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Study: 1 in 4 Consumers Research Offline Word-of-Mouth Online

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Almost two years ago Nielsen found that the most trusted form of advertising was word-of-mouth with 84% of consumers saying they trust the recommendations from the people they know. Taking this one step further, new data shows that for some consumers offline word-of-mouth leads to online research.

According to a new Yodle study, even if they hear about a local business offline, 27% of consumers still visit the website to research the business.  A few conclusions could be made when considering this data point:

  • 27% feel websites can validate word-of-mouth
  • A quarter of website visits are influenced by offline recommendations

Overall, the takeaway here is the valuable interaction that is taking place between offline conversations and online research.  While we know consumers bounce between online and offline media when making purchasing decisions, putting a number to how often this happens is difficult. But with this data we can say that over 1 in 4 consumers who receive an offline recommendation research the business online.

In a time when attribution and understanding the consumer journey is extremely important to marketers, nuanced data like this is helpful. However, a fragmented digital landscape and a non-linear path to purchase makes it hard to make any concrete conclusion related to this kind of consumer/media interaction and its impact on a purchase.

While an interesting data point, the question surrounding marketing and advertising efficacy remains complex. But the consumer motives behind selecting a local business are easier to digest and the Yodle study goes on to provide the reasons for and against using a local business.

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As it has been since long before the Internet was born, businesses are selected based on the quality of the products/services they provide.  Communicating all of the “reasons” found above is precisely the challenge faced by marketing and advertising. The question only becomes which online and/or offline media to leverage.

Even if a business has the best quality product/service in their market, word-of-mouth, surprisingly, doesn’t appear to be enough for all consumers. With 1 in 4 consumers researching word-of-mouth via websites, businesses who still don’t have a website or online presence are shooting themselves in the foot by not making it easy for these consumers to validate the information they hear offline.

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