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Word-of-mouth better than SE referrals

SE referrals don't get no satisfaction from sites

   
2:48 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Interesting new research [tnsofres.com] from Taylor Nelson Sofres claims that word of mouth is far more important than search engines or links for attracting regular users. Does this ring true with people here?
Personally I don't get their wording for their other findings, where they say 'respondent stated they were particularly unsatisfied with or indifferent towards ...'. Surely a big difference between dissatisfaction and indifference. Were they dissatisfied because they didn't have the ability to personalise a site, or were they just indifferent to such a feature?
2:54 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vitaplease is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



What helps is word of mouth of using Google instead of MSN, so say my stats, so say my conversions ;).
3:34 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



In general I would believe it the other way around. people generally go to search engine because their current needs have changed and need info on something.

A good search, a good experience, a good purchase received, would generally produce good Word of Mouth.

Personally, 92.4% of my visitors come from SE of which Google (take a bow!) now generates 61%

Overall conversion rate is at 5%. Don't know how that breaks down non-SE or SE visitors, but it's a good bet that most are directly from SE or at least initially found us that way.

Rod

3:39 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I bet Google did not get that many SE referrals at the beginning :)

It does make sense that personal referrals would be more important for regular users. Friends tend to know what a person will like / not like a lot more than the algorithms.

3:54 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



True. But friends are generally "local" and local is a very small market.

From a business sense the reach of the company "online" well exceeds any local expectations.

Demographics of the industry you're in and your markets would change this, but IMO only disposable products are a hard SE sell.

4:15 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brotherhood_of_lan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I would tend to agree that word of mouth is better than SE referrals, 'specially when you include all the junk, broken URL's and ads on SE's. I don't expect much from a search engine, but a recommendation by someone who's opinion you no doubt expect says something more about a site :)

Is it NEW research? Pre-WMW times, I read this sort of information in a few places.

SE referrals for me go like this 1. find 2. look 3. abandon

Not that my site is poor or anything, but from all the possible sources, its most likely that people using the SE just want a snippet of info and leave. If your site is top notch, then they might look further

If someone recommends a site, no doubt they have time on their hands and will investigate it further.

Its amazing how we can generalise millions of people just because they choose to search one day, where on another day, and perhaps another mood (or different colours ;) ) they will use another method

To me, word of mouth is #1, maybe google second since its a great SE ;)

4:20 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Good point fathom. Friends have a larger reach than just a local area, though. I have friends all over the place. They do also. WOM referrals can cover a HUGE geographical area, very quickly. How about the hampsterdance site as an example?
4:23 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member eliteweb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Word of mouth works on a certain level and it has more value than a search engine does. A referal from someone who used the site or bought something shows they are satified - theres a million and two people on the engines currently so you have so many choices and so many chances of dissatifaction.

When the sites is targeted nationwide and it is small word of mouth still exists yet it depends on the croud and the market, in this case search engine referals would spread more than the word on the street.

;)

4:27 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I would much rather have a user referred by someone than a search engine referral. A recommendation and positive expereience can go a long way in securing a happy customer.
5:28 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vitaplease is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I just like boasting to a possible client:

Just look up "search phrase" in Google.

1.Here in Europe I find I am still expalining to some people what Google is (though much less than a year ago).

2. It shows your confidence towards the client that:
- Your site will appear tops (for non-English languages this is a lot easier).
- Your site is superior to the number three and downwards listed sites.

3. You hope the prospective client will use Google more often - and that you will be tops in SERP's again.

4. Some innocent search engine users believe that when you are listed as no1 you are the best or the biggest - and I do not discourage that feeling.

7:02 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Botherhood of LAN - I can't agree more!

>>Its amazing how we can generalise millions of people just because they choose to search one day, where on another day, and perhaps another mood (or different colours)<<

This is true for all circles.

I WANT A BLUE WIDGET, not a green.

Ok ... today, any color but BLACK.

Hey joe I know where do can get a purple widget for half price!

Same Same

Rod

7:26 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



In my opinion, you need a good combination of;

1) Internet Visibility
2) Advertisements
3) Word of mouth

Word of mouth is very locailized.

Advertisments are nice, but is the supplier real?

Internet Visibility defines the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, and how).

To be successfull you need all three.

7:30 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Sparrow by my count I see 4 W's ... and a H! lol
7:45 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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the last "w" is in "hoW" that makes 5.

I'm old school, this is how the teach advertising ## years ago.

8:01 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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fathom: >>Personally, 92.4% of my visitors come from SE<<

that seems a huge proportion. I have the reverse situation - 70% of visitors are 'no referral', by which I assume they have bookmarked me, set my URL as their default home page (I can dream!) or remembered the URL for direct typing into the browser ... or even, perhaps (according to the research mentioned above), they were given the URL by word-of-mouth recommendation. I wonder what the 'average' proportions are for 'SE referrals' versus 'no referrals' ?

8:08 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Our company receives a 75% referral rate. I can't tell you how many times I've been told : "I've never heard of you guys, but XXXX uses you and he's really happy so.."

IMHO word-of-mouth IS the most powerful form of advertising there is.

8:28 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month




Unique Browsers (may not be all actual unique visitors) 35881
Search Refferals 33772)
the top few was a bit of on Google thought 61%

Google 18598 55.15%
Yahoo! Web Pages 6125 18.16%
MSN 2696 7.99%
AOL 1032 3.06%
AltaVista 962 2.85%
Lycos 559 1.65%
Dogpile 404 1.19%
Overture 403 1.19%
Northern Light 375 1.11%
Ask Jeeves 361 1.07%
Google U.K. 273 0.8%
Excite 186 0.55%

8:54 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brotherhood_of_lan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



my "no referrer" is equal to my google referrals, both at a quarter of the total :)
9:10 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Don't get me wrong, I do believe WOM works but also has much more power when preceded by SE finds.

Example: a client sells products but also makes them, develops, produce and publishes.

They did this for 10 years for themselves and when sales were low did contract work to fill the hole.

With SE today, there is no need for contract work. Offline sales are supported by onlines, however, a new market has also opened up due SE referrals. Unsolicited contract work. Those companies that wish to reproduce that same result (whether that is developing a product or producing the marketing results)

My point is, although WOM works great - your conversion rate is dependent on 3 needs now not one.

the customers original need, the referrals need (to be there) and the customers need to remember what the referral indicated about you.

At an SE all of that "need" is right there at their mouse clicks and near instantaneous. Now the only need left is to click the all important buy me button.

I have found that its not a technology failure or even just a lack of understanding that technology. But a marketing failure.

WOM disadvantage - referrals are not company employees that MUST refer and regularly, therefore not reliable revenue stream but a "bluebird" and alway nice to get.

9:34 pm on May 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Sparrow, the fifth W is "Why".
12:48 am on May 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

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weisinator, thank you.
I sit corrected (I said that to a teacher on time and got sent to the dean!) hope that doesn't happen here!
10:44 am on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member fathom is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I've been in that bin before too!
11:08 am on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I would say that could be acurate. I have an e-mail a friend script that stores the e-mail addresses and so far there is over 3,000 e-mails in the storage file. The e-mail a friend feature has only been live on my site for a couple of months.

I would say that word of mouth is probably the best way to drive traffic for a number of reasons.

However you need to have a very very good site for this to work fully.

Just how many people visit Google or Yahoo via word of mouth? I bet it would be a high figure.

Stickymaster.

11:18 am on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



i get around 90% non-search engine visits. The site is fairly heavily marketed in the local community and it's aimed at a local audience..
11:22 am on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)



What about email referalls? The tell a friend type?

Does that count as 'word of mouth', I reckon it does and would be just as effective..

Nick

11:37 am on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member txbakers is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



WOM always has been, and always will be the best advertisement available.
12:12 pm on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brotherhood_of_lan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Its a tad ironic that today, first time ever that google has overtaken my "no referrals" even though the "return visits" stats in my humble webtrends is no different.

Looks like Im gonna have to lessen the google stakes and get some of these WOM ethics into action!

12:42 pm on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Our WOM visits convert at a much higher rate than our SE visits.
1:24 pm on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Word of mouth (or even better, having a friend email a link) is terrific, but the vast majority of web users are still going to type your domain name into a search engine to find it. The proof: Yahoo.com, Hotmail.com and Google.com are consistently in the top ten most frequently searched words on the Internet. Basically, people don't know how to use their browsers, and put your word-of-mouth domain name into the search box. So, you better at least win for your domain name, and plenty of sites don't.
2:12 pm on May 15, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Seth Godin's book Ideavirus is all about...word of mouth popularity. I would say, its a must read...!
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