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12 Ways to Build Trust and Credibility Online

It’s vital you uphold your reputation as an honest and trustworthy brand, follow these 12 steps to build trust in your Brands eCommerce store and protect your bottom line. 

An eCommerce store is an integral part of any business, whether you operate solely online or have both a physical and virtual presence. It’s vital you uphold your reputation as an honest and trustworthy brand, it’s even more important online as its harder to establish and easier to lose.

The bigger picture is conversions and maintaining them, building trust in your brand online might not be the ultimate conversion trigger (price points and shipping costs seem to be more important at present), but it does convey how ethical you are as a business……which has fast become a stimulant in consumer purchase considerations.

In this article we explore 12 proven ways to build trust in your brand, resulting in long-lasting customer relationships, driving more repeat business, lowering advertising costs and protecting your brands online reputation.

 

1 – Know your target audience, connect with them!

Build trust with your target audience, use your content strategy to identify their needs so you connect with them on an emotional level. By addressing their issues and identifying how to resolve them you can build a loyal list of brand followers. Genuine content will also drive authenticity, developing a trust element in the eyes of your prospecting customers.

There are exceptions:

Not all brands have a problem that needs solving, mainstream retail like fashion and beauty brands just push necessity and image as an emotion to drive a purchase, functionality might not be the main unique selling point.

 

Tip: Use relevant case studies to prove your brand’s key features and success stories from other users.

 

2 – Make sure your website is secure – Have SSL certified badges highly visible.

Secure your site with an encrypted ‘HTTPS’ URL address, (this might need the expertise of a web developer),  in 2018 Google began to classify ‘HTTP’ URL addresses as non secure and also delist any from high search result positions (SERPs). Ensure your website also has SSL certified badges available to show browsers you take their privacy and your own web security seriously.

Set up a plan to run regular site security checks to ensure you have all software plugins, website themes and all other software free from viruses and malware. Change admin login codes regularly to reduce the chances of the backend of the site being hacked and your web platform being compromised.  

Look for competent eCommerce platforms that have robust security software by way of plugins or even hosting plans with integrated website security and secure payment gateway options.  

 

52% of Irish online shoppers have concerns about their security when making mobile payments”

(PWC Retail & Consumer Report 2018)

Norton Secured -12 ways to build trust and credibility in an online business

https://ie.norton.com/

Try to avoid keeping all customer data on one particular server, use multiple cloud servers in different locations globally. Plan for disasters, develop a business continuity and crisis management programme should your web platform be hacked. Talk to an expert and seek advice on how to protect your eCommerce site and reputation.

If you want to accept payments online from any of the major credit or debit card providers you must be PCI DSS compliant.

Tip: Investigate if Shopify would be a good platform to invest in. All Shopify eCommerce plans are PCI DSS compliant which stands for Payment Card Industry Industry Data Security Standard. This standard was created to increase controls around credit card data and how it could be exploited for fraudulent use.

Shopify secure -12 ways to build trust and credibility in an online business

https://www.shopify.com/

3 – Be transparent about your business with Brand Storytelling.

Transparency is key to establishing trust with your customers, try not to convey you’re perfect, as no one is! It’s a better, more humanistic approach to tell a story about your faults or mistakes and what you did to resolve them, its a type of transparency that has been proven to inspire trust and develop brand advocacy.

Another way to build trust in your brand is by providing insights on how your products are made. Consumers are far more aware and interested nowadays about raw material sustainability and eco-friendly ways of manufacturing products, not to mention working conditions and human rights. Don’t be afraid to invest time in storytelling how your products are made, your customers want to know. Delivering a storyline on the sourcing and manufacturing of your brands raw materials creates engaging content that your customers can grasp to get a better understanding of the business ethics you have established. This also allows you to highlight key features and other unique selling points about your brand, pushing your store visitors down the sales funnel to inevitably make a purchase.

4 – Build your website with a user centric focus in mind.

 

The design of your website can very often drive trust with customers, recent studies have shown that users will often leave a site if the design and look of an eCommerce store are unintuitive and awkward to browse. So with this in mind, it’s wise to spend time investing in a professionally designed web store and get expert advice on what your brand is about so users can discover it.

An  eCommerce store that is user-centric, easy to navigate, well structured and fast loading encourages trust with your browsers. Make sure to use colours, images and typography that reflect the visual language of your brand identity. Use your website to personalise the brand experience with your customers, build trust with the consistency you provide in the online shopping adventure.

5 – Create a sense of trustworthiness by profiling the team of people who work with you.

Brand storytelling in terms of profiling the team is ubiquitous, be sure to take the opportunity to personalise your business with highlighting your team through your ‘About us’ or ‘Meet the Team’ pages. Leverage these pages on your eCommerce site to highlight how your brand developed and also the people behind it and how you all work together. You might ask employees to write a little about themselves, it’s a great way to give them an opportunity to show their importance in what they do and the contribution they make to the company. 

 

6 – Leverage your social media channels.

With fake news on the rise and the increasing reports of cyber crime, transparency from businesses has never been more important. Leveraging your social media to drive brand authenticity and awareness should be more than just a marketing activity, but also built into your overall business strategy. With the overwhelming growth in social media in the last decade brands have been able to connect closer with their customers. Social media amplifies trust and authenticity but must also be handled with care and diligence, customers expect quick responses to product and service queries (even if you have a dedicated customer service team at another touchpoint). A lack of transparency on your social media can have a knock on effect on how your brand is perceived. So be sure to have a consistent strategy and know which channels speak to your target audience.

“Social Media is the No.1 tool used by Irish Consumers to discover and research a brands product or service”

(PWC Retail & Consumer Report 2018)

7 – Build a Community of Advocates.

An online community is a place where like minded people share thoughts and concerns or even passions and interests. Communities are where people have a desire to connect and it’s one of the internet’s greatest attributes. Tapping into this and establishing a base for your own community can be a critical path in developing trust with your customers. Many international brands like Harley Davidison, Sephora’s ‘beauty talk’ and Lego ideas have had huge success building online communities with avid followers.

Apart from the obvious advantages of driving sales and brand awareness, online communities cut costs in advertising and provide your marketing team with a highly interactive and engaging target audience. This type of brand awareness will take new prospecting customers on a different type of customer journey, being inspired by real-life stories and experiences generated by community members. Your community are brand ambassadors, in essence your virtual sales assistants, highlighting key features, benefits and alternative uses for your brand product ranges.

8 – Create an online reputation management system.

Online reputation management is all about transparency, it’s risky but not being transparent is even riskier especially when customers are now more aware of the power in social media!

Good online reputation management starts with social listening, how often do you check your social media channels, Google Reviews & Alerts, TripAdvisor and reviews? There are other important questions to ask….

  • Who manages your social media accounts?
  • Are they social media savvy?
  • How comprehensive is your online monitoring system – where and how often do you check?
  • Do you have a documented social media complaints process including an escalation procedure
  • Do you have an online customer responsibility statement along with a dedicated business email for customers to reach you
  • Remember you will never win an argument online! respond politely and quickly online and try to diverse communication on a private platform via email, phone to resolve the issue
  • If the above fails then seek expert advice from an experienced professional in this area to guide you through the next steps

9 – Become an Expert! Talk about topics related to your brand or industry sector.

Become an educator about your brand and how it can benefit your customers. Offer tips and advice on how to get the most from your brand and its features. This provides powerful content that will keep them engaged to stop your customers from turning to a competitor for an alternative solution. Create digital collateral like ebooks, build a library of YouTube content, host webinars or publish blog content and podcasts.

Most eCommerce operators know that blog content is a great way to drive authenticity and trust, it’s also powerful for building backlinks and boosting search engine results in organic ranking. Be sure to invest in a good content writer who can convey your product knowledge and entice your prospecting leads to find out more about your brand.

10 – Ask your customers for feedback and reviews about your Brand.

Never underestimate the value of user generated content, customer reviews are golden nugget material, a great way for customers to give feedback and highlight their experiences in using your brand. Create a private linked page on your website where customers can leave comments about your product, even offer a small incentive for leaving a comment or review, once you gathered enough choose the most prominent ones to display on your website. Executing email marketing campaigns can also be really useful, once you get their email data through online ordering, you can use drip email campaigns to gain valuable insights into what customers think about your brand features and quality.

Trust Pilot

https://ie.trustpilot.com/

11 – Employ a virtual assistant.

Employing a virtual assistant (VA’s) has many advantages and one very important one is to encourage trust in your brand. VA’s are very useful for a number of reasons and they can really reflect your true brand values to prospecting customers visiting your eCommerce store. Gaining rapport and trust online takes time and it’s best to use and try as many different tactics as possible to see which is best for your business. Virtual assistants can help bridge the gap that online shopping experiences create with certain customers, bringing the human element into the customer experience mix. If you are building your Brand online, VA’s can act very effectively as Brand ambassadors, creating a valuable service in customer engagement both directly through website support queries and also through launching email marketing activities.

12 – Over deliver and exceed expectations.

Don’t over promise if you want to exceed expectations! Your best bet to gain the trust of your customers is promise an attainable service and then deliver above and beyond their expectations as the norm. Customers love surprises…..well nice ones anyway!   

 

Retail Excellence Ireland

The Rewards for being a transparent brand.

Transparency can be a very useful tool for brands to use in gaining consumer trust. There has been regular research to prove that customers are prepared to pay more for particular brands they trust and more that act honestly towards them. More than ever before startup companies are embracing transparency to grab and win the attention and trust of new customers, especially those starting out in niche retail markets like a baby and health care.

As we look to the future, the use of AI in our purchasing decisions will also impact greatly on brand trust and transparency. We will expect our data-driven home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa to make the right purchasing choices for us based on their analysis of a brands transparency. Having already established trust with your customers you will benefit greatly from AI data-driven search relevancy.

In all, building trust in your Brands eCommerce store should be at the core of your marketing communication mix and implemented at every point along the customer journey.

Building trust in your brand will guarantee consistent growth and brand recognition whilst also protecting your bottom line if this matters to you then talk to an expert about how to grow your brand and become a trendsetter in your own market.

If you Build Brand Trust – You will Build Brand Advocacy!