Trust. It’s a big topic in the marketing world right now. Google search on brand or marketing trust or “brand trust” and “marketing trust” over the past few months and you’ll see articles in websites like Forbes, AdAge, TechCrunch, Business2Community, and Social Media Examiner.
A combination of data security concerns and the political climate may be increasing the attention on trust, but it’s always been an issue for marketers.
When is Trust Needed?
Trust is normally not a big issue in the initial Awareness stage at the top of the funnel. People may see your content during a web search and click through if it looks interesting or useful. Unless they get some browser internet security warning like “this site looks dangerous” they likely will click through and read your blog posts without giving trust a thought.
If they were referred to you, or have seen multiple references to you, they will be predisposed to trust you already.
In a lead generation program, the first trust test is likely when your prospect is asked to give up their email address for an eBook download or signing up for your newsletter.
The further down the funnel a prospect goes, the more important trust becomes.
How can you increase trust?
As mentioned earlier, getting referrals provides a level of trust that is yours to lose.
A good first impression also helps build trust. Having your web pages load quickly, be well designed and easy to scan and read, and minimize distractions. Once you get into the body of your web page know what you want the reader to do next and guide them to that. Letting them know what to do next avoids trust-busting confusion.
It’s important to understand your audiences, their problems, and their needs. This is true whether your website visitor is a potential or existing customer, a columnist or thought leader or a potential employee.
The closer your content speaks to their needs, the more they know you understand them, and the more they will trust you.
As I discussed in last month’s Your Customers Just Aren’t That Into You article, write about your customers, not about you and what you do. Avoid unsubstantiated statements like “best quality”, “best service”, or “best value.” Unless you have hard supporting data these statements reduce trust. Leave this terminology for testimonials. It’s much better if a customer says it.
Video content can build trust faster than written content because your personality can come through. As Leonard Kim and Ryan Foland write in their book Ditch The Act, by being yourself and revealing stories of failures, setbacks, and personal flaws you cultivate connections with serious, smart people, and you build loyalty that lasts. Don’t strive for perfection in your videos. Show the real you.
Getting The Email Address
When asking your visitor to give up their email address, consider the 3Ps that Andy Crestodina mentions in his Email Signup Form article:
Prominence is about making your signup form visible. It’s important that the form be visible, but don’t display a slide-in or pop-up form until the website has had enough time to gain some trust. A five-second delay is not enough! Let the visitor get 80% through a page, or spend at least a few minutes on your website, before asking them to sign up for a newsletter.
Your promise is telling the visitor what they are signing up for. Tell them and then stick to it as closely as possible. Social proof also gains trust as well as creates a fear of missing out. Andy suggests using the number of subscribers you have if the number is impressive, or add a testimonial.
Offline, Real World Activities Earn Trust
In the digital world, quality content can gain you trust – if it gets seen and read. But there’s nothing like person to person and physical interactions.
Pick up the phone and make a call instead of sending another email. Treat voice mail as an important touchpoint and leave a succinct, useful message.
Take advantage of direct mail and get your message directly into the hand of your prospect.
Get out of the office and meet prospects and customers in their office, in their city, or at events.
Once you earn the trust you’ll find it is much easier to get new customers and keep existing ones.