Before the advent of e-commerce, people went by very different indicators to determine whether or not they trusted a business. First and foremost, trust could always be built by a real-life, personal interaction, backed by the good reputation of the brand. Nowadays, purchases can be made at the click of a button without even seeing the face of the person you’re doing business with. While trust-building and reputation is still as important for digital businesses as it was for the brick-and-mortar businesses of previous decades, effective trust-building tactics need to evolve with the times. Here are 3 online tactics which will improve the level of trust between your business and its audience, leading to increased brand loyalty and as a result, increased conversions.
Leverage content marketing
Not only is content marketing an excellent way to boost brand exposure at little to no cost, but it’s also a great trust builder. Aim to regularly produce high quality content which addresses genuine concerns and provides actionable solutions. By generously delivering value without going for the hard sell, this will keep people returning time and time to your site. People don’t want to be sold to, but they love to make purchases once they have enough information to inform their decisions. With so many types of content available (including blog posts, infographics, presentations and more), you can display your expertise in a multitude of ways in order to build trust with your audience.
In this speech, legendary marketing expert, Seth Godin, explains that generosity is a prerequisite for success in our post-industrial economy, because people simply don’t trust or wish to connect with selfish people. In terms of low cost tactics for conveying the generosity of your brand, content marketing is the undisputed number 1.
Inject humanity into your brand
People are herd animals, and even though digital interfaces pervade much of our lives, we still yearn to connect with other humans. This is why your branding must always be crafted with an overtly perceptible human element. Expert storytelling is one way to achieve this, as is the distinct tone of voice you choose for your web copy and blog content. Social media is an excellent opportunity to behave like a real human by responding to enquiries, contributing to discussions and retweeting valuable content from other users. If you think about the other companies in your niche that use Twitter like a spambot and/or disreputable used car salesman, behaving like a real person can boost the level of trust with your audience exponentially.
As we covered in a previous article, being human sometimes means making mistakes. One of the best ways to recover from a mistake is to apologise with authenticity and if appropriate, maybe use a bit of humour to soften the blow. The damage to trust resulting from bad PR is usually temporary, unless you attempt to backtrack and appear blameless. When an accident does occur, transparency and honesty are the best options for restoring trust with your audience.
Harness social proof
If you make grand claims in your sales copy but neglect to back them up with substantial evidence, this can make the wrong impression. The best way to get people to trust that your products and services are as great as you advertise is to display testimonials and case studies from happy customers. Screen captures of reviews from external forums help to improve credibility and video testimonials are also popular, since people are most trusting when a human face and voice accompanies a positive endorsement. You may also wish to include a montage of logos of previous clients that you’ve worked with prominently on your website.
Ultimately, the best way to build trust with your audience is to behave in a trustworthy manner. You shouldn’t generate free content just because you think it might lead to a sale, you should do it because you actually care about providing value. In the same vein, being helpful on social media is not a means to an end, it should be seen as behaving with integrity because this is an important part of your brand values. Digital consumers have learned to be perceptive, and if there are incongruencies between your branding and behaviour, they are likely to take their custom elsewhere.