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Content is still king: how authentic content drives conversion.

The modern purchase path is unpredictable – sometimes circuitous, sometimes direct, sometimes it’s strictly online and completed in a matter of clicks, other times online browsing inspires a trip to a physical location – and vice versa.

One thing that’s certain: real, relatable content and reviews inspire consumer trust and the likelihood of purchase. Highly polished stock photos and celebrity endorsements are no longer cutting it. Authentic content plays a critical role, leading consumers to new brands and products, and to develop deeper loyalty and trust with those that they already know and love.

In a survey from WP Engine and The Center for Generational Kinetics, they found that consumers across the board are “more likely to purchase from a company that provides consistent, relevant content.”

With Instagram recently introducing “Checkout” functionality within the app, the industry has clearly recognized the value of visual content to not only drive loyalty, but also conversion.

What exactly makes for “good” content?

Like we discussed in our recent report, 5 Trends Inspiring The Future Of Brand Authenticity, it can be tricky to define authenticity. Every brand wants to evoke it, but it’s not always as simple as rallying behind a mission or sharing brand values. When it comes to visual content, it must feel real and relatable. In the WP Engine survey, they asked what inspires trust in brand’s advertising or social content, “not using Photoshop” and “using actual customers in imagery” were both at the top of the list.

Influencers still play a key role

While “using paid spokespeople in imagery” had a much lower response rate, that doesn’t mean that partnering with influencers is off the table. There are multiple tiers of influencers (micro, advocates, referrers, etc.) that create valuable content that help inform consumer purchasing decisions. Micro-influencers, for example, typically “regular people” with 10k followers or less, can provide the social proof needed to help drive interest and trust in your brand. In our global consumer research, The Psychology of Following, nearly half of respondents reported that they considered making a purchase after seeing an endorsement by an influencer and nearly one-third said they have bought a product based on an influencer’s post.

Together, the combined power of authentic content and a simplified path to purchase can make it easy for customers to act swiftly, no matter when (or where) inspiration strikes.

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