Yext, Inc. (NYSE: YEXT), the platform for Brand-Verified Answers in search, today announced new research on the expectations of consumers searching for brand information online, conducted in partnership with Forbes Insights.
The research, based on a survey of more than 500 consumers in the United States, revealed that while a majority (60%) of consumers expect brands to deliver consistent, accurate information across online touchpoints, including a brand's website, third-party sites, apps, social media and more, only half believe they do this well.
"Our research shows that regardless of where they search for information, people expect the answers they find to be consistent and accurate — and they hold brands responsible to make sure this is the case," said Marc Ferrentino, Chief Strategy Officer of Yext. "Those expectations aren't always being met, however, because only 50% of consumers believe that brands do well in providing a consistent and accurate experience across search channels. This means that there is a significant opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves from their competition through verification on and off of their own websites."
"As today's customers seek information using AI-powered search and increasingly expect sophisticated discovery experiences, it's crucial for brands to control the entire online journey across a variety of platforms and channels," said Ross Gagnon, Director of Research at Forbes. "Yet, brands are falling short: our research shows that many struggle to provide seamless experiences from their websites to third-party platforms such as maps, apps and voice assistants. Only the brands that meet customers' expectations across all touchpoints and provide accessible, consistent and helpful information will continue to grow."
Consumers look for brand information in different places online, depending on their needs
With a digital universe of brand websites, search engines, voice assistants, social media sites and more at their fingertips, consumers are never limited to one source when they search online for answers about a brand. Because not all touchpoints provide a consistent search experience, consumers turn to different channels based on the kind of information they're seeking:
Respondents report visiting a brand site because they can get all of the information they need there (57%) and the information is accurate (54%).
Half of surveyed consumers use third-party sites and apps to find information about a variety of brands at one time, while a third do so to find objective information.
Where consumers place their trust online depends on how familiar they are with a brand
Customers mainly rely on a brand's website or search engine results for answers to their questions about a brand, reinforcing the importance of consistent, accurate information across these channels. However, unique customer journeys — whether people are discovering a brand for the first time or transacting with it for the tenth — inform which sources they trust more, and when.
48% of current customers cite a brand's website as one of their most trusted sources for information
47% report being more likely to trust third-party sites, including search engine results, directories and social media, when discovering a brand for the first time
Only 20% of current and new customers trust social media sites to deliver brand information
Negative customer experiences fall on the shoulders of the brand
As the customer journey becomes increasingly fragmented across different platforms , brands may view external search experiences as "out of sight, out of mind." In the eyes of the customer, however, brands are more responsible than ever for the information consumers find about them in search. A third of consumers surveyed almost always blame a brand when they encounter inconsistency and inaccuracy in their quest for information online, regardless of the source.
Following a negative online experience with a brand, including finding inaccurate information, 28% of consumers tend not to buy that brand's product or service at the time and 26% may share their bad experience with others
Additionally, respondents cite poor customer service (41%), requests for too much information (31%), and websites unconducive to finding information (30%) as the main causes of frustration and disengagement with a brand
43% wish brands would improve security and make it easier to connect with customer service
The customer journey starts with a question. If brands work to create seamless, omnichannel experiences across the landscape of brand information, they can provide the answers consumers rely on them for, wherever they are searching.