Online reputation is the key to consumer confidence

How important can online reputation be in building consumer confidence? Trustpilot research from July 2019, conducted on a group of 1627 online buyers (Europe, USA, Australia), clearly indicate – online reviews can strengthen the purchasing path or lead to the resignation of purchase. The results showed that consumers would lose confidence in the brand not only if they saw negative reviews, but also if the brand went a step further and removed them.

The mentioned studies show that 90% of online shoppers have not used the company’s offer because of its poor reputation. Customers pay attention to the brand’s reputation and most of them choose to (or not to) take action based on what they hear or read about the company. Reputation management could have been a passive tactic that brands only used when something went wrong in their organization. But today brands of all sizes – from startups to corporations – must have a proactive reputation management plan that prioritizes ongoing communication and transparency if they want customers to trust them enough to buy from them. Such preventive actions include e.g. media monitoring using special tools.

Online reputation is the best way to increase customer confidence. 93% of respondents said they read reviews before buying online from an unknown company. 62% of online shoppers look for information about a company when they don’t know it. Only few are willing to buy if they see negative reviews on the first page of search results. 48% of online shoppers have recommended the brand to others because of its high popularity and favorable opinions on social issues. 83% of generation Z representatives, the youngest generation of consumers, said they advise others to stop buying from a brand with a bad reputation.

How to strengthen the brand trust?

As customers lose confidence in traditional advertising, more and more buyers rely on their own online research to make a buying decision. What they find can have a big impact on how they think about the brand and whether they want to make a purchase. When asked what factors would lead to increased confidence in the brand, three of the top 10 factors are  focused on feedback. Almost all respondents (95.6%) said that the most important thing is a good online reputation of the brand. 93.7% claim that positive customer reviews are important. 92.9% focused on quick customer service. 80.1% said they trusted companies that have many customer reviews. Interestingly, if a company reacts to negative customer comments, it will increase the confidence for 79.9% of respondents.

We emphasize that the increase in trust is not affected by the brand’s activity or lack of it in social media. It is similar with offering the lowest price.

How to lose confidence in the brand?

The biggest factor that reduces customer confidence is the removal of negative reviews by companies (95%), which suggests a strong reluctance to dishonest brand behavior. Slightly less indicated negative opinions appearing on the web (88.8%). Bad reputation is also affected by: a dangerous website without a security certificate (88.4%), no opinions (81%) and an outdated website (77%).

How do we meet new brands?

Google research shows that 42% of customers search online for products and brands while in a traditional store. Brands must be aware that customers have access to their online reputation anytime, anywhere. When buyers use their smartphones and tablets to search, the brand’s reputation and online visibility are more important than ever.

Customers search online to compare prices (77.5%), secure payment processing (66.2%), perform general brand search (61.9%) and to get promotional coupons and discounts (60%). ⅓ asks friends if they can recommend a given brand and over ¼ searches social media for this purpose. However, the most important are customer reviews (93.4%)! Almost everyone is looking for them and they are the first to decide about buying or abandoning the product.

Reviews are crucial in building the brand’s reputation

Reading reviews is almost always part of the customer and brand research process. Today, over 93% of customers read reviews before buying online, so it is clear that reviews are one of the best channels for building trust among consumers. When brands collect reviews and make them public, consumers see it as an indicator of transparency and credibility. Even just one customer rating can dramatically increase trust. Indeed, only 9.3% would trust a company with zero reviews, while almost 60% would trust a company with only one review.

While searching through reviews, customers can see false or fabricated reviews and trust ratings that look very authentic. In fact, customers trust the brand with a wide range of reviews slightly more than the brand that only has positive reviews.

Today’s customers are also more aware that there are false reviews. A recent review study found that as many as 52% of reviews on Walmart.com and 30% of reviews on Amazon.com were fake, inauthentic and unreliable. Therefore, it is important that the reviews are on a platform that customers know that they are actively working on marking and removing false reviews. Authentic, detailed and truthful reviews lead to increased trust in the brand – and sometimes even negative reviews can help rebuild customer relationships, identify areas of development, and improve customer service.

A brand’s attitude in social issues can change a customer’s opinion

Brand reputation and values ​​presented can affect customer purchasing decisions and attitude towards the brand. In the Trustpilot study 44.3% of British buyers and 41.5% of American buyers said that their confidence in the brand increased when it took a stand on social issues. In particular, the younger generations (Y and Z) were more likely to care about the brand’s attitude on social issues. As many as 83% representatives of the youngest generation of customers (Z) said that they recommend others to stop shopping from a brand with a bad reputation in such matters.

When a strong brand reputation becomes more important than a low price

For many buyers, reputation is even more important than product prices. Even when the products were slightly more expensive, customers chose a brand with a better reputation. It turns out that if we have a choice of 2 very similar products from different brands, our choice is more focused on the one with good opinions than on the difference in price of 10-15%. It is worth adding that more important than the price is corporate social responsibility and the lack of any scandals and mishaps disclosed. We prefer to pay more for a brand with a clean account in such cases.

Over 83% of customers would choose a product with good reviews instead of a product without reviews, even if the price were higher. Interestingly, 81.7% of customers would choose a product from a company known for social responsibility than a product from a company known from the recent scandal, even if it meant paying a bit more.

Belief-based purchases are growing, and even the most competitive prices are unable to change this and fix the bad brand reputation. Today’s consumers are looking for premises that will show them how transparent, nice and trustworthy the company is. If your brand wants to make contact with new consumers, keep existing customers and build lasting brand loyalty – strong reputation is the key.

How to build a brand’s reputation then?

  • Make all your activities transparent. Don’t try, cheat or manipulate your brand information, because deleting reviews can reduce customer confidence by up to 95%.
  • Ask for opinions and product ratings. No review is much worse than an imperfect rating. Customers want to see reviews to trust the brand, even if bad reviews are mixed up with good ones. Only 9.3% trust a company without reviews, and almost 60% trust a company with only one review.
  • Use media monitoring. Actively monitor the brand and products and what is being written about them. Answer the questions. Take part in the discussion. Use the collected opinions to improve the quality of customer service and introduce changes in the offer or product.
  • Stay open to criticism. The voice of criticism can always happen. Respond quickly to negative feedback and try to explain everything thoroughly. Learn from mistakes. Use such entries and draw conclusions. However, never delete unflattering comments.
  • Take part in various social activities. Focus on CSR, pro-ecological initiatives, support those in need, cooperate with scientific institutions or local governments.
  • Produce consistent media messages. Both in official press releases, as well as in written articles or published posts in social media. Communication must be consistent.
  • Employer branding. It is important not only what is happening around the brand online or offline but also what the employees think and say about the brand and how they are treated.

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