Today’s consumers are more informed than ever. Product descriptions, reviews, specifications, comparisons - all of this information is out there on the internet with the ability to make or break your brand. But in this sea of information bordering on brain overload, what is actually resonating with consumers and influencing the customer journey?
As consumers research brands and products, they are drawn to 3 major types of influential content in their purchase making process:
Expert Content - content from 3rd party influencers deemed credible by the reader.
Brand Content - content from the brand itself and its representatives.
User Content - content from other consumers, such as reviews and recommendations on Yelp, Google, and even friends on Facebook.
So what does this mean and how can your brand make the most of such content? Let’s break it down…
According to a recent study by The Nielsen Company, expert content is the most impactful and influential type of content throughout the customer journey from start to finish.
Many consumers are turning to expert content as they research products and brands. Reviews and articles from trusted websites and blogs are drawing the customer in, increasing affinity and association with a brand over 50% more than that brand’s own content. Plus, final purchase consideration was lifted almost 40% based on expert content!
Psychologically, consumers are simply more inclined to trust 3rd party content from credible
expert sources more so than content delivered by the brand itself. Which that leads us to the real kicker: customers are basing their purchases on expert content more than brand or other user generated content. Knowing this, it’s pretty clear that expert content should be an integral part of your marketing campaigns.
How to use it
Start by researching to find the experts in your industry field and start reaching out to engage those experts. You may find there are already reviews and articles about your very brand and products! You can share and promote the content on your brand’s social media pages and even on your website and blog. The more links and mentions will increase your own SEO and improve the chances of that expert content being readily seen by your potential customers.
These days your brand simply must have an active presence online through your website and social media. Your own brand content may not be drawing customers in as well as expert content, but it is useful for validating the information they’re heard elsewhere as well as engaging and retaining them as they get further into the buying cycle.
Consumers are more likely to trust and give more weight to brand messages mid-cycle as they travel toward purchase decisions. Adding insightful, relevant content positions your brand as a source of valuable information to your customers and keeps them coming back. Today’s consumers are looking to discover and engage with brands, not just be given a standard sales pitch. Customers are more likely to buy from a brand they feel they can trust, a brand with personality and insight beyond a corporate logo. Creating quality content that is on brand and on trend can be time consuming and expensive, which is where companies like Creatively Squared can help.
How to use it
In-depth product descriptions, specifications and usage analyses are all great ways to not only inform, but also connect with your audience. Focus on sharing your brand story to show the people and heart behind your products. Engage with your audience, don’t simply talk at them - ask for opinions and insight, and most importantly, follow through! While all the feedback of your customers won’t be actionable, plenty of of those suggestions will. The most successful companies today build their brand collaboratively with their customers.
We’re living in an information age where consumers never need to leave their homes to discover and compare products, all they need to do is scroll through their social media feeds. User generated content (UGC) allows your current customers to become the advertisers and ambassadors for your brand. Consumers aren’t just turning to their friends for advice on products and brands, but seeking out unbiased and uncompensated reviews from other consumers near and far. With reviews readily available on Yelp, Google, Amazon and of course Facebook, it’s no surprise that conversions increase 133% when mobile shoppers see positive reviews before buying. What’s more is 4 out of 5 consumers reverse their purchase decisions based on negative reviews. Without a doubt, UGC is a powerful catalyst for your business that should not be ignored.
How to use it
Reputation management is key. Identify where your brand and products are being reviewed and pay attention to what’s being said! Engage and encourage open dialogue with reviewers, yes, even the negative. You’ll build trust and increase the positive perception of your brand when you address complaints professionally and offer genuine resolutions. Encourage (without bribing) your happy and satisfied customers to give you feedback to improve the customer experience and leave reviews for your business. Feature those positive reviews across your digital channels and on your website. Keep in mind that paid influencer content must be authentic to have the desired impact, inauthentic content can harm your brand and effect trust.
The internet has fundamentally changed the way consumers shop and make purchase decisions. The customer journey is now most certainly social, with an abundance of noise and superfluous information bombarding the consumer from every angle of the internet. The goal is to identify the best content - not only your own, but that from experts and users alike - to boost your brand and engage your audience. By creating an integrated content strategy combining the most influential types of content you can positively influence and propel the customer journey toward purchase.