With hundreds of sellers competing in the same space, merely promoting your brand is no longer enough. You need to build customer trust. Unlike 20 years ago, consumers have the internet as a resource to inform their decisions. Buyers are suspicious of advertising claims and are likely to mistrust unfamiliar brands. They prefer to seek out testimonials from other shoppers and do their research online.
Shoppers are tired of gimmicks and strategies. Ads pop up wherever they are and on every device. What cuts through the noise and competition is authenticity, consistency, and a brand persona and experience customers can trust.
Building trust through authoritative content, outstanding customer service, and recent social proof not only wins more business, but it also boosts the lifetime value of each customer. Sixty percent of loyal customers purchase more frequently, and 50 percent spend more when they shop with their preferred companies.
By establishing yourself as a trustworthy brand, you stand out from the crowd and distinguish yourself from your competitors. The result is short-term sales and long-term repeat business.
Worth Doing Well
As much as brand loyalty can boost and sustain a company’s bottom line, losing consumer trust can cause long-term damage. It’s easier to build trust and maintain it than to lose it and then try and win it back. More than two-thirds of consumers, young and old, say they’ve held relationships with specific brands for ten or more years.
The best way to build customer relationships, increase sales, bring in referrals, and ensure repeat business is to build trust authentically and naturally. Gimmicks and quick fixes don’t work.
Here are seven marketing strategies your company can use to build long-lasting customer trust.
1. Establish Clear Brand-Trust Goals
Trust isn’t as easy to quantify as inventory or even ad results, but you can set and measure brand-trust goals. Examples of measurable brand-trust goals include:
- Increase in positive reviews on target platforms
- More referrals from existing customers
- Improve the frequency and volume of repeat business
Existing social media platforms and review sites will show you how much consumer trust you’ve built so far and how to improve. Google My Business, Yelp, Trustpilot, your Facebook page, and industry-specific destinations all aggregate customer reviews.
For direct and immediate feedback on specific questions, businesses use Survey Monkey or other polling software to conduct an online survey and assess customer satisfaction.
2. Resolve Customer Complaints
Timely resolution of customer complaints online and in-person can do as much for your brand’s reputation as getting everything right the first time. People know that mistakes happen. When shoppers see a negative review addressed and resolved, they see proof of your customer service in action. Rather than erode trust, that helps to build customer trust.
Resolve private queries privately and public complaints publicly. Good experiences of having issues resolved and evidence of other happy customers builds trust.
Essential to resolving customer complaints across online platforms is making your staff available to your customers. Nothing is as frustrating as a simple question that cannot be answered because no one picks up the phone or responds.
Without a systematic approach or expert support, your company’s online reputation can get out of control. Depending on your business’s volume and territory, you may need a dedicated customer service representative or team to regularly checking online reviews. Tools like Google Alerts, Trackur, and Social Mention can help you monitor and respond to customer feedback across the web.
3. Personalize the Customer Experience
A personalized experience makes customers feel valued while showing them additional purchasing opportunities that match their past preferences. Similar to being able to get someone on the phone, a personalized experience increases engagement. Over 70 percent of buyers experience some level of frustration with an impersonal customer experience, while 44 percent say a personalized shopping experience encourages them to return and buy more.
Online customer data reveals insights and allows for nuanced segmentation not previously available to marketers. A television ad plays to everyone watching, but online customer targeting is much more specific. Moreover, marketing software, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are emerging tools to mine data from diverse online sources to deliver a polished and personalized customer experience.
While marketing software can go a long way to support a personalized experience, a friendly and helpful attitude is still key to building relationships and deepening trust with customers.
4. Project a Consistent Brand Story
Consistency builds trust, and inconsistency erodes it. Consumers tend to select brands that reflect their values and identity. If the tone and ‘persona’ of your company’s marketing change radically from one format or month to another, buyers will be confused about what you represent. If different content seems to contradict your company’s core values, consumers may lose trust and move their business to a competitor.
It’s impossible to please all the people all the time, but a steadfast alignment to your brand story will keep your loyal fans happy. Customers that like your products and services are valuable for their patronage and referrals of friends and family.
A second way your brand story needs to be consistent is across product experience. If you’re promoting a family-friendly product that lacks essential family-friendly features, you create a negative customer experience that is difficult to resolve. To avoid buyer’s remorse, build an expectation in the prospect’s mind that the purchase fulfills.
People want to know your company story, who you are, why you do what you do, and what you represent. Many businesses can sell a product or service, but a trust-driven company builds a relationship with customers that sells now and in the future.
5. Associate Faces, Voices, and Stories with Your Brand
People remember how we make them feel, and it’s easier to perceive a relationship with a company when you are familiar with the people behind the scenes. A face and a story add meaningful context to their shopping experience.
Staff photos and bios on the website, for example, provide a small window into the people behind the product or service. Other ways to give an inside look include:
- Videos or livestreams to promote upcoming events
- Videos and blogs to share uplifting stories about staff or customers
- Videos and blogs to document your business’ or staff’s community involvement
- Instructional videos and online content
Training customer service representatives to respond consistently across formats is another way to associate a reliable personality with your brand. If shoppers get the same friendly response on the phone and your website, they feel a seamless consistency and your company seems more trustworthy.
6. Systematize Your Social Proof
Shoppers trust your past customers more than they trust your company, at least before they experience your products and services for themselves. More than 80 percent of people say they trust online reviews as much as advice from friends. Social proof is necessary because it works.
Other people’s shared experiences and reviews inform and direct a buyer’s final choice, and without prominent customer feedback, you’re losing customers to competitors. Every page of your website should feature at least one form of social proof.
Typical forms of social proof include follower count, customer testimonials, ratings and reviews, awards and rankings, influencer endorsement, and expert support.
Since customer feedback drives sales, it’s worth setting up a system to ask happy customers for reviews. In the automotive industry, important review websites include:
- Google (#1 for everybody)
Review requests can be as simple as an email the customer receives quickly after a satisfactory purchase or visit. It can also include a phone call. Some businesses offer a reward like a discount or a prize to motivate participation. Of course, the more reviews your business is generating, the more crucial reviewing them will be. Managing your online reputation keeps you in the public eye in a positive light.
7. Exhibit Your Values through Social Responsibility
Companies that take action on issues their customers care about are far more likely to be seen as trustworthy. Beyond contributing to the community, social responsibility builds brand awareness and customer loyalty.
Leading this drive towards social responsibility are 75 million Millennials. Over 80 percent of Millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to give back to the world, community, or environment. Social responsibility is an opportunity to add giving back to your marketing strategy.
Social responsibility attracts consumers who care and want to make a positive difference. Helping wildlife or feeding the hungry with each purchase involves them in good corporate citizenship and makes them feel better about choosing your brand. Socially responsible marketing cultivates positive and organic attention.
Trust Sells, Now and Later
The best business practices never change, but the formats to achieve them definitely have. In order to build customer trust, you need to be attentive to the company message. It also means being responsive to customer feedback across a vast array of websites, platforms, and formats.
You can get help from the experts. From paid media and content marketing to virtual sales events, J & L Marketing seamlessly enhances your existing team to build trust and get your message in front of qualified customers.