A new study has found that, in about one-quarter of the cases, offline word-of-mouth recommendations—from trusted sources—lead to online research. This means that, not only may websites validate word of mouth, some website visits are prompted by offline recommendations.

Nearly two years ago, a Nielsen study revealed that word-of-mouth was the most trusted form of recommendation and that most—84 percent—consumers indicated that they trusted recommendations from people they know, according to Local Search Association (LSA). Now, new research revels that, in some cases, online research is prompted by offline word-of-mouth.

A new study by Yodle found that, even if consumers learn about a local business offline, 27 percent visit the website to learn more about the businesses. Therefore, 27 percent:

  • Of consumers believe that websites validate word-of-mouth recommendations
  • Of website visits are influenced by offline recommendations

LSA notes that key interaction occurs between offline conversations and online research. It is widely understood that consumers will go back and forth between online and offline media when deciding about what to purchase; however, understanding how often this occurs is a challenging, key piece of information to marketers. With this new data, it is now understood that more than one in four consumers receiving offline recommendations research the recommended business online.

LSA does warn that what it describes as a “fragmented digital landscape and a non-linear path to purchase” adds to the challenge in making a tangible conclusion regarding this sort of consumer-to-media interaction and how that impacts purchasing decisions.

Businesses have long been selected—even prior to the Internet—based on the quality of the products sold and services provided. The following reasons to shop with or cease shopping with a business present myriad challenges to marketers and advertisers. Leverage of online and/or offline media becomes key. Word-of-mouth—even when a business provides quality products and/or services—does not satisfy every consumer.

Top 10 Reasons to Use a Local Business

  1. Quality of work
  2. Reliability
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Convenient to home/business
  5. Loyalty
  6. Recommended by friends/family
  7. Competitive pricing
  8. Personal relationship with business owner/staff
  9. Overall customer service
  10. Reputable in the community

Top 10 Reasons to Stop Using a Local Business

  1. Decline in the quality of work
  2. Significant pricing increase
  3. Not being treated fairly
  4. Decline in overall customer service
  5. Location no longer convenient
  6. Owner/staff change
  7. Billing issue/dispute
  8. Appointments not available
  9. Deterioration in cleanliness/facilities
  10. Poor experiences by friends/family

Although understanding the efficacy of marketing and advertising plans is not always clear cut, consumer motives in business selection are slightly more clarified based on the Yodle study, says, Joe Morsello, Communications Manager at the LSA.

Data results are based on a survey of 7,224 small- and medium-business buyers:

  • 52 percent: 10 employees or more
  • 74 percent: independently owned
  • 71 percent: less than $2 million in revenue


Study: 1 in 4 Consumers Research Offline Word-Of-Mouth Online; June 24, 2015; contributed by: Joe Morsello, Communications Manager at the Local Search Association (LSA).