It’s no secret that more and more content and conversations are generated online every day. A recent study by Engagement Labs, an analytics company that tracks online and offline data about brands, shows that the lines between online and offline Word of Mouth are more blurred than ever. In person Word of Mouth is driving more online conversations and, conversely, online content and conversations are responsible for triggering more in-person Word of Mouth.

“What this means is that people are not having conversations that are strictly online or offline, but rather, their conversations are blending the digital and the analog.” – Engagement Labs, URL to IRL report.

1 in 4 Word of Mouth conversations about brands is now triggered by exposure to online content. The people involved in those conversations are then turning to online content to follow up on their conversations before deciding whether to make a purchase. It’s this Word of Mouth ecosystem that contributes to most business growth for brands. It’s now critical that every business is prepared to accommodate the ways in which consumers engage with Word of Mouth online and offline.

For big-budget brands, this means spending large amounts of money on traditional media, online advertising, social media marketing, and large promotional events to spark conversations. For small to mid-sized businesses, taking advantage of Word of Mouth is a matter of increasing engagement and top-of-mind awareness amongst regular customers and those nearby your business.

The way to do that is to collect the contact information of regular customers and those engaging in Word of Mouth conversations about your brand, then reach out to them via email, social media, and your website to drive further awareness and create more in-person Word of Mouth, feeding the virtuous cycle of Word of Mouth recommendation.

Handled correctly, modern Word of Mouth is the most powerful thing you can do to grow your business.