I’d like to ask you to take a minute to indulge a simple request: pretend that you’re a consumer engaging with a brand for the first time.

Are you with me?

If so, imagine that your initial point of contact with that brand occurs when you happen to stumble upon a particular news item while googling around online. While not particularly well-written, you’re intrigued by the news to the point that you decide to go to the company’s website to learn more. Before you know it, you’re happily reading about the company’s products. Some of that product content reads well and really speaks to you. But as you read more, you discover that other bits of the company’s product content don’t.

Maybe not immediately, but after a while the company starts to feel disjointed to you because of its inconsistent content. Not only do some pages contain errors while others don’t, it’s as if the company has several distinct voices or personalities. In fact, you get the impression that the company you’re dealing with consists of many separate entities that aren’t coordinated or working together. While not a deal-breaker, it’s an early warning sign that the company you’re dealing with may not be very polished or professional.

Reading some of the company’s Q&As and other support content only further supports your theory — it’s not nearly as good as some of the product content you just read. Once again you find yourself questioning if you really want to do business with this company when you have other choices. After all, if you’re not getting a consistent experience on their website, who knows what other inconsistencies you’ll experience if you choose to make a purchase from them.

Ok, enough pretending; let’s talk about the facts.

The fact is that for an increasing number of customers, content inconsistency is a red flag that signals there could be a potential problem. At a time when they expect great customer experiences, and for those experiences to be consistent across the board, even seemingly small details like these can play a pivotal role in purchasing decisions. That’s because in a world full of choices, why would anyone accept a bad customer experience if a better one may just be a few clicks away?

Trust me, this is something I know a fair bit about. Here at Acrolinx we recently conducted a whole bunch of research about content consistency. For the purposes of this blog post, let me point out a few of the key take-aways that came out of that report.

For starters, you’ve got to appreciate that content consistency matters. Here’s why: Content plays a huge role in shaping customer experiences and customers generally want those experiences to be consistent.

According to Forrester research, for example, having a consistent experience across all brand touch points is a key driver of brand trust. Further making the point is a recent study by McKinsey & Company of 27,000 American consumers. Among the findings were that a consistent customer experience across the entire customer journey increases customer satisfaction, builds trust, and boosts loyalty.

So if you accept that having consistent content is important, you may be as surprised as we were to discover just how few companies actually have it.

As part of our research we looked at the content of 170 global brands. Of them, less than one-fifth had consistent, high-quality content — the kind that helps them create better customer experiences, which in turn builds trust, credibility, and a great reputation. Everyone else either had inconsistent content, low-quality content, or worst of all both. That’s a big problem for those companies because it can confuse their customers, giving them the impression that they’re being sold to by lots of different people rather than one unified organization. That in turn can damage their brand.

If you want to know more about content consistency and its role in shaping customer experiences, check out our recent report, “The Global Content Impact Index: Measuring How Consistent the World’s Leading Brands Are With Their Content.