Tag Archives: word of mouth

Influencer Marketing for Retailers

Influencer marketing (IM), the process of identifying, engaging and supporting individuals who create conversations with a brand’s customers, is now used by many retailers to get people to buy their products. Indeed, influencer marketing is growing faster than organic search and is responsible for 28% of customer acquisition, according to Aj Agrawal in Entrepreneur.com.

So, is influencer marketing the new “silver bullet” for online retailers that struggle to sell their products in a highly congested and competitive virtual market place?

What is influencer marketing?

Although IM is now  the new “buzzword” in the digital marketing world, it’s not a new thing. It’s a term that refers to leveraging the influence of key people and businesses to support your brand and spread the word about your products and services through their own social channels 1. Subsequently, IM is similar to the well-known word-of-mouth marketing.

Beyonce doing her thing for Pepsi – image oppmax.com

To use influencers to help promote your brand makes a lot of sense. Indeed, “Influencer marketing presents a glaring opportunity for brands to leverage the power of word-of-mouth at scale through personalities that consumers already follow and admire” according to a guest writer in ADWEEK.

Why is influencer marketing now in the news?

Retailers are now confronted with maturing digital marketing channels in which similar content for mostly commodity-like products are having a losing battle to get customer to click on their brand.

Indeed, Nicole Dieker, The Content Strategist (2016), said this on the amount of content we are consuming each minute: “In the first 60 seconds of your day, Facebook receives over 4 million likes. More than 2 million Instagram hearts turn red. Nearly 350,000 tweets join the birds singing outside your window.” Yes, quite ridiculous – now where are your brands out there?

Then along comes influencer marketing. Influencer marketing circumvents these frustrations by delivering a highly-visible and relevant message from a trusted and welcome source.

Carter Hallett, Digital Marketing Strategist from R2iNSIGHTS proposed five reasons why influencer marketing is right for your brand.

5 Reasons why influencer marketing is right for your brand

  1. Builds consumer trust – 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands. IM allows brands to break into that circle of trust in a way that feels organic and welcomed because it is relevant, reliable, and relatable.
  2. Circumvents ad blockers – The average American is exposed to 5,000 ads per day and can’t possibly process them all, leading to lower recall of marketing messages. In 2015, 47% of online customers used ad block technology, in response to dissatisfaction with digital advertising. Influencer marketing circumvents these frustrations by delivering a highly-visible and relevant message from a trusted and welcome source.
  3. Meets marketing goals effectively and affordably – Influencer marketing can easily be analysed using web tracking and focusing on deeper engagements, such as engagement rates, comments, and sentiment, as well as clicks and conversions. It also generates more than twice the sales than that of display advertising. As a result, those customers have a 37% higher retention rate than other acquisition channels.
  4. Targets audiences accurately – A well-crafted influencer identification strategy will yield the strongest return. Different product categories have different influencers, usually with an overlap of less than 15%. So it’s important to select influencers accurately and appropriately.
  5. Boosts SEO – Beyond meeting immediate marketing goals, an influencer marketing strategy can significantly boost your brand’s search rankings. Customers who seek information on social media will also use search engines during their decision making process.

Now let’s have a look at some recent results from empirical studies regarding IM.

What value does influencer marketing offers to the retailer?

“Word-of-mouth recommendations from influencers effectively turn prospects into customers, who trust the people they interact with on a daily basis” said Eileen Brown recently in ZDNET.com.

Here are some results from a survey done with retailers last year by Linqua regarding the state of influencer marketing:

Respondents indicated the following benefits they enjoyed using influencer marketing:

 Benefits% Respondents
Create authentic content about my brand89
Drive engagement around my product/brand77
Drive traffic to my website/landing page56
Generate content cost-effectively43
Reach younger generations not trusting traditional ads43
Generate authentic, easily dicoverable product reviews36
Drive online and in-store product sales34
Grow my email database with qualified customers8

As shown in the table above, retailers experienced greater brand authenticity when using influencer marketing. This may explain more customer engagement (77%) and traffic (56%) to their websites. Hence, only 34% of the retailers indicated more product sales when using IM.

However not everyone is convinced IM makes a difference in their marketing efforts. Results from a more recent study done by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), showed that only 36% of 158 marketers surveyed felt that their influencer marketing efforts are effective (Minda Smiley, THEDRUM).  While 44% said they were neutral about the effectiveness of their influencer marketing, 19% deemed it ineffective, reported Minda.


Influencer marketing may give retailers focused alternatives with product promotion in the digital channel. However, influencers – especially celebrities, may charge retailers high fees to link their faces to their brands. Sadly, this has caused the advent of  “fake influencers”.

So, retailers need to do a lot of homework before contracting and using influencers.

Read also: Word of Mouth Marketing for Better or for Worse


1 Pophal, L. 2016. Best Practices in Influencer Marketing, Insights from Digital Marketing Experts, Copyright 2016 Linda Pophal.


  1. wikipedia.org
  2. oppmax.com

Word of Mouth Marketing for Better or for Worse

Word of mouth (WOM) is one of the most important communication channels that customers use to discuss retail shops and brands. WOM is informal, frequent and important and the outcomes can be beneficial or disastrous for a brand or a retailer.

Word of mouth has a huge impact on consumer behaviour. Social talk generates over 3.3 billion brand impressions each day and shapes everything from the movies consumers watch to the websites they visit 1. A study by Bughin, Doogan, and Vetvik (2010) 2 suggest that “word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50% of all purchasing decisions and generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising”.

However, negative WOM can quickly cause havoc with a brand or a retail shop. The advent of the internet, together with social media platforms has changed how peers communicate their experience with brands and shops.  A single bad experience shared by a customer on a social media website, may hurt your brand or business badly.

For retailers to use WOM strategically as a marketing tool, they must first understand why customers discuss your business. Why do they praise or criticize your brand?

Customer conversations aka ‘word of mouth’

Customers love to talk about their shopping experiences because they need to share and receive information, have social interactions, or express emotions 3.

Lu-Shien, living in San Francisco, USA had this to say on the Yelp review site about a new restaurant in their neighborhood: “The vibe, the serving ware, the food. All of it is presented in a modern fresh bistro style. A simple menu with a few headliner items – just the way I like it.” Maybe Lu-Shien has said enough to fill the restaurant to capacity because WOM is perceived by consumers as more credible than, and free from the bias of, firm-to –consumer communications 4.

Sometimes, however, customer reviews aren’t that positive. Said Ali D, from New Orleans, USA also on Yelp about a clothing store “You know, I’ve bought and sold here a few times over the course of a few years, but today’s experience means I will not be going back. I had questions but could not – really – get the attention of the sales girls, because they were having the ultimate bitchy conversation at full volume in front of several customers.”

Nevertheless, according to Ken Davenport writing in The Producers Perspective, only 8% of brand-related word of mouth conversations are “mostly negative”. Hence, the average online review is 4.3 stars out of 5. But what about the customers saying nothing online, and just walk away from your business? Ken suggests that 9 in 10 word of mouth conversations about brands are offline.

Therefore, there is no respite for retailers keeping their customers happy.

Word of mouth marketing – the retailer’s response

Retailers need to take word of mouth marketing seriously, especially now that is taking place in the cyber space. Silverman (2010) 5 identified the following properties that make word of mouth a powerful marketing tool:

  • Credibility – its independence makes it the most powerful, influential, and persuasive force in the marketplace;
  • It is an experience-delivery mechanism;
  • It becomes part of the product itself;
  • WOM is custom-tailored, more relevant, and complete;
  • It is self-generating, self-breeding, and grows exponentially, sometimes explosively;
  • Because it is virtually unlimited, word of mouth happens fast and big;
  • WOM can originate from a single source, or a relatively small number of sources;
  • It is extremely dependent on the nature of the source;
  • Word of mouth can be very inexpensive to stimulate, amplify, and sustain.

If word of mouth has such a big influence on image and profits, then surely retailers should make it part of the marketing strategy.

Silverman suggests taking advantage of these properties, retailers should look at:

  • What is the content of the word of mouth?
  • Who is originating the word of mouth (its sources)?
  • Who is receiving it?
  • What are the channels through which it travels?

“When we understand the answers to these questions, we’ll be ready to look at how to trigger a chain reaction leading to an explosion: how to get it started, how to amplify it, how to channel it, and how to cause it to go in our direction”, proposes Silverman.

Have a look at this video from The Word of Mouth Marketing Association:


Getting people to talk about your brand and shop is the way to go. The most important rule of WOM marketing is to “be interesting” and that “nobody talks about boring companies, boring products, or boring ads.” 6 But, word of mouth also has a sharp end. So, retailers need to make WOM work, like a marriage, ‘for better or for worse’ (preferably for better).


1 Berger, J. 2014. Word of mouth and interpersonal communication: A review and directions for future research. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 24(4):586-607.

2 Bughin, J., Doogan, J. and Vetvik, O.J. 2010. A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing. McKinsey Quarterly, 2:113-116.

3 Lovett, Mitchell J., Renana Peres, and Linli Xu. 2016. There’s No Free Lunch Conversation: The Effect of Brand Advertising on Word of Mouth. Marketing Science Institute.

4 Thomas, V.L. and Saenger, C.  2017. Promoting or protecting my brand: The identity-expression and fear-of-imitation conflict, Journal of Consumer Marketing, 34(1).

5 Silverman, G. 2011. Secrets of word-of-mouth marketing: how to trigger exponential sales through runaway word of mouth, AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.

6 Berger, J. and Schwartz, E.M. 2011. What drives immediate and ongoing word of mouth? Journal of Marketing Research, 48(5):869-880.

Image and video:

  1. Pixabay.com
  2. WOMMA

The Role That Social Media Plays In Driving Online Retail Sales

Social media driven retail sales and referral traffic are rising at a faster pace than all other digital marketing channels.

The link between social media and retail sales

For millions of retail customers the social media has become an important part of their social lives. They use social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to generate content by reviewing companies and criticize or recommend products or retailers.

The fast growth in the number of word of mouth content on social media has provided customers with new sources of product information.  This trend is important for online retailers because their customers trust the opinions of peers in the online communities more than retailers advertising their products.

The role of social media in online retail

Cooper Smith in The Business Insider (India) discussed a recent report by BI Intelligence. He notes the following about social media’s role in online retail:

  • Social is driving much bigger increases in retail traffic than any other online channel. Social media increased its share of e-commerce referrals nearly 200% between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.
  • For retailers to maintain social gains, they will need to pay special attention to mobile device users. Social media users are 35% less likely to share a brand’s or retailer’s social post on a mobile device than they are on desktop computers.
  • Facebook continues to grow its lead as the dominant social commerce platform. Facebook accounts for 50% of total social referrals and 64% of total social revenue. The site’s changing demographics could make older consumers a strong target for retailers leveraging the platform.
  • Pinterest is a major social commerce player despite a relatively small user base. The pinning platform drives 16% of social revenue despite an audience 6.5 times smaller than Twitter. New buy and action buttons on retailer posts should make Pinterest an even stronger referral and revenue engine for brands.
  • Twitter is losing its influence for mass-market merchants, but it could still have a role to play among sporting and events marketers, especially for location-based promotions. Recently, NFL and NBA teams have used Twitter to sell game tickets and merchandise.
  • Instagram doesn’t drive significant sales activity for retailers but high-end companies have been leveraging the platform for branding purposes. New Buy buttons on paid posts, as well as increased targeting capabilities, could make the app a more important direct-response driver.

How should online retailers react to social media?

The social media has empowered the customers of retailers. Many retailers see this empowerment as a threat to their businesses because they lose control and negative online content about their products or brand may hurt their reputation. The traditional marketing approach is not appropriate for retailers trying to communicate with their customers in social media communities.

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Image: pixabay