The accusations surrounding misinformation or ‘fake news’ are everywhere; these terms have entered our lexicon and are synonymous with the interconnected world we live in today. Sometimes these labels are accurate. Other times, they are weaponised for all the wrong reasons. Now - in light of Covid-19 - misinformation is costing people their lives.
There hasn’t therefore been a more important time to ensure people have the most accurate answers to some of the most vital questions. Before, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, misinformation and ‘fake news’ will continue to permeate society.
Whatever your interpretation of what these terms mean, one thing’s for certain: we all now scrutinise information through a lens of scepticism.
This wavering trust has transcended throughout the business world, particularly through online channels. What started as a focus on questioning ‘keyboard warriors’ who were throwing out conspiracy theories has now moved towards businesses and the information they provide their customers.
What this means is that it’s never been more urgent for organisations to be completely sure the information they provide is accurate. One wrong fact could send waves of doubt through your customer base which will disintegrate trust in the process.
Regaining such trust will take a lot longer than it took to break. It could be years, even, before you regain customer perception that your business can provide a reliable experience.
Therefore, marketers need to prove their business is a reputable online source.
The increasing importance of online search
The key to forging yourself as a trustworthy business is to ensure you’re able to provide the right information at a consumer’s request.
We all resolve questions by just ‘Googling it’; your customers are no exception. And what they’re searching for is becoming more and more specific.
Currently, 50% of internet searches comprise of four or more words. This means the answers you respond with need to match this increasing sophistication.
The benefit of this is that you’re able to get a better perspective on what consumers want and when they want it; you get to see the ‘intent’ through the search.
Essentially the combination of finite searches and search technology has given marketers the opportunity to appeal and service their customers better. But it’s also exposed how much work brands have yet to do in order to surface in search and let their customers discover the brand’s great products and services.
Customers expect answers instantaneously. This is partly due to improvements in search technology such as AI and voice assistants which has seen an increased uptake in usage.
For marketers, there lies an opportunity to truly impress consumers.
Google alone now sees more than two trillion searches per year — that adds up to a whole lot of search data. And that insight can ensure your website and services are optimised to the nuances of your customers’ queries and needs.
This includes insight into the trajectory and speed of the customer journey, which means marketers will better understand when the most convenient time to reach out to a particular consumer is. Today, a whopping 90% of consumers say they use search at every stage of the customer journey. This gives you a much clearer view on research and buying habits, and how you can best meet the needs of your customer.
Succeeding on the front line of marketing
Getting the basics of search right may seem obvious. But many fall short. This greatens the benefits for those who do it right - and the advancements in their online visibility can be significant. It also acts as a key differentiator between you and your competitors.
If you’re a company that’s providing reliable information through a haze of uncertainty, particularly now, customers won’t bother to continue searching blindly. Instead they’ll come to you.
The relationship that results from this will cement your brand and its customer experience as a reliable one. And you’ll soon see all the rewards attached to this.
By Jon Buss, MD of Yext UK
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