Friday, December 08, 2006

Word-of-mouth influencers more likely to visit brand Web sites

Word-of-mouth influencers more likely to visit brand Web sites
A new survey has identified some of the key habits of "social persuaders and influencers" (SPIs)--people who are the most influential when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing. According to the researchers, the study shows that these consumers are not only influential, but very reachable by marketers. SPIs are 65% more likely to visit manufacturer or brand Web sites than the average consumer and are 88% more likely to share information at a product or social event than average consumers. Also, the study revealed that SPIs generally follow a four-step word-of-mouth marketing process: awareness, research, personal experiences, and recommendation. The research is from online product sampling firm StartSampling and interactive marketing firm McElroy.
New Research Findings Unearth Unique Path to Recommendation for Word of Mouth Marketing

Business Wire via NewsEdge Corporation :

Engagement Rank as Top Touch Points for Enhancing Recommendation Likelihood Business Editors/Marketing Writers CHICAGO & MARINA DEL REY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 6, 2006--Findings from the first-ever SPI Report, a new quarterly research offering from StartSampling Inc. and McElroy Inc., have uncovered a unique path to recommendation and distinct marketing preferences among the population's most influential consumers. SPIs (or "Social Persuaders and Influencers") appear to follow a four-step Word of Mouth process: awareness, research, personal experience and recommendation. And, unlike average consumers, SPIs say that product reviews, brand and shopping Web sites, and in-store trial and dialog are among the marketing tactics most likely to influence their recommendations.

"While there is a lot of good research out there on Word of Mouth marketing, we think the SPI Report is the first research offering to really 'peel back the onion' for marketers," said Larry Burns, president and chief executive officer of StartSampling. "Everyone knows that influential consumers are extremely important to WOM marketing, but what the SPI Report shows is that they are also extremely reachable."

Developed by marketers for marketers to deliver actionable insights to the practice of Word of Mouth marketing, the SPI Report taps into a panel of more than 2,000 qualified Social Persuaders and Influencers to unearth and analyze the characteristics, attitudes, behaviors and media consumption habits of this influential group. Offered on a quarterly and annual review basis, each SPI Report also includes insight and analysis from leading, experienced research and marketing professionals at StartSampling and McElroy.

Detailed findings from the January 2007 SPI Report indicate that, in the awareness phase, SPIs are:

-- 61 percent more likely than total respondents surveyed to learn about products or services through online and offline product reviews

-- More than 40 percent more likely to become aware through shopping Web sites and online portals

In the research phase, SPIs are:

-- 76 percent more likely to seek out information from store employees

-- 65 percent more likely to read offline reviews, and

-- 65 percent more likely to visit manufacturer or brand Web sites

In the experience phase, SPIs are:

-- 49 percent more likely to participate in an in-store training or class

-- 36 percent more likely to encounter a product at an event they are attending

-- 30 percent more likely to encounter a product in an in-store demo

In the recommendation phase, SPIs are:

-- 88 percent more likely to share information at a meeting or social event

-- 81 percent more likely to email information to others

-- 76 percent more likely to call others with information

And, among those under the age of 35, SPIs are 50 percent more likely than total respondents surveyed to use blogs, text messaging and instant messaging to communicate about products and services.

"Most companies today say they want to do Word of Mouth marketing programs, but they are unsure about how to design targeted and effective campaigns," said Dani Mariano, vice president of business insights for McElroy. "With the SPI Report, our goal is to help marketers build media plans based on sources that SPIs consider relevant, design communications plans to engage SPIs and foster WOM, and ensure that advertising and PR breaks through the clutter to resonate with this unique group of consumers."

SPIs are individuals at the top of the Word of Mouth pyramid; they are the 10 percent of the population who influence the social choices of the remaining 90 percent. SPIs have universal characteristics and behavioral traits that are identified in three intersecting dimensions: size of social network, persuasive power and propensity to disseminate product or service information. The SPI profile does not compete or conflict with other existing definitions of influential consumers, but rather it builds a high-level construct that effectively captures the coveted "10 percent" regardless of demographics or category-specific viral activity.

SPIs are different from total respondents in several ways:

-- SPIs are four times more likely to belong to five or more organizations

-- SPIs are four times more likely to be considered "experts" by others

-- SPIs are twice as likely to recommend a product they like, and when they do, they are four times more likely to tell 11 or more people

The SPI Report is the first offering from Innovision, a new consumer and business insights division of McElroy and StartSampling. Innovision brings together experts in CRM, product promotion, marketing and research to deliver innovative research products that penetrate the inner workings of consumer behavior and offer actionable insights that can be readily applied.

The SPI Report will be available on January 15, 2007 for a price of $9,500. Custom research using the SPI Report consumer panel will also be available beginning in January of 2007. For more information, or to purchase the SPI Report, please visit

About StartSampling Inc.

A pioneer in online product sampling, StartSampling is a digital marketing services company that facilitates direct online and off-line links between brand owners and interested, engaged consumers to achieve its mission of "Helping people connect with brands ... to turn trying into buying." With major clients from consumer packaged goods as well as other industries, StartSampling provides services that span the entire promotions process - from website design and development, physical fulfillment, data handling and cleansing/storage-related activities to real-time online reporting and information tools that illustrate consumer reaction to clients' brand marketing efforts. The company also offers valuable, proprietary research based on its unique membership panel of more than 2.5 million engaged consumers. StartSampling was founded in 1998 and is based in Carol Stream, Ill. For more information, please visit

About McElroy Inc.

With expertise spanning creative, marketing, technology and business analytics, McElroy is a full-service interactive marketing agency that delivers effective, measurable multi-media campaigns born from expert data analysis and actionable consumer insights.

McElroy's core offerings include interactive, database and relationship marketing services that form a centralized online control point for clients' integrated marketing campaigns. An award-winning, independently-owned agency that has served clients including Nestle, Kraft, Heinz, Sara-Lee, Creative Artists Agency, Alterna Hair Care, 21st Century Insurance and numerous other well-known brands, McElroy is one of Los Angeles' longest running ad firms and has been a pioneer of numerous marketing innovations over its more than 50-year history. For more information, visit

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