Digital Journeys 2016: Matt West, Feefo

Blog | 29 Sep, 2016

Word of Mouth Gets Louder

Do we underestimate how powerful the word of mouth can be in our marketing strategies?

Matt West, Chief Marketing Officer at Feefo, goes through some interesting statistics and examples of how brands are doing this right, and why even just one positive online review on a service or product can make an impressive impact on sales.

By understanding what your customers are saying about you, think about how you can integrate this feedback into your marketing strategies.

Video transcript

Hey, everyone. I'm Matt West, Chief Marketing Officer at Feefo. I was lucky enough to join the company about six months ago, and as I joined the company, a number of things kicked off, and people asked kind of like, "Who is Feefo?" Somebody recently described us as probably one of the best-known unknown brands. We sit behind a huge amount of things that go on in the marketplace, but a number of you are going, "Feefo? I think I know Feefo. I'm sure I've seen Feefo."

So what do we do? Fundamentally, we have customers in collecting customer reviews, doing customer intakes and understanding what customers say about your product, your brand, or your service.

So why have I been asked to come here? Well, I've been asked to come for the next 15-minute session to sit and talk to you about word of mouth, understanding, how powerful is it? What's it really do for us? We've got a pretty changing marketplace when it comes to setting marketing strategies, moving your business out, moving your product out. So what can word of mouth actually do for you?

So what I want to try and do is talk to you or show you a few examples of what some people have done and how successful it's been for them. So, interestingly, with the process of trends changing, with the things we've heard this morning on focusing on the customer, focusing right back to basics and understanding what people say or think about what we do in the market. We conducted a recent research project where we were asking very specific questions on things like, "What are the most influential factors when you're looking to use something, buy something, be part of something?" So we asked about, "How influential are parents? How influential are your friends? How influential are celebrities?" And, "How influential are the likes of you and I saying something about a product, a brand, or a service. And it turns out that over 50% of people are more influenced by the likes of you and I saying something than they are about a celebrity, a parent, or a friend. So the good old days of just getting Kim Kardashian to say anything you like and you've got a successful brand, or a successful product, are moving away.

So how powerful can word of mouth really be? So I guess I just wanted to show you something very briefly to see word of mouth on steroids.

Audio: I want a Pokemon Go players stampede searching for Snorlax. Thousands of people flocked to Beitou, a northern district of the Taiwanese capital of Taipei on Saturday. But not for its famous hot springs. No, sir. They were Pokemon Go players competing against each other to catch a rare Pokemon known as Snorlax. And you can see for yourself what happened when they got there. Ever since the game became officially available in Taiwan, on August 6, players have been going to this once-tranquil area to hunt and add Pokemons to their collections. Many locals are not happy with the insanity the game has brought to their formerly laid-back tourist spot. This Facebook user even said the country is doomed, thanks to these rabid Pokemon fans. Another person on Facebook complained about the players disrespecting the people who actually live in the neighbourhood, while these two players suggest the Pokemon Go company sets up Pokemon stations at incineration plants, cemeteries, or even morgues. Yeah. Good luck with that idea.

Matt: So that's word-of-mouth at work. Some of you are looking, going, "This is nuts." And some of you are looking at your phones going, "Have I got Snorlax? No. I don't know."

I guess, what's the importance of this? Well, for me, it's the stats bit of the presentation. I just want to share some things with you on research and understanding the number of clients who we work with that are really important for us to bear in mind. We've talked about how talking to the customer should be important. We talked earlier about...Thomas was talking about social media, how we use social media. So picking on just a simple stat there, 58%, so at least 60% of consumers all share their positive experience online via social media. Seventy-five percent of consumers are affected by what you and I say about how we use something. We should be using that. We should be tapping into that and understanding how that works.

For me, one of the really important ones is that 95% of unhappy customers would return if their issue was dealt with quickly, easily, or simply. I guess we're looking at going, "Okay. Well what's that mean in reality?" How many of us have been to a restaurant and gone, "That was terrible. I had to send my food back. My steak wasn't cooked properly. The waiter, or waitress, was terrible." And then you have a really bad service and you spend the next 10, 15 minutes walking down the street going, "I'm never going there again. I'm never going to tell anybody about that restaurant." What happens when somebody actually comes up, looks after you, takes your food back, maybe gives you a discount, encourages you to come back again? You don't leave winging, and moaning. You might go, "It wasn't the best experience I've had, but I'd probably go back and return. I might go do something else."

So understanding our customers, understanding the power of word of mouth, what our customers say about us is key and critical.

So where does it all start? That infamous marketing plan. Now, I'm sure nobody's marketing plan in this room looks anything like that, probably because you use coloured pens, but it does start at that point. It starts as an integral part of what it is you build, an integral part of how you look at your product, your service, or your brand. And this is something that...what are we looking to do? We want people to be happy. We want people to be happy about the choice they make to work with us, to buy from us, to use something we provide to them. And that's going to be critical to understand and capture as much as you possibly can.

So a relatively smart guy said some poignant things, so...probably a lot of you have seen this quote, I think it's quite good. You know, five years old, his mom told him, "Happiness is the key to life." Went to school. Asked the question, "What do you want to be?" He said, "I want to be happy." They said, "You don't understand the assignment." "Well, you guys don't understand life." Pretty poignant for a five-year old. I don't think my five-year old could do that. I wish he could. So I think it's important to understand why, "Okay. What are we trying to achieve?" Do we want people to be happy? Do we want people to enjoy what we're doing?

Making that as part of what you have as part of your plan, part of your marketing strategy, is going to be key and critical, going forward. So what I'm going to do is share with you an example, and some of you may have seen this. I think it's a great example. It's from an Australian airline called Tiger Airways, who've really captured who they are in the market, who their customers are, and delivered something to them which was quite fun, quite engaging, quite interesting, and used everything in the marketplace to deliver something for them. So have a quick look at this and see what you think.

Audio 2: How does a low-cost airline reward customers who hardly fly at all? They don't. Introducing the Tiger Air Infrequent Flyers Club, the rewards program that gives you absolutely nothing at all. You couldn't earn points, and you couldn't earn status, but you could download your own personalised membership card, from boring white, to 70s brown, to triple-emerald sapphire ivory. Oh. And you had to print the cards out yourself because it's cheaper. A first of its kind CRM platform, Tiger Air Infrequent Flyers Club rewarded members with Tiger Air's cheapest fares. You could even print out your own baggage tags, prepare in-flight meals at home with the Tiger Air In-Flight Cookbook. And while other loyalty programs reward people with access to an airport members' lounge, we didn't, because you've got one of those at home. A promotional, social, and direct campaign. Online films, posters, weekly ADMs [SP] with cheap fares members could share.

Woman: Traz, we've always wanted to go to Hobart.

Audio 2: And cinema reached Australia's heartland, driving people with the Infrequent Flyers' Club website. Offering nothing made something of an impact with the Australian travelling public.

Woman: The Tiger Air Infrequent Flyers Club is open. Mini bottles of wine, not included.

Audio 2: I would almost join this just so I could be Aerobics Leotard Blue.

Woman: Tiger Air launches Infrequent Flyer Club campaign in wake of Qantas frequent flyer controversy.

Audio 2: Tiger Air launches a new rewards game. High flyers need not apply.

The club now has a half a million loyal members, $2 million in direct sales in three months, 45 million impressions. And Tiger Air recorded their first profit in five years. Tiger Air Infrequent Flyers. Don't fly much? Join the club.

Matt: So I think that's pretty good, and I wish I'd thought of it. So I guess I don't recommend that you all go out and offer absolutely nothing, but I think what I wanted to show there was, "We've identified who our customers are. We've identified what they want. They want cheap flights. They want to be able to fly. They want to be able to have all the benefits of doing that," but fundamentally they just delivered something that was fun. They listened to their customer base. They used what was going out in the market and integrated that whole conversation as part of their plan going forward.

So I thought I'd give you another couple of examples, not so much video, you're fine. Anybody use Not On The High Street? Anybody ordered anything from Not On The High Street? A few hands. So not on The High Street. Obviously, I think most of us know what they do. These guys have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to understand what customers want, the experience that customers have. So they have over three quarters of a million feedbacks, reviews, customer comments -- that's without including all of the social media stuff -- straight back into them as a business. And they've used that to help drive and grow what it is that we want as consumers buying from them. So what products should they source? They spent a huge amount of time doing things like personalization because a lot of people are going to them and saying, "I want to personalise this," or, "personalise that." They've learned that through asking the questions of customers, listening to what customers are saying, and responding with suitable products and suitable go-to-market propositions.

What has this meant to them? Because it's all well and good doing this stuff, but does it actually have value for my business, for my client, for our clients? Well what they found is that by just putting, when they started doing this, just one review, one product review, one service review against one item, they saw a 10% uplift in sales. Now, we've all gone on shopping. We've all gone on seeing the Google stars and reviews and go, "Well this one's got 20, and 3 stars. This one's got 205 stars, so I'm going to have a quick look at this one." So we're all influenced by those things. But these guys have tried to pull that together, listen to the customers, and deliver something back to them. And for that, they've seen that growth. Between 0 and 30 reviews, if they put something against a product or a service, you can see an uplift of around about 25% is what they're particularly seeing in their demographic market. So again, understanding what your customers are saying about you, that word of mouth, that voice of the customer which we've heard today, can be really, really powerful. So for a company that is still not on The High Street, but very much known on the High Street. It's not on The High Street because of word of mouth. It's not on the High Street because you and I go about and talk about it. Incredibly powerful.

So I want to share Expedia. We all know who Expedia are. They have umpteen brands out on the marketplace, huge, huge business, dealing with millions of customers every single year. What they've done is an incredible example of how to completely integrate dealing and talking with their customers. And we've been working with them for a little while now. What they do with everything that the customers say to them...they take that in and they allocate it around the business to relevant business areas, so if you have a complaint, it'll go to one place. You have something positive, it'll go to another place. You got a payment issue, it will go to another place. So they can manage everything that you're saying about them, what your experience was. And they'll ask you questions right along the way, and you may have experienced some of this yourself. You know, how was your booking online experience? How was your hotel? How was your villa? How was the flight? They want to understand right the way through the steps of the journey, what it is you wanted, what you liked, what you didn't like, and what they can then do about it. Which for them has then meant that they're now receiving one review, one piece of information every minute across their brands and what they're doing. Which means they've actually got hundreds of thousands of conversations going on every single day with customers, telling them about their business, telling what they like and what they don't like, which they can then use to influence what they do going forward as part of that original marketing plan, that marketing strategy.

I want to share another one, with Monarch. We've been working with Monarch since the end of 2013, beginning of '14. When we started working with them, they knew that they wanted to do more in conversation with their customer base. They knew that they could deliver more. They didn't have enough channels to market open for them in communicating with their customers and they wanted to improve their position in the market. And so they had great plans of how they were going to do this and we were fortunate enough to start working with them on making this a reality. They transport about six million passengers a year. They have about three million unique users per month coming to their site and what they basically do is just go through, again, that whole process of asking, what is it you customers want. And over a period of time, they've begun to change the perspective of Monarch and what it delivers, and how it delivers it. How you actually get treated when you check in. How you get treated when you book online. The kind of things that were provided on the flight for you. And what they keep doing is just encouraging their customers to tell them what they think constantly. They've now hit half a million pieces of feedback directly to Monarch, so we're actually going to celebrate with them and work with them on how we do that. In actual fact...and I can't believe I'm actually going to put these if you go to the airport next week, with Monarch, you will get a pair of these bad boys to put on, just to have a bit of fun with the customers. Thank them for leaving reviews and that we jointly branded with Monarch. And then we'll be asking people to do selfies, and the best selfies that they can do will obviously be used on social media, and we'll have some fun, and return some...hopefully some benefits to the customers in part of that. So, again, using something really simple, listening to customers, engaging with customers, and trying to find a better way of helping them to have a better experience, being happy about the choice they've made to fly with Monarch and do something with those guys.

So I guess we wanna build fans. We wanna create fans. You can't really control what customers say sometimes. You may wanna control what customers say but you can't always achieve it, so clearly there's a new product out which you could...I guess that's a satisfied customer. The point is, you need people to say things positively about you. You need people to be able to talk openly about what you do and you can't stop them talking, but you want to be able to make sure that you can communicate as part of your plans, going forward.

I talked a bit about some big brands. We all know most of those brands. We've all seen them. So what if you're, let's say, a smaller company. Is it worth focusing on this kind of thing right now, or should I wait until I'm a little bit bigger? What if I'm just like an e-commerce site, you know, is this really important? Should I get my traditional marketing strategy in place first and then I can deal with what customers think about me later? So I asked the guys at Pet Drugs Online, which I don't know whether...does anybody...heard of them, used them, people got pets in the audience? No? So relatively small company. I asked these guys if they'd mind me talking about them and the experience they've had in creating this environment where they talk to their customers openly about the experience that they're having. They said, "No. No problem at all." So I asked the question, "Okay. So how has it impacted you? What have you changed?" And he just listed everything. He said, "We've changed the way do our pricing. We've changed the packaging that we do. We changed the way we talk to customers. We've changed the way in which we deliver our products to customers. And in actual fact, what we've done from there is we've achieved an incredible success of 31% business growth over a market that's doing 8%."

How did they do this? Word of mouth. People started talking about it. People started talking about what they were saying. How did they understand and capture that? Well they listened to that customer. They kept all that customer was saying and they made it part of their plans to help change their business, going forward. And this is the kind of power that actually...talking to your customers...listening to your customers, which we've heard all morning from the scribbles and saying that's the original...the person that we need to be speaking to is those individuals, right the way through to stats on social media. It's all got to form that integral part of what we do.

So some of our customers even moved to the point where brand ambassadors don't have to be even humans anymore, so this really is listening to the voice of the customer. So I kind of figured that no presentation should be complete without an animal doing something silly at the end, so let's play the video, if we can.

Audio 3: Where's your Lily's Kitchen? Show me Lily's Kitchen. Where is it? Great. And would you eat any of the kit- other one? Would you eat any other food? Okay. And who buys you the best food? Who buys you the best food? Your mum. Good girl.

Matt: So there we go. You've had an animal doing something silly in a presentation. It can't be a bad day.

So, again, it's just thinking outside the box. And Lily's Kitchen basically started launching video reviews, photo reviews, collecting those, and they've clearly used them to great effect, and it's been another great marketing tool to share how customers feel about using them.

So I guess I just really want to leave a thought, so not in a kind of Jerry Springer way, but Thomas Keller, a personal hero of mine, so he's American-born chef. He has, to the best of my knowledge, more three-star restaurants than anybody else in the market. He's built his entire business on word of mouth, other people recommending him, other people giving feedback. And that's how he builds and grows this restaurant empire that he has. Now I've changed one word in here, which is, "dishes", and I've swapped it with, "marketing strategy," but I still think it really works well for us. So if you accept, as you must, there's no such thing as the perfect marketing strategy, only the idea of it, back to our scribbles on the board, the real purpose of striving for perfection becomes clear. It's to make people happy, to make our customers happy with the choices they're making, the brand they're engaging, with the service they're buying, and dealing with all of us and our clients.

So I guess hopefully this has made you a little bit happy that you came back from coffee break. If not, I've done a really bad job. And thank you very much. Word of mouth is telling me that I should stop talking now. Thank you.

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