With so much information being uploaded or available on the Web, trust becomes a more powerful filter for sifting through the data. Consumers must trust a brand and its ads before consumers will click on the link, watch a video, or make an online purchase. The findings are apparent in The Trust Factor study recently released by About.com.
Trust has become a prerequisite for consumers to enter the purchase funnel. Some 84% of survey participants said trustworthiness has become a requirement before interacting with a brand or source of information. Brands and content must trigger key trust "cues" before being considered, according to the study that was conducted between March 19 and June 1, 2012, which analyzes responses from 1,500 participants.
Consumers expect brands to deliver reasons to trust them combined with other content and sentiment from consumers who might have bought products prior, which explains why recommendations play an important role. When it comes to building trust in the social networks and applications, reviews have become the most valued tool. The study identifies Facebook "Likes" as having little meaning.
About.com identifies 10 elements of trust. Some 99% of survey participants consider accuracy the most important element to gain consumer trust. Relevance follows with 98%; and fairness, format, transparency, and expertise tie for third at 97%. Choice and reliability are next at 95%, and awareness at 93%.
In terms of content, marketers should consider format, expertise and accuracy as the top trusted elements at 65%, 64% and 64%, respectively. Interestingly, survey results found that consumers don't make purchases based on social trust elements. In this category, awareness at 30% took the top spot.
Social integration does boost the trust factor. Some 41% said allowing them to see reviews from people in their social network influences trust. Thirty-six percent said it helps to see photos where other people explain their own experience, compared with 33% who see a "like" or recommendation from a friend.
Twenty-seven percent said connecting with people who may have been searching for similar types of information influences trust, compared with 25% for seeing the number of likes a piece of content received, and 21% for seeing what content others have pinned on Pinterest.
Thoughtful reviews, however, inspire trust twice as much as Facebook "likes." The survey finds that 50% of consumers trust reviews, compared with 25% for "likes."