2018: The Year of Trust - Building Solid Foundations for Successful Reputation Management
As we move into 2018, it is evident that the trust consumers have in companies is becoming more and more influenced by what they see online. How you represent your company online could have a dramatic impact on consumer evaluations of your business. A few key strategies can help you avoid potential unforeseen pitfalls while also catapulting you ahead of the competition.
Getting Ahead of the Trends
Every year the marketplace shifts a little in all sorts of directions. Consumer habits change. Stock markets fluctuate. Something that wasn't important last year is suddenly the most important thing for a company to consider.
Things progress. It's all about evolution and positive forward movement.
In this series of blog posts we've begun looking at the forward motion of online reputations and consumer research habits. Using information from the trends of last year, we’ve peaked into the future to help you get ahead of the curve and ahead of the game.
Last week, we used results from an extensive survey conducted by Bright Local (an online SEO strategy company) to analyze the most telling trends of online searches and the online marketplace over the course of 2017. Our focus last week was primarily on trends regarding searches and how your online reputation influences your positioning and appearance in search results. This week, we'd like to change course a bit to focus on trust.
Trends in Consumer Trust of Companies
Just what can you do to help consumers trust your business more? What does Bright Local's study reveal as the most influential factors for gaining consumer trust? What are consumers looking at or for when they evaluate a business online? Most importantly, how can you harness all of this information and put it to good use in 2018?
Let's start with the results.
Most Consumers Trust Online Reviews
Bright Local found that a whopping 93% of consumers read online reviews when making purchasing decisions. This figure has grown by 22% since 2011. Whether those reviews are good or bad, consumers place a lot of faith in the things they read online about your business, especially when those things are written by other consumers. In fact, of the 93% of consumers who look for online reviews, 83% report trusting them as much as they trust the opinions of their family and friends.
Positive Reviews Improve Trust More Than Negative Reviews Destroy It
It should go without saying that, if consumers trust online reviews (as outlined above) they should be positively influenced by positive reviews. However, it could have been that they were only trusting the negative reviews. Luckily, the survey revealed the opposite to be true: positive reviews have the largest impact.
73% of consumers are influenced by positive reviews
50% of consumers are influenced by negative reviews
Let's take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief, here. It's much easier to encourage positive reviews than it is to try to put out fires after negative reviews have been posted online. In fact, we've written entire blog posts about how to properly deal with negative reviews so as not to further tarnish your company's reputation. Tips for encouraging and improving positive online reviews will be detailed in the third part of this article.
Harnessing Trends to Improve the Trust Consumers Have in Your Company
What good is all this information without putting it into action, right?
Getting More Reviews
Obviously, if reviews are this important and have steadily grown in importance over the past 6 years it should follow that a big part of what your company should focus on in 2018 is getting more reviews.
The more reviews you have out there the more that people see your company. Not only will it be more likely to pop up in search engines, it will also show consumers that you are a popular brand. The study also revealed that consumers will often read up to 6 or more reviews before trusting a company, so the more positive reviews, the better.
Here are a few ways you can get more reviews from consumers without breaking ethical guidelines:
- Include information about how to leave a review with physical purchases (in the form of an advertisement card).
- Email consumers after they've made a purchase asking about their satisfaction.
- Ask for permission to post the reviews consumers have sent you on their behalf.
- Encourage consumers to post anonymous reviews so that they do not feel intimidated to leave positive ones (it may seem counter-productive but there is no better way to improve your company than to hear about its shortcomings).
- Direct consumers to popular online review websites.
- Set up your business on Google so that people who physically visit your business will be prompted by their cell phones to leave a review.
Improving Positive Online Reviews
It's not just about getting online reviews, it's about securing quality reviews. Think about it, which would you trust more: a review that simply states "I was satisfied" or one that goes into detail about quality, customer service, and more? The quality of your positive online reviews defines how convincing they will be for the reader.
Here are a couple of tips for improving the overall quality of consumer reviews:
- Encourage consumers to write about details by listing the types of things they could write in their review (this is most useful when prompting a review with an advertisement card or email).
- Create an online form consumers can fill out in a question and answer format (to further improve trust, leave a space on this form for them to suggest improvements).