If you run a small business, chances are pretty good that you rely heavily on word-of-mouth to grow your business. Whether it’s online reviews or recommendations from happy customers to their friends, having good things about your business spread as far as possible is a key to long-term success.
Yahoo has published a study that exists largely to promote its own advertising programs, but also offers a couple stats that are worth passing along regarding word-of-mouth marketing. Specifically, the study confirms what others have reported before — the vast majority of word-of-mouth is positive.
According to the Yahoo study, 66% of brand references in WOM conversations are positive and only 8% are negative.
For the sake of comparison, Yelp has a chart on its FAQ page showing that 85% of business reviews in its system are 3-stars or better. (The chart is from September 2008, but within the last couple months a Yelp spokesperson told me that today’s numbers are consistent with that data.) Likewise, BazaarVoice — a company that provides the product review software that many large online retailers use — says that 80% of product ratings are 4- or 5-stars (out of 5).
So, while it’s natural to fear negative word-of-mouth, we now have several pieces of statistical evidence that most WOM is positive.
The Yahoo study also reports that the Internet’s influence on word-of-mouth is growing, while other channels (like TV, print, and point-of-sale) are generally stable.
As I said, much of the rest of the study is promotional for Yahoo’s advertising services, but if you want to have a look for yourself at the data, you can find it here.