Monday, February 28, 2011

Gap Between Online and Offline Word of Mouth Narrows For Car Purchases

A study on large purchases made in the past five years confirms the impact of customer satisfaction and word of mouth on car purchases and brand choices. According to the Large Purchase study by S. Radoff Associates, about one-third of car purchasers in the past year said they were influenced by their past experience (35 percent) and face-to-face or phone communications with friends and family (30 percent) when making their car choice.

In the hierarchy of information sources that influence car purchases, offline word of mouth has a bigger influence on consumers than online word of mouth. Yet, the rising role of online word of mouth in closing car deals is a noteworthy trend. Over the past five years, online word of mouth sources (e.g., online reviews, blogs, social networks, forums, friend emails) have been increasingly influential in driving consumers’ car purchasing decisions and brand choices. Five years ago, one-fifth (20 percent) of consumers pointed to online word of mouth among the sources that shaped their decision. A year ago, more than one-quarter (26 percent) indicated that online word of mouth helped them choose and buy their car.

As car purchasers increasingly rely on online word of mouth sources, automotive brands need to be prepared to monitor and join online conversations. For car buyers experience is a fundamental decision factor. They assess their hands-on experience along with others’ experience in driving vehicles. Online marketing and communication initiatives that highlight positive consumer experiences and provide extended service to potential customers are bound to drive sales.

To read more about how various car purchaser segments (e.g., women, parents, young adults) make their buying decisions and brand choices, download the ebook What Drives Cars here.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

E-books: We Will Pay for Online Content

Majority of Internet users are readers--blurb readers, that is. Most people want short and easy-to-digest information they can quickly absorb. Especially business readers are more likely to consume and share any content with bullets, call outs and fewer than 15 pages. They need actionable snippets of data to make business decisions. Digital readers such as Kindle, Nook and the iPad, as well as the e-reader apps, fuel this trend. Whether from news sites or digital bookstores, users can now search and pull information while reading.

Self-publishing platforms from Kindle (KDP), Barnes and Noble (PubIt) and Google Books are changing this game and taking it a step further. They are empowering content producers by enabling them to self-publish e-books. The platforms let authors dust off manuscripts arbitrarily ignored by literary agents and publishing houses. It also opens the doors to researchers and thinkers who can publish reports fast and disseminate them to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Google audiences. TED announced it would be publishing a series of ebooks, fewer than 20,000 words at $2.50. The NY-based futurist think tank PSFK has put its reports on the future of healthcare on Amazon's Kindle platform for $25. Wouldn't you pay for it with your corporate credit card? There is little barrier to purchase in these cases. 

As more users seek business information through e-readers, brands, service providers and authors will supplement their subscription revenue streams. Currently, iBooks and Kindle apps are among the top 100 free apps on iTunes, making a second suite of devices open to e-books. For business audiences armed with smart phones, e-books that give them quick, practical advice will be indispensable. E-book authors who can socialize their content and sustain online/offline conversations around their publications will attain notoriety.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Speaking of Social Media at Turkish WIN

I am a proud member of Turkish WIN, a growing social network of professional women with social, cultural or professional ties to Turkey. The group holds meetings in NY, but there is an extended community online - expanding from China, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul to San Francisco. The goal is to learn from each other and to help support women in their endeavors, whatever they may choose to do. More about the group's values here.

Last Thursday, I gave a talk about social media at one of their events. You can watch me wave my arms in front of the podium here. The video includes my slides as well. I am thankful to everyone who came. I presented for about 20 minutes. Then we went into Q&A, which merged with the wine & cheese part of the evening and lasted a solid two hours! Whether employed at large companies or taking charge at small businesses, the guests had series of questions about using social media to brand and to build a business. Interestingly, their questions applied to any size or type of institution across the board. Where do I start? Should I mix personal and professional in my blog? Do I lose or expand my audience if I write in two languages? Should I create an editorial calendar if I am trying to be authentic? How do I protect my creative assets? If you have an expert on staff, what are the perils of making him the face of your brand? The audience's enthusiasm was proof that there is still plenty to discuss about the fundamentals of social media. It is easy to set up a Twitter or Facebook account, but building your presence in social media requires careful thought and plan. 

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Brand Love

A few years ago, I was co-presenting with Andy Sernovitz at a word of mouth marketing webinar. I had my slides ready, full of data charts and diagrams showing how to identify online influencers and gauge their impact on brands. Andy preceded my presentation with his section. I never forget one of the slides he put up: It was just a big, shiny, red heart. He said, "Word of mouth is about looooovvve." The simplicity in what he was showing struck me. My slides would probably make a business decision maker feel comfortable about their investment, but what Andy was saying touched the core of the matter.

Word of mouth is about love. It is about feeling so passionate about a brand or product that you are ready to scream it from the rooftops-- or in this case, from the windows of a Union Square store in New York. What a smart and eye-catching way to turn consumer satisfaction into authentic publicity. Happy Valentine's!

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Monday, February 7, 2011

My Brand Fast-Trackers Podcast

I had the pleasure of speaking with Brian Martin, CEO and Founder of Brand Connections, about word of mouth marketing and my book. He just published the podcast on his site and on iTunes. The podcast series is an incredible wealth of knowledge. Seasoned marketers from AKQA,, Durex, and NBC Entertainment among others share their points of view about the art of connecting with consumers. You can subscribe to Fast-Trackers here. If you listen to 10+ episodes, it's the equivalent of attending a power marketing conference. 

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