2017 Review of Online Consumer Research Habits
Bright Local - a popular online SEO company - recently completed a thorough review of consumer habits, concerns, and motives in the online marketplace. Comparing this research to years gone by, we can see the most telling trends of 2017 and just how those trends are likely to impact your business's online experience in 2018.
Consumers Are Researching More Companies Online
To be expected, one thing that was discovered in Bright Local's review is that people are increasingly turning to the web as a valuable source of information about the companies they are thinking about working with or purchasing from. Though they don't necessarily research every single purchase they will make, a whopping 97% of surveyed consumers reported that they had researched at least one company over the course of 2017.
This statistic is up 2% from the same survey conducted last year. Doesn't sound like a lot, does it? The truth is, though, that the statistic has been climbing incrementally over time. In 2010, when Bright Local completed their first survey, only 70% of consumers researched a company online over the course of the year. That's an increase of 27% over the past 7 years. And, at 97% in total, this stat tells us that nearly everyone is researching companies online.
So, what does this all mean to you and your company?
Your Online Reputation is More Important Now Than Ever
When we talk about your online reputation we mean just that: your reputation. It isn’t enough to just have an online presence anymore. Now, you need to have an online presence that shows your company to be stable, trustworthy, and personable. Your online presence needs to be powerful and positive.
The Powerful Online Presence
The first (and probably most important) step in using this information to your advantage is to have an online presence. These days, that should go without saying. Clearly, your customers want to find you online and it is up to you to make that happen.
Your presence should be strong enough, though, that it captures the attention of search engines as well. Otherwise, your teeny tiny website will not even pull up in search results when they try to look you up.
How do you create a powerful online presence?
- Create an effective and informative website.
- Engage in social media outreach and conversations.
- Increase search engine ranking.
- Add extra information to your search results using things like Google's knowledge panel.
- Set up site links for your search engine results.
- Make your website mobile-friendly.
Creating a Positive Online Reputation
Here at IDMD, we are all about reputation (could you tell?) so we really want to emphasize the importance of your company's online image and just how you can help guide it in the right direction.
Bright Local's research found that most consumers turn to online reviews when they research companies online. They want to know what other people are saying about their experiences and tend to value online reviews about as much as they value word of mouth from family and friends.
We've looked at the importance of maintaining positive online reviews - and avoiding negative ones - in the past. According to Bright Local's latest research,
Bright local found that 73% of consumers are likely to see a company in a more positive light based on positive reviews and 50% of people will begin to question your company if they see negative reviews.
It's not enough, though, to simply create an environment where consumers want to leave you positive reviews based on their positive experiences. You also have to promptly deal with negative reviews. We've suggested before that it can be helpful to respond to the negative reviews left by consumers who haven't enjoyed their experiences. This has been further backed by the results of Bright Local's survey which found that 30% of consumers at least partially base their decisions to work with a company on the way that the company responds to negative reviews.
So, how can you put this information into action?
- Create all-around positive customer experiences as much as possible.
- Address the concerns of your customers in person and online.
- Encourage your customers to post reviews online about your company and their experiences.
- Reply graciously to negative online reviews to show you're a company that cares.
For more information about how to harness the power of online reviews, read our article on the Dos and Don'ts of Securing Quality Online Consumer Reviews.