Trust is not something handed out lightly. In fact, it’s not handed out at all – it is earned. As any entrepreneur knows, earning ‘a buyer’s trust’ or ‘an investor’s trust’ does not happen overnight. In fact, trust is so important that 84 percent of Americans won’t purchase any product or service without trust, according to About.com.
For the sake of argument today, let’s put aside the obstacles in bringing on board investors; rather, let’s focus on prospects and how you, the entrepreneur, can systemically build trust online and eliminate hesitancy.
Like anyone with a website, you want that person on your site to do something – add to cart, get a quote, schedule a demo, contact you and the list goes on. However, before that happens, he or she needs to trust you will provide them with the service or products they are in fact looking for – this is true ten-fold when online. The web can breed skepticism.
It is rare these days to finalize a transaction with a handshake or begin one without a prospect first landing on your website. Additionally, the time between initial site visit and conversion must be used to develop a relationship with the prospect and actively build trust with him or her.
How do I start building trust?
The easy answer is quality content; however, there are a few other crucial aspects of your site that need refreshing
The first thing you need is a modern website. While it sounds vague, it’s true. You’re an entrepreneur – you’re young (the project, at least), thoughtful and intelligent and your website should mirror that. Make the site aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. Your site should also clearly represent who you are and demonstrate the value your small business can add for customers. The first time a person reaches your website, it’s a first date.
Typically you only have one shot at making a positive impression and guiding a prospect through the conversion funnel. Make sure you have well-placed calls-to-action – these should not just be on product or service pages but positioned strategically throughout the site.
Everyone is different and your target market is no different. While one person might comfortable calling you, another may be more comfortable filling out their information in a “Contact Us Form” or signing up for a “Free Consultation” – cater to the various personalities within your target market. Give them options in how they interact with you. More often than not, they’ll purchase on the second or third visit. However, you need to make sure they come back.
What’s the next step toward trust?
Now, given you have the proper foundation for the site, it is paramount to continually build value and update your site. This is where quality content will take your site to the next level. Regardless of how you purposed the content (blog, news stories, etc.,), you should think carefully about what would add value for the end-user.
Content can serve in many different ways – you can help prospects through the buying process, provide relevant industry information and tips and tricks sections to keep them educated on things they can do themselves.
For example, if you have developed a cutting edge safety product, don’t just Tweet “I hope everyone has a safe Labor Day weekend;” instead, add-value with “Top 5 Safety Tips for Family Barbeques” with a well-developed article or blog post detailing those tips.
How do I consistently add trust?
Leverage the content as well – you need to have a strong social presence, whether on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a series of social networks. According to a report from the Association of National Advertisers, 90 percent of all businesses are using social media. However, not all of them are active and that’s the issue. You need to give people options to interact with you. Merely setting up those social pages isn’t enough. It’s pushing the quality content out there that fuels those campaigns.
This leads to us to most important aspect of online marketing for an entrepreneur – feedback. If people see your efforts in adding value, they’ll start interacting with you. They’ll ask questions, post comments and even send complaints. It is imperative that you respond timely and appropriately. People need to know that you are listening. Even negative feedback can prove valuable on these social channels, as consumers respond well to small businesses that actively demonstrate a desire to solve their customers’ problems. However, more than half of small businesses ignore this engagement on Twitter, according to STELLAService.
Success with content marketing doesn’t come easily. However, trust will be built if you are seen putting in a great deal of effort to help them through their buying process or at least involve them in it. It’s quality content that drives user engagement and that will garner the respect and trust you need to have conversations that lead to conversions.
I forgot to mention great content is exactly what Google is looking for, too. In a perfect world, Google wouldn’t have you even think about SEO when driving content. It is all about the end-user experience and adding value for them – quality content turns traffic into leads, all the while enhancing the overall quality and visibility of your site.
A strong Google ranking has become a key indicator of a site’s overall trust. As Google continually upgrades its different search algorithms, its focus has mostly been on providing users with content that will satisfy their search demands. As your website content and social media marketing strategies evolve, you’ll likely notice some side effects, such as inbound links from other websites, that tell Google’s search crawlers you run a high-quality site that’s adding value for prospects.