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It goes without saying that businesses must continue to adapt quickly to the digital world. The days when client business meetings always took place face to face are a thing of the past, with a huge new reliance on digital tools to help us connect. As a result, building B2B brand trust has become more important than ever. Customers need to trust that you have their best interests at heart, and that you’re not just selling a product or service — you’re providing them with a solution.
How do you build that trust over the impersonal data streams of the Internet? It’s all about putting your best foot forward and remaining transparent with your customers by using the right tools. Here’s how to build brand trust the digital way.
Why do you need brand trust?
The high-level answer to these questions is simple enough: customers buy from B2B brands they trust. That trust is won by brands that appeal to their target audiences’ values, concerns, and priorities.
Research indicates, for example, that customers strongly prefer buying from brands that take public stands on issues that matter to them, and that most customers will recommend brands that align themselves with compatible social values. Customers also place a priority on positive experiences — both their own and those displayed in third-party testimonials and reviews. Trust is the glue that binds the B2B buyer to the seller.
Brand trust in the pre-digital age
Brand trust has always mattered. Long before the Industrial Age, customers patronized the shopkeepers they knew and liked.
This familiarity fed an assurance of a quality experience which then shifted from the name of individual people and shops to the names of mass-produced brands, reinforced by print and broadcast media.
How has brand trust evolved?
The blossoming of the Internet as a new commercial pathway, and the subsequent shift in emphasis from offline to digital marketing, has made trust harder to obtain in some ways. As B2B companies make more use of Big Data to collect customer information and appeal to individual buying habits, customers have grown increasingly wary of the “creep factor” that comes from them feeling as though they’re constantly spied upon and targeted. People fear that brands will misuse their personal information, which leads to many of them clearing their cookies and switching off their smartphones’ location options.
Fortunately, it’s still possible to win your customers’ trust even in the “Big Brother” era of digital marketing. Let’s look at how you can achieve that.
Third-party validations play a critical role in establishing your brand’s credibility and visibility with a wide digital audience. Mentions on a variety of digital platforms not only help you spread the word about your products and services, they also build trust by reinforcing the brand’s familiarity and perceived respectability. Your third-party validation strategies may include:
- Brand mentions: You want to make your brand mentions include valid cross-links that lead to the right reference sites for a good viewer experience.
- Third-party accreditations: These badges of trust can greatly enhance your brand’s online credibility. Examples include professional certifications, industry awards, and the use of recognised compliance and security standards.
- Independent ratings and reviews: Nothing builds your reputation faster than glowing reviews and high ratings, both from professional critics and from satisfied customers.
Professional social media presence
Your social media presence will find its way into branded search results. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how carefully and professionally you’ve built that presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other leading platforms.
An inaccurate, unattractive, or unconvincing social media presence that fails may be the first (and only) encounter some of your target audience may have with your B2B brand. A stylistic or substantial disconnect between your social media presence and your website may also raise doubts as to the reliability of the latter.
How do you spiff up your social media presence so that it equals and supports the rest of your digital marketing? Start by creating accurate, compelling copy for these channels. Establish a tone of voice that’s consistent across your B2B brand. Add professional-quality visual elements and layouts that communicate your brand image consistently. Then build cross-links into the content that refer to your other social media channels as well as your website.
It’s about getting that first impression with your prospects right, and then demonstrating value to them from there — which leads us nicely to content marketing…
Content marketing assets
You can’t win your audience’s trust merely by claiming status as an industry leader, innovator, or authority. You’ve got to prove it to your prospective buyers, not just once but over and over again. One powerful way to do that is by cultivating content marketing assets demonstrating that you know your stuff.
Content marketing can take a variety of forms, the most common and obvious of which is a blog. Blog articles can be optimised to pop up in targeted search results, drawing viewers to your blog even when they’ve never heard of your brand. However, the real trust-building magic occurs once those viewers start reading — provided that you’ve created effective content.
Content marketing can establish your brand as a thought leader. By presenting astonishing new insights, helpful overviews, relevant topical essays, and answers to issues that matter to your client base, you set the pace as the brand to beat in your chosen profession or industry. When those viewers decide that they need help with a related challenge, they already know where to turn.
Content marketing also offers tremendous added value to your customers. When you explain complicated problems and walk your target audience through helpful tips and ideas that enhance their quality of life, you can’t help but earn both their gratitude and their trust — and, sooner or later, their business.
Code marketing implementation
“Try before you buy” is a pretty hard offer to resist, especially if you’re already partially sold on the offerer’s credentials and products/services. In a way, it’s the ultimate trust builder. When you know you have the option of trying something out to see whether you like it before making a deeper commitment, you can only assume that the seller feels pretty confident about its ability to make you happy.
Code marketing is digital marketing’s variation of “try before you buy.” Originally developed by and for SaaS (Software as a Service) providers, it has since made the transition into the sound strategy for many sellers of products and services.
Code marketing is tightly linked to content marketing. For example, if you want to sell subscriptions to your coffee-of-the-month-club, you might write an article on a particular type of coffee that includes an offer for a free sample pack of the coffee in question — or for a limited-time free trial of sample coffee packages.
Building trust is an ongoing process
Bear in mind that once you win a customer’s trust, you must work to keep it. The digital marketing strategies noted above aren’t one-off actions — they’re procedures that you establish, implement, and refine as you go.
You must continue to build your online marketing presence, piece by piece, on a regular schedule, touching new customers and re-touching old ones to retain their attention and interest. Give these techniques time to work — and see what they do for your brand!
If you want to learn more about building trust in a digital world, we at Gripped know our stuff, and can help you demonstrate value and generate leads online. Find out more by booking a free growth assessment today.