How much time do we spend building our brand and reputation. I’m sure its countless, but why do we do it. We invest hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year into building our brand, and many larger corporate organisations spend even millions in securing their brand, and ensure that the right message and image of the company is given out to the consumers and the general public.
The bottom line is we do it for the business as whole, we do it to stay ahead of our competitors, and most importantly we do it to build the right connections, and to target the audience. Which all effects the bottom line of the business.
Recently I read a horror article from an online marketer Gabriella Sannino and her experience with another business that said something and did something else, but most importantly that business has built its self that bad reputation. Trust me a bad word do spreads much faster than a good one, regardless if that business has had some happy customers in the past, but now all that’s wiped out, as the negative feedback holds more weight.
For a business it’s imperative that they build a trust online, as that’s the first place where users generally look for, to find information, get numbers and also check out reviews before making a decision to buy a product or service. With the ease of smart phones and tablets, getting this information has become accessible at the tips of our figures. So building a trust online will defiantly contribute towards your business bottom line, buy generating awarness.
What steps can a business take to build trust online.
Business website: Every business needs an online presence no matter how small the business is, wheatear your a flower shop, a candy store or even a car garage, a Good business website, built for your needs will do your business good. Now even if you’re not selling anything or not making any money from your website. But It’s there, and kept up to date, and accessible to your visitors and customers, which will surely contribute into building a trust for your business online and offline.
When I’m doing a research, or speaking to customers that have been in business for a while, generally I do a search form them online to get some background info, and when I see that they don’t have a website (besides selling them a website) it makes me think, what have they been missing out on. Imagine how their potential customers would feel, when searching for a “local car garage” online, they were intending to find the website of their local garage couple of blocks down (well that’s what they were looking for), but instead, they end up on one of their competitors website. Why…because their local car garage doesn’t have a website, but the competitor does and is building trust by being up to date with technology, showing their online visitors where they are located, and what services they offer, along with connecting online on social networking sites, and most importantly winning over customers. For sure I would rather do business with the competitors as I generally would feel more comfortable, as it creates a feeling of assurance and trust for them.
So the first step in building your trust online is having a good professional website. Which portrays the correct mage of your business, and is easily accessible to your market audience.
The reason I have emphasis on a Good Professional website, is because it plays a big part in building a trust online, For example out of the two websites mentioned below, which one would you buy from. Both offer t similar products.
For sure I would spend more time looking around on the website on the right hand side, the reason for that is, it’s got a better visual appeal, products a displayed properly, and I can also interact with them through Socail Media sites. Generally the website on the right would win visitors hearts over the website on the left. This is what I mean by having a professional designed website, as first impressions count. You out there to impress.
Blog: Building a trust online, is about building authority within your niche. One way a business can do this is via having an Active blog, on their website, where they post frequently (at least once every 2 weeks at the most). By having an active blog, not only is the website increasing its pages that get index in search results, but more importantly its giving out information to potential customers, it’s a way of reaching out to them, you can call it showing off your business. Its showing the potential customers that “Yes we know our stuff” ” we love what we do” and “if you go with us your in safe hands”, as we are active and passionate about what we do.
Once this business starts to post out good quality articles, and posts, related to their business, products and services within their niche, you also start to engage with your visitors though the comments left on the blog, answering questions, building new connections, and a creating a voice for your company online.
Now when a first time potential buyer comes to your site, they see that you have a nice professional website, which is up to date, along with a blog on which you post and interact frequently. They will have some sort of assurance in buying into your products and services, as they can see that your active within your industry, you know what you are doing, and If I was to invest into this new product or service, this is the company I want to be dealing with, as I know my money is safe and well spent.
By doing the above, your creating “I want to deal with you” factor for your visitors, you’re not giving much choice for your visitors to go to your competitors.
Social Media Profiles: One of the most powerful ways to build trust online is though social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google +). If a business really wants to succeed online, there isn’t a choice whether they should or shouldn’t be on social media networks. As important it is to have a web presence, it’s as important to have a presence on social media networks. These networks are platforms for your business to build new customers, raise your opinions, and interact directly with your website visitors and potential new customers.
When coming to building a trust online, having an active social media account will gain you some brownie points, in fact more than just brownie points. Imagine you as a new visitor on this car garages website, you can see they have a fantastic singing and dancing website, and when you click on their Facebook page of this garage, you notice that your friends and neighbours also like this business page, and have also left recommendations and comments on this business profile’s wall or page…hmmm would you think twice to look for another garage..I doubt it. You’ve probably just found a garage that you would go to for many years to come. Because you now trust this business all of a sudden because your friends or people you know within your network also like this business and have recommended them.
From the business point of view having a Socail Media profile is great, but again, the key is staying active on them, similar to your blog, where you post frequently, it’s as important that you stay connected on these platforms and interact with users frequently. All part of building your trust, reputation and brand online.
Reviews & Feedback: What’s the first thing you do just before you hit the buy button on a product. You check out what others think of it. It may look all good, with the businesses website, active blog and social media accounts with plenty of likes and followers, but you just need that extra push and assurance and want to know exactly what others have said that have bought these products or services.
As part of building your trust online, you as a business owner need to build up testimonials and feedbacks from your customers. As well as displaying these testimonials on your business website, which is fine, you also want to get these reviews out on main stream networks such as:
- Facebook Recommendations
- Google Places
- Online Directories & portals
- Other networks that your organisation may be involved with
By getting your visitors to leave you feedbacks on sites outside yours, you’re not just building link backs and awareness, but also trust. As these reviews will also look more genuine to others, as every website owner can fully control what goes on their website, but can’t control what is said on other websites. So by having reviews on these directors and platforms, a new potential customer would feel more assured in opting into your services.
A business owner can do this simply. What I tend to do is, after a customer has received the service that they bought of me, I general send the below email:
Thank you for opting into my services, we thrive in making our services better and love what we do, I would highly appreciate if you could take some time out and leave my company a review on the links below.
Links to Facebook / Google Places
Your time is much appreciated.
Once the customer has left the reviews on these sites, I can then use these also on my testimonials page of my business website, after a few testimonials on the business page, I link out to these networks where the visitors can read more reviews about the company.
Building a trust takes allot of time and hard work, and can easily be destroyed by bad customer service or poor products. As a business owner always aim to please the customer first before asking for feedback, and ensure that your customers leaves your business fully satisfied, as remember a negative review is much more powerful than all the good ones that you have received.
By building a good reputable trust online, others would prefer to deal with you over your competitors, regardless of what price your products and services are. Most importantly they feel comfortable with your business, and they know that they are in safe hands.
What are your thoughts in building a trust online, any further points you would like to share?