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How to Build Consumer Trust Online and Offline

Date published: January 13, 2015
Last updated: January 13, 2015

When you’re researching a business, what gives you the confidence to assume they’re reliable? Many factors play into the level of consumer trust a brand attains. If these factors are not given adequate consideration early in the brand’s life, it can take a long time to build a credible reputation.

How can you tap the market’s built-in trust factors when potential clients are searching for you? Furthermore, once you’ve built a first impression of credibility, how do you maintain it when casual browsers look further into your brand?

Take a look at these tips to help prospective customers along the journey from surface-skimmers to lifelong brand advocates.

Why Consumers Don’t Trust You

Does your brand have a bafflingly low-trust ranking? Your underperformance may be because you simply aren’t reaching potential customers, or it could be that your site isn’t as top-notch as you think it is.

Though it can be a little off-putting to hear that your site doesn’t inspire the highest confidence in prospective visitors, it’s nothing personal. There are simply several common pitfalls that can burden even a reliable website with a dubious reputation.

Some common offenders that can really damage your credibility include:

  • Bad search ranking – The easier you are found, the better your business credibility will be.
  • Nonexistent or outdated social media presence – Having current accounts on the major social networks is a primary indicator to modern audiences that a company is on top of its game.
  • Awful web design – The more professional you look, the more inclined people are to believe that you know what you’re doing.

It’s also possible that you may not be doing enough to prove your place in the market. If there are hundreds of companies selling products or services that are similar to yours, consumers need a good reason to come to you before anyone else.

Much of your perceived trustworthiness stems from the content you produce (or don’t). Kapost reports that 58 percent of consumers trust editorial content. Additionally, 71 percent of consumers are more likely to trust you as long as your content seeks mainly to inform, not to sell. If you don’t tailor your content to fit client needs, they’ll look elsewhere.

How Marketing Content Can Turn Low Trust Around

Visibility is key to earning trust. If you aren’t immediately accessible to those seeking information online about your industry, they’ll have second thoughts about pursuing you further... if they even find you at all. How comfortable would you be with a hard-to-find website handling your money and information?

Therefore, your digital marketing should accomplish the following goals:

  • Provide enough information about your business that people feel comfortable interacting with you.
  • Let your target market know that you’re paying attention to their needs.
  • Be clear about how your product or service meets your demographic’s needs.
  • Be forthright about your business practices and availability to customers.

The bottom line is this: If you want consumers to have confidence in you, you must show yourself to be trustworthy. An excellent way to do this is to produce informative, engaging content on a regular basis. This puts you in front of consumers again and again, which matters because recognition is a key part of consumer trust.

If you think digital marketing will build your following overnight, you’re not approaching it correctly, and you’ll probably give up before any results have time to appear. It takes a long time to build the kind of brand reputation that has people coming to look for you. Once you have a feasible long-term marketing plan, commit to sticking to it - even when it looks like no one’s paying attention. Consistency has a much larger long-term payoff than trendiness.

Remember, you’re not after casual fans who check you out once and never return. Meaningful interaction and consumer trust only arise when you commit to your marketing efforts for the long haul. This commitment will be evident to your clients.

Build Trust Offline, Too

Do these strategies even matter when it comes to your offline business? The answer is yes, much more than you might think.

The number of shoppers who research online before approaching the physical store has only increased over the past year, and the trend isn’t likely to decline as more and more personal gadgets acquire Web capability. Increasing your visibility online, thus, can only help your brick-and-mortar business. If all of your initial operations were internet-based, there are even opportunities for you to translate your presence into face-to-face interaction, for increased success.

Moreover, online presence is just one element in the multifaceted process of building a trustworthy brand. Far from being obsolete, print advertisements and promotional products can bring tangibility to digital campaigns and engage consumers’ tactile memory. Offline marketing, unparalleled customer service, quality products, and a well-ordered, seasonally aware storefront are also crucial to building the kind of brand recognition that multiplies profits.

It can’t be emphasized enough that the results you seek may take a long time to develop. Think of building consumer trust like planting a tree: for it to develop strong roots and be visible from a distance, it needs much nurturing and patience. Once it is fully grown, however, a strong reputation will position you as an undisputed leader in your corner of the market.

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