I belong to a referral network, which relies solely on referrals from other members in the group. I noticed that some of my associates think that a good referral is all they need to get a new client or customer, and they don’t need to be concerned about their website design. Pondering this, I began to research if anything has been written on this topic and to find statistics on referrals vs. website design. What I found out surprised me.

At our group, we pass mostly experience-based referrals. Experience referrals are from using a service and passing on your good experience about the service you received. They’re very important, but they’re not the whole story.

The article “Referral Marketing and Your Professional Services Brand” by Lee Frederiksen, PH.D, is from Hingemarketing.com. He states that another source of referrals, In fact, 82%, are from folks that have not worked with you directly. He says, “These referrals aren’t made in the dark”,

Chart by Hinge Marketing, 2016.

“Specifically they draw on your reputation and what referrers understand about your areas of expertise. These referrals are built on your brand.”

The chart at right reveals that brand-based referrals are driven by your expertise, via speaking engagements, blog posts and social media engagement. Many of my customers have heard me recommend blog posting as not only a way to show you are an expert in your field, but to attract inbound marketing to your website.

Professor Frederiksen goes on to say, “It’s common to hear service providers say that they can win new clients reliably…if they can just get a foot in the door to talk with them. In many cases, that may be true. But what if you never get the chance?

And get this: Hinge research shows that over half of buyers—a full 51.9%—report they have ruled out firms without talking to them.

Potential clients usually receive the names of several providers.  And most buyers check out providers online, with a firm’s website being by far the most common source of information. But often the provider is ruled out after things go wrong from the website experience. Bad user experience is the main reason a website fails to win over your visitors and you lose them as customers.

I know that good website design improves user experience by answering the questions a visitor wants to know about your services. It provides good user flow. Or, if the website has poor quality content, is unimpressive or too focused on selling, you have wasted a good referral.

In the end, I learned that it takes BOTH a good referral AND a good website to win over a new customer.