What is eWOM & How is It Different From Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

Community Commerce

5 MIN READ
What is eWOM & How is It Different From Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

We've all heard of "word-of-mouth," but what do young marketers mean by eWOM? And is this "eWOM" better than regular word-of-mouth?

In this blog, I'm going to explain what this term means and how the two are different. Then I'll show you a few examples of what great eWOM looks like. So let's get started.

What is eWOM?

eWOM is short for electronic word-of-mouth. Any word-of-mouth that exists somewhere on the Internet counts as eWOM.

art04.fig1-1Image Source: Determinants of E-WOM Influence: The Role of Consumers' Internet Experience

This type of word-of-mouth really began around the time that social media platforms took center stage. Add to that online directories and review sites, and the 21st Century is now ripe for word-of-mouth to exist in nearly any format imaginable.

Technically, any electronic brand mention that appears to come from outside the brand itself (including anonymous mentions) counts as eWOM. Some eWOM is sponsored (paid for), while most of it exists as brand-centered user-generated content.

How Does It Work?

At the risk of stating the obvious, online users on any social platform can contribute eWOM. Brands can build eWOM through search engine optimization, social media growth, influencer marketing, maintaining online directory listings, joining online marketplaces (such as Amazon), and more.

eWOM-and-Stages-of-Purchase-Decision-Process

Image Source: eWOM: Extant Research Review and Future Research Avenues

The goal of every eWOM-conscious marketer is to stimulate and scale positive word-of-mouth across those channels most likely to engage target audiences. 

Is Electronic Word of Mouth Different From Regular Word of Mouth?

Technically, word-of-mouth occurs on and offline. Two neighbors discussing a purchase they made over the weekend is not electronic, and therefore doesn't count as eWOM.

But it is fair to say that eWOM is a type of word-of-mouth - the online kind.

fpsyg-08-01256-t001Image Source: A Literature Review of Word of Mouth and Electronic Word of Mouth: Implications for Consumer Behavior

There are many benefits to eWOM, such as:

  • You can track online word-of-mouth (unlike offline word-of-mouth)
  • The right WOM post can go viral
  • You can equip happy customers to post reviews online for all to see

But despite the pros above, not all eWOM is equally effective. Some brands try to fake word-of-mouth by posting inauthentic reviews or anonymous praises. Employees can band together and engage company social posts to give the appearance of being popular with followers.

For this reason, some consumers don't trust eWOM unless they either know the person who shared it or the platform reliably verifies the customer feedback.

5 Great Ways to Get Quality eWOM

Once again, not all eWOM is good for business. When it comes to generating quality word-of-mouth online, you need it to be authentic and positive. Here are some of the best ways to collect it.

(For a more exhaustive list with examples, check out "Word-of-Mouth Marketing: An Introduction to Organic Growth Strategy.")

1. Collect Customer Reviews.

Ideally, you want your best customers writing these reviews. Great reviews are always:

  • Positive
  • Specific
  • Verified

When you build a large repository of positive, specific, and verified reviews from your buyers, your brand will earn trust with new buyers quickly. More importantly, it will feel impossible for others to compete with your brand. 😉

0_8-cDLPXGtB-x3nwkImage Source: Better Business Bureau on Medium.com

2. Create Quality Content & Implement a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategy for Your Website.

You don't have to leave it to chance that the right person finds your business and gives you a glowing review online. One of the best ways to attract eWOM is to publish great content.

Great content is any written or visual content that...

  • Is relevant to the people you are targeting
  • Connects with your target audience on an emotional level
  • Is informative
  • Matches the ideal specifications or structure for the platform you want to publish on

For example, building out your blog can drive enormous, low-cost lead generation for your brand. But to be successful, you'll want to follow SEO best practices so that search engines can index and refer your content to the right people.

Similarly, certain types of content perform better on specific platforms. IG images are 1x1, TikTok videos are vertically-formatted, and so on.

But what's most important is that your content resonates with your ideal customer. Buyers should have little doubt that you understand their struggle and have what it takes to solve their unique set of problems.

3. Incentivize Brand Tags & Hashtags.

If your goal is greater eWOM, then it's imperative that you nurture a vibrant social media presence.

Once you've established brand pages on the most important social media platforms, you can launch free campaigns to incentivize tagging and user-generated content. Contests and giveaways are great examples of how you can motivate people to tag your brand, share your posts, or give you shoutouts.

You can also send discounts to customers who take a picture with their latest order and tag your brand online. These techniques expand your reach authentically with the help of trustworthy buyers.

4. Partner With Community Influencers.

You've likely heard of influencer marketing (or are already doing it), but there is a slight different between influencer marketing and community influencer marketing.

Traditional influencer marketing focuses on creators with large audiences who can generate brand awareness with just a couple sponsored posts. This approach will work if you partner with the right influencers.

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But community influencer marketing comes out of a greater community commerce strategy. Community influencers aren't just influencers (in fact, many of them curate online groups of less than 50,000 followers), they are community leaders. They connect with their followers on a deeper level, and their recommendations are more genuine.

For this reason, community influencer marketing is perfect for driving more authentic eWOM and conversions. It is also more affordable than working with macro or celebrity influencers.

5. Hire Key Opinion Leaders to Perform In-depth Reviews of Your Product.

Key opinion leaders (or KOLs) are a type of community influencer that are uniquely qualified to review your product and inform buyers. Examples of KOLs are...

  • Professional artists testing brushes, cameras, software, etc.
  • Licensed therapists analyzing mental health apps
  • Certified trainers reviewing fitness equipment or supplements

Partnering with the right KOLs gives you instant "street cred" and can drastically improve trust with your target audience. Depending on the individual's credentials and audience size, KOLs could be more expensive, but the quality eWOM you get at the end of the day is top notch.

How Can You Promote Electronic Word of Mouth?

So let's say you've nailed getting loads of great WOM online. What now? 

The next step is to promote your eWOM to encourage more. Here are a few ways to do it.

1. Re-share User-generated Content.

Always, always, always re-share great UGC. 

Share it on social media, add it to your website (when appropriate), and show it off in your email newsletters. Third-party mentions from customers are highly credible, and it will turn more heads than you pounding your own chest.

2. Ask Permission to Share Customer Praises Made to Sales and Customer Service Teams With the Public.

Sometimes you get great feedback privately from one of your best customers. When this happens, ask them for permission to quote them or share publicly. You can even offer to tag them or give a backlink (if the customer has a personal/professional brand of their own).

In most cases, people are more than happy for you to share their comments publicly. But you should still get their permission before you do it.

You can add customer feedback to your website, in social posts, and more.

3. Build a Paid Amplification Strategy.

When great eWOM goes viral, promoting that post through paid amplification is another way to get more attention online. Make sure that you promote that content to the right audience and build a process to follow-up with prospects.

In general, PPC and programmatic are way overused and account for enormous marketing spend waste. But when an authentic piece of content from a happy customer or community influencer does remarkably well, you already know that that image/video/post will perform. Plus, you don't have to pay someone to create an ad.

In Conclusion - Why eWOM is Critical to Your Community Commerce Strategy

Community Commerce is a strategy that brings people together around shared values and goals for genuine connection, relevant content, and a more fun and trusted buying experience.

 

Your brand is greater than your product or service. In a world where anyone can sell anything anywhere, there will always be another brand that can put out a better product. However, no one can replicate your brand's DNA, the "why" behind what you do.

For this reason, your brand adds value that attracts the kind of buyers who "get you" in ways that other buyers won't. Community Commerce equips you to engage these like-minded buyers so that you grow organically.

In community, what members say to one another is more important than what you have to say. Feeding your brand community makes ambassadors out of your best customers. It is the best way to generate and grow authentic eWOM on behalf of your brand.

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