Sunday, November 22, 2009

"My customers have become my sales force!"

Elaine Daher from Bluebell Conveyancing explains how word-of-mouth can work for professional services...

“When someone first told me there were customers rating my services online – I panicked and raced to the nearest computer! What if I’d done something wrong, what would they be saying? I need not have worried though, as the ratings were very positive and now play a big part in driving my business forward. In fact, we’re consistently getting several new clients a week because of our ratings on WOMOW.”

“It’s made me realise that when you’re genuine about providing a good service, customers are more than happy to let others know about their experience – it seems to be their way of thanking you. The flyers are an easy way to encourage them to do this on WOMOW and the system works really well. But the best part is that these reviews are helping my business get found online and are bringing in lots of new clients. My customers have effectively become my salesforce!”

“I’ve been really surprised to find how many people search online for recommendations when they need a new business. We’ve always had a lot of new clients from traditional word-of-mouth, but I never imagined that putting that feedback online would generate so many more enquiries. When people buy or sell property, they often don’t have a preferred conveyancer, so it seems that a lot of them go hunting on the web. With so many ratings, I’m lucky because often their searches will lead to my WOMOW listing and I’ll get a call.”

“The clients that come to us this way are impressed from the outset and feel confident in choosing us. I think we’ve represented almost every WOMOW enquiry we’ve had.”

Bluebell Conveyancing's listing on WOMOW can be seen here -

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Want to be trusted? Use consumer reviews...

People buy from businesses they trust. Whether it's an expensive B2B purchase or a simple dinner out, there are risks involved in every transaction and consumers choose to deal with businesses they believe minimise their risk. If they feel that a particular restaurant has less chance of disappointing them and embarrassing them in front of their friends, that's the one they'll choose. And if it makes sense for this type of transaction, think about situations where there's more money involved, more permanent repercussions of the purchase, or more personal services being selected. Trust me, trust is the holy grail...

So, if you're a business owner or marketer, how do you build trust? Well, there are 3 pieces of research that show how online consumer reviews can go a long way towards building a reputation people trust...
1) Almost two-thirds of people read consumer-written reviews on the internet (Deloitte & Touche)
Yes we all know that the world has gone online but did you know that all kinds of people are looking online for all kinds of businesses? We don't just research our electronic purchases online, these days people use the web to search for and scrutinise all types of businesses. One case in point is ADM Motors - a mechanic that joined WOMOW a couple of months ago. It's owner Adam says that he "never thought so many people would be looking online for a mechanic - boy was I wrong!" Since joining he knows of at least 10-12 new customers that have come to him after reading reviews about his business online - some driving all across town just to use a mechanic they feel they can trust (without ever having met Adam or used his services previously).
2) 78% of people trust other consumers' recommendations above all other types of advertising and marketing (Nielsen)
So, given that people are looking at online reviews, how much impact do they have? Well according to a recent Nielsen Golbal Online Survey of over 25,000 consumers from 50 different countries, people trust online reviews more than any other form of marketing or advertising. That's right, people don't need to know who has written the reviews, they believe what they read. The only source of advice found to be more trusted was a personal recommendation from someone they know.

Some of the businesses on WOMOW have experienced this heightened trust first-hand with Greg Mulroy from Body and Scents Perfumery saying "when people read our reviews online it gives them confidence that they'll get exactly what they expect and not a fake copy". Similarly, Nicole Seagren from Vision Finance encourages prospective clients to check their reputation on WOMOW "it gives them a positive mindset so they come to us expecting a good result and we get off to a good start".
3) People that read reviews are 30% more likely to purchase (Coremetrics)
So how does trust relate to sales? Well, studies by Coremetrics show that when businesses make online reviews easily acccessible, sales jump by an average of 30 per cent! Again, plenty of businesses on WOMOW are finding a fairly direct relationship between the number of positive reviews they have and the new clients they get from WOMOW. Misty's Diner has lots of positive ratings on WOMOW as they've been encouraging customers to enter reviews for almost 2 years now. This effort is paying off as Misty now attributes around one third of her revenue to customers that read her reviews online.

But are consumer reviews a short-term phenomenon that will go away sometime soon? Well, has labelled this the "Transparency Triumph" and predicts that even though review sites have been around for some time now, "we ain't seen nothing yet". They note that the trend is empowering consumers as never seen before - something that people aren't likely to give up without good reason. They also see the trend helping savvy businesses build inspiring brands and say that those that embrace consumer reviews are set to benefit as (in their words)...
"Reviewing is the new advertising".

Click here for more information on using WOMOW to build a bank of online reviews.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Word-of-Mouth: the Marketing Heavyweight in a Downturn

While many businesses are suffering in the current economic climate, our research shows that businesses that use online word-of-mouth are coming out stronger than ever.

When times are tough, consumers seem to be placing even more weight on word-of-mouth referrals. WOMOW's usage trends, coupled with the findings of qualitative research carried out on a sample of the businesses on the site, revealed that;
  1. Consumers are now much more likely to rely on word-of-mouth referrals before parting with their money, and
  2. Businesses listed on WOMOW with several positive ratings had seen an upward surge in business, instead of the plateau or decline economists predicted.
“Our research suggests that buyers are more discerning about how they spend their money right now, and are turning to word-of-mouth recommendations before trying a new product or service.” In the period from September last year to now, WOMOW’s members have tripled and traffic has increased by over 270 percent.

The trend towards more reliance on word of mouth is having an amazing impact on the businesses that have several positive ratings, with many attributing a good part of their recent success to the site.

For example, Albert Square dentist Joanne Flaessas said that her business had “boomed” during this recession due to word-of-mouth referrals, many found on WOMOW. “In December we were doing about two teeth whitenings a week and now we’re doing five times that amount,” she said.

Vision Finance director Nicole Seagren said the firm relied purely on word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers, often through the WOMOW site, for new business. “We’ve just had our best year in quite a few years – probably up about 15 percent.”

Christina Stamatopoulos from Body & Bronze said that “since we joined in February, we've had at least 25 new clients that have found us through WOMOW. Customer service is a huge part of our business - and now it's paying off! We've had a bigger year this year than any other year! I don't think we've been affected by the downturn at all.”

Adam from ADM Motors said that “WOMOW has been really great for us. In the last few months, we've had 10-12 new customers from it - and they're just the ones that mention it to us! We've got people travelling more than 20kms - just to get a roadworthy done! I guess they see our reviews and they know that we won't rip them off.”

To help people recognise the businesses that take customer satisfaction seriously, WOMOW has recently introduced stickers which are free to all businesses that repeatedly get great customer reviews. “With people now taking word-of-mouth recommendations so seriously, we want consumers to know when they’re entering a ‘dodgy–free’ service zone - and we also want the businesses that provide good service to get the recognition they deserve.”

If your business is on WOMOW with 3 or more ratings and an overall rating of 4or 5 (out of 5), please contact us for your free "WOMOW Badge of Approval" stickers.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How small businesses can boom with word-of-mouth: here's one example

While lots of businesses are announcing massive staff cuts, Lee Davies, the proprietor of Salon Lavan, is looking to put on more staff because her business is growing at a phenomenal rate. The small hairdressing salon is fielding calls and acquiring new customers from all over Melbourne - simply because people have heard that she provides a brilliant service. How do they find out? Word of mouth on the web – otherwise known as Based in Elsternwick, Salon Lavan is getting calls from Essendon, Emerald, Keilor, Croydon and even further afield. Who’d have thought that people would travel 40km and more just for a haircut! But this business demonstrates just how powerful word-of-mouth - and the promise of a good haircut - can be.

Davies first heard about WOMOW when a customer mentioned that they’d rated her business after having a haircut. Soon enough, new enquiries started coming in, leading Davies to take a proactive role and begin encouraging customer ratings.

Davies says; “The best advertising comes from my customers – they write what they think of my services and suddenly I’m getting enquiries from all over town! I’ve built this business on word-of-mouth with WOMOW. ” Having customer ratings at an independent source is extremely convincing for people that value good service. These days she says the salon is averaging 12 new clients a week that find them on

So how does she get such great feedback? Davies runs her business with a simple but effective philosophy – “treat people well and do a good job”. It’s an old-fashioned approach, but combined with an easy way for her customers to spread the word around, it works. She started the business four years ago but has “seen a lot more growth in the last year since being part of WOMOW’s Happy Customers Program”. Salon Lavan currently has over 20 customer ratings and they encourage more by giving customers flyers which explain the importance of their feedback. “Our customers are happy with us, so they usually don’t mind spending a couple of minutes letting others know about their experience.” Davies knows that the more favourable ratings they have, the more exposure they get on the web (both on au and on Google).

There’s also plenty of research to back up Salon Lavan’s experience with word-of-mouth marketing. One study showed that almost two-thirds (62%) of consumers read consumer-written reviews on the internet to make purchase decisions (Deloitte & Touche, 2007). While another showed that 78% of people trust other consumers’ recommendations above all other types of advertising and marketing (Nielsen, 2007). That’s pretty powerful stuff – especially when you consider that the cost is almost nothing. What business can afford not to be implementing an online word-of-mouth strategy?


Got a story about how word-of-mouth or WOMOW is helping your business? We’d love to hear – please email or call us on 1300 496 669.