With more avenues for advertising, deafening social media noise, and a landslide of corporate corruption, people are increasingly distrusting of businesses. In fact, public relations and marketing consultancy firm, Edelman, recorded a 20% decrease in consumers’ trust in companies between 2017 and 2018, the steepest trust decline in U.S. institutions ever recorded.
But it’s not just companies in general; it’s about how they appear to the public (their brand), and how they advertise their products and services. Digital publisher Trinity Mirror and analytics company Ipsos Connect found that 42% of consumers claim to distrust brands. Worse in the grand scheme of things, Edelman’s study notes that only 33% of U.S. citizens trust their government, meaning a whopping 67% don’t.
This lack of trust creates an opportunity for businesses to step up to the plate and change the status quo. In truth, consumers want brands to rise to the occasion. Despite the increases in distrust, a 2017 Cone Communications survey shows that the majority of people believe businesses should be taking the lead to ignite change rather than waiting for the government to impose it.
Accordingly, when trust equates to dollars—and believe us it does (87% of consumers will buy based on company values)—it’s vital to a business’s survival and growth to not only build but to maintain a good rapport with consumers.
To foster trust, companies need to take a multifaceted approach to their marketing endeavors. From online reviews to brand consistency, here are the four most essential initiatives that will earn consumers’ trust.
1. Reach out for Reviews
The power of a review is only increasing. According to a 2018 study by BrightLocal, 27% of consumers read reviews for local businesses daily—more than double the proportion in 2017. But it’s not just that they read them, it’s that this is often the first step in the buying cycle. Moreover, nearly one and five consumers search for more reviews to validate their decisions and compare their finding, meaning you need to diversify the location of your reviews.
But here’s the real kicker: a staggering 91% of 18-to-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Plus, there is qualitative evidence that suggests these digital endorsements impact search ranking.
It should also be noted that reaching out for customer feedback is critical for restaurants, hotels, and healthcare facilities. BrightLocal pointed out that the reviews of these types of businesses are most likely to be read and considered by consumers.
Sometimes asking for a review can feel like your cheapening the customers’ experience, but the rewards can be plentiful. Additionally, most people don’t mind the request. Using data from BrightLocal’s 2018 report, we found that on average, a whopping 48% of consumers who are asked to leave a review do so. To put this stat into perspective, if you’re a restaurateur turning over 100 tables between Sunday to Saturday, you could rack up nearly 50 reviews by the end of the week!
To drum up more reviews:
- Ask your returning and/or long-term customers to write reviews
- Provide explicit, user-friendly instructions on how to leave a review
- Diversify the platforms on which you ask to be reviewed
- Always respond to reviews (both positive and negative ones)
As a brief aside, never:
- Review your own business
- Review competitors’ businesses
- Accept or offer money in exchange for reviews
2. Provide Valuable Content
The roots of trust grow deeper when there is exceptional content fertilizing consumers’ confidence in brands. Through blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, social posts, and vlogs, you can position yourself as an authority in your given field.
While it may seem like a waste of time for business executives to produce content, Edelman’s survey found that 44% of people rate CEOs as “very/extremely” credible sources for information. This means people are more apt to trust your brand if news is coming from the top. Interestingly, news from CEOs shows the second most significant positive change in consumers’ trust of institutions between 2017 and 2018.
If you’re an executive of an IT, engineering, or manufacturing business and you’re looking for an approach to build trust, encourage your best and brightest employees to jot down their thoughts as well. While we know it’s critical that the majority of their time be spent fixing networks, designing products, or working on the shop floor, it’s important to understand that technical experts are seen as the most credible source for information, and it’s vital to showcase their talents to the outside world to retain current customers and gain new ones.
Plus, when it comes to building trust and seeing results, research by Kapost and Eloqua suggests that per dollar, organic content marketing produces three times more leads than paid search. If you’re unsure where to begin, reach out to a digital marketing team that can point you in the right direction. If you think you’re ready to get started, jump in by:
- Conducting competitor research
- Looking for current events in your industry
- Asking the experts in your company to blog
- Minimizing overly promotional material
- Taking pictures to include in your content
- Adding videos to your content strategy
3. Keep Your Brand Consistent
Think about the people in your life that you trust most. Now, what is it that they all have in common? Consistency. Perhaps they’re always punctual, dependable, hardworking, or empathetic.
Whatever it is about those friends or family members, you can count on it. Likewise, brands need to stay consistent and be that rock for their customers. To embody this trust-building trait, brands need to maintain a timely response rate, keep quality at the forefront of your products and services, and create a recognizable brand.
Lucidpress found that when businesses consistently presented themselves, they are three to four times more likely to experience brand visibility. However, it's not just the number of impressions that skyrocket—the average revenue increase attributed to a consistent brand presentation is 23%. Additionally, well-designed, frictionless user experience (UX) can raise customer conversion rates by up to 400%, according to a recent finding by Forrester Research.
Just think about an ecommerce site; nothing makes you want to abandon your cart like a completely off-brand color scheme, old logos, or lexiconic changes when it comes time to check out. When it comes to building trust, these inconsistencies can scare off potential clients as they may think the site is hacked or a phishing scam. To ensure your brand is representing itself consistently:
- Contact an agency that specializes in branding, UX, and UI
- Find a content strategist to proof your site
- Check any site updates as a team before making them public
- Invest in a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate (there are free SSLs as well)
4. Build a Relationship
Despite the overwhelming distrust of businesses, consumers are still willing to engage with them on social media. Researchers over at GlobalWebIndex discovered that more than one in three social media users have visited a brand’s profile and/or liked/followed them.
This desire to be close to brands is a tremendous opportunity to build trust. If someone tweets, tags, or mentions your business, respond accordingly. In an interview with Social Media Today, Wayne Huang, a researcher at Twitter, said that customers who received responses from brands "felt overwhelmingly much more positive towards the brand versus those who did not receive a response. Even just acknowledging someone's tweet, even if you can't solve it at that moment, that can really add a lot of value.”
Huang also noted that for airline brands who responded to tweets quickly, customers were willing to pay an extra $9 for tickets, a number that jumps up to $20 if a brand responds within six minutes. However, workdays are chaotic, and answering a tweet in that time frame is challenging if you’re unprepared. To forge a relationship with your audience:
- Create a social media admin calendar (who is in charge of responding on what days)
- Create a social media content calendar
- Encourage your audience to reach out
- Respond with a positive message, always (even if they tweet something negative)
All too often, those who work at small to mid-sized businesses wear too many hats. It’s exhausting for a one-person marketing department to handle content composition, website management, social media marketing, and Google Ads administration. To help brands build trust with their audiences, we offer a plan called “Interactive Hat.”
When you work with Werkbot, we become a strategic partner that aligns seamlessly with your marketing department. We’ll ramp up digital initiatives, create content, and monitor your returns with user-friendly, at-a-glance reports. In this way, you can ensure each member of your team is only wearing one hat (it’s a much better look). If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you build a brand people trust, click here to contact us today.