There is a lot of buzz these days about consumer generated marketing. This term typically refers to marketing content created by consumers for other consumers. Some highly publicized examples were ads created by consumers for this years Super Bowl game and Academy Awards ceremony. But for book marketers there is a more interesting and accessible form of consumer generated marketing content – book reviews and tags.
Marketers have become more savvy in the past few years about crafting their web pages to use specific keywords that are targeted to attract consumers searching for their type of product or service. Reviews offer an opportunity to see the not so popular keywords that consumers actually use to find your product. In a recent post, “The Long Tail Opportunity of Consumer-Generated Content,” Jeff Watts points some of the interesting features of language that consumers use in reviews.
Consumers writing reviews, for example, are using their own words to describe their experiences with a product or service. Their reviews do not go through a formal editorial process to correct misspellings or to remove personal words like “I”, “me”, and “my”. The reviewers themselves are not employees who must adhere to the official company marketing message in what they write. Further, a typical page of reviews is written by multiple, unrelated authors who have different perspectives on the product being reviewed, and these different perspectives result in a greater variance in the words used in the reviews. This variance means that pages of reviews are more likely than homogenous product pages written by one or two authors to drive search terms from unanticipated combinations of words, that is, long tail search terms.
He outlines a process for extracting key words from these “long tail” search terms that lead to greater referrals and conversions.
Tags represent another way to explore the language readers use to describe and categorize a title. Amanda Wattington in her recent post “Tagging as Marketing: Are You Playing ‘Tag’ Yet?” on Web Marketing Today, gives a good overview on how marketers can use tags on sites like del.icio.us to help consumers find their products, as well as explore tags others are using to characterize them. (Hint: Just as with the language consumers use in reviews, expect surprizes.)
While evidence about the effectiveness of consumer generated content as a marketing tool is still sparse, some studies are showing that it has a higher ROI than traditional advertising. Marketing Pilgrim reported a study by BlueLithium which showed significantly better returns. While the actual number of conversions using consumer generated content was smaller, the mcuh lower cost of consumer generated content resulted in a lower cost per conversion and a better overall return on marketing investment.
As book marketing becomes more sophisticated – e.g. book videos and podcast / book tie-ins – and a greater percentage of book marketing is focused on the web, the more likely it is that the audience will become a key part of the marketing team.