If you’ve developed a content marketing strategy to drive traffic to your website and push people through a sales funnel, you’ll no doubt know how difficult it can be to maintain an audience and persuade them to bookmark your page or subscribe to your mailing list.
Unfortunately, the days of “build it and they’ll come” are over. Producing high-quality, well-researched content on a regular basis is no longer enough to stand out because so many other bloggers and small businesses are following the same path.
To make an impact and capture the attention (and email addresses) of potential customers, you need to position your blog as a trustworthy, credible and up-to-date source of information.
Today, we’re delving deeper into trust and credibility – but first, a note on why it matters.
Why do you need to build trust?
When you’re spending time and money working on a content marketing strategy, it can be easy to focus on the bigger picture. You want results overnight, you want your content to rank at number one for every relevant search, and you want to generate leads fast.
Content marketing doesn’t work like that.
And nor should it.
Today, consumers have more power and choice than ever before. The internet has transformed the way consumers spend their money – and as business owners, we have to work harder than ever to show why our products and services are the best.
Creating content that offers value to your readers is one part of the puzzle, but you won’t be able to persuade these visitors that you’re a reliable and valuable source of information unless you build trust and credibility within your niche.
Nor will other webmasters want to link back to you and give you valuable backlinks if you can’t demonstrate you’re a reliable, genuine source of information. That’s why it’s so important to build trust and credibility as early as you can on your marketing journey.
And the rewards are endless.
Build your brand as an authority figure and produce valuable content on a regular basis, and visitors will be more likely to come back to your website, you’ll be able to sell products easily, introduce new services and you’ll get exposure and backlinks from your content and new releases – bolstering your search engine optimisation.
How do you build trust and credibility?
Building trust and credibility isn’t easy. You need to persuade visitors and other business owners that you’re an expert in your niche and that you know what you’re talking about.
But it’s not an impossible task. Below, we’ve rounded up ten ways to do exactly that.
When it comes to building trust online, consistency is key. If you’re always shifting gears or trying out new tactics, then your customers will be confused and you won’t be able to track your progress, either. Here are a few things you need to take into consideration when marketing your small business online:
- Content: Creating a content plan allows you to be more consistent with your content marketing efforts and ensures customers know what they’re getting. If you say you blog every Monday, then prepare content in advance and follow it through.
- Social media: Regardless of your business or niche, you cannot afford to abandon your social media channels. Make sure you schedule content every day and have a member of your team checking for comments and questions on a regular basis.
- Service: In some ways, your customer service falls outside the scope of marketing, but it’s important to mention nonetheless. Deliver consistent customer service, and your customers will always know what they’re getting. Growing or have multiple sales and service representatives? Create a guide to standardise your customer service across all avenues, whether an outreach email or a follow-up call.
Think about delivering a consistent experience to all customers and visitors, and you’ll be more likely to boost your reputation and keep people on your side.
Post relevant, up-to-date content
If you want to position your business as an authority figure and source of information and research in your niche, then you’re going to have to use your muscle and work hard.
With so much competition online, you should research into competitors’ blogs and see what you can do differently to stand out. For example, could you condense complex information into easy-to-consume guides and videos? Could you create video and infographics to make your content more engaging and shareable?
Think about the unique selling point of your blog and website. Can’t find one? Then focus on improving the quality of content that’s already out there by writing skyscraper content.
There’s a lot you need to think about if you want your content to be the best and the most relevant. We’ve rounded up some of our shower thoughts for you to think about below.
- Post evergreen content: Focus on creating content that will be as relevant in ten years as it is today. Long-form, in-depth evergreen content is the key to ranking on SERPs.
- Update old posts: Nothing stands still for long. If you work in law, medicine or an industry where your content could be outdated virtually overnight, then you need a procedure in place to review and edit old blog posts and videos. Having outdated content on your website can negatively impact your business and, in some cases, be downright dangerous. Create a spreadsheet of blog posts and content that you want to manage, and check back on a regular basis to make any necessary changes.
- Link to your sources: There’s nothing wrong with linking out to other websites to cite your sources and findings. In fact, it’s encouraged, as it shows that your content is well-researched and backed up by data and research. However, remember that data and sources can date over time, and may require amends in the future
- Stay in the loop: As a business owner, you’re most likely rushed off your feet for most of the working day. But in order to produce high-quality, relevant and topical content, you need to know the latest goings on in your industry and niche. Bookmark blogs, follow influencers on social media and read as often as you can.
Producing content that’s relevant, up-to-date and engaging every week can be a challenge, so you may decide to outsource your content marketing or hire a marketer in-house to maintain your blog.
But whatever you do, remember that your end goal is always to build trust and credibility, to drive traffic to your website and to convert readers into customers.
Share your press mentions
Featured in the local newspaper or mentioned in an industry magazine?
You’re clearly doing something right, so why not let everyone know about how fabulous your business is? With permission, add logos and quotes from those publications to your “press” or “about” pages.
Haven’t had any coverage of your products or services yet? Then it’s time to start thinking about public relations and producing press releases and blog posts that show off the latest and greatest things that your business is working on.
You don’t need to change the world or come up with a brand new product to be featured in a publication… try these for starters.
- X business announces plan to hire six new staff
- X business wins contract with important local business
- X business launches new website/blog/YouTube channel
- X business receives an award/recognition/celebrity client
- X business launches new X product
Mention has put together a guide to getting press coverage for your business, which includes monitoring your clients and competitors to find opportunities for a feature.
Be creative when it comes to scoring press coverage, and you’ll be rewarded with credibility.
Make contact information easy to find
It’s one of the most common mistakes small business owners and webmasters mistake, and it only takes a couple of minutes to fix. 51% of people think thorough contact information is the most important element missing from company websites, so remember to add your name, email address, telephone number and office address on your contact pages.
We get it. In today’s digital world, you may not have a swanky head office or have a business phone number that you can use on your contact pages, but you should do everything in your power to show that you’re a professional business. Doing so will show that you’re a real business and not a pop-up shop with no accountability.
In fact, 44% of people will leave a website if they can’t find contact information or a phone number, so don’t fall into the trap of running an online business anonymously.
You should also be sure to add your contact information to Google My Business, Facebook and other social networks, and submit your business to relevant directories for backlinks.
Testimonials are often the only “social proof” you need to give a visitor for them to convert into a customer, and the good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of work to get them.
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so they’re an incredibly powerful way to increase the trust and credibility of your business.
Make it easy for existing customers to leave reviews and improve your “review score” by:
- Sending an email to customers a week after they make a purchase on your website
- Incentivising with a prize draw or discount coupon for those who leave reviews
- Highlighting reviews prominently on your website to encourage submissions
- Publishing both good and bad reviews to show both sides of the spectrum
We recommend using one of the review services mentioned above to show visitors and potential customers that all of your reviews are impartial and can be trusted, but if you insist on hosting them yourself, be careful and remember that fake reviews are illegal.
Make your website easy to use
User experience is key to creating a trustworthy and credible brand – after all, if somebody visits your website and spots mistakes and can’t navigate to the right pages, why would they trust you with their money?
Think about user experience at every avenue.
We recommend using a web design company to take on the responsibility of the design and development of your business website, as you cannot afford to cut corners on such a vital part of your business.
Treat your website as the “shop front” of your business.
Doing it yourself? By creating a clean-looking website that works on multiple devices and passes Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool, you’ll already be ahead of the competition.
Aim to follow these user experience tips for developers and small business owners, too:
- Use white space: Give your content some breathing room and use white space as and when appropriate. Doing so will make your website look fresh and easy to use.
- Make it fast: Customers won’t stick around if your website takes too long to load, so optimise your code and use a web host with a server in your country where possible.
- Use images: Content is one of the most important parts of your website, but not all content has to be text. Use images and videos as and where appropriate to improve the aesthetics of your website, and optimise these images.
Still not sure whether your website is looking and working at its best for users? Conduct user tests and focus groups to generate feedback, or try these UX testing methods.
Show off awards
Awards and recognitions are great ways of showing that you are a respected and valued member of your niche. But getting nominated for awards in the first place can be tough, especially when people don’t know about your business.
If you want to be nominated for awards in your industry, then you need to make your brand visible. Follow these quick tips for getting your hands on a prize at the next awards season.
- Research: There are so many events and awards ceremonies throughout the year – both niche-specific and location or research-based. Do your research, see what your competitors are being nominated for, and write down your target hits.
- Choose the right categories: The chances are you’ll be nominating yourself for an award, so follow the guidelines of the awarding body and only submit your business for the right categories. Check you fit the criteria before submitting your application.
- Follow up: If you haven’t heard back from the awarding body as the awards draw close, chase them and ask about the status of your application. It’s not too late!
- Network: Even if you’re not nominated for this years’ awards, attend ceremonies and networking events to spread the good word about your business.
- Send press releases: Won a major contract with a local business? Hiring a new team following an expansion? Send press releases to relevant sources and business bodies to increase your exposure and chances of being nominated for an award.
Unless you put in the legwork and have the right contacts, it’s unlikely that your business will be nominated for an award overnight.
Work hard, spread the word about your achievements and keep your eyes peeled on relevant award ceremonies that could be the right fit for your business, and when you do get a nod, shout about it from the rooftops!
Start guest blogging
We’re strong advocates of guest blogging (see the benefits of guest blogging) and you can use this technique to boost your brand’s authority online. There are four reasons why, as outlined by Search Engine Journal.
- Guest blogging builds your online presence
- It increases your authority in your industry
- It helps you gain links and boost your SEO
- It expands your audience and introduces you to new customers
If your content has been featured in Huffington Post or Forbes, for example, then your business instantly appears more credible.
That’s why so many people contribute to third-party websites to build their name and help spread the word about what they offer.
But scoring guest blogging placements on big websites can be challenging – nigh on impossible in some cases.
That’s why you should focus on writing for your own website and guest blogging on relevant websites as and when the opportunities arise.
The more you write, and the most guest blogs you have published, the bigger your “bank” of content becomes, and the more experienced you’ll become as a writer. Eventually, you’ll be able to land big blogging and contributor opportunities and reap the rewards of doing so.
Nail your branding
In today’s online-focused world, your brand has never been more important.
It’s essential that you push a consistent and well-rounded brand at every opportunity on your website to increase trust and the chances of visitors coming back to read your latest content.
If a visitor sees your brand over and over again, they’ll be more likely to remember your business and see you as an authoritative and valuable source of information or services.
Marketing an established business that already has a brand can be simple. Get hold of your brand guidelines and raw brand files (like logos, colour codes, graphics), and be sure to use them consistently throughout your marketing efforts.
That means across all social media platforms, in every blog post, and on every infographic or video you produce.
For new businesses and start-ups, on the other hand, branding can be difficult. Don’t settle on the first design mock-up you create, and don’t think that a logo is the only thing you need to succeed.
To create a successful brand that inspires confidence and trust in your business, aim to create a “brand guidelines” document that includes the following:
- A colour palette: Choose two or three colours (including your logo colours) that you can use in website’s theme and in any graphic design and promotional content.
- A logo: Perhaps the most important part of your brand. Create a colour version as well as black and white versions, and save as a web-optimised JPEG file and a high-quality editable format so you can go back and make changes in the future.
- A font pack: Choose two or three fonts that represent your brand and ethos. Use a website like DaFont, include them in your website’s theme and in graphic design.
- Graphic style guide: Do you want to create graphics in a particular way? Should photos be shot in a unique style to reflect your brand? Write down for reference.
- Brand style guide: How do you want your brand to be represented in written and graphic content? Create a “brand style” and “brand personality” for reference.
Branding is one of the most important parts of any business, and your brand can be the differentiator that helps you stand out as a trustworthy and memorable source. The more consistent you are with branding, the easier it will be to reiterate your “trustworthy” nature.
Deliver support and information
Whether you run an ecommerce store or you only offer products and services offline, if you have an online presence, you need to deliver online support and customer service.
42% of consumers who complain on social media expect a response within an hour, but that isn’t always feasible for small business owners.
But while we’re certainly not suggesting that you employ a service agent to respond to messages all hours of the day, you should have a procedure in place to deliver effective customer service online. Doing so will improve your credibility as a professional, customer-focused business – even to those who aren’t buying.
You could, for example, write up an in-depth FAQs page, answering the most commonly asked questions about your business.
Then, when people ask questions on social media or via email, you can direct them to this “portal” where they’ll find everything they need.
And, for those “lurkers” who don’t reach out to your directly, they’ll be able to learn more about your business.
On top of that, you’ll demonstrate that you’ve thought about their experience as a potential customer or partner and will increase trust and credibility.
From the ten techniques we’ve discussed in this blog post, it’s clear building the credibility of your business and website can take time.
Follow these techniques, always have your eyes peeled for new opportunities to spread the word about your business, and focus on producing consistent and quality content and services to your customers. Good luck.