Why Word-of-Mouth Recommendations Aren’t Enough Anymore

Jan 20, 2020 | Commentary, Research, Strategy

It isn’t hard to believe that word-of-mouth recommendations from people you know is the most trusted form of “advertising.” While you might not think of these kinds of recommendations as advertising, they most certainly are. It’s a type of “earned” advertising that comes as a result of delivering an exceptional experience, service and/or product for your customers.

To put a number to it, Nielsen found that 83% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family. While this majority of people might trust these recommendations more than any other source of info, the accessibility of more info online makes it easy for people to research what they are hearing about a business.

In other words, recommendations are being validated by digital assets, most commonly via websites, online reviews and social media. According to a study by Yodle, roughly 27% of consumers still visit a business website to research a business after getting a recommendation from a friend or family member.

A good recommendation doesn’t necessarily win business.

The absolutely critical takeaway here is that a good recommendation doesn’t necessarily win business. With 17% that don’t completely trust recommendations and 27% that validate them online, your digital efforts can either help or hurt you among these on-the-fence consumers.

Websites Reinforce Your Brand

If you’ve built a strong business that offers an exceptional, high-quality product or service, your digital presence needs to reflect that. While your high-quality offering will take your business far, if your digital brand comes off as amateur, outdated, or sloppy, you risk losing business, particularly among those that go to the Internet to validate the referrals they get from friends and family.

In addition to the overall perception of the website, you need to make it easy for your prospects to contact you. Whether your business operates on phone calls or emails, your website needs call-to-actions that align with the kind of activity that makes sense for your business.

Online Reviews Highlight Your Experience

If you have tens, hundreds or thousands of happy customers, but very few online reviews, you’re missing a huge opportunity to bring the word-of-mouth activity online. If you’ve made many people happy, your reviews become a form of digital proof that goes a long way in documenting your brand experience for potential customers. Additionally, online reviews on Google have a tremendous impact on your search engine optimization activities and overall ranking.

The reviews then become great content to feature on your website and share on your social media channels. People want to feel comfortable and confident when they choose to work with you and your written online reviews can help give them the certainty they want.

Social Media Captures Your Personality

I often see people go to Facebook to ask for recommendations for all kinds of things. Whether they are looking for a home service provider or a great place to have dinner, people ask their social media connections for recommendations. When you deliver a great experience and engage with your audience on social media, you improve the chances of your happy customers speaking up to suggest your business when it makes sense to do so.

Creating what some call “super fans” is the process by which you deliver an exceptional experience among your customers and then engage with those happy customers on an ongoing basis. This can help keep you top of mind for these customers and, sometimes, can empower them to advocate on behalf of your business. This is an extremely powerful way to reach new customers and grow your organic reach.


Those are just a few ways you can reinforce your already solid reputation. It all hinges on delivering a great customer experience when it comes to your products and services. With that as the foundation, your digital efforts can work to really elevate your reputation and ensure that any word-of-mouth is validated effectively by your digital channels. It is extremely easy to research a business and the majority of people are doing so, even if they’ve heard a particular business is a good one. Trusted recommendations just aren’t always enough for the digitally-empowered customer.

To elevate your digital efforts to match your exceptional products and services, contact us today to get started.