A new Nielsen research study provides powerful proof that “expert content” strongly influences consumer purchase plans.
According to the report “The Role of Content in the Consumer Decision Making Process” commissioned by inPowered:
“Results of the in-lab study show that expert content — credible, third-party articles and reviews — is the most effective source of information in impacting consumers along all stages of the purchase process across product categories.”
In other words, third-party expert articles and expert reviews, often generated by savvy PR, content marketing and social media influencer strategists, can influence consumers.
For consumers, it’s all about trust
The research highlights the importance of credibility and the perception of unbiased expert content to consumers:
- 85% of consumers regularly or occasionally seek trusted expert content – credible, third-party articles & reviews – when considering a purchase
- 69% read product reviews written by trusted experts before making a purchase
- 67% of consumers agree an endorsement from an unbiased expert makes them more likely to consider purchasing.
That adds up to powerful potential sales. PR and content marketing strategists should be sharing these results with the C-suite.
“With so many companies spending so much money on content marketing, we wanted to clarify what kind of content is actually impacting consumers and helping them make their decisions,” said Peyman Nilforoush, co-founder and CEO of inPowered.
Other types of content that influence consumers include social media, word of mouth, online ads,brand websites, user reviews. While still effective, they had less impact on consumers across all phases of the purchase cycle than expert content.
Content by credible experts performs best in all stages, every category
The research study looked at three stages of the consumer purchasing process:
- Familiarity with a new product
- Affinity toward a brand or product
- Purchase consideration of a brand or product
Content in nine product categories were viewed by participants including auto insurance, new cars, HDTVs, smartphones, clothes dryers, children’s car seats, digital cameras, video games and electric toothbrushes.
Why did expert content outperform in all purchase phases?
Two biggest reasons why expert content performed better than user reviews and brand content? Impartiality and informative content.
50% indicated they wouldn’t trust a branded website for an unbiased product view and 61% were less likely to trust paid product reviews.
Consumers perceived “expert” content to be 10% and 8% more informative than both user content and branded content respectively.
The impact of expert content was significant according to the report:
“Expert content increased brand familiarity 88% more than branded content and 50% more than user reviews; it lifted brand affinity 50% more than branded content and 20% more than user reviews; and it lifted purchase intent 38% more than branded content and 83% more than user reviews.”
Expert content simply had the credibility that consumers desire when researching products or services.
“When it comes to determining which content to utilize to best educate consumers, it is not an either/or proposition,” added Nilforoush. “By beginning with a solid foundation of trust built on trusted content from credible, third-party experts, all other content will have a greater impact.”
The report also shows consumers are five times more dependent on digital content than five years ago when researching and making a purchase decision.
What content should we be creating?
The research provides clear directions and a blueprint to meet the information needs of consumers:
- Build trust by starting with credible, third-party experts
- Use storytelling and branded content to connect and engage with consumers
- Reinforce trust and extend reach by encouraging user-generated content.
For content strategists, start with experts as influencers. Use a a blended strategy for the biggest potential impact on consumers who are increasingly using the internet to research products prior to buying.
In my opinion, leading PR and marketing professionals around the world should be paying close attention to this research.
To download a free copy of the report, visit http://www.inpwrd.com/www.inpwrd.com/nielsen.
Author: Jeff Domansky