How to Increase Sales by Building Online Trust

The greatest engine for marketing and monetizing your know-how is trust. It’s the end goal of all experts and influencers. The entire purpose of building a personal brand is to build and harness trust. It’s simple: people buy from those they believe and if that’s missing, sales will not materialise regardless of any marketing effort. Trust is not a warm, fuzzy concept. It’s what drives sales and generates money.

10 ways to build trust in your customers

  1. Establish social proof. Collect case studies or testimonials of clients you have helped. Trust in you is built not by what you say about yourself but what others say about you. Your homepage/sales page must include social proof or evidence of results you have personally achieved.
  2. Invest time in your apperance. This doesn’t just mean designing a professional logo or website. It includes showing a photo of yourself; ensuring your site copy is well-written; that you use your target audience’s language and so on. One thing about your personal brand can break your customer’s trust in you. If you’re not sure about including something, leave it out.
  3. Show yourself. How can people trust you if they don’t know what you look like or even the briefest facts about you? Make sure that your avatar is your photo – you can even include it in your posts. An “About Me” page is also an excellent idea. Its content should include evidence of your expertise, as well as certain facts about yourself. People like having a face to put to a name, and a photo of yourself is vital to building a personal brand. You don’t have to share the minutiae of your life (and we recommend you don’t) but the occasional relevant details make you human and three-dimensional.
  4. Allow comments and engage. Interaction with others is very important to building trust. True, there is a risk of negativity (it is the Internet, after all), but it is also a great way to gather feedback and determine response levels to each post for yourself. Also, people are much less likely to trust someone who doesn’t allow for the possibility of customer-seller interactions. Don’t allow comments to be posted instantly – hold each one for review first. In the early days while it’s still practical, be sure to respond to every worthwhile comment. You’re trying to build an audience that likes and trusts you. Acknowledging the time they took to comment is a good way of doing this.
  5. Choose a quality domain name. We received an email advertising a remote backup service sent from a Gmail account (and no name). Surprisingly, we declined. Your URL might have started out as a thisisme.wordpress.com or isellstuff.tumblr.com, but in order to increase your level of professionalism and build trust, you should invest into a .com or a .org domain. Avoid unusual characters like hyphens and don’t replace numbers with words – “…2u.com” looks cheap and you’ll forever be saying “It’s ‘to’ but like the number two…”
  6. Feature testimonials and case studies. You can’t be modest when you’re selling your product online. If you’re lucky enough to have received client testimonials or praise in the press, tell the world about it. If you don’t have testimonials, ask for them. If you don’t yet have customers, offer a 20 minute coaching session in your area of expertise in exchange for a testimonial. Or ask your friends, family or colleague to review your product.
  7. Don’t lie. You’d be surprised how many people fall into the trap of knowingly posting something that can easily misguide their readers. “Just this once” is once too much. What you post has a habit of staying on the Internet for all to see and share.
  8. Do what you say you’ll do. It’s such a simple thing but many people don’t take their word seriously. If you say you’re going to do something, do it; if you’re not going to do it, don’t say you’ll do it. Think before you commit. People are more understanding when you say no than when you say yes then pull out. Don’t make promises (or even intentions) lightly.
  9. Be real. It’s okay to not be a top expert in your field; just don’t claim to be if you aren’t. People’s BS-detectors are finely tuned and many can tell if you’re genuine or not. Your errors in judgement can easily cost you their trust and sometimes more. It’s better to be open and spend more time on researching, learning and sharing your findings than to lie and exaggerate your abilities. Pat Flynn, founder of the hugely successful Smart Passive Income started out with an apprentice attitude. His approach was “let’s figure this out together”. He didn’t post himself as the top expert in his field but just a guy trying to make income online. You don’t have to be #1 – you just need to know more than the people you’re trying to help.
  10. Be open about your mistakes. Nobody is perfect, and mistakes are inevitable in every business. Don’t try to hide a mistake or make excuses – that has a tendency to make things a lot worse. Do your best to fix the error and its impact, but own up to it to the best of your ability. Your audience will trust – and like – you more if they see you genuinely apologising and accepting responsibility rather than trying to cover it up and arrogantly deny any wrongdoing.

Takeaway points

  1. Make collecting social proof (e.g. client testimonials and case studies) a priority.
  2. Be authentic. Don’t pretend to be someone or something you’re not.
  3. You don’t have to be the best in your field. You just have to be better in your chosen area than the people you’re helping.

Action steps

  1. If you still have not done so, buy a professional domain name, hosting service and setup your website.
  2. Commission a professional brand and logo design. There are plenty of great, affordable designers on Upwork.com. Collect websites, logos and styles you like the look of to send to the designer so they have something to work towards.
  3. Create a piece of pillar content for your website to start establishing your authority and to deliver high-value to your target audience and industry.

Photo credit: Pierre via Flickr.com / CC BY 2.0




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