In any industry and with any business model, there is nothing as important as customer trust and loyalty. How potential customers perceive your company and the products and services you offer is what determines whether they will choose you over your competitors.
Apart from individuals' decisions to purchase from you, the decision to recommend your business to someone else is another key area where trust comes into play. A Harvard Business Review study showed that referred customers are likely to be more profitable in the long run. It's clear that the more a company is trusted, the better they'll fare when it comes to conversion ratios and ultimately, the bottom line.
Thankfully, customer trust is something you can build, just like any other business asset. Here are four ways to ensure that you're maximizing customer confidence and helping them transition from prospects to customers and from customers to loyal brand ambassadors:
1. Lead with your competitive advantages
What do people see when they arrive on your website for the first time? Ideally, it would be the core of your brand promise, but you'd be surprised to find out how many companies bury their true competitive advantages in the inner pages of their websites or whitepapers.
That's a terrible idea. Whitepapers are great for in-depth explanations, but visitors should have already been shown a summary of why you're worth spending time on as soon as they arrived. Putting hurdles in front of prospects before they can see your unique features is basically telling them to skip to the next site.
It's also equally bad to focus on the same tired clichés that all your competitors use, like "dedicated customer service" or "secure payment". Unless you have a special new customer service or security system in place, you're just making it clear to the customer that you're no different from the last company they checked out. You can put them in there, but not as the primary messages.
Amazon Prime doesn't just say it offers "fast shipping", it states very boldly on the homepage that you'll get your goods in two days or less, guaranteed. That specificity is important because consumers naturally see vagueness as an attempt to deceive and bold promises as a sign of your confidence in your products or services.
2. Provide free value
The easiest way to build a sense of appreciation and trust is to give something away for free. That's the core of content marketing and why it's so effective at increasing conversions.
Apart from that, good content works wonders for SEO and gets prospects to come to your website in the first place so your stellar copywriting can do the job of convincing them to patronize you.
While it's certainly true that more valuable content will result in better results, you can still achieve a lot of marketing impact just by leveraging your creativity. For instance, Travel Visa compiled the location of embassies and passport photo outlets and made it available on its website. American Express's forum has tens of thousands of small businesses on it, constantly generating and sharing content to help one another.
Those two examples illustrate how you can use even free content successfully, just by compiling and making it convenient to access, or by providing a platform for people into interact with one another.
3. Make sure your website is shipshape
An unkempt office would turn visitors off and reduce any confidence they might have in the company, and the same is true of a faulty website.
If your website is outdated, full of broken links or has an abandoned blog with the last post being from many months ago, the impression visitors will have is of chaos and inconsistency, and many of them will leave for that reason alone. If you can't manage your blog, how will you be able to manage their projects over the long term?
Get a professional evaluation of your site and make sure that it meets all the latest standards of UX design, responsiveness and speed. Fix your content to make sure it's high quality and incorporate visual elements like pictures, videos and infographics.
They will make the site look good but also keep visitors on your page and get your message across much more effectively.
4. Revamp your social media presence
Having a presence on social media is the first step, but making sure your accounts are handled the right way is crucial to building trust.
Too often, companies make the mistake of trying to save time and money by automating responses on social media. While this isn't a bad thing in itself, it becomes so if all your responses begin to sound so formulaic that your followers can predict what you're going to say in response to any issue.
That's basically throwing away the potential of social media to humanize your business and foster a strong emotional connection with your customers. Instead, make the effort to respond to individual queries in a respectful and fun way. If you get the hang of that, you'll be able to turn the worst PR situations around. Just look at what the Crock Pot team did with the "This is Us" fiasco. Behind the scenes posts are also very effective at keeping your followers' attention and making them more passionate about your brand.