11.23.2008

Consumer research, decision making and online word-of-mouth

Search Engine Land's Greg Sterling reviewed an interesting Yahoo! study examining consumer behavior in choosing local services and providers in five vertical categories: legal, real estate, home improvement, health care and vocational education. Respondents included 2,500 consumers that completed a transaction.

Top line findings:
  • Healthcare: 53% used insurance provider directories while 44% relied on a search engine
  • Real Estate: 51% used a real estate vertical search engine versus 44% who used a major search engine
  • Legal: 36% referred to a search engine while 25% used the internet yellow pages
  • Home Contracting: 36 % used a search engine while 26% used the internet yellow pages

Greg relays that Yahoo found in every category that 75% of consumers relied on recommendations from friends and family during the research process. Along those lines, “Yahoo’s study found that local merchants who encourage customers to post online reviews and ratings benefit from the same kind of impact seen through word-of-mouth endorsements from family and friends.”

"The practical message for local businesses and service providers is this: have a professional website and make sure that it’s properly indexed and can be found by consumers using search engines."

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