The paper aims to provide a theoretically informed critique of current measurement practices for word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) campaigns.
An exploratory field study is conducted on a real-life WOMM campaign. Data are collected from two generations of campaign participants using a custom-built Facebook app and subjected to social network analysis (SNA). We compare our theoretically informed measure of campaign reach with industry standard practice.
Standard metrics for WOMM campaigns assume campaign reach equates to the number of campaign-related conversations. These metrics fail to allow for the possibility that some participants may be exposed multiple times to campaign-related messaging. In this exploratory field study, standard metrics overestimate campaign reach by 57.5 per cent. The campaign is also significantly less efficient in terms of cost-per-conversation. SNA shows that multiple exposures are associated with transitivity and tie strength. Multiple exposures mean that the total number of campaign-related conversations cannot be regarded as equivalent to the number of individuals reached.
SNA provides a sound theoretical foundation for the critique of current WOMM measurement practices. Two social-structural network attributes – transitivity and tie strength – inform our critique. A single WOMM campaign provides the field study context.
The findings have significant implications for the development and deployment of WOMM effectiveness and efficiency metrics and are relevant to WOMM agencies, agency clients and the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association.
This is the largest field study of its kind having collected data on >5,000 WOMM campaign-related conversations. Participants specified precisely whom they spoke to about the campaign and the strength of that social tie. This is the first SNA-informed critique of standard WOMM campaign measurement practices and first quantification of offline multiple exposures to a WOMM campaign. We demonstrate how standard campaign metrics are based on the false assumption that word-of-mouth flows exclusively along intransitive ties.
Groeger, L. and Buttle, F. (2014), "Word-of-mouth marketing: Towards an improved understanding of multi-generational campaign reach", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 48 No. 7/8, pp. 1186-1208. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-02-2012-0086Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited