Monday, December 18, 2006

Blogging WOMMA: The Research Symposium

Some of the top researchers on Word of Mouth Marketing presented their work last Monday (12/12/06) at the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association’s Research Symposium. It was a curious place for me to be...just the old blogger/influencer/citizen/online journalist fly on the wall..

A quick overview: a number of case studies presented on a variety of metric-centered topics including how some retailers allow customers a "marketing voice" (which then helps determine ROI), the importance of consumer-generated media in various ad campaigns, the effect of splogs on metrics (this should be of great interest to the vast majority of us who blog. splogs hurt everybody).

At this point in time, there are different ways to calculate the influence of WOM for various kinds of products and marketing campaigns. Of highest priority was how the members of WOMMA might be able to agree on one standard metric for measuring the ROI of WOM.

That’s also the biggest conundrum. Matt McGlinn of BzzAgent, whose study “Measuring the Value of a Manage WOM program in Test & Control markets” won an award for Best Demonstration of ROI, stressed an understanding of the word of mouth phenomenon beyond universal metrics.

Essentialy, ROI can be great, but we’re really selling WOM short if the only reason to do it is contingent on ROI.

I was not disappointed by any of the sessions I attended at the Research Symposium, More than any other group of professionals, these folks seemed to really get that any sort of word of mouth marketing campaign can’t rely solely on hard sciences and algorithms, and must be a combination of technology and human flitering of information.

There is no way that marketers, if they want to engage in successful WOM, can avoid dealing with the human factors that can’t be traced in metrics.

One curious statistic though that was presented by the Keller Fay group (I think) was that 70% of WOM takes place face to face and only 4% of WOM happens online. It was also very rightly pointed out that those numbers can change contingent on the type of product that is being monitored. For instance, online WOM for a new video game might be higher than WOM for a new bleach.

That’s the kind of thing that seems very evident to me, but I’m sure isn’t evident to those who don’t spend the majority of their day swinging through the sinewy jungles of the blogosphere.

And since that's often the case when it comes to trying to convince businesses to do just a tiny bit of WOM.....

See more recaps of presentations at the fantastic WOMMA Research Blog

NOTE: WOMMA's really great about giving out Smart Schwag--case studies, books, notes, cds of sessions--that I will, from time to time, have updates on the info I got from them. It's just way too much for one blog post--but way too much in a good way!

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