No matter how great products or services are, customers are unlikely to buy if they perceive the company as untrustworthy. A brand, as Elon Musk pointed out, is a perception. So, businesses can only succeed if customers believe in their authenticity, honesty and trustworthiness. Hence, building customer trust must be integral to marketing campaigns.
Why Building Customer Trust Is Essential to Success
More companies now understand the importance of online reputation management services in projecting honesty and trustworthiness. So one thing they do is run email marketing campaigns. Besides marketing or upselling products, they aim to get more reviews from customers who completed a purchase.
Review generation is only one of the tactics used in online reputation management or ORM marketing. These are more advanced strategies used to improve online reputation, thus elevating the status of a company as a trustworthy brand.
So, why do companies need to employ the best online reputation management practices in their marketing strategies?
In Havas’ 2021 Meaningful Brands Report, 71 percent of over 390,000 consumers worldwide said they have little faith that brands will deliver on their promises.
In North America, consumers trust only 39 percent of brands. Given that people are likely to buy products and services from brands they trust, the number of trustworthy brands being a minority is an opportunity.
You can set your brand apart by employing various ORM and digital marketing strategies to improve online reputations, such as review generation. As one of the few trusted brands, you are in a position to attract more customers and increase customer loyalty.
Remember, 83 percent of customers said they would purchase from brands they can trust. Furthermore, 90 percent are even willing to pay more. Zig Ziglar said it best: “If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”
How To Show Trustworthiness to Customers
According to Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer Special Report, three out of four consumers across eight markets in North and South America, Europe and Asia said they use one or more advertising avoidance strategies. Around 48 percent said they use ad-blocking technology, while 47 percent changed their media habits to see fewer ads.
In the same report, 81 percent of consumers also said brand trust is a deciding factor in purchasing. So it is clear as day that advertising is not the best way to enhance brand trust. Instead, try incorporating the following tactics used by the best online reputation management services experts.
Some companies, usually obscure ones, do not provide contact information or even an email address. Instead, customers need to go through the frequently asked questions or FAQs section (if available), which may or may not answer their questions. For sure, this approach does not help instill confidence in consumers.
So, to build brand trustworthiness, customers must be able to reach out and communicate with a company representative. At the very least, contact information must be available on the website, social networks and product packaging.
Consider investing in hiring and training customer service staff. By providing value-driven customer service interactions, 86 percent of customers are likely to repurchase and 82 percent more likely to be retained. In addition, 97 percent are more likely to spread the positive word about your business.
2. Brand Transparency
Brand transparency means keeping open and honest communications and relationships with all stakeholders. It entails disclosing information on goals, values, operations and sensitive data like sources, pricing and revenues.
Here are the reasons why transparency is essential to demonstrating trustworthiness and growing a business:
- Brand Trust. Transparency promotes trust within an organization and externally with partners, suppliers and customers. To achieve this, companies need to be clear in communications. For example, there must be an easy-to-follow return policy or dispute resolution so customers can understand applicable terms, quickly return goods, or resolve issues promptly.
- Brand Authenticity. Transparency enhances brand perception as customers view these companies as being authentic. In one study, 94 percent of consumers said transparency is essential to their purchase decisions.
- Growth. Customers better perceive a transparent and honest brand, making them more likely to become repeat buyers or loyal customers. Moreover, they help brands generate positive reviews by sharing their experiences, which allows the brand to grow its business.
- Employee Engagement. Clear communications and including the employees in the decision-making process are excellent motivators. As a result, they are more engaged and work better as a team, resulting in higher efficiency and productivity.
- Accountability. Companies must take ownership of their responsibilities to the market and society. For instance, they need to understand the importance of online reviews and respond to negative feedback transparently and efficiently.
3. Customer Interaction
Customer interactions comprise all the communications that occur between businesses and customers. While one can view these interactions from the sales perspective, they are more about improving relationships and promoting customer loyalty.
How brands communicate with customers is an opportunity to demonstrate honesty and trustworthiness. In some estimates, up to half of consumers would switch to a competitor after one bad experience. So it is best to maintain a well-trained and highly motivated customer service team.
4. Ability To Address Customer Issues
Never underestimate the importance of online reviews. But unfortunately, there is no surefire way of avoiding negative posts, comments or feedback on social media and review sites. So the best thing to do is to respond promptly.
One solution that some companies take is to hire an online reputation management company to find negative reviews so they can respond and resolve the problem. Another tactic is to generate reviews by reaching out and encouraging customers to share their experiences on social media and review sites. The goal, in this case, is to have more 4-star and 5-star ratings to create a positive brand perception and trust.
5. Positive Reviews
Consumers generally view user-generated content – social media posts and comments, review site feedback – as more authentic. It is why 89 percent of them read reviews before buying products. Also noteworthy is that 79 percent said they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.
In response to this trend, more marketers are now understanding the importance of online reviews and focusing on how to generate reviews. Some of them, for instance, use the services of a reputation management agency to generate reviews. While positive reviews help brands build their reputation and attract more customers, it is also an excellent method of reinforcing brand trustworthiness.
The website acts as a 24-hour storefront for a business. So one good content marketing strategy is to include testimonials on product and service pages. According to SocialFresh, customer testimonials, at 89 percent, have the highest content marketing effectiveness rating.
A common practice among many marketers is to use positive online reviews as testimonials. Besides including them on website pages, they also add them in newsletters and share them on social media.
Customer testimonials could be better, too. For example, an online reputation management company can help collect testimonials, much like how they get more reviews. Ideally, the testimonials should incorporate the following:
- Before. Customer’s doubt, hesitation or negative emotion before purchasing.
- After. Results or how a product or service helped reduce or eliminate a negative situation.
- Experience. The emotional experience of the customer after using a product or service.
The best way to get more reviews or testimonials is to talk to customers and ask them these questions:
- What obstacle or hesitation could have prevented you from buying this product/service?
- What did you find (or experience) as a result of purchasing this product/service?
- What specific feature did you like the most about the product/service?
- What three other benefits did you get from this product/service?
- Would you recommend this product/service? If so, why?
- Is there anything you want to add?
Customer testimonials (and reviews) that answer the above six questions are compelling and can help increase trustworthiness and conversion rates. Another thing to consider is video testimonials.
“[Video testimonials are] powerful these days and more popular for consumers to consume than text content, and they can be recorded on a customer’s smartphone in less than 2 minutes,” said Tim Clarke, a senior reputation manager at Rize Reviews.
7. Informative Content
Content marketing, such as publishing informative blog articles, costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates three times more leads. But it only works if consumers do not perceive the content as too pitchy. Remember that consumers are generally wary of adverts.
Considering that some 70 percent of consumers prefer learning about a brand by reading articles, focus on creating relevant content. Informative marketing content is how to show trustworthiness and increase authoritativeness.
Avoid Misleading or Deceptive Marketing Practices
Building customer trust is not easy. One might even argue that it is more challenging today because companies engage in “deceptive” business practices.
Once a company lies to the public, such as making a false claim, it is tough to bounce back. Some financially challenged companies, for example, may not be able to withstand the backlash, such as customer attrition. Sometimes, it may lead to costly legal battles, fines and other penalties. Skechers, for example, agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges of deceiving customers by making unfounded claims.
Regaining (or establishing) itself as one of the trustworthy brands in the market is not impossible. A popular approach is to hire a reputation management agency. These reputational experts help improve online reputation using review generation and other ORM marketing strategies.
Here are examples of deceptive practices that erode consumer trust.
1. Misleading Freebies
A hotel offered guests who booked accommodation complimentary breakfast. Upon arrival, the receptionist gave the guest a $10 voucher for an on-site cafe. So if the food and drinks exceed $10, the guest has to pay.
A complimentary breakfast means the breakfast is free of charge. As a result, the guest would feel deceived. Even if the room and food were exceptional, the deception might be more than enough to create a negative experience.
2. Misleading Discounts and Deals
Offering something for free is standard practice. For example, a restaurant may provide free kiddie meals, but it comes with a minimum order. Alternatively, they may offer a discount – only, the deal is up to a certain amount only.
Another scenario is a hosting company offering a huge discount for their services. They may, for instance, offer 40 to 60 percent off for an annual subscription. But, unknown to the subscribers, they later pay more because the regular pricing, which takes effect the following year, is higher than competitors.
So what happens after raising but not meeting expectations? The customers feel disappointed, annoyed or tricked.
3. Changing Terms and Conditions or Perks
Changing the terms and conditions of service happens all the time. Companies must be careful and balance the necessity versus alienating their customer base.
One example is loyalty programs – one of the best ways to build customer loyalty. Usually, the “freebies” and perks provided incentivize them to spend more to collect points. Some companies, unfortunately, would raise the requirements needed to exchange loyalty points for gifts.
For sure, this is not how to show trustworthiness. Not only did the offending company break the trust of customers. They also invite more problems, especially when frustrated customers vent their ire online, writing negative reviews and posts.
Importance of Online Reputation Management
Brands can use many marketing strategies to boost their reputation and project an image of trustworthiness. For instance, communicating correctly and providing efficient customer service is the least that all companies must do. In addition, being honest, transparent and owning up to mistakes can go a long way in establishing trust.
While building customer trust entails countless moving parts, it takes only one or so negative reviews to damage a reputation. If you want to learn more about creating strategies to enhance social proof and crisis management, call Rize Reviews today at 866.325.0303.