Consumers Trust Corporate Sites More Than Some Think

Consumers researching products and services trust information on corporate sites more than some may think. Two new reports from JupiterResearch suggest consumers not only trust information on corporate sites more than they do retailer message boards, public forums and blogs, but would like to see more of it. According to one of the reports, people researching autos on manufacturer and third-party auto sites would appreciate seeing a higher volume of user reviews on those sites.

“I think it’s a positive for marketers because it can dispel their fears that consumers hold all the cards,” suggested JupiterResearch Analyst Emily Riley, lead analyst on the “Viral Marketing: Budgeting Beyond Social Media” report.

Auto manufacturers, third-party auto review and classified sites and dealers should integrate user reviews into their sites within the vehicle research process, said JupiterResearch Associate Analyst Belis Aksoy, lead analyst for the “Consumer-Created Content: Assessing Opportunities for Automotive Marketers” report. Auto manufacturers are “not supposed to be afraid of consumer-created content,” she continued.

Third-party auto sites like Edmunds.com and CarSpace, as well as GoogleBase’s auto listings, allow consumers to post reviews about dealer experiences, said Aksoy, noting Toyota and Daimler Chrysler allow for owner feedback on their sites. However, although the report shows 20 percent of manufacturer and third-party sites allow auto consumers to post feedback or reviews, those feedback areas “are not integrated into the research process.”

According to the consumer-created content report, 25 percent of online car researchers who say feedback forms and consumer reviews are helpful submit price quote requests to dealers, compared to 16 percent of other auto researchers. In addition, the report shows that 14 percent of researchers who visit manufacturer sites and 17 percent who visit third-party auto sites are likely to seek others’ personal opinions, compared with 6 percent of general online auto researchers.

The viral report notes, “Only 21 percent of consumers trust product information within social media, such as blogs and public forums, when evaluating a product for purchase. In contrast, consumers are twice as likely to trust product information they encounter on a company Web site or a professional review site (such as Edmunds.com).”

As featured in the viral marketing report, when researching products for purchase, 43 percent of consumers found professional reviews trustworthy, 40 percent trusted information on company sites, and 30 percent trusted retailer message boards and reviews while 37 percent did not. Even less trustworthy were forums, ads and blogs. Twenty percent of those surveyed said they found public forums trustworthy, compared to 34 percent who didn’t; 10 percent said they trusted ads compared with 40 percent who didn’t; and 8 percent said they found product information on blogs trustworthy, compared to 21 percent who did not.

The viral report also recommends that advertisers invest in search and Web site optimization when conducting viral campaigns, “to capitalize on consumers who conduct further product research.” Indeed, as presented in the viral report, after viewing an online ad, 31 percent had searched on the product or service to learn more and 22 had percent visited a site related to the ad. Twelve percent told a friend about the ad or product, 8 percent forwarded the ad to someone, 7 percent went to a related site to post a comment, and 5 percent went to a related site to upload photos or videos.

“Viral marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” concluded Riley, adding, “to consumers these are all just different ways of getting a message about the same product.” Thus, she asserted, consistency throughout all touch-points, including viral campaign components, is key. “Just taking advantage of this new tactic in social media doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to improve your brand affinity,” she added.

The report shows that one in five advertisers plan on using viral marketing in the coming year, 52 percent of which will be new to this form of marketing. The viral report is part of JupiterResearch’s launch of its social marketing service, which provides insight and data on viral marketing, blogging, microsites, podcasting, WOM and other social marketing arenas.

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