Building Trust: The Importance of Establishing a Positive Online Reputation for Your Business
With the rise of conspiracy theories, impressive AI capabilities, and realistic deep fake videos, the need to build trust online has never been more critical to your business success.Clients and consumers need to know who you are—who you really are—so they can have faith in your company and count on you to come through for them.
And so that if something were to go wrong (fingers crossed it doesn’t!) and your site or socials get hacked, you’ve already built a solid reputation people can trust.
It all starts with a trustworthy website
When it comes to establishing an online anything, you’ve got to start with a website. Start with a trustworthy website, and you will take a giant step toward establishing a positive online reputation for your business.
What’s a trustworthy website? A quality, professional, easy-to-navigate website that contains all the pertinent information about your business. (Custom photography instead of stock images always helps too because it shows the “real you.”)
Your website should be the backbone of your online presence, and for that to happen, it must feature:
- Good Design: First impressions matter. Studies show that it takes a person less than one second to make a subconscious decision on how they perceive the credibility of a website.
- Clear & Concise Messaging: After the first impression, you have only a couple moments more to present the brand. We recommend starting with a stellar value proposition, which is marketing-speak for one or two succinct sentences that sets you apart from your competitors by stating (front and center, big and bold, on the homepage):
- who you are
- what you do
- where you do it
- who you do it for (AKA target audience)
- how people benefit by choosing you
- Testimonials, Case Studies, Project Portfolios: Each of these are excellent ways to demonstrate that you not only talk the talk, but you also walk the walk. Any company can claim to be the best, but results don’t lie. If you’ve got ’em, use ’em.
Manage your local presence with Google Business Profile
With a Google Business Profile (GBP) a business can dictate the information displayed about them on all of Google’s services like reviews and maps. To learn how to set one up, check out this informative article from Business News Daily.
Of course, Google isn’t the only show in town. There are many other local citation platforms, like Bing Places for Business and Apple Business Connect. But with an online search market share of over 85%, you should probably focus on Google.
To prove you’re proud of your business and not afraid of what folks might say, you should encourage customers to leave reviews — especially happy customers. Unfortunately, research shows that people are more likely to take the time to visit your GBP to leave a negative review than a positive one. It’s just human nature; anger is a stronger motivator than happiness. Research also shows that it will take multiple positive comments to undo the damage of a negative comment.
What can you do to help yourself? You can respond to all reviews in a timely and professional manner. For the stinkers, offer an apology that doesn’t admit fault to any of the reviewer’s claims but does validate their feelings. For example, “We’re very sorry to hear this because we strive to offer top customer service.” Something nice deescalates the situation and goes a long way to putting out the fire.
Then offer a phone number, email address, or direct message option for them to get in touch with you. Try something like, “Please contact us directly so we can better understand what happened and work to make it right.” This takes the conversation out of the public eye, except that everyone else reading the reviews will see your proactive kindness and willingness to assist customers.
Handling positive reviews is easy — copy and paste those winners far and wide, sharing them on all your platforms, like your website or as part of social media post copy. This public proof from other people tooting your horn will help users trust your brand more.
You need to be present — and active — on multiple platforms
Like it or not, social media is here to stay. Sure, there are different platforms that cater to different demographics, based on several factors such as age, gender, location, and needs. But statistics show that “the world spends roughly 11.5 billion hours using social platforms each day,” so it’s probably a good idea for your business to get on board.
Source: “Global Social Media Statistics” DataReportal.com
Your absence on the important platforms will lower your brand’s credibility from a user perspective. Think about it: When you want to know about a new company, what do you usually do? You look them up online. And if they’re not on social media, 🚩🚩🚩❗
Here are some of the basic platforms you need (the list may increase or change depending on your industry and audience):
- Your Website
- Local Citation Platforms
- Social Media Platforms
- Search Engine Results
- Review Sites
And, remember, don’t build it and forget it. You need to have an online presence, and you also need to be active online. Post to social media regularly, consistently update your website’s blog, and update images on your Google Business Profile.
Decide where to market your brand on social media
Now that you know you need to be present online and active on social media sites, the next logical question you’ll likely ask yourself is, Okay, but where? What is the right social media platform for my business? Great question!
It really depends on what kind of business you are, who your primary audience is, and what goods and/or services you are selling.
This infographic may help demonstrate what we mean, especially the second column “Follow or research brands and products”:
Source: “Global Social Media Statistics” DataReportal.com
Give your users a consistent experience across all your platforms
It’s not only important to be present on multiple digital platforms; it’s just as important to give users a consistent experience on all of them, since studies show that users expect a unified user experience from brands.
Since you have very little control over which platform will be a user’s first contact with your brand, make sure you’re following best practices on all of them. Two biggies are cohesive branding and consistent customer support.
- Cohesive Branding: Create cohesive branding on multiple platforms. Users may quickly switch from your Google Business Profile to your website to your social media channels. Is your company’s brand the same on all of them? Staying consistent with your logo, tagline, colors, image style, content, and even the tone of your content will help the user trust your business more.
- Consistent Customer Support: Be consistent with your customer support too. Can a user contact you on every platform? Are the contact options the same? Do you reply using a consistent modality with consistent content whether the customer calls on the phone, sends an email, fills out a form on your website, direct messages your Instagram account, or comments on your Facebook post? Failing to provide the same quality experience across all platforms can cause customers to lose trust in your brand.
Show-and-tell isn’t just a game children play
It’s a common refrain in writing workshops: “Show. Don’t Tell.” Successful authors and script writers know that too many words can weigh the reader down or bore the viewer enough to lose interest. Then the user is off to something else before you get your point across. Even Elvis asked for “a little less conversation, a little more action, please.”
But in marketing, you want to show AND tell. Aligning words with images/video is another way to keep your branding cohesive. It also adds interest for your viewers, since some people learn by reading, and others are visual learners or auditory learners. When you show AND tell, you satisfy more people with your content.
Most likely, you’re competing with multiple companies that offer similar services or products. In the eye of a new customer that is evaluating multiple brands, how can you stand out and create more trust? One way is to show what you do.
Here are few items can show to increase engagement:
- Post case studies on your website. They don’t need to be long — just long enough to explain the problem the client faced, how you solved it, and the positive results of your work. Here’s a case study example to help.
- You can also use your social media channels to share behind-the-scenes images or before-and-after videos of projects you’ve successfully completed.
- Show pictures of your team on the About Us page of your website. This humanizes a company and helps build trust.
- Create walk-through or explainer videos. Here’s one example of a walk-through video.
- Demo videos are a powerful way to show potential customers how to use your product in a couple of minutes, which will increase their user-confidence and lead to more sales.
- Include a project or client list on your website. This will boost credibility, showing what you’ve done and who you’ve worked with.
Say What You Mean. Mean What You Say. And Say It Over & Over Again.
It’s a common adage that it takes years to build trust and only seconds to break it. The most important thing in business isn’t profit — it’s telling the truth. If your company is trustworthy, and you offer a quality product at a competitive price, and you successfully tell people about it (AKA marketing!), profit will happen more naturally than you think.
It’s key to say what you mean and mean what you say. And to say the same thing over and over again on all your channels — whether that’s print, online, or in person.
If you somehow get it wrong (we’re human, it happens!), take ownership for the mistake. It’s not very often in this modern world that people, much less companies, take personal responsibility and authentically apologize for something. But that’s all part of excellent customer service, isn’t it? And customer service is vital to building trust and the type of reputation that lasts a lifetime.
These are just a few strategies that will help you build trust and establish a positive online reputation for your business. Start putting them into practice as soon as possible. And if you need help building a cool and trustworthy website, starting a presence on multiple online platforms, or creating a unified user experience across all your existing platforms, contact Liquid Creative today. We’re here to grow your business!