If there is one thing that is always true about word of mouth marketing, it’s that it’s never easy to accurately track the direct results of it. Short of wiring all your customers with microphones and cameras, there’s just no way of knowing exactly what they say to their friends about your product or service. This is precisely why many companies decide to not focus actively on word of mouth promotion – it’s just not that easy to prove that they will get a good return on their investment.
There are, however, a couple of methods that can help paint a picture of the effectiveness of a particular campaign (or, how much word of mouth activity there is around a brand in general):
Using social media
With the introduction of social media, it has become much easier to keep tabs on what people are saying about a brand. There are in fact many software tools designed for just this purpose. While looking at people’s public conversations about a brand may not give the full picture, it is still one of the best ways to gauge interest and measure the results of a word of mouth marketing campaign.
The main issue with relying on social media statistics is that, according to surveys, only 10% of word of mouth activity takes place online. It’s still mostly about offline conversations (75%) and phone calls (15%). Still, it’s easy enough to do and usually doesn’t cost much so this is often the first step taken.
Another popular method of gauging interest and word of mouth activity around a brand is by using surveys. By simply asking customers what they think of the brand, and whether they have recommended it to their friends, it’s possible to get a decent idea about how a campaign is going.
Usually it’s a good idea to reward users for answering the survey, as it may otherwise be difficult to motivate them. Unfortunately, that often prohibits them from being completely anonymous, which could lead to slightly skewed results (they may not want to say anything bad about the brand, knowing their answer will be associated with them personally).
Using referral programs
There’s no doubt that referral programs can be very powerful motivators to spur word of mouth activity, but another advantage they have is that usually they’re easy to track the results from. Since the customer who refers one of his/her friends needs to be rewarded for the referral, it goes without saying that tracking these types of campaigns is easy.
However, this method of measuring results is obviously limited in that it can only show the results from this particular referral program campaign. It is therefore quite useless as a tool for measuring word of mouth activity around a brand as a whole.
These were just a few of the most popular methods available to track results from a word of mouth marketing campaign. Every company or brand will have to come up with their own tailor-made solution that suits their strategy, but using these will certainly be a good start.