We all know that trust is not given lightly. For companies attempting to establish brand credibility, it’s all a causality dilemma. Consumers won’t buy from companies they don’t trust. To earn trust, though, you must get consumers to buy what you’re selling. Once you do, you need to deliver everything you have promised or lose them to a company that will.
In a time of increasing online competition, it’s tempting for companies to try flash-in-the-pan tactics to get noticed. For example, they can just underprice their competition to attract new consumers. Although that may result in a short burst of new sales, the rush-to-the-bottom approach is likely not sustainable. Establishing the credibility of your brand, so that consumers will be willing to pay a profit-yielding amount for your product or service, is a wiser long-term strategy.
Word-of-mouth advertising has always been essential to building brand credibility. But yesterday’s discussions at the barbershop or over the backyard fence have taken on 21st-century forms. Today’s mouthpieces are social media reviews and ratings, influencers and online content.
A burgeoning digital world is humming with billions of voices, all asking for consumers to trust and believe in their brands. Rising above the noise can be challenging. Consider these three keys to helping your brand’s online credibility sing.
1. Build a Digital Presence to Gain Brand Recognition
“Build” is the key word here. I have worked with startups that ask how they can go from zero to 60 in a day. I caution them that a brand can only gain meaningful recognition by creating a detailed blueprint for their online presence and executing it carefully. When the online field is so crowded, there are no overnight sensations.
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Begin with a website that looks great and works well on a range of devices. Fill it with high-quality content that focuses on building brand credibility. Your website needs to be optimized for search so your content will march upward in search engine rankings over time.
While you’re implementing your content strategy, build a complementary social media presence. As you expand onto new platforms, you’re expanding the ways your content can be found, accessed and shared. Clicks, retweets, shares, likes, reviews and ratings are all means of growing your followers.
Building an audience takes time and effort, especially when you’re competing with a multitude of consumer distractions. But if those consumers see that you have something relevant to them, you will start converting them to customers.
2. Follow Through on What You Promise
Prospects become customers when they agree to take a risk on your brand and buy what you’re selling. So don’t sell them short. If you don’t follow through on the promises you made, they’re going to walk. Moreover, they may take other leads and customers with them.
You promised customers that you would solve a problem, produce a quality offering and provide service after the sale. Customers took a chance on you based on what they learned about your brand online. They read your content, customer reviews and product information. Once they take a leap of faith, it’s up to you to earn their trust.
Your brand must handle customer service after the sale with care. Are your CS reps responding quickly and knowledgeably using online chat features? Are you gathering customer ratings about your customer service? You should be monitoring interactions and input constantly, adjusting as necessary to humanize digital customer service.
Monitor and respond to reviews and comments on social media, and don’t make the mistake of hiding the complaints. Rather, respond openly to them with solutions and guarantees of satisfaction. That will increase your brand’s credibility in an online sea of companies that feature only glowing reviews. Savvy shoppers are rightfully wary of brands that just post customer raves.
Brand credibility is all about providing what you promised, so you need to deliver. Even better, give customers more than they bargained for. That will keep your brand top of mind—even if you aren’t No. 1 one in search rankings—the next time they’re ready to buy.
3. Leverage Brand Loyalty
Your digital content and marketing strategy have gotten your brand noticed. A prospect has converted to a customer. Now it’s time to give that customer reasons to stay loyal—and to leverage that loyalty into further growth.
Use evidence from existing customers to attract new ones. As important as keeping your customers is, you have to focus on both ends of the funnel because growth comes from the top. Use contented customers at the bottom to fill the funnel with new ones, attracted by the positive experience of those who have purchased before them.
Highlight positive customer reviews and ratings on your website and social media to make sure prospects can see them. Ask delighted customers if they will share their experiences in testimonials and case studies. Then amplify those on your own site and across your social media platforms.
Soliciting input from existing customers can increase loyalty because they feel you care about what they have to say. Sharing their input can attract new customers persuaded by the credibility others have placed in your brand. Amid a crowded online marketplace, such evidence will help your brand stand out.
Every brand is competing online to showcase their ability to deliver what they promise. There’s only room for so many at the top. Brands that successfully execute long-term strategies to build recognition, deliver what they promise and leverage customer loyalty will get there. After all, brand credibility is not given, it’s earned.