Exploration of the WOM influence

At the foundation of our products is Opinion Miner software © that uses self-training algorithms to discern, amplify and measure raw data to produce structured information and metrics – signals out of noise. We began by using customer reviews about consumer electronics products because we had so much “ore” to work with. No other category of products (I don’t view books and movies as products) seem to be blessed with such an active customer following.  We also wanted to concentrate on generating actionable signals, that I imagine excludes mining opinions about brands – as a brand reputation is aggregation of what customers experience with products that are associated with the brand.  Here is one example of results we managed to produce so far

WOM (Word of Mouth) Analysis of HP Photo Smart Printer

I believe such information can really help marketing dollars work much smarter by

  • focusing promotional resources on the products that win customer advocacy because it grows your business;
  • learn why consumers chose your competitor’s product over yours and make changes;
  • sync marketing message with what your customers value the most – not what your product managers think is cool.

So now, after sharpening Opinion Miner’s © “teeth” on plentiful customer reviews of CE and Computer products we would like to start experimenting on different type of WOM, like restaurant reviews or reputation of specific services.  Any ideas or suggestions from you, private or public would be greatly appreciated.

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8 Responses to Exploration of the WOM influence

  1. Stan DeVaughn • Positive WOM spreads fastest among the customers of vendors who realize that a compelling value proposition is something that can be quantified. If you understand the economic value of your product’s benefit, the way your customers have calculated it, all future product development and marketing initiatives will be optimized. Caution: a sales pitch is NOT a value proposition. A value prop is the $value your customer puts on your product’s benefit minus the sum of the product’s adoption cost and price. Do the same math your customers do.
    copied and pasted from http://yv2.me/u2BJ at LinkedIn

  2. Gregory says:

    Great comment Stan, although not often easy to do. We focus on extracting quantitative information from qualitative data, primarily, but not limited to consumer products, that makes it even more challenging to quantify value. However I do think this is a first step that would allow to quantify and even model value proposition for your customer.

  3. Although the deep understanding of the value propositoin is key, I am not sure it is mostly a matter of quantification (except with commoditized products). The customer experience and what people tell others (the content of the WOM) are not necessarily bound to cost/price aspects. What matters even more is the emotion and how people convey it.

    To illustrate my point, the iphone is still overpriced (in Europe) and it has a lousy integrated microphone that negatively impacts the quality of conversation. Despite this, positive WOM has, so far, dwarf negative one. Apple has done a good job playing on its brand equity and generating customer experience in different ways to feed the fire.

    Using advanced software technology to try to capture themes and tonality of conversations on the web, adapting marketing and comms – including engaging with communities -accordingly, using the feedback where relevant to adapt the offering and the customer experience, is a fascinating emerging discipline with a bright future.

  4. Great post Gregory! Thanks for chiming in Stan and Olivier. The subject of WOM is huge for every company. To Olivier’s point, the challenge is to take the qualitative data and make valid quantifiable representations. There is a great deal that can be done with the WOM data, as you all know–planning, segmentation, competitive analysis, for example. While a quantifiable representation is most advantageous, we all know that many decisions are made without it because you “just know” the right thing to do. The WOM data (and customer analytics) validates and/or challenges our orthodoxies. We just have to be prepared to do something with what we get!

  5. Value is quantifiable. People choose the more expensive product, or service, because they have established a price (read: premium) in mind that they are willing to pay to acquire the benefit they perceive. The assign a dollar value to this benefit. As marketers, it’s incumbent upon us to determine what this is. While it will vary from buyer to buyer, it still exists.

  6. Gregory says:

    Quantifying qualitative data is not limited to price/value of the product or service. In fact quantifying customer satisfaction levels with various aspects or attributes of their product experience allows to differentiate the products/services that are treated as commodity, but may not be.

  7. I fully agree Gregory. One needs to know who, what and why they missed to understand opportunity. Further, having a tool providing a listening post to the voice of the brand owner’s customers who were previously unheard by those whose brands are being influenced by others should provide the triangulation necessary to chart a precise course to enhanced profits.

  8. Gregory says:

    @Herman That’s exactly right. If you don’t know how your customers experience your products:
    1. You cannot improve their experiences
    2. You cannot help them to recommend your products, and as a result
    3. You will not sell as many as you could

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