Yeah, that headline has a pretty big “duh” factor to it. Of course information is critical when it comes to making a decision; true impulse decisions are infrequent and they rarely work out the way we’d want. But every now and then it’s important to remind ourselves of the obvious less we lose sight of it.
YP Marketing Solutions, along with Thrive Analytics and The Local Search Association, last week unveiled a study looking into consumers’ purchase decision processes. “The Why Before The Buy” study explores the reasons consumers choose one business over another when looking for products and services, and many of the findings have search marketing implications.
For instance, while primary information such as pricing, product availability and location is important for consumers, nearly half of them (48%) also use secondary information such as testimonials, business information and photos or videos about the product or service to make their decisions. You need to put as much information out there as possible if you want to cast the widest net.
“One of the things that always surprises people is that many small businesses today don’t have a Web site, even though most consumers search online to find local business information,” Holly Bowyer, vice president of portfolio marketing at YP, tells Search Insider. “It is critical for businesses today to provide basic information about a product or service and also provide contextual content — such as testimonials, reviews, offers, photos or videos — that satisfy additional questions or needs consumers may have.”
You also need to employ messaging across multiple channels. According to the research, nearly two-thirds of consumers consulted two or more sources of information, with some using as many as 13. (The average was 2.9 sources.) But not all sources are consulted equally: Consumers purchasing pet care services, for instance, were more likely to care about ratings, reviews and the business’ Facebook profile, while those searching for legal, financial and insurance services were more concerned with online articles and industry Web sites.
Having an engaged customer base can be a critical difference maker, particularly in categories where ratings, reviews and testimonials are important. Getting satisfied customers to write reviews, share content and make public social media recommendations can be the difference for consumers picking your business over a competitor’s, Bowyer says.
Regardless of what information is put out there, it needs to be consistent. A third of consumers said they were most turned off by inconsistent information from one place to the next, inaccurate information on a Web site and having the wrong contact information listed online. Only high prices and poor ratings and reviews were higher turn offs.
“If inconsistencies exist, consumers won’t even consider doing business with a company,” Bowyer says.
While that information may seem obvious, it’s nice to have it confirmed.