Tip of the Iceberg: A Story of Trust in Marketing as Told by Statistics

The State of Trust in Marketing

The State of Trust in Marketing

“Step up on the railing. Hold on, hold on. Keep your eyes closed.”

Jack is holding Rose around her waist, cautiously lifting her up to the Titanic’s bow.

“Do you trust me?”

He was a stranger up until days earlier, but still, her response is almost instantaneous.

“I trust you.”

Moments later, Rose opens her eyes and she’s flying, arms outstretched as the mighty liner propels her forward. She and Jack hold hands; they kiss. Celine Dion’s music wafts in the background. Teenage boys in the theater start gagging, while romantic types swoon.

There’s a good chance you lived through this very experience. James Cameron’s 1997 cinematic landmark Titanic was an unprecedented hit, holding the title as highest-grossing film of all time for 14 years. The scene described above is perhaps its most famous — the linchpin in a love story sparked by deep, genuine trust that materialized almost out nowhere.

When I say, “Everyone and their mom saw this movie,” I mean it a bit too literally because I actually saw it with my mom, as a 12-year-old, and it was… awkward.

With that embarrassing story out of the way (I swear there’s a reason I mentioned it, and we’ll get back to it later), let’s move on to one you might actually care about: The state of trust in marketing.

Strap on your lifejacket and prepare for a journey through these choppy waters…

By the Numbers: The State of Trust in Marketing

At the outset of 2016, trust toward all four institutions measured by Edelman Trust Barometer reached their highest levels since the Great Recession, with businesses seeing the largest spike.

State of Trust 2012-2016 According to Edeleman

(Source)

Things looked good. Confidence was high. We were all cruising merrily along. Then, we hit the iceberg that was 2016. You might remember that year not-so-fondly, for any number of reasons.

The following year, Edelman declared that “trust is in crisis around the world,” citing an unprecedented drop across all four institutions. The 2018 research revealed “a world of seemingly stagnant distrust,” with no rebound to be seen. Things weren’t merely stagnating everywhere, though…

In 2018, only 48% of people in the United States said they trust businesses, down from 58% in 2017. (Edelman)

Polarization of Trust in 2018

(Source)

This was a point where people were frantically piling into lifeboats. I think I just saw Billy Zane kick a little kid off one. What a jerk.

Anyway, this is a problem.

[Side note: If you’re noticing a lot of Edelman citations thus far, it’s because their Trust Barometer is such a valuable resource for the topic, and offers a consistent baseline to show the progression of trust. But there are plenty of other sources to come.]

63% of people agree with this statement: “A good reputation may get me to try a product—but unless I come to trust the company behind the product I will soon stop buying it, regardless of its reputation.” (Edelman)

Oh, and:

68% of adults in the U.S. say that trust in a brand has “a great deal” or “a lot” of influence on their decision when making a big purchase. (SurveyMonkey)

I’m not exactly sure what the difference is between “a great deal” and “a lot,” but alas…

We’ve reached an era where people at large are digitally adept and savvy. They know they have a world of options at their literal fingertips, and can thusly hold brands to the highest of standards. Trust strikes a deep emotional chord.

“The digital era has fundamentally shifted assumptions for how individuals will do business and engage with companies,” Kevin Cochrane, Chief Marketing Officer at SAP, wrote at Harvard Business Review last year. “Once trust has been lost, it’s nearly impossible for brands to rebuild sustainable, honest relationships with their customers.”

In other words: once the ship has sunk, it ain’t coming back up.

[bctt tweet=”Once #trust has been lost, it’s nearly impossible for brands to rebuild sustainable, honest relationships with their customers. – @kevinc2003 #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Some of the damage has already been done. A few months ago, Accenture released its Bottom Line on Trust report, which uses an “Accenture Strategy Competitive Agility Index” to “quantify the impact of trust on a company’s bottom line.” Scoring more than 7,000 companies, this system found that…

54% have experienced a material drop in trust at some point during the past two and a half years, “conservatively” losing out on $104 billion in revenue. (Bottom Line on Trust)

“In today’s world, it is no longer a question of if a company will experience a trust incident, but when,” the report asserted.

This is getting grim, I know. But we’re not underwater yet. There is time yet to turn this troubling tide, and as the primary conduits between customers and brands, marketers can and must be at the forefront.

Marketing executives at B2B and B2C service firms rank “trusting relationships” ahead of “low price” and “superior innovation” among their customers’ priorities. (The CMO Survey)

CMO Survey Results on Customer Priorities

(Source)

As we build relationships, we build trust. Edelman’s 2018 report found that company content is twice as trusted after a customer-brand relationship has been formed. Marketing has a lot of functions (even a great deal of functions?) but this one will be most vital in the months ahead. All of our efforts are doomed without this crucial piece of the puzzle.

So, how do we stay on course and prevent relationships from sinking? Well…

65% of business buyers say they’re likely to switch brands if vendors don’t make an effort to personalize communications to their company. 52% of consumers say the same. (State of the Connected Customer)

This seems to be the the sweet spot. Personalization is the surest way to build a rapport in the digital space. When we fail to connect, it sets off immediate alarms.

Personalization comes in many forms. It can be as sophisticated as using adaptive AI, or as simple as narrowing the scope and voice of your content to resonate with very specific audiences. Whatever the approach, customers clearly want it. And the potential revenue benefits are undeniable.

[bctt tweet=”#Personalization is the surest way to build a rapport in the digital space. When we fail to connect, it sets off immediate alarms. @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Personalization can deliver 5-8 times the ROI on marketing spend, and can lift sales by 10% or more. (McKinsey & Company)

Now that sounds like smooth sailing.

Research makes clear that marketers are wise to chart a course for more personalized waters. Granted, that’ll mean different things to different organizations and strategies, but it simply must be a central focus if we are to stay afloat.

Personalized marketing is the byproduct of turning customer data into useful insights. It’s the industry’s prime directive as we speak. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish on this front in 2019 and beyond.

I will leave you with one final word (statistic) of caution, however.

79% of consumers will leave a brand if their personal data is used without their knowledge. (SAP Hybris Consumer Insights Report)

SAP Hybris Insights

Let’s steer clear of that. Transparency is now more essential than ever in marketing. Using data is not wrong — in fact, it’s requisite for personalization — but the last thing you want to come off as is sneaky or underhanded about it (just ask Facebook). Something as simple as a friendly, casual pop-up message on your website informing visitors that you use cookies (and why) can go a long way.

By following the principles of responsible personalization, we as marketers can right the ship and play our part in building sturdy relationships that ensure customers…

via GIPHY

Moral of the Story: Steer Toward Trustful Shores

A bit of good news: in the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer results, released a couple of weeks ago, trust toward business increased in 21 of 26 markets, including the U.S. where 54% of respondents voiced confidence — one of the biggest jumps. Now, we need to stay that course.

At a high level, personalization should be the true-north on every marketer’s strategic compass. But on a day-to-day tactical basis, I believe there are three focal areas for continually building trust. As it happens, I’ve attempted to incorporate each into this blog post you’re reading.

Storytelling. My goal here was to take a set of statistics and craft them into a coherent narrative. For added effect, I juxtaposed it against another extremely recognizable story. Your mileage may vary on the wisdom and effectiveness of this particular approach.

Authenticity. For better or worse, this is who I am. I’m the kind of guy who intertwines 20-year-old movies with blog posts about marketing. (More seriously, I have a genuine passion for the subject of trust in marketing, which is why I write about it so frequently here.)

Transparency. Even — no, especially — when it’s information you’re not entirely jazzed to be sharing. I didn’t love telling you all about sitting uncomfortably next to my mom during the infamous “Draw me like one of your French girls” scene at age 12, but I did so with the hopes it’d signal an openness and candor in the writing to come. Recently I highlighted a company called Lemonade that runs a “Transparency Chronicles” series, in which they speak very frankly about their experiences as a growing business — including their failures and shortcomings. Customers are tired of hearing how great and perfect brands are. They want realness.

Content marketing strategies founded on personalization, with storytelling, authenticity, and transparency as cornerstones, will be primed to stand the test of time in an age of digital disorientation.

Maybe, one day, we can finally restore the fundamental trust that’s been shattered ever since some genius marketing mind came up with the “Unsinkable Ship” slogan.

Did you like this post? Want to read more from me on trust and transparency in marketing? Check out these past articles:

The post Tip of the Iceberg: A Story of Trust in Marketing as Told by Statistics appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Tip of the Iceberg: A Story of Trust in Marketing as Told by Statistics

The State of Trust in Marketing

“Step up on the railing. Hold on, hold on. Keep your eyes closed.”

Jack is holding Rose around her waist, cautiously lifting her up to the Titanic’s bow.

“Do you trust me?”

He was a stranger up until days earlier, but still, her response is almost instantaneous.

“I trust you.”

Moments later, Rose opens her eyes and she’s flying, arms outstretched as the mighty liner propels her forward. She and Jack hold hands; they kiss. Celine Dion’s music wafts in the background. Teenage boys in the theater start gagging, while romantic types swoon.

There’s a good chance you lived through this very experience. James Cameron’s 1997 cinematic landmark Titanic was an unprecedented hit, holding the title as highest-grossing film of all time for 14 years. The scene described above is perhaps its most famous — the linchpin in a love story sparked by deep, genuine trust that materialized almost out nowhere.

When I say, “Everyone and their mom saw this movie,” I mean it a bit too literally because I actually saw it with my mom, as a 12-year-old, and it was… awkward.

With that embarrassing story out of the way (I swear there’s a reason I mentioned it, and we’ll get back to it later), let’s move on to one you might actually care about: The state of trust in marketing.

Strap on your lifejacket and prepare for a journey through these choppy waters…

By the Numbers: The State of Trust in Marketing

At the outset of 2016, trust toward all four institutions measured by Edelman Trust Barometer reached their highest levels since the Great Recession, with businesses seeing the largest spike.

State of Trust 2012-2016 According to Edeleman

(Source)

Things looked good. Confidence was high. We were all cruising merrily along. Then, we hit the iceberg that was 2016. You might remember that year not-so-fondly, for any number of reasons.

The following year, Edelman declared that “trust is in crisis around the world,” citing an unprecedented drop across all four institutions. The 2018 research revealed “a world of seemingly stagnant distrust,” with no rebound to be seen. Things weren’t merely stagnating everywhere, though…

In 2018, only 48% of people in the United States said they trust businesses, down from 58% in 2017. (Edelman)

Polarization of Trust in 2018

(Source)

This was a point where people were frantically piling into lifeboats. I think I just saw Billy Zane kick a little kid off one. What a jerk.

Anyway, this is a problem.

[Side note: If you’re noticing a lot of Edelman citations thus far, it’s because their Trust Barometer is such a valuable resource for the topic, and offers a consistent baseline to show the progression of trust. But there are plenty of other sources to come.]

63% of people agree with this statement: “A good reputation may get me to try a product—but unless I come to trust the company behind the product I will soon stop buying it, regardless of its reputation.” (Edelman)

Oh, and:

68% of adults in the U.S. say that trust in a brand has “a great deal” or “a lot” of influence on their decision when making a big purchase. (SurveyMonkey)

I’m not exactly sure what the difference is between “a great deal” and “a lot,” but alas…

We’ve reached an era where people at large are digitally adept and savvy. They know they have a world of options at their literal fingertips, and can thusly hold brands to the highest of standards. Trust strikes a deep emotional chord.

“The digital era has fundamentally shifted assumptions for how individuals will do business and engage with companies,” Kevin Cochrane, Chief Marketing Officer at SAP, wrote at Harvard Business Review last year. “Once trust has been lost, it’s nearly impossible for brands to rebuild sustainable, honest relationships with their customers.”

In other words: once the ship has sunk, it ain’t coming back up.

Once #trust has been lost, it’s nearly impossible for brands to rebuild sustainable, honest relationships with their customers. – @kevinc2003 #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Some of the damage has already been done. A few months ago, Accenture released its Bottom Line on Trust report, which uses an “Accenture Strategy Competitive Agility Index” to “quantify the impact of trust on a company’s bottom line.” Scoring more than 7,000 companies, this system found that…

54% have experienced a material drop in trust at some point during the past two and a half years, “conservatively” losing out on $104 billion in revenue. (Bottom Line on Trust)

“In today’s world, it is no longer a question of if a company will experience a trust incident, but when,” the report asserted.

This is getting grim, I know. But we’re not underwater yet. There is time yet to turn this troubling tide, and as the primary conduits between customers and brands, marketers can and must be at the forefront.

Marketing executives at B2B and B2C service firms rank “trusting relationships” ahead of “low price” and “superior innovation” among their customers’ priorities. (The CMO Survey)

CMO Survey Results on Customer Priorities

(Source)

As we build relationships, we build trust. Edelman’s 2018 report found that company content is twice as trusted after a customer-brand relationship has been formed. Marketing has a lot of functions (even a great deal of functions?) but this one will be most vital in the months ahead. All of our efforts are doomed without this crucial piece of the puzzle.

So, how do we stay on course and prevent relationships from sinking? Well…

65% of business buyers say they’re likely to switch brands if vendors don’t make an effort to personalize communications to their company. 52% of consumers say the same. (State of the Connected Customer)

This seems to be the the sweet spot. Personalization is the surest way to build a rapport in the digital space. When we fail to connect, it sets off immediate alarms.

Personalization comes in many forms. It can be as sophisticated as using adaptive AI, or as simple as narrowing the scope and voice of your content to resonate with very specific audiences. Whatever the approach, customers clearly want it. And the potential revenue benefits are undeniable.

#Personalization is the surest way to build a rapport in the digital space. When we fail to connect, it sets off immediate alarms. @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Personalization can deliver 5-8 times the ROI on marketing spend, and can lift sales by 10% or more. (McKinsey & Company)

Now that sounds like smooth sailing.

Research makes clear that marketers are wise to chart a course for more personalized waters. Granted, that’ll mean different things to different organizations and strategies, but it simply must be a central focus if we are to stay afloat.

Personalized marketing is the byproduct of turning customer data into useful insights. It’s the industry’s prime directive as we speak. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish on this front in 2019 and beyond.

I will leave you with one final word (statistic) of caution, however.

79% of consumers will leave a brand if their personal data is used without their knowledge. (SAP Hybris Consumer Insights Report)

SAP Hybris Insights

Let’s steer clear of that. Transparency is now more essential than ever in marketing. Using data is not wrong — in fact, it’s requisite for personalization — but the last thing you want to come off as is sneaky or underhanded about it (just ask Facebook). Something as simple as a friendly, casual pop-up message on your website informing visitors that you use cookies (and why) can go a long way.

By following the principles of responsible personalization, we as marketers can right the ship and play our part in building sturdy relationships that ensure customers…

via GIPHY

Moral of the Story: Steer Toward Trustful Shores

A bit of good news: in the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer results, released a couple of weeks ago, trust toward business increased in 21 of 26 markets, including the U.S. where 54% of respondents voiced confidence — one of the biggest jumps. Now, we need to stay that course.

At a high level, personalization should be the true-north on every marketer’s strategic compass. But on a day-to-day tactical basis, I believe there are three focal areas for continually building trust. As it happens, I’ve attempted to incorporate each into this blog post you’re reading.

Storytelling. My goal here was to take a set of statistics and craft them into a coherent narrative. For added effect, I juxtaposed it against another extremely recognizable story. Your mileage may vary on the wisdom and effectiveness of this particular approach.

Authenticity. For better or worse, this is who I am. I’m the kind of guy who intertwines 20-year-old movies with blog posts about marketing. (More seriously, I have a genuine passion for the subject of trust in marketing, which is why I write about it so frequently here.)

Transparency. Even — no, especially — when it’s information you’re not entirely jazzed to be sharing. I didn’t love telling you all about sitting uncomfortably next to my mom during the infamous “Draw me like one of your French girls” scene at age 12, but I did so with the hopes it’d signal an openness and candor in the writing to come. Recently I highlighted a company called Lemonade that runs a “Transparency Chronicles” series, in which they speak very frankly about their experiences as a growing business — including their failures and shortcomings. Customers are tired of hearing how great and perfect brands are. They want realness.

Content marketing strategies founded on personalization, with storytelling, authenticity, and transparency as cornerstones, will be primed to stand the test of time in an age of digital disorientation.

Maybe, one day, we can finally restore the fundamental trust that’s been shattered ever since some genius marketing mind came up with the “Unsinkable Ship” slogan.

Did you like this post? Want to read more from me on trust and transparency in marketing? Check out these past articles:

The Basics of Building an Intent-Based Keyword List

This post was originally published on the STAT blog.


In this article, we’re taking a deep dive into search intent.

It’s a topic we’ve covered before with some depth. This STAT whitepaper looked at how SERP features respond to intent, and a few bonus blog posts broke things down even further and examined how individual intent modifiers impact SERP features, the kind of content that Google serves at each stage of intent, and how you can set up your very own search intent projects. (And look out for Seer’s very own Scott Taft’s upcoming post this week on how to use STAT and Power BI to create your very own search intent dashboard.)

Search intent is the new demographics, so it only made sense to get up close and personal with it. Of course, in order to bag all those juicy search intent tidbits, we needed a great intent-based keyword list. Here’s how you can get your hands on one of those.

Gather your core keywords

First, before you can even think about intent, you need to have a solid foundation of core keywords in place. These are the products, features, and/or services that you’ll build your search intent funnel around.

But goodness knows that keyword list-building is more of an art than a science, and even the greatest writers (hi, Homer) needed to invoke the muses (hey, Calliope) for inspiration, so if staring at your website isn’t getting the creative juices flowing, you can look to a few different places for help.

Snag some good suggestions from keyword research tools

Lots of folks like to use the Google Keyword Planner to help them get started. Ubersuggest and Yoast’s Google Suggest Expander will also help add keywords to your arsenal. And Answer The Public gives you all of that, and beautifully visualized to boot.

Simply plunk in a keyword and watch the suggestions pour in. Just remember to be critical of these auto-generated lists, as odd choices sometimes slip into the mix. For example, apparently we should add [free phones] to our list of [rank tracking] keywords. Huh.

Spot inspiration on the SERPs

Two straight-from-the-SERP resources that we love for keyword research are the “People also ask” box and related searches. These queries are Google-vetted and plentiful, and also give you some insight into how the search engine giant links topics.

If you’re a STAT client, you can generate reports that will give you every question in a PAA box (before it gets infinite), as well as each of the eight related searches at the bottom of a SERP. Run the reports for a couple of days and you’ll get a quick sense of which questions and queries Google favours for your existing keyword set.

A quick note about language & location

When you’re in the UK, you push a pram, not a stroller; you don’t wear a sweater, you wear a jumper. This is all to say that if you’re in the business of global tracking, it’s important to keep different countries’ word choices in mind. Even if you’re not creating content with them, it’s good to see if you’re appearing for the terms your global searchers are using.

Add your intent modifiers

Now it’s time to tackle the intent bit of your keyword list. And this bit is going to require drawing some lines in the sand because the modifiers that occupy each intent category can be highly subjective — does “best” apply transactional intent instead of commercial?

We’ve put together a loose guideline below, but the bottom line is that intent should be structured and classified in a way that makes sense to your business. And if you’re stuck for modifiers to marry to your core keywords, here’s a list of 50+ to help with the coupling.

Informational intent

The searcher has identified a need and is looking for the best solution. These keywords are the core keywords from your earlier hard work, plus every question you think your searchers might have if they’re unfamiliar with your product or services.

Your informational queries might look something like:

  • [product name]
  • what is [product name]
  • how does [product name] work
  • how do I use [product name]

Commercial intent

At this stage, the searcher has zeroed in on a solution and is looking into all the different options available to them. They’re doing comparative research and are interested in specific requirements and features.

For our research, we used best, compare, deals, new, online, refurbished, reviews, shop, top, and used.

Your commercial queries might look something like:

  • best [product name]
  • [product name] reviews
  • compare [product name]
  • what is the top [product name]
  • [colour/style/size] [product name]

Transactional intent (including local and navigational intent)

Transactional queries are the most likely to convert and generally include terms that revolve around price, brand, and location, which is why navigational and local intent are nestled within this stage of the intent funnel.

For our research, we used affordable, buy, cheap, cost, coupon, free shipping, and price.

Your transactional queries might look something like:

  • how much does [product name] cost
  • [product name] in [location]
  • order [product name] online
  • [product name] near me
  • affordable [brand name] [product name]

A tip if you want to speed things up

A super quick way to add modifiers to your keywords and save your typing fingers is by using a keyword mixer like this one. Just don’t forget that using computer programs for human-speak means you’ll have to give them the ol’ once-over to make sure they still make sense.

Audit your list

Now that you’ve reached for the stars and got yourself a huge list of keywords, it’s time to bring things back down to reality and see which ones you’ll actually want to keep around.

No two audits are going to look the same, but here are a few considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when whittling your keywords down to the best of the bunch.

  1. Relevance. Are your keywords represented on your site? Do they point to optimized pages
  2. Search volume. Are you after highly searched terms or looking to build an audience? You can get the SV goods from the Google Keyword Planner.
  3. Opportunity. How many clicks and impressions are your keywords raking in? While not comprehensive (thanks, Not Provided), you can gather some of this info by digging into Google Search Console.
  4. Competition. What other websites are ranking for your keywords? Are you up against SERP monsters like Amazon? What about paid advertising like shopping boxes? How much SERP space are they taking up? Your friendly SERP analytics platform withshare of voice capabilities (hi!) can help you understand your search landscape.
  5. Difficulty. How easy is your keyword going to be to win? Search volume can give you a rough idea — the higher the search volume, the stiffer the competition is likely to be — but for a different approach, Moz’s Keyword Explorer has a Difficulty score that takes Page Authority, Domain Authority, and projected click-through-rate into account.

By now, you should have a pretty solid plan of attack to create an intent-based keyword list of your very own to love, nurture, and cherish.

If, before you jump headlong into it, you’re curious what a good chunk of this is going to looks like in practice, give this excellent article by Russ Jones a read, or drop us a line. We’re always keen to show folks why tracking keywords at scale is the best way to uncover intent-based insights.

Read on, readers!

More in our search intent series:

Do Businesses Really Use Google My Business Posts? A Case Study

Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most powerful ways to improve a business’ local search engine optimization and online visibility. If you’re a local business, claiming your Google My Business profile is one of the first steps you should take to increase your company’s online presence.

As long as your local business meets Google’s guidelines, your Google My Business profile can help give your company FREE exposure on Google’s search engine. Not only can potential customers quickly see your business’ name, address and phone number, but they can also see photos of your business, read online reviews, find a description about your company, complete a transaction (like book an appointment) and see other information that grabs a searcher’s attention — all without them even visiting your website. That’s pretty powerful stuff!

Google My Business helps with local rankings

Not only is your GMB Profile easily visible to potential customers when they search on Google, but Google My Business is also a key Google local ranking factor. In fact, according to local ranking factor industry research, Google My Business “signals” is the most important ranking factor for local pack rankings. Google My Business signals had a significant increase in ranking importance between 2017 and 2018 — rising from 19% to 25%.

Claiming your Google My Business profile is your first step to local optimization — but many people mistakenly think that just claiming your Google My Business profile is enough. However, optimizing your Google My Business profile and frequently logging into your Google My Business dashboard to make sure that no unwanted updates have been made to your profile is vital to improving your rankings and ensuring the integrity of your business profile’s accuracy.

Google My Business features that make your profile ROCK!

Google offers a variety of ways to optimize and enhance your Google My Business profile. You can add photos, videos, business hours, a description of your company, frequently asked questions and answers, communicate with customers via messages, allow customers to book appointments, respond to online reviews and more.

One of the most powerful ways to grab a searcher’s attention is by creating Google My Business Posts. GMB Posts are almost like mini-ads for your company, products, or services.

Google offers a variety of posts you can create to promote your business:

  • What’s New
  • Event
  • Offer
  • Product

Posts also allow you to include a call to action (CTA) so you can better control what the visitor does after they view your post — creating the ultimate marketing experience. Current CTAs are:

  • Book
  • Order Online
  • Buy
  • Learn More
  • Sign Up
  • Get Offer
  • Call Now

Posts use a combination of images, text and a CTA to creatively show your message to potential customers. A Post shows in your GMB profile when someone searches for your business’ name on Google or views your business’ Google My Business profile on Google Maps.

Once you create a Post, you can even share it on your social media channels to get extra exposure.

Despite the name, Google My Business Posts are not actual social media posts. Typically the first 100 characters of the post are what shows up on screen (the rest is cut off and must be clicked on to be seen), so make sure the most important words are at the beginning of your post. Don’t use hashtags — they’re meaningless. It’s best if you can create new posts every seven days or so.

Google My Business Posts are a great way to show off your business in a unique way at the exact time when a searcher is looking at your business online.

But there’s a long-standing question: Are businesses actually creating GMB Posts to get their message across to potential customers? Let’s find out…

The big question: Are businesses actively using Google My Business Posts?

There has been a lot of discussion in the SEO industry about Google My Business Posts and their value: Do they help with SEO rankings? How effective are they? Do posts garner engagement? Does where the Posts appear on your GMB profile matter? How often should you post? Should you even create Google My Business Posts at all? Lots of questions, right?

As industry experts look at all of these angles, what do average, everyday business owners actually do when it comes to GMB Posts? Are real businesses creating posts? I set out to find the answer to this question using real data. Here are the details.

Google My Business Post case study: Just the facts

When I set out to discover if businesses were actively using GMB Posts for their companies’ Google My Business profiles, I first wanted to make sure I looked at data in competitive industries and markets. So I looked at a total of 2,000 Google My Business profiles that comprised the top 20 results in the Local Finder. I searched for highly competitive keyword phrases in the top ten cities (based on population density, according to Wikipedia.)

For this case study, I also chose to look at service type businesses.

Here are the results.

Cities:

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Jose, San Francisco, Washington DC, Houston, and Boston.

Keywords:

real estate agent, mortgage, travel agency, insurance or insurance agents, dentist, plastic surgeon, personal injury lawyer, plumber, veterinarian or vet, and locksmith

Surprise! Out of the industries researched, Personal Injury Lawyers and Locksmiths posted the most often.

For the case study, I looked at the following:

  • How many businesses had an active Google My Business Post (i.e. have posted in the last seven days)
  • How many had previously made at least one post
  • How many have never created a post

Do businesses create Google My Business Posts?

Based on the businesses, cities, and keywords researched, I discovered that more than half of the businesses are actively creating Posts or have created Google My Business Posts in the past.

  • 17.5% of businesses had an active post in the last 7 days
  • 42.1% of businesses had previously made at least one post
  • 40.4% have never created a post

Highlight: A total of 59.60% of businesses have posted a Google My Business Post on their Google My Business profile.

NOTE: If you want to look at the raw numbers, you can check out the research document that outlines all the raw data. (NOTE: Credit for the research spreadsheet template I used and inspiration to do this case study goes to SEO expert Phil Rozek.)

Do searchers engage with Google My Business Posts?

If a business takes the time to create Google My Business Posts, do searchers and potential customers actually take the time to look at your posts? And most importantly, do they take action and engage with your posts?

This chart represents nine random clients, their total post views over a 28-day period, and the corresponding total direct/branded impressions on their Google My Business profiles. When we look at the total number of direct/branded views alongside the number of views posts received, the number of views for posts appears to be higher. This means that a single user is more than likely viewing multiple posts.

This means that if you take the time to create a GMB Post and your marketing message is meaningful, you have a high chance of converting a potential searcher into a customer — or at least someone who is going to take the time to look at your marketing message. (How awesome is that?)

Do searchers click on Google My Business Posts?

So your GMB Posts show up in your Knowledge Panel when someone searches for your business on Google and Google Maps, but do searchers actually click on your post to read more?

When we evaluated the various industry post views to their total direct/branded search views, on average the post is clicked on almost 100% of the time!

Google My Business insights

When you log in to your Google My Business dashboard you can see firsthand how well your Posts are doing. Below is a side-by-side image of a business’ post views and their direct search impressions. By checking your GMB insights, you can find out how well your Google My Business posts are performing for your business!

GMB Posts are worth it

After looking at 2,000 GMB profiles, I discovered a lot of things. One thing is for sure. It’s hard to tell on a week-by-week basis how many companies are using GMB Posts because posts “go dark” every seven business days (unless the Post is an event post with a start and end date.)

Also, Google recently moved Posts from the top of the Google My Business profile towards the bottom, so they don’t stand out as much as they did just a few months ago. This may mean that there’s less incentive for businesses to create posts.

However, what this case study does show us is that businesses that are in a competitive location and industry should use Google My Business optimizing strategies and features like posts if they want to get an edge on their competition.