Guest post by Natasha Lane.
In the deluge of advertising, marketing gimmicks, and multi-sensory content all of us are exposed to daily, establishing trust between your brand and your customers is an uphill battle.
While technology has certainly made our lives easier and (generally) more enjoyable, it has also made us more granular targets for advertisers—many of whom won’t hesitate to use invasive online tracking or other dodgy tactics to make a sale and get that all-important conversion.
How can you prove that your company is not like them and that you care about more than just a sale? That there are real humans with ethics and genuine feelings behind the brand? Here are six key practices for building trust in your brand.
Tell a story, and make it resonate
Storytelling is a powerful tool. It can help you reach more customers, boost your conversions, and most importantly, build trust.
The aim of storytelling is to establish a connection between a brand and it’s target customers. It showcases the values, beliefs, products, services, and attributes of the brand via stories, as opposed to a straightforward sales pitches.
Let’s take the example of Old Spice. They tell their brand’s story through their famous ads—and they use this story across all of their marketing channels, their website, their social media. Even their blog is in tune with their story.
That’s one of the most important aspects of successful storytelling: keep it consistent. If you claim one thing (for example, that you provide incredible customer service), yet fail to respond to questions on your social media accounts, you actions aren’t supporting your story. You need to change that.
Invest in your content
Storytelling is one key element in a broader tactic, content marketing.
Content marketing shouldn’t just be a driving force behind your sales machinery (although it can be that as well). It should be one of the channels you use to make yourself more human and establish added trust.
The true worth of content lies in the value it can provide to leads and customers. By educating them, providing some comic relief, helping them forget about the bad day they’re having, teaching them something new, answering questions they didn’t know they had, or informing them with the latest research, you can build yourself up as a trustworthy source of not only information, but products or services as well.
Each Night is a great example of a company that offers a lot of very valuable content on its website. Their product comparisons are very useful, but they also have a Sleep Studies section in which they answer all sorts of interesting sleep-related questions, from the best time to take a shower to how your alarm affects your sleep. This is the real value they provide, and a great trust-establishing feature.
Provide important answers
Answering questions is another vital way to build trust.
Sure, a lot of websites have an FAQ section, and they do provide some answers. But often, neither the questions nor the answers are well thought out, and they don’t accurately reflect what customers might actually want to know.
You need to take into account the questions you get asked directly, along with the questions your target audience is asking on social media, forums, and blogs. Only once you do that and tap into their pain points can you hope to provide an FAQ section that works.
A good example is LFA Capsule Fillers, a company that has a dedicated FAQ section, where they touch upon all kinds of popular questions their potential customers may have.
It’s clear to see there has been genuine thought put into putting this page together, which instantly makes it more valuable.
Treat your customers like real people
In the rush and hustle to reach as many leads as possible, too often brands forget all about personalization. They send out generic emails, general offers, and don’t adequately take into account their recipients’ interests, preferences, or even past purchases.
Likewise, they don’t make an effort to establish real connections with the people who follow them on social media; they ever just chat with any of them.
One of the best (and ultimately simplest) ways to establish more trust and humanize your brand is to treat your customers like people. After all, communication between a brand and a customer is communication between a person and another person, where one just happens to represent a brand.
When reaching out to someone, use their name. Introduce yourself when talking to them, be it over the phone, over email, via a blog post. Speak to them in their own language, and work on establishing quality rapport at every opportunity. Treat your social media followers as relationships that needs building, not as a sales channel.
Build a community
You can also choose to take your brand-customer relationships to the next level and build a community, using a customer engagement platform such as WorkOutLoud. This is where you will not only promote your brand, but where people can also come to socialize, swap stories, and share ideas.
A more informal way to do this is social media. You can use a hashtag; you can create a Facebook group that is exclusive to certain members (based on criteria you come up with); you can have an email list – whatever your customers like to use.
In either case, you need to make it worth their while, but you’re already at an advantage because people naturally enjoy being members of mutual-interest groups, and interacting with like-minded people.
You can also make your group about sharing tips and advice and helping customers (and each other) out. For example, Aura has a Facebook group they advertise near the bottom of their homepage in which Amazon sellers can share experiences and tips – and all of these members are naturally a great pool of leads.
Show off your proof
Finally, another great way to build trust is to offer your customers social proof – reviews, ratings, and stories from satisfied customers that have more credibility and impact than your own marketing copy.
The thing about social proof is that it is generally perceived as honest and genuine, so you can do less direct promotion and let your customers do the talking.
Whether you choose to add social proof to your homepage, your product or service pages, or even have an entire dedicated page, make sure you choose the reviews you want to feature carefully.
They should come from people who are most like your target audience and ideal buyer persona, but they should also be as real as possible. Don’t only use the absolute best ones, as they might sound too good to be true.
Buzzsumo does this very nicely – and they have chosen to feature a few prominent experts near the bottom of their homepage, which will most likely have some sway over their target audience. Naturally, you don’t have to reach as high – non-influencer reviews will be just as fine.
Building trust between your brand and your customers is a never-ending task. Fostering engagement and constantly looking for ways to improve the customer experience can create a powerful competitive advantage that’s very difficult for your market rivals to overcome.
Natasha Lane is a lady of a keyboard and one hell of a geek. She is always happy to collaborate with awesome blogs and share her knowledge about branding, digital marketing trends, and business growth strategies. To see what she is up to next, check out her Twitter feed.