You check out your options online, of course.
First, you likely check to see who the players are in the industry you’re looking at. Next, you might visit company websites, blogs, and social media pages to get a feel for which ones would be the best fit. Then, you look at reviews to narrow down the field even further.
And what is it exactly that you’re looking for as you do your research? A company that provides what you need, within your budget.
But if that still leaves you with a choice, then what is the deciding factor for you? Whether it’s a Yelp page full of rave reviews or a truly authentic blog that gives insider peeks at the company culture, the key to attracting customers in the digital age is projecting transparency and earning trust.
Anyone can create a professional-looking website, and today it’s almost a given that a company’s blog and social media pages will be full of informative posts. The real differentiator is a digital marketing strategy that places a high value on making sure consumers feel they can trust your brand, through transparency and social proof.
Here are 3 important elements to incorporate into your strategy to ensure that consumers choose your business every time.
1. Authentic Behind-the-Scenes Content
Of course, you’ve got to provide information about your products or services on your website – but don’t stop there. Consumers don’t want to do business with a faceless company hiding behind the polished façade of their site; they want to feel a personal connection with the real people behind the brand in order to trust them enough to buy from them.
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In order to give people that feeling of connectedness, trust and transparency, you’ve got to open up and let them see behind the curtain. Share your company manifesto in your blog. Tell the story of why and how you got into this business in an informal Facebook Live video. Post pictures of your employees goofing off on Instagram. The more consumers feel that they know the real you, the more they’ll trust you.
Social proof is one of the most effective marketing tactics – because everyone believes word-of-mouth advertising over what a company says about itself. That’s why reviews on an independent site like Yelp are so powerful – you know they’re from real people and haven’t been edited. But it’s even more effective when a well-known online industry influencer, someone who is considered an expert in the field and already has consumers’ trust and respect, gives your company a good review.
By recruiting influencers to your cause, you earn instant trust for your brand among their followers. Find the influencers your target audience follows, and reach out to them to see if they’d be willing to partner with you. Maybe they can write a blog post reviewing your product or service in exchange for some freebies, or maybe they can hold a giveaway on Facebook in exchange for pay. It’s worth every penny, because the ROI is substantial.
3. Radical Transparency
Unfortunately, as much as we might like them to be, people and companies aren’t perfect. There will inevitably be times when a customer has a bad experience and then posts a negative review. But although the natural instinct is to want to delete or contest anything negative, in today’s digital climate, that can hurt more than help.
Instead of rushing to disavow negative comments, rush to apologize and make it right. Demonstrate publicly how your company handles less-than-stellar customer experiences, and you’ll not only improve the situation with that one customer – you’ll be attracting new customers with your openness, honesty, and willingness to fix mistakes rather than cover them up.
By taking every opportunity to showcase the real people behind your company in an authentic way, working with trusted influencers to show their followers that you can be trusted, too, and being completely transparent, even when it comes to negative reviews and comments, you’ll be creating an online presence that allows consumers to feel they can trust your brand. And that, more often than not, leads directly to a customer relationship that lasts.
About Shama Hyder
Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group – a global online marketing and digital PR company. She has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country. Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers for 2015. LinkedIn named Hyder one of its “Top Voices” in Marketing & Social Media. Her web show Shama TV was awarded the “Hermes Gold award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media” and most recently she was awarded the “Excellence in Social Media Entrepreneurship” award for 2016 by Anokhi Media.
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