I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to invest a lot of money to fix my car or invite a technician into my home, I want to get to know that person a little. If given the choice between a nameless, faceless brand and an actual person with real qualities, in particular good qualities, I am going to lean toward the latter. Every time.
As it turns out, this logic informs some of the ways in which consumers conduct research before selecting a local business. So much so, that according to this BrightLocal survey, consumers actually place a good deal of value on local business webpages that feature a photo of the business owner. In fact, when asked which images on a local business website most inspire trust, a photo of the business owner was preferred by 46% of respondents.
Now, I’m not suggesting every local business owner immediately post a photo of themselves, though I suppose it can’t hurt. The more important insight is that consumers actively seek to gain a better sense for the person with whom they are choosing to do business. When selecting content for a website, or other branded online destinations, whether images or copy, personalization should be a guiding factor.
In practical terms, the fastest way to make web properties less generic and more personal is to promote transparency via social media, UGC, and dynamic content, such as blogs with comments. Some examples are social media plugins, including links to personal Facebook pages, and links to 3rd-party sites, such as reviews sites, where the content is user generated. Again, the point of all this is to engender trust, and according to Nielsen, earned media, which includes third-party reviews, are the most trusted form of advertising.
Customer reviews from third-party sites are valued only insofar as they are trustworthy. In this regard, negative reviews on a featured reviews page are actually incredibly value because they immediately confer legitimacy. As we have recommended, over and over, there is tremendous personalization value in publishing owner responses with reviews where appropriate. And, you do this for the same reason you publish that photo; to show your prospective customer who you are.