Research Shows Positive Word of Mouth Far Outweighs Negative

With the buzz surrounding word-of-mouth marketing on the rise, there has been a greater effort to track and analyze this phenomenon. At the ARF/Advertising Research Foundation’s Measurement 6.0 conference in New York on Monday, word-of-mouth research was high on the agenda.

Evaluating and quantifying the dynamics of consumer conversations was the topic of a joint study conducted and presented by Ed Keller, CEO of Keller Fay Group and Emily Vanides, VP connections research and analytics at MediaVest.

Their research was based on Keller Fay’s TalkTrack methodology that measures conversations online and offline. Using a diary-based survey program, respondents kept track of their conversations and later reported them in an online survey. Some of the findings were quite surprising.

Positive experiences (75 percent) are more likely to generate word of mouth than negative (25 percent). This does reinforce the notion that highly satisfied customers become brand ambassadors. However, apparently the volume of criticism appearing in online platforms is not as high as one might think given the publicity associated with selected cases. The results vary by category though, with financial services still the focus of much negative commentary.

The vast majority of conversations (91 percent) still occur offline. Despite all the attention devoted to online and social networks, in-person and phone conversations are still prevalent.

Word-of-mouth conversations are motivated by the exchange of information on various topics. These include media and marketing (20 percent), sharing experiences (20 percent), and seeking advice (15 percent).

Conversations happen more often at times when media are being consumed, peaking in the morning and early evening. Keller and Vanides reported this finding based on the soon-to-be-released IPA Touchpoint study. This U.K.-based research also used a diary format to record the timing of conversations.

The Internet and radio are highly sociable in terms of generating conversations, followed by television. The radio? Sociable? The Touchpoint study also developed a “sociability index” to compare which types of media provide the best access to consumers while they are in conversational mode and the good old-fashioned radio was second to the Web.