As digital marketers, it goes without saying that our work is done online, typically with people we haven’t met in person. We carefully craft emails, send newsletters, let them know when we have a sale or promotion, highlight how they can work with us. We pay attention to social media and set up SMS communication.
In order for all of this to be successful, several things have to happen. First, you have to know what you’re doing, and second, your product or service needs to be quality. Okay, now assuming those things are in place, there is a key ingredient that no company who markets their products or services should skip or downplay.
Trust. Your audience must trust you. After all, they don’t really know you, do they? It’s 100% up to you to help your audience feel as though they do know you, and can trust you as a result. Here are our best tips to help you create that environment.
7 Tips to Creating Trust with Your Audience
1. Be consistent. If you send out a newsletter every couple of months, email only when you have a promotion, and post on social media randomly, it appears you’re not serious. Not serious, your audience asks? Then we don’t trust you with our email address, let alone our money or our company. Update social media daily, send your newsletter out like clockwork (1-4 times a month), and email very consistently.
2. Be authentic. Don’t try to be something you’re not, or to be all things to all people. If you’re not a funny person, don’t try to sell using humor. If you’re new to the industry, own it with “a fresh perspective” rather than exaggerate your experience level.
3. Use social proof. Got a few satisfied customers? Get a quote from them (along with permission to use it publicly), and post that on your website, in your newsletter, or in a social media graphic. Most people make purchasing decisions in part due to positive reviews and testimonials of happy customers — it makes them trust that you deliver well.
4. Avoid overuse of trendy/slang language. Honestly, if we see any more “Yaaasssss queen,” “Hello, lovely,” “slide into our DMs,” or “revolutionary,” we will not be responsible for our actions. Seriously, your $15 houseplant is going to start a revolution? We don’t think so, and we’re apt to think you’re just silly if you say that.
5. Know your brand voice and stick to it. We talk about this all the time. Your company has a voice. Know it, and make sure anyone writing or speaking on your company’s behalf knows it and uses it without fail. Are you friendly, knowledgeable, and accessible? Are you educational, courtly, and elegant? Are you quirky, funny, and current?
- Here’s an example in our horticulture industry: Claus Dalby (@clausdalby on IG) is a Danish gardener, photographer and broadcaster with a huge following. His style is elegant, charming, and straightforward, and his IG posts are very consistent with that voice — no extra fluff, no slang, and no cheekiness. Contrast that with Easy to Grow Bulbs (@easytogrowbulbsca on IG), which specializes in flowering bulbs and some houseplants. Their voice is friendly, casual, uses puns, and is a bit quirky. They each know who they are, stick to it, and create massive trust as a result.
6. When you make a mistake, own it and fix it. Did someone leave a comment on your Instagram post that they called your company because their order was wrong, but nobody called back? Reply publicly to them: “We’re so sorry for the mix-up! Thank you for your patience. We’re going to DM you to get your details and will get that handled for you immediately.” Did a team member blow a deadline? Pick up the phone and call your client with, “We dropped the ball on our end and apologize. Here’s what we’re going to do to fix it.” Never throw a team member under the bus (trust, remember?), BTW — it’s always “we.” And recall that social proof? It’s perfectly acceptable (great, actually) to use a quote from a customer who started out disgruntled and then turned into a fan because of customer service. Anyone can make a mistake, but people trust you more when you own it and make it right.
7. Be transparent. In our Instagram account, we sometimes post about a time when we got in over our heads, dropped a ball, miscommunicated, or didn’t meet our goal or objective. Why do we do this? Because we want our audience to know we are human beings, that we are not perfect, and that we are professionals who learn and correct the course when necessary. We want our audience to know that they are dealing with real people who will not try to fool them, won’t ghost them, and who stand behind their work and word. We are transparent.