7 rules to engage & build trust online
To achieve any degree of long-term success online, a business must invest the time to build trust with your target audience. Once you position yourself as a trusted authority in your marketplace you will be amazed at how fast your profits will increase and your business will grow.
For the most part trust is built by establishing a personal connection with your target market. This is largely achieved by communicating with your target audience (via email, instant messaging, social networking etc) and establishing a reputation for quality, value, efficiency & support.
In today’s competitive market it’s more important than ever to focus your attention on building long-term connections with your customers and clients. While making quick sales is always a nice boost to your bank account the key to sustained profitability and business stability is repeat business.
OK, you’re convinced relationship development is the way to go, and therefore need to build trust …. but where do you start? In this post I outline the fundamental aspects of trust and how to achieve a position of trust with your market audience.
1. Make an outstanding first impression:
When doing business online it is extremely important that you make a strong first impression on your potential customers. When they first hit your website you have to make sure they are presented with a page that looks professional and is easy to navigate, as well as provide visitors with timely and relevant information that will catch their attention immediately.
Open a line of communication with your visitors by including multiple ways for them to contact and interact with you …. connect with them in a way that makes them feel at ease. Use a variety of purpose built contact forms to encourage communication, as well as include a combination of ‘live chat” and social media.
2. Humanize your brand
Remember ‘people buy from people not from companies. Let website visitors know there are real people behind the ‘digital curtain’, and remove the sterile transactional experiences of eCommerce.
You can do this by:
- * creating an “about us” page and providing them with the story behind your company, include a mission statement and some appropriate business related images
- * introduce the team (their skills & personal characteristics) and promote connections
- * provide company news articles to promote achievements or just interesting facts/opinions
3. Provide exceptional value
Before discussing how to provide value we need to define what is value to your website visitors …. why they came to your site and specifically what are they seeking. All visitors to your site fall into one of two categories:
- * those seeking to better understand a problem (eg visitor knows sales are down, and is looking for causes of poor sale)
- * those needing a specific actionable solution to a problem (eg visitor understands the course of his poor sales is ineffective marketing and is evaluating marketing service providers)
Your website must provide informative content for both visitor types, addressing a need to understand – the courses of their problems and the processes required to fix them, as well as evaluating your company as the obvious solutions provider.
Help your website visitor assess his problem, diagnose the course, its impact on his business, and demonstrate what’s required to fix it. The focus is on educating the visitor – the greater his understanding, the more inclined he’ll be to pursue a solution.
In many cases an online audit will help with the evaluation process, which can be supported with whitepapers, blog, etc.
Help visitors evaluate your capability and integrity. Demonstrate who you’ve helped, the specific problems you solved and the results you had achieved. Show how you are different and how you provide unique value. Prove your solutions work and how you make it easy for them. Finally, demonstrate why they should trust you as a solutions provider.
Your website visitor does not care about your company structure & management, product bells & whistles or any other self gratifying garbage – detail your unique capabilities with an ‘about us’ page, demonstrate the value of your products in the ‘products’ page and answer every concern you’ve encounted from prospects in the ‘faq’ page. View every component (on every page) of your website through the eyes of the prospect/visitor, and ask yourself “would they give a sh_t” …. if the answer is no, change it.
4. Emotionally engage website visitors
Appealing to the emotional needs of your website visitors indicates you truly understand the problems they are facing, therefore are capable of formulating a solution which meets both financial and personal needs. Emotional engagement builds a stronger connection with the visitor, promotes trust and builds loyalty.
Use bold statements to draw attention to particular areas of the website or re-engage visitors who’s interest is waning. Similarly use emotive images to evoke a fear of loss or feelings of success, and encourage a desired action.
5. Share personal experiences and stories
Stories can be a powerful tool of persuasion because they automatically create involvement and attract attention from your audience. Let them know about your successes and your failures. Talk about your humble beginnings and your plans for the future of your business.
The key to success in sharing personal experiences is to make sure that the stories you tell are relevant to your business and inspire your reader to take action. Ensure your stories are realistic, engaging and lead visitors to a predefined conclusion.
6. Provide social proof
Another important factor to consider when building online trust is social proof. Social proof is a great tool for building online credibility and can be a very effective way to develop your company brand, which also helps build trust.
The best way to establish social proof is by using endorsements, testimonials and case studies. They are a great way verify and demonstrate to your potential customers that your product does what you say it does and that it has helped other people.
7. Support claims with data
People like facts and are more inclined to trust you if you provide them with statistical data that backs up your claims …. that your product or service works as well is you say it does.
Don’t be afraid to use screenshots, graphs or tables when appropriate to help illustrate the effectiveness of your product or service. Using statistical data is a great way to reassure your visitors that your product or service will meet their needs and effectively solve their problems.
Remember the ultimate goal here is to engage with, gain trust and build a long-term connection with your online visitors – so present the facts, demonstrate proof, ‘keep it real’; and you’ll have no problem making that connection.