People buy from brands they trust. If you’re wondering why people aren’t buying from you despite having a very compelling offer, it’s simply because they can’t get over their lack of familiarity or trust with your brand. And online credibility is a very fragile thing. If you want to build strong credibility online, you need to start early on. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Have a Website That Looks Trustworthy
Image matters, and if you’re just starting out, your website is the only thing people have to base their impressions of your brand. Therefore if your website doesn’t appear professional, it instantly loses credibility with your potential customers. GigaOM advises that you should:
Show that there’s a real organization behind your site, highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide, make it easy to contact you, and design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).
These steps can reinforce your website’s credibility and can help drive customers to trust you and your brand as a result.
Establish an Area on Your Site Where Customers Can Share Their Stories
Today’s customers wield a lot of power and they know how to use it. Just go to any popular product being sold on Amazon and check out the reviews section to see what I mean. Those reviews are more powerful than any other form of marketing for those products. Even if a customer has read a number of favorable reviews online, once you hit that reviews section and find a significant amount of negative customer reviews, the chances that they will still buy it become slim to none. Marketing Experiments.com says it best:
Today’s customers are more than just a revenue stream. They are brand advocates who write reviews on sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon that will ring louder than your marketing ever will. The savviest marketers understand offering customers a home to share those reviews and stories can add credibility to your products and services.
Take Volkswagen’s Stories page, for example, that pretty much turns customer testimonials into content marketing. Another great example is Apple’s Support Communities page, where users help each other with tech support questions. It’s all made possible simply by offering customers a little real estate on your website to share their stories and build communities.
If you are confident enough in your brand, you should have no problem with giving your customers some space on your website to give feedback or even interact with one another. It can be as simple as enabling comments on your posts or as complicated as having a full-blown user forum. It’s also why a lot of businesses start a Facebook page and Twitter account early on. How you do it is up to you, but the more you can manage, the more it will matter to your customers.
A Little Social Engagement from You Goes a Long Way
Now that your customers have an area to express themselves and communicate with each other, this should spark discussion that promotes your brand, right? Well, it can only go so far as you do. Engaging with customers will have a lot of impact on how well they respond to your brand. Comments, forums and other means for customers to share their stories are also avenues for them to reach out to you. How well and how quickly you respond can go a long way. Celine Roque of GigaOM says:
Potential clients and business partners tend to be finicky about communication, especially in the first months of working with you. They need to know that you are reliable, and that you can respond to their every question as soon as possible. Why is that?
I think it’s because with every day you spend not replying to an essential question or comment, your client’s trust in you falls a step lower. The silence gives them the chance to think about certain questions such as ‘Has this contractor run off with my money?’ and ‘Will she submit the deliverables on time?’ If we do our jobs well, they shouldn’t have to ask these questions.
If you do well in this area, it will allow people to start viewing you as an expert and becoming the first brand they think of when they want to purchase a product or service that you happen to offer.
Deliver On Your Promises
Whether you offer a product or service, you need to make sure it works as expected and delivers as promised. Setting the right expectations is important. If your customer discovers that your product or service doesn’t have a feature that had been promised, it reflects very poorly on your brand. It’s a preventable error after all, one that can be resolved before the product or service is even delivered to the customer. Biznik.com says:
If you set the correct precedent right from the start, it will carry you through the entire relationship. If people find you credible and trust you, they will vouch for you with other people also. Successful businesses are very dependent on people telling other people about your offerings, who, in turn, tell other people, etc. You need to make sure that you always demonstrate integrity and sincerity and people will want to do business with you and will keep returning to you over and over again.
Credibility is easy to establish online if you start early on. However it can be very hard to maintain. One small misstep along the way can derail months of work promoting your brand. However, if your credibility has a strong foundation from the very beginning, it can make the difference between reparable and an irreparable damage to your brand’s image.
It’s important that you build that online trust and credibility, cultivating relationships with your customers and key influencers in your industry, and establishing yourself as a subject matter expert in your field. You’ll quickly find that people will be willing to vouch for you and your brand if you do right by them.