On June 4, 2012, the results of BrightLocal’s 2012 local consumer review survey were released. This survey collected information about “consumer recommendation behavior”–the way consumers advertise businesses–between January 15 and March 1. Then, BrightLocal compared this year’s data to that of their 2010 survey.
So far, it looks as if only certain types of businesses are recommended by their customers on a regular basis. The most frequently recommended types are restaurants, doctors, hotels, bars, and beauty salons. Corey Eridon, writer for the Inbound Internet Marketing Blog, realized that recommended business are usually used often. They also usually provide a service that is considered important for everyday life, like food or medical care.
When gathering data about how consumers advertise, BrightLocal realized that–as of 2012–the most popular means of spreading information about favorite businesses is still word-of-mouth. However, since 2010, consumer recommendation via social media has been on the rise, so Eridon advises businesses to have a social networking presence.
As far as businesses go, the top two things that consumers like to see are reliable and professional service and a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Thus, Eridon stresses the importance of a good image to a business that wants to make use of consumer recommendation.
BrightLocal also reports that, when customers feel they received good offers, discounts, or value, they are much more likely to recommend a business. Said business doesn’t necessarily have to have extremely low prices, just prices that customers feel are appropriate for the product or service they receive.
Finally, BrightLocal states that customers will not necessarily recommend a business just because the business asks them to. The number of customers who said they would recommend a business by request barely topped those who answered “maybe”, and a sizable number would actively not recommend the business if they were asked. However, BrightLocal says that offering consumers an incentive in exchange for their recommendations is fairly effective. Eridon further suggests that the incentive be more than just a discount. For example, he saw that Starbucks donated money to charity every time its customers recommended it, and he believed that similar incentives, rather than self-serving discounts, would substantially increase consumer recommendations.