THE MARKETING POWER OF BRAND ADVOCATES

92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends over all forms of advertising. (source: Nielsen)

Between 20% to 50% of all purchases are driven by Advocates' recommendations (source: McKinsey)

Advocates' recommendations are the #1 most trusted and influential source across all age groups: millennials, Gen X, baby boomers, and mature adults (source: Deloitte)

Advocates' recommendations are the most trusted and influential source in all four countries studied (China 79%; US 76%; UK 75%; Brazil 74%.  (source: Razorfish)

Advocates' recommendations are the #1 driver of consumer purchase decisions at every stage in the purchase cycle across 10 product categories studied, from banking to vacation travel and retail categories like apparel and personal products (source: Keller Fay)

64% of marketers believe Word of Mouth marketing is more effective than traditional marketing (source: American Marketing Association)

The sales conversion rate when Advocates recommend products or services to friends is 35%. (source: Social @Ogilvy) The average online conversion rate is about 1% (source: multiple)

59% of consumers like to tell others about new products. This means that more than half of your customers may be Advocates, i.e., willing to recommend your new products to others. (source: Nielsen Global New Product Survey)

Consumers trust content created by Advocates (a form of User-Generated Content or UGC 50% more than they trust other media (source: Crowdtap)

ADVOCACY IN certain CONSUMER PRODUCT/SERVICE CATEGORIES

Automotive: Advocacy is among the top influences of new auto purchases, with over a third of new auto buyers saying they were moderately or completely influenced by recommendations from friends. (source: Foresight)

Hotels: Hotels that increase their ratings by one point on TripAdvisor can boost revenues 39%. (source: "Hotel Performance Impact of Socially Engaging with Consumers," Cornell University Hospitality Research Center.)

Hotels: Hotels can increase prices 11.2% and still maintain the same occupancy rates by increasing their TripAdvisor ratings buy one point. (source: "The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance," Cornell University Hospitality Research Center)

Restaurants: A whopping 94% of adult consumers surveyed said they are likely to base their restaurant choices on recommendations from a family member or friend. Furthermore, frequent restaurant customers said they are even more likely to base their dining out decisions on word-of-mouth recommendations. (source: National Restaurant Association)

ADVOCACY & women

79% of women say they buy products and services based on friends' recommendations (source: "The Power of Peer Influence," The Ladies Home Journal)

82% of women say they often share their opinion of products and services with others. (source: "The Power of Peer Influence," The Ladies Home Journal)

Peer recommendation remains the most-heavily weighted form of advertising among women, with 84% ranking it highest. Advertising on branded websites came in second at 69% and banner ads came in lowest at 42%. (source: "The Power of Peer Influence," The Ladies Home Journal)

As for what women sought advice about, 79% would ask a friend about food and beverage items, and 28% would buy or strongly consider buying something after talking to a friend. Trips and travel were second with 68% and third was home furnishing at 61%. Nineteen percent of those inquiring about home furnishings would buy or consider buying something immediately after chatting with a friend. (source: "The Power of Peer Influence," The Ladies Home Journal)

81% of female consumers say they frequently buy items they’ve seen shared on social media (source: Influence Central)

72% of women say the ability to check social-media recommendations takes the guesswork out of buying a new product, while 81% say product reviews influence the way they shop. (source: Influence Central)

86% of female adults agree with the following statement: “Social media content has become a chief source of online research when I’m thinking about making a purchase.” (source: Influence Central)

ADVOCACY & Millennials

Millennials say recommendations from friends are the #1 most influential factor across all four product categories included in a survey: apparel, financial products, packaged goods, and big-ticket purchases (travel, electronics, etc.), surpassing paid media including ads, brand websites, and other sources of information (source: Radius Global Marketing Research)

Nearly 7 in 10 millennials say they were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase after seeing a friend's post (source: Harris Interactive)

One in four millennials share online shopping content to their social networks; a rate of nearly four times that of the average user. They also share more content in general — twice as much as the average user. When they do share, this content generates 18 more clickbacks per link — 30 percent above average. (source: ShareThis)

Millennials are 3X more likely than Baby Boomers to turn to social channels for opinion on what products to buy. (source: Kelton Research)

93% of Millennial women without children have purchased a product after hearing about it from a family member of friend. That’s a reflection of the trust they put in those recommendations: 89% said they trust recommendations from a friend, peer or family member more than from a brand. (source: Millennial Central)

User-generated content (including reviews, stories, and other content created by Advocates) is 50% more trusted by millennials than brand-created content and other media. (source: Ipsos Social Media Millennial study)

ADVOCACY IN B2B

Peer recommendations are by far the #1 most trusted source for B2B buyers. Ninety-five percent of B2B buyers rely on recommendations from peers and colleagues when researching vendors and products. (source: "Selling to Information-Driven Businesses," IDC)

86% of B2B decision-makers rate recommendations from peers as the most influential factor in their purchase decisions. (source: Blanc & Otus and G2 Crowd.)

83% of B2B buyers say Word of Mouth is one of the top drivers of final selection of a vendor. (source: Blanc & Otus and G2 Crowd.)

75% of B2B buyers say they share information about vendors and products on social media channels like LinkedIn and other business-oriented peer networks (source: Blanc & Otus and G2 Crowd.)

57% of the purchase decision is complete before a B2B prospect contacts a supplier. (source: CEB)

67% of the B2B buyer’s journey is now done digitally. (source: SiriusDecisions)

Peer recommendations and reviews are very influential for B2B buyers – and becoming even more so. When asked how their purchase process has changed over the past year, 62% of B2B buyers said they rely more on peer recommendations. And B2B buyers rated customer reviews the most useful of three sources when evaluating solutions providers: reviews 55%; case studies 38% and analyst rankings 24%. (source: Demand Gen Report, “2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report.”)

A whopping 97% of IT professionals say they rely on peer recommendations and ratings/reviews during the buying cycle. (source: “How to Win Friends and Influence IT Pros,” Spiceworks, 2014)

91% of IT pro's trust peer recommendations vs. 57% trust information on a vendor's website  (source: “How to Win Friends and Influence IT Pros,” Spiceworks, 2014)

Peer recommendations are the most trusted and influential source for B2B decision-makers at each major stage of the purchase decision process: awareness, research, purchase. (source: Bredin)

THE POWER OF CONSUMER ONLINE REVIEWS

92% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews (source: BrightLocal, 2015)

90% of people say online reviews influence their purchase decisions (source: Dimensional Research, 2013)

88% of people trust online reviews from strangers as much as personal recommendations (source: BrightLocal, 2014)

Online product reviews are the #1 way that all three age groups (Millennials 18-34; Gen Xers 35-54; and Baby Boomers 55+) research consumer goods products/brands before buying. Of the three age groups, Millennials at 69% relied most on online product reviews but Gen Xers and Baby Boomers also said online product reviews were the top way they researched brand/products before buying. (source: Salesforce Research, June 2016)

More reviews means more conversions, as people have more information and a broader range of user opinion to draw from as they decide on a purchase. Fifty or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates. (source: Reevoo)

By a 77% to 23% margin, consumer electronics buyers say they put more trust in consumer reviews than expert reviews (source: Weber Shandwick, 2014)

30% of consumers say they begin their purchase research by going to Amazon and reading reviews (source: The Harvard Business Review, "What Marketers Misunderstand about Online Reviews," 2014)

Restaurants that boost their Yelp rating by one star can increase revenues by 5% to 9% (source: Harvard Business School study, 2011)

Hotels revenues grow 39% for every point their rating goes up on TripAdvisor (source: Cornell University)

Given equal pricing, guests are 3.9 times more likely to choose hotels with higher ratings than lower ratings. And even if the hotel with great reviews has higher pricing, travelers are still willing to book at that hotel  (source: PhocusWright, 2014)

77% of travelers usually or always reference TripAdvisor reviews before selecting a hotel (source: PhocusWright)

When researching places to stay on TripAdvisor, 80% of respondents read at least 6-12 reviews before making their decision, and they're most interested in recent reviews that will give them the freshest feedback. (source: PhocusWright)

NEGATIVE REVIEWS = LOST SALES

92% of people will hesitate to do business with companies with less than four out of five stars (source: BrightLocal, 2014)

Four or more negative articles about your company or product appearing in Google search results is likely to cause you to lose 70% of potential customers (source: Moz, 2015) 

It only takes one to three negative reviews for most people to decide not to buy your product or service (source: Lightspeed Research)

22% of consumers will not buy after reading just one negative review. After three negative reviews, that number jumps to 59% (source: Google consumer study)

POSITIVE IMPACT OF CUSTOMER REVIEWS ON YOUR WEBSITE

By putting customer reviews on your website, you can get an 18% lift in online sales: 11% conversion uplift, 5% increase in visitor return rate, and an average order uplift of 2%. (source: eConsultancy)

User reviews on your website result in a higher lift in familiarity, affinity, and purchase intent than expert content or branded content. Note: this study focused on products that sell for $399 and less. (source: Nielsen)

Consumers who read reviews on your website are 105% more likely to purchase your products than people who don't read reviews. (source: Bazaarvoice.)

Sixty-three percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. (source: Shopify)

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR REFERRAL MARKETING

Companies can acquire customers for about 50% less via referral programs compared to traditional marketing programs. (sources: multiple)

People are about 4X more likely to purchase a product or service when referred by a friend, (source: Nielsen)

Sixty-five percent of all new business comes from referrals (source: The New York Times)

Referrals are the most effective form of lead generation for B2B marketers. Fifty percent of B2B marketers said referrals delivered the largest number of qualified leads for their company ahead of email (48%), live sales visits (46%), direct marketing (25%), and white paper downloads (20%). (source: Chief Marketer)

 Customer referrals can drive stunning profits. A study published in the Harvard Business Review showed that referred customers are 18% more loyal, 16% more profitable, and that companies earned 60% on referral rewards. (source: “Why Customer Referrals Can Drive Stunning Profits,” Harvard Business Review.)

Referral marketing is a proven customer acquisition tool. In a study, 27% of marketers said they get more than half of their new customers from referral marketing. (source: “Workhorses and Dark Horses, digital tactics for customer acquisition” Gigaom Research.)

 Referral marketing provides multiple marketing benefits. In the same study, marketers cited four key benefits of referral marketing: acquisition (31%), conversion (31%), retention (26%), and awareness (23%). (source: “Workhorses and Dark Horses, digital tactics for customer acquisition” Gigaom Research.)

Referred-in customers are more loyal. Referred-in customers have a 37% higher retention rate than other customers. Depending on much customers pay for your products or services, and how long they typically stay, this means that referral programs can generate millions in dollars in revenues for your company. (source: Deloitte)

 When friends refer, people buy. Word of Mouth is the primary factor behind 20%-50% of all purchase decisions (source: McKinsey)

Referral marketing is one of the lowest-cost lead gen channels. B2B marketers rated “referral/advocate marketing” as the third lowest-cost lead gen tactic, behind only social media (not paid ads) and email marketing (house list.) (source: “Cost-per-Lead by Channel, according to B2B Marketers”, Software Advice.)

 Referral marketing also delivers among the highest in quantity and quality leads. In the same study, B2B marketers rated referrals as “very high in quality and quantity” along with trade shows and events and email marketing (house list.)

 Conversion rates for referrals are almost 4X higher than any other marketing channel. In a Marketo study of its customers, B2B marketers said the average conversion rate (lead to opportunity) was 11% for referrals. Following referrals are partner-generated leads (4.5%), inbound leads (3.8%) and paid marketing (about 3%.) The lowest-converting channel was email (.55%.) (Source: Marketo.)