an issue that must be accounted for.

Partner Marketing, similar to referrals, is all about capitalizing on communities of potential customers that you wouldn’t typically have access to, by utilizing an access point that they already have a relationship with. With Partner Marketing, that access point is another business, and they will be receiving access to your customer base as well. By partnering with another business to run cross-promotions, brands are able to build lasting and mutually beneficial relationships, while boosting their awareness between similar customer bases. 

Traditional advertising has become less and less reliable over the past decade. As consumers become more informed and skeptical of traditional advertising methods, it’s essential for brands to still build more authentic relationships with the consumers they are trying to reach. The strongest way to do that is utilizing word of mouth marketing to capitalize on the extreme interconnectivity that dominates our day to day life. 

Now more than ever, it is essential for brands to cultivate a community effectively, and utilize word of mouth marketing to increase trust and loyalty, while building an authentic relationship with customers.

 

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