"Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest," says respected author and blogger, Seth Godin. Good advice, as your online reputation – your whole business, in fact – depends on your customers’ trust.
Trust is the most important ingredient in business relationships. It’s essential online if you want to turn browsers into loyal advocates and longtime customers. So, how do you gain online trust? Start with your site content.
A brand’s website credibility is made up of two factors: expertise and trustworthiness. When your site content communicates both traits, people will perceive it to be honest and useful. There are two ways to project integrity:
- How your content looks and feels.
- What your content is: the who, what, why, and how of what you offer.
6 Key Elements to Building Trust
Companies must be reliable to their audience from all perspectives: trust in the products or services being offered, and in the brand itself. One of the reasons content marketing is so powerful is that it is extremely effective in helping to build this trust. There are a variety of techniques to use to make sure your site content is as trustworthy as possible.
- A website should be professionally designed. Like it or not, people judge a website by its looks first. In fact, what a site looks like can be the #1 determining factor in whether people stay to read its content. That doesn’t mean a website needs every new bell and whistle, but the visual design should match the site’s purpose. Check for broken links and proofread with a fine-tooth comb. If a brand doesn’t care about its site content, why should a reader?
- Useful and easy to use are what people are looking for. People may be momentarily wowed by the tech stuff, but a great user experience that has an even better payoff is what builds trust.
- The audience wants to know there are real people involved in a site. Make it easy for them by listing a physical address and/or posting images of the location. Even brands that operate remotely or are solo enterprises can prove they exist. Provide links to social media, list association memberships, and direct readers to online reviews or testimonials. Another way to prove you're the real deal? Update content often.
- Whether by phone, email, or online contact form, ensure it’s easy for people to contact you. Make it a rule to respond to all requests within 24 hours or less. It can mean the difference between a new fan or a lost opportunity.
- Don’t bombard readers with ads the minute they land on your site. Think of a site like a brick and mortar storefront. Entice people with the window and once they walk in, let them browse. Site content is not about hard selling. It’s about providing clear, direct, and sincere information that is useful to the customer. Avoid repetitive pop-ups, and give people a breather before the first one appears.
- Include content that highlights the expertise of team members, contributors, or organizations you’re affiliated with. People trust brands that other people trust.
The Bottom Line
Following the above steps will ensure you enhance your company’s image and increase customer trust. At the end of the day, people will only remain loyal if they believe they can trust you to do what you say you will. Use site content to consistently provide value and the trust will follow.
Remember, content marketing only works when it’s done with the desire to offer genuine value to the audience. If you put the effort into consistently creating great content, you will build trust with every published piece.