Recent statistics based on a Nielsen study revealed that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising.

Another study conducted by American telecoms giant Verizon revealed that 85% of small businesses in the USA thanked word of mouth for their success.

“Businesses don’t have to spend money on television adverts, radio spots or expensive once-off billboards, which is enormously costly. The way to become noticed is through the simplest, most organic advertising method of them all: word of mouth. Unbiased, unfettered, peer-to-peer communication.”

Vavavox, launched in 2014, is a business recommendation website acting as a hub for various service providers and consumers to interact. Business owners register their business on the website and consumers review the quality of the service they have received from various service providers.

Viljoen adds: “The widespread adoption of the internet has accelerated the move away from flashy billboards towards close-knit communities of peers recommending services to one another. Businesses have been profiting from word of mouth since the dawn of commerce, but only now is it truly possible to stay abreast of what is being said.”

He says that it is therefore crucial to get access to real opinions as it allows for adjusted strategies and pinpoint ways of going forward. “But knowing what is said is only half the battle. You need to engage with your audience too. As Forbes contributor Kimberley Whitler stated, businesses need to be a part of the conversation about their brands. She adds, “If people are not talking about you, they are forgetting you’. One thing is clear: keeping customers happy and getting them to talk about you is the best way to attract new customers.”

Viljoen says that the need for word of mouth evaluation is naturally present in South Africa too – a niche that Vavavox wants to fulfill.

“We’ve always believed positive word of mouth reviews are the surest barometer of quality and have developed reporting tools to let businesses keep track of what is being said. Vavavox provides access to real opinions and real data, while also allowing businesses to be a part of the conversation. We’ve seen several businesses benefit from our platform, being inundated with new customers that created employment opportunities for others as new permanent staff had to be hired.

“Ultimately, that confirms what we’ve always believed: the conversation is moving online and if you’re a business, the best way to succeed is to have people talking about you,” concludes Viljoen.

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