In a previous article, we wrote about measuring Word of Mouth to optimize marketing mix and improve operating margins. And as we mentioned, WoM is a great metric for a lot of the hard-to-quantify efforts your brand puts forth -- so now that you know the “why”, it’s important to get a feel for the “how” of asking about Word of Mouth.
Assuming you use a survey provider like Fairing, merely adding “Word of Mouth” as a choice in any attribution survey is a good practice… and certainly a starting point toward understanding your broader marketing mix! But like most consumer questions, there are a few dials and levers you can move to reveal different streams of insight and control for bias, so that you can use this juicy data in confidence:
- Language & Voice
- Choice & Clarification
- Learnings & Application
All that said, let’s dissect an expert-level version of a WoM question:
Who Can We Thank For Your Purchase Today?
It’s tough to think of a brand for whom this question wouldn’t work, and work well. Why is that?
Data Integrity: almost invariably, you should aim to translate your business language into consumer language when asking questions. Sure, most folks have familiarity with the term “Word of Mouth”, but the phrase itself kind of implies that brand awareness is just floating out there, ubiquitously. You want your consumer to nail down the biggest source of attributable influence, and to that end, “who can we thank” is clearly challenging the consumer to take a moment and consider who influenced their buying decision.
Engagement: this question is likely served immediately post-purchase, which is already a high-engagement point in the consumer lifecycle. But, doesn’t it sound like the brand might actually have some generous reward up its sleeve if the consumer completes the survey? Is my friend somehow going to get a coupon or a gift for pointing me to this product? A few seconds of critical thinking make it obvious that such a rewards system is logistically unlikely, but that initial spark of wonder from the consumer is still enough to tempt a survey submission and give you a bump in response rate.
Clarification: the aforementioned engagement nudge isn’t just smoke and mirrors; it’s actually a natural stepping stone toward a follow-up question. If you’re like most brands trying to wrangle Word of Mouth, you’re probably using referral codes to measure attribution. Asking “who can we thank for your purchase today” sets the stage for a targeted response -- for instance, take this set of choices:
- Friend/family experience
- Celebrity endorsement
- Online recommendation
- Anonymous/public experience
Depending on the answer selection, you might want to dig deeper into specifically who deserves the influence credit… but to cover all your bases, you could instead follow up with the clarification question, “Did they have a referral code?” to recoup any attribution that might have slipped through the cracks of the formal referral process. And believe us, a lot of referrals fall through the cracks -- the marketing team will be happy to see those informal brand advocates get rescued by the safety net of an attribution survey.
Brand Voice: the question itself oozes intimacy and humility, no? That’s a killer combo for most DTC brand identities, and especially valuable if it’s the first time in the consumer relationship that you’re asking for their input.
Further considerations in how to ask
We previously mentioned data learnings & application as one of the variables in “how” a question gets executed, and while scooping up missed referrals is one path you can go down, another is to learn what marketing messages are resonating most. In the attribution biz, we call this Consequential Word Of Mouth.
You can achieve it by asking a different follow-up question to “Who can we thank for your purchase today?”, along the lines of “What did you find most interesting/compelling about their recommendation?”... with the choices being your major selling points (or, your experimental ones) or you can simply leaave the question open-ended.
This article is part of our Question Of The Day (QOTD) series, where Fairing teams up with the industry’s smartest qualitative marketers to deliver best practices and unique perspectives in the art & science of questions. Are you a question authority? If so, our customers would love to hear from you.