3 Ways Your Brand Can Build Trust Online

build brand trust

No need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.

No, those aren’t song lyrics or a morose elegy. Those are the five basic obstacles to any sale, according to the late sales guru and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, known for insights on the psychology of selling.

One might argue that, with persistence, you could overcome the first four objections. But if someone lacks trust in your brand? Well, you’ve definitely got your work cut out for you there. Not only is there a link between trust and purchasing decisions, but 81% of respondents to an Ad Age study reported they must also “be able to trust the brand to do what is right.” And doing the right thing has only been heightened due to COVID-19. According to a study by Edelman, conducted after the pandemic hit, 71% of consumers state that if they believe a brand is putting profit before people, they will lose trust in that brand forever.

So, how can your business build trust — and maintain it?

First, Do No Harm

Knowledge of when and where things can go wrong — e.g., a social crisis, a bad customer experience — enables brands to prepare themselves to avert disaster. Well, at least in theory. But when 98% of your audience or potential customer base feels that the online world isn’t trustworthy, you need to take back as much control as you can.

In the medical profession, “First, do no harm” is a key promise within the Hippocratic Oath — but it’s also highly relevant in the world of marketing. One tone deaf or ill-timed campaign can sometimes cause irreversible damage to a brand. This Search Engine Journal piece on COVID-age snafus is equal parts amusing and alarming. It highlights a beer brand that launched a new beverage with a Spring Break-themed ad campaign, a cruise line that promoted fun times in New Orleans at Mardi Gras (which turned out to be a key early super spreader event), and an insurance company that showcased ads shot in a karaoke bar. Unfortunately, there is a long history of brands making ill-timed gaffes or carelessly making light of serious situations. The rule of thumb: if it feels too risky, don’t do it. The cost of a loss in trust far outweighs any short-term revenue gains that might be earned.

Respond, Resolve, Repair

Mistakes will inevitably happen, but the worst thing to do is sweep them under the rug. Items ordered online get lost in the delivery chain. Flights are delayed or cancelled. Service staffers have bad days and bark at customers. It’s not always smooth sailing, so be sure to address issues swiftly and directly.

Smart brands anticipate these scenarios and invest in crisis management training with a simple-but-effective three-pronged approach — respond, resolve, and repair. First, they understand the importance of responding when there is an error (no matter if they catch it, or if a customer reports it). Second, they work quickly to find a way to make the customer whole again.Third, they assess how the issue came to be in the first place and work to ensure their systems are repaired to prevent similar problems from happening again.

Deliver the Truth

When a consumer has a question about your brand and goes online in search of answers, the first place they should go is to your website. And in a time of crisis — like during the onset of COVID-19 — your website should be equipped to immediately update information and respond quickly to new, sometimes complex questions that normally don’t come in. But when the crisis passes, will you still display the same urgency? As this Yext whitepaper illustrates, your ability to deliver accurate and relevant answers no matter the circumstances impacts long-term customer trust. You have to prove your reliability, and then you have to deliver on it — over and over again. As trust in social media platforms and search engines continues to wane, brands have the opportunity to step up.

To do this, you need to ensure your website’s functionality is optimised, from including a user-friendly search box to discerning a customer’s true intent when asking a question. Need incentive? Just consider Salesforce’s finding that 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. (Click here for more on why discovery and site search capabilities are arguably the most important aspect of any brand’s website.)

Excellent customer experience is the holy grail of marketing, but more importantly, it’s the catalyst for building near and long-term trust between a business and its patrons. Indeed, as Zig Ziglar also famously said, “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

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