What drives the relationship between today’s consumers and today’s brands?
That’s the question that a recent About.com study, “The Trust Factor,” aimed to answer. Recognizing the wealth of online information available to consumers, the study set out to identify the elements of trusting a brand today – and what the best practices are for marketers to gain the trust of consumers.
According to the survey results of “The Trust Factor,” 84 percent of the respondents said they would not engage with a brand until trust has been established. The study then looked at the different ways and social media features that add to consumers’ trust of a brand, including:
- Online reviews in a social network
- User-generated photos
- Connections with people searching for similar types of information
- “Likes” and recommendations from friends (e.g. Facebook)
- “Pinned” pieces of content
The roles that each of these features played in cultivating trust are highlighted in an eMarketer infographic, which, as you’ll find below, shows the huge influence that online reviews and user-generated content continue to have on consumers (and businesses).
According to About.com, “In social media, consumers are ambivalent about the value of certain commonly-used social actions such as likes. Reviews were identified as inspiring trust twice as much as general likes, though seeing a like or recommendation from a friend increased the trust value of that action.”
“The Trust Factor” demonstrates once again the increasing impact that online reviews have on consumer behavior. That’s why it’s critical for businesses to track and monitor online reviews regularly, and respond to these reviews as promptly, politely, and professionally as possible.
The study also recommended following a number of best practices for marketers, including:
- Walking consumers through multiple paths to decisions and respecting their process for evaluating and making these decisions.
- Delivering support to consumers after purchase. According to the study, 62 percent of consumers trust brands that provide service, information, and tools that help them use the products or services that they have just purchased.
- Leveraging multiple advertising and marketing channels. Need to communicate some information to consumers or help them with what they need? Place an ad or create some sponsored content: according to the study, 85 percent trust brands that do this, since it shows that the brand is using every opportunity to solve consumers’ multiple challenges.