It’s not too often that a set of research surprise me, but a new study by Makovsky on what influences consumer behaviour online prompted me to raise an eyebrow.
Although the research was focussed around US healthcare patients, it yielded findings that were helpful for marketers in every sector.
Perhaps the most insightful finding was that consumers are more likely to visit easily navigable sites, than the ones they rate highly for trustworthiness.
Makovsky used the example of WebMD – an online publisher of news and information pertaining to human health and well-being – noting how it ranks high on ease of use at 53%, but lower on trust at 39%. However, WebMD still has a higher number of visitors than its government equivalent, said senior vice president Tom Jones, Makovsky’s healthcare practice leader.
He stressed that if organisations want to have their content read, they’ve got to make it more accessible and easy to use – it’s simply not enough to just be a traditionally trustworthy source of information any more.
That was exemplified by the finding that despite ranking the highest in trustworthiness (59%), advocacy group online resources were among the least visited by consumers (16%).
Jones points out how healthcare patients are keen to empower themselves with information before they seek out a doctor. This is illustrated by the discovery that 61% of the patients questioned said that they were likely to ask for a specific prescription medication by name, implying research prior to appointments.
It’s not only the healthcare sector which is seeing consumers head online before getting in contact with the service provider, of course. It’s true for consumers across all sectors, whereby they want to make sure they have done their ‘due diligence’ before actually making human contact. That means spending a good chunk of time trawling the web, with websites that are easy to navigate and high up the search rankings taking preference.
So to sum up, if you want consumers to use your website as a go-to resource tool, you need to ensure that your website makes it easy for them to find what they want. How user friendly is your website, then?