Blurring the Lines of Digital Marketing and Word of Mouth Conversations

Published by Engagement Labs on July 11, 2016

FACT: Consumer word of mouth (WOM) conversations drive at least six trillion dollars in annual purchases in the U.S.

That’s a huge amount of business generated simply from consumers chatting to one another.

While one might be tempted to believe that most of today’s conversations are happening online – based on how every passer-by on the street is glued to their phone screen – this isn’t actually the case.

FACT: ⅔ of consumer WOM conversations are occurring face-to-face in the offline world.

Surprise, surprise! People are still talking to each other in person and it’s the major driver of the sales impact of WOM conversations.

Don’t Disconnect Those Online Conversations Just Yet

In spite of the digital revolution, online conversations aren’t responsible for the entire sales impact of WOM conversations. However, they do make up a big chunk and it’s spilling over into offline conversations.

10 years worth of research and data from our TalkTrack®  measurement system shows that  offline and online conversations are starting to mix.

Brands can no longer separately consider offline and online conversations. Online influences offline and vice-versa and this trend is only going to continue.

Let’s Talk About Digital Content

How exactly are the online and offline worlds blending? Turns out, people love discussing what they’ve seen online. According to our research, 1 in 4 conversations about brands today reference some digital content that’s been seen online.

Came across a social media post? An online ad? A company website? As the years have gone by, your references to such digital marketing content in offline brand conversations have more than doubled since 2008.

Thus, while we’re seeing the majority of conversations still occurring face-to-face, the content of those conversations are changing thanks to the ever-growing presence of online content.

So much so, that every day in the U.S., half a billion conversations are related to digital content that audiences are viewing.

From URL to IRL

The online momentum is not stopping anytime soon.

When looking at all the online channels that act as sources for digital references in offline conversations, social media is the digital source that grew the most since 2008.

As social media dominates the online world and people continue to be glued to their phones, these offline digital references will continue to grow blurring the conversational lines between the online and offline worlds.

Digital marketing drives real-life conversations and it’s time to take, what we like to call, a “TotalSocial” view of your brand conversations, so that you have a 360° perspective of how consumers are talking about your brand online and offline.

Find out more about the blurred lines of offline and online marketing in our white paper “URL to IRL: How Digital Marketing Drives Conversations, Online and In Real Life“.