Nearly two-thirds of Brits (63%) start their online search journey, when searching for products and services, with search engines, but less than a fifth (18%) of them actually trust the results all of the time, according to a new study.
The ‘Psychology of Search’ research conducted by Yext a platform for Brand Verified Answers in search, reveals the latest UK consumer and marketer attitudes to online search showing consumers high expectations from online search results.
Consumer trust of online information
Despite 87% of consumers stating they’re often happy with the answer they’re looking for when searching online, a third will still look to validate the search results to ensure they have the correct information.
This mistrust for search results could be attributed to the fact that 35% of people find that the information they search for online is ‘often’ inaccurate. Unsurprisingly, this has led to almost half of consumers feeling ‘frustrated’, and a quarter feeling ‘dissatisfied’ when they have found incorrect information online.
The feelings of frustration also extend to brands’ owned and operated websites. FAQs not providing the answers, unintuitive navigation on the website and out of date information were key pain-points in the search journey where customers felt let down.
The rise of voice assistants, reviews and comparison sites
It may come as no surprise that generations are interacting with different search methods in varying frequencies, with newer technology favoured by the digital natives of today. The research shows that a fifth of 25-34-year-old millennial generation regularly use review sites when searching for products and services online, whilst 16-24 year olds, or Generation Z, favour voice search, with 21% of the cohort opting to ask Siri or Alexa when searching for locations on the move.
Along with generations, consumers are also interacting with products and services using different methods. **Traditional search engines came out on top when locating the nearest retailer, (52%), restaurant (42%) or researching a banking or savings account (31%). However, price comparison sites were favoured by online users when searching for a new energy supplier (40%) or car insurance (39%).
64% of the marketers surveyed agree that it is very important for brands to ensure that the facts about their business are consistent within search engine results. But among this group, there is a disparity in beliefs about where the customer journey begins; over a fifth (22%) still believe that it begins on a brand’s website and almost 3 in 5 (57%) believe it starts with search engines.
Despite knowing that the customer journey starts on search engines, only 36% of marketers ‘strongly agree’ that customers feel confident and trust in the brand information that they are getting from this platform. Only half of the marketers surveyed feel ‘somewhat’ in control of the facts about their product/brand online (54%).
Whilst consumers identified that a key frustration to using a brand’s website was navigating it to find the right answers, surprisingly 78% of marketers think that customers find their websites intuitive to navigate to get the answers they’re looking for. This misalignment was also observed in opinions about FAQ pages with 79% of marketers responding that FAQs are a valuable asset to the customer journey on their website, despite consumer frustration with uninformative FAQs.
The research reveals the divergence between the beliefs of marketers and consumers when it comes to the customer journey.
Jon Buss, Managing Director at Yext commented, “Search has experienced a revolution since Google launched in the late 1990’s. Our study shows that consumers expect more: more from their search results, more from a brand’s website and more choice when it comes to search methods.
To succeed in this new era, brands must meet their customers at the moment of intent by giving them access to perfect answers wherever they search – such as opening hours, services, locations, menus and events – on search engines, voice or the brand website. This leads to better customer experience, loyalty and reputation to improve conversion.
Brands need to be answers ready, because if you don’t answer the questions about your brand, someone else will. The results from our study indicate that brands still have some way to go to ensure their customers receive perfect answers everywhere.”
Nisa Bayindir, Consumer Psychologist, commented, “Cognitive biases heavily affect the decisions that consumers make, making them revert to the seemingly safe, most familiar and quickest option. As Yext’s research demonstrates, feelings of frustration result from unsuccessful or effortful search journeys. These not only create precedence and biases for future experiences, but also make a dent on overarching brand loyalty, trust and reputation.
This research confirms that the psychology of search straddles convenience, effort and risk on the journey to accurate information choice, so brands should remember that as the amount of information increases and becomes more niche, consumers’ trust and patience become more fluid and difficult to maintain. In this evolution, understanding semantics of search, credibility of information and speedy relevance have become more important than ever.”