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Written by Caroline Cox on Apr 2 , 2021

When it comes to marketing, we’re living in the age of authenticity.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why owning mistakes is key to building brand trust
  • How to respond to positive and negative reviews
  • Tips for creating trust-building content
  • How to showcase the people behind your company

Keeping it 100. #NoFilter. The real deal. Are these phrases that could describe your business?

A 2020 Edelmen survey shows that trust is the second most important purchasing factor for brands, with respondents overwhelmingly saying they “want brands to take action, solve problems and advocate for change.”

The challenge for many companies is that, these days, most people are savvy enough to know when they’re being sold to. And most may not even mind, as long as the messages they’re receiving are honest.

So, how can companies build trust in this day and age? Digital marketing is a great place to start.

1. Create content that aims to educate

High-quality content is one of the most effective ways you can foster brand trust. Not only does it show your audience that you want to help them, but it also allows you to humanize your company. (Not to mention, it’s great for boosting your SEO.)

While driving sales is one of the big foundations of a digital marketing plan, it shouldn’t always be top of mind when you’re brainstorming blog posts or other content ideas. Instead, your content should aim to:

  • Answer common questions your clients and prospects have
  • Touch on each stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Speak directly to your chosen persona
  • Position your brand as a thought leader
  • Be easy to read and digest
  • Feature tactical advice or actionable tips

Too much company-facing content can be a turn-off to prospects. Instead, focus on your industry, whether that means expert insights, trend breakdowns, step-by-step guides, or something more. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes: what content can you produce to show them you have their best interests in mind?

HawkSEM blog: 9 Ways Digital Marketing Builds Brand Trust

The brands that properly build trust understand that it’s all about creating connections that help turn individual buyers into a community. (Image via Unsplash)

2. Respond to your reviews

It can be tempting to write up an enthusiastic “thank you!” message in response to a positive review, while leaving the negative ones alone to languish. Alternatively, some brands choose to only respond to their negative reviews to offer a rebuttal.?

Brand reputation is becoming increasingly important to consumers — and online reviews are a big factor. That’s why we say, if you want to build a trustworthy company, it’s wise to respond to all of your reviews, if you can.

Thanking someone for a positive review generally takes very little time and makes the reviewer feel appreciated. Negative reviews are a bit more touchy. Your response, of course, will depend on the content of the review.?

If the person had a bad customer service experience, it’s a good idea to respond professionally and apologetically. You can also offer up your contact info and invite the reviewer to continue the conversation privately. You can also respond this way if the issue was a simple mix-up or misunderstanding on the reviewer’s part.

If the reviewer is a current or former client whose contact info you already have, proactively reach out and try to smooth things over. Best-case scenario: They realize it was an honest error, and update or remove their negative feedback.

3. Start (and participate in) industry conversations

The brands that properly leverage digital marketing to build trust understand that it’s all about creating connections that help turn individual buyers into a community.?

Starting and joining in on conversations is a great way to foster this community connection in your industry. Social media is often where these conversations are taking place, so get involved! Participate in live chats on Twitter, join relevant professional LinkedIn and Facebook groups, and use popular industry hashtags on Instagram.?

Being part of the ongoing conversations in your field shows you’re paying attention, and it can help grow your company’s organic reach.

4. Use badges and client testimonials to your advantage

Which seems more trustworthy to you: A brand talking about how great they are, or one that lets their clients and business partners do the talking for them?

When it comes to authenticity, we always say it’s better to show rather than tell. Leverage positive reviews and happy client feedback by adding these attributed quotes to your website, social media, or even your ads (as long as it’s cool with the source, of course).

While you’re at it, don’t be afraid to show off any special accreditations, certifications, badges, or awards your business has accrued, too. Third-party validation makes your brand look trustworthy and helps you stand out. You’ve earned the props, why not share them?

5. Partner with other authoritative brands

Working in a silo can only get you so far. Look into opportunities to partner with other brands, whether for a content swap, joint webinar, or a preferred vendor program. The companies you seek out should ideally be in your industry and have similar target audiences without being competitors.

Build up a relationship with the people behind these brands. You can offer to share their content with your audience, for starters. For the best chance of creating a relationship, reach out in a way that highlights the benefit for them.?

Particularly with more established brands, you may have to reach out to a few times before getting a response. That’s why it’s good to have a plan or vision ready to go that explains how you could team up in a way that’s beneficial for both of your businesses.

HawkSEM blog: 9 Ways Digital Marketing Builds Brand Trust

If you want people to trust your company, then security should be a top priority. (Image via Unsplash)

6. Make sure your site is secure

Quick ways to lose brand trust: A client getting a barrage of unsolicited emails from your company or realizing you sold their info to a third party without their consent. If you want people to trust your company, then security should be a top priority.

Having a secure domain (that begins with “https” instead of “http”) is a clear indicator that someone can feel safe submitting their personal info via a form on your website. If users log into your site for any reason, make sure you’ve got the proper settings in place to prevent hacking.?

Lastly, if you accept payments through your site or platform, make sure you’re adhering to PCI compliance guidelines (a set of security standards that help keep payment info secure). This will bring you and your clients peace of mind.

7. Own up to your mistakes

Let’s be real: sh*t happens. Sometimes websites crash, broken links end up in blogs, or sales emails get sent out that say “Hi, [name!]”.?

Instead of ignoring or trying to cover up a mistake, just own it, apologize (if necessary), fix things, and move on.

Particularly in competitive fields — and most of them are, these days — it can be scary to admit you screwed up. But people value transparency and the humbleness that comes with a company saying, “sorry.” No one’s perfect, after all.

8. Give your team time in the spotlight

It’s not just search algorithms that favor E-A-T standards of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness over those without.?

Sites with human elements (bylines, bios, headshots) remind people that there are real-live humans behind your product or service. Your team is something that makes your business unique — so let them shine!?

A few ways you can highlight employees include:

  • Having them host video tutorials, webinars, or a branded podcast
  • Posting a social media series that features different team members with their photo, name, job title, and a fun fact
  • Including employee headshots on your website’s About page or a team photo as your social media cover image
HawkSEM blog: 9 Ways Digital Marketing Builds Brand Trust

Keeping in mind why the company was created in the first place can help you show people that your intentions are good. (Image via Unsplash)

9. Make your company mission clear

Sometimes it pays to get back to basics. Think about why your business was started in the first place. What was your mission, and how has it evolved? What need does your company aim to fill? What problems are you trying to solve?

Mission-driven branding will always come off more authentic than gimmicky ads or sensationalist copy. Keeping in mind why the company was created in the first place can help you stay on course and show people that your intentions are good.

The takeaway

With multiple options available for most products and services, people are looking to buy from businesses they can trust. Pair that with the rise of misinformation in recent years, and people value transparency more than ever.?

As competition becomes more fierce, leveraging your company as a trusted source can be what makes your offering stand out from the crowd.

This article has been updated and was originally published in November 2019.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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