Consumers are looking to customer reviews more than ever, and they are increasingly likely to trust them. A recent survey found that 84% of respondents trusted online reviews as much as the recommendations of friends and family.
But there are a couple of other sources of information that also tend to score high in the trust stakes: your brand’s website, and expert information, including expert reviews.
What kind of content do people notice?
Inpowered commissioned a Nielsen study that dug deep into consumer response to these three types of media, beyond the question of trust. They checked the effectiveness of all three throughout the path to purchase. They found that expert content was actually the strongest performer.
But there have been changes in the pandemic. In the past, websites and social media had increasing trust from consumers, while TV and radio were less trusted and trending downwards. Now, consumers trust traditional broadcast media ads more and online media ads less.Nielsen only asked about ads in their 2021 survey, though; their latest data doesn’t include informative articles or reviews.
Brightlocal’s latest survey found a lot of ambivalence, but they also saw that consumers wanted to see COVID-19 information on a local business’s website — 67% said they wouldn’t use a business that wasn’t following safety measures.
What kind of content affects decisions?
The Nielsen/Inpowered study looked not only at the kind of content people interacted with, but also how it affected their decisions.
When we look not just at where people go for their information but at which sources most strongly affect their decision making, the order changes. Testing the kind of content that affects consumer likelihood of making a purchase, familiarity with brands, and a sense of affinity with brands shows expert content ahead of the other types in every case.
The strength of these results is affected by the type of product being tested. The more expensive and complex an item, the more important expert content becomes. Items tested ranged from electric toothbrushes to car seats to to high-end HDTVs and new cars. While expert content was the winner in each category, the difference between expert content and other types of content was smaller when the items were less expensive.
The perception of expertise among consumers also affected the rankings. So, since gamers tend to consider other gamers experts, consumer reviews were more highly valued for this product.
What does this mean for your brand? Fortunately, you don’t have to pick and choose. A strong brand website can easily include expert information and consumer reviews. Make sure yours does.