49 Ways to Gain the Trust
and Loyalty of Your Audience

image of heart shaped wood cut

Let me guess, you’re an honest person.

You know what you’re talking about. And your clients, your friends, and your colleagues trust your advice.

But online things seem different.

How can you demonstrate that you’re competent, credible, and trustworthy? Gaining trust online may seem difficult. But it doesn’t need to be.

Online, you can’t assume trust is automatically established. Instead, you need to actively build your trustworthiness.

How?

There are three key elements to developing trust with your online audience:

  1. Build authority by creating and sharing useful content;
  2. Then develop relationships with your audience by showing you genuinely care;
  3. And finally, underscore your credibility with a professional website.

Your first task is to determine what you want to be known for, and start building your reputation.

How to build your reputation

Knowledge is great. Competence is great. But the combination of both encourages people to trust you and increases your powers of enchantment.
~ Guy Kawasaki

What knowledge can you share?

What are your skills?

How can you share your experience to help others?

Here are 17 ways to create content and build authority:

  1. Be different. You have to stand out. Because nobody likes copycats.
  2. Be on a mission. What do you want to achieve? And why?
  3. Develop your own voice. What’s unique about you?
  4. Have an opinion. Stand for something. Don’t be afraid to alienate a few people. It will bring you closer to others.
  5. Produce content. Write an incredibly useful tutorial. Create a flagship ebook. Develop cornerstone content. Produce content you want to be known for.
  6. Become a storyteller. Because stories are memorable.
  7. Be helpful. Create and share content that solves your readers’ problems.
  8. Build a tribe. Because your followers will spread your ideas for you.
  9. Use quotations. Acknowledge the people you’ve learnt from.
  10. Give away free content. Because your influence will grow.
  11. Interview experts. Because it allows you to create valuable content more quickly.
  12. Show results. Develop case studies, because your track record will shape opinion about you.
  13. Promote testimonials. Let others build your reputation.
  14. Write guest posts. It’s the quickest way to build authority with a big audience.
  15. Don’t constantly sell. Teaching is a much better way to gain sales.
  16. Exceed expectations. Surprise people by being insanely helpful.
  17. Be curious. And keep learning. And share more.

How to demonstrate integrity

You cannot buy trust at any price. But slowly, over time, you can build it for free.
~ Jeffrey Gitomer

To build trust, you have to let people know you’re sincere.

Don’t focus on yourself. Interact. Social media channels provide a huge opportunity to build trust.

How?

Follow these 19 principles to show your audience you’re worthy of their trust:

  1. Be interested. Nobody will trust you if you’re self-centred.
  2. Be yourself. You don’t need to go naked, but fakes will be quickly exposed.
  3. Be passionate. And show you genuinely care.
  4. Listen. Lurk. Observe. Understand the culture of a platform before you jump in.
  5. Build relationships. Ask questions. Answer queries. Say thank you.
  6. Show your personality. Because it helps build relationships.
  7. Use familiar language. Because gobbledygook turns people off.
  8. Give credit. Don’t be a thief. Quote your sources. Provide links to those who inspire you.
  9. Be conversational. Because it shows you’re human. Nobody wants to engage with a clone.
  10. Be generous. It’s a surprisingly common secret of success.
  11. Be humble. Because nobody likes windbags.
  12. Be transparent. Declare your business interests. Ensure people don’t feel tricked or cheated.
  13. Show up. Scheduling tools are useful. But nothing beats real-time engagement.
  14. Start an email list. Because communicating by email is more intimate than interacting via social media.
  15. Promote others. Not because you expect something in return, but because you like what they say and do.
  16. Become familiar. Be visible. Be consistent. Use the same profile picture across social networks. Because familiarity breeds trust.
  17. Provide valuable comments. Contribute to the discussion.
  18. Accept responsibility. Acknowledge and apologize when you need to.
  19. Don’t pretend. Admit freely if you don’t know an answer. Nobody expects you to know everything.

How to be credible

Credibility is established through what other people think.
~ Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

How do people know you are who you claim to be? Does your website signal that you can be trusted? Does your content promote your authority?

Use the following 13 tactics to demonstrate your credibility:

  1. Design a professional website. Because poor design makes you look like an amateur.
  2. Use high quality pictures. Put some thought into the images you use.
  3. Have your own domain. Because using a BlogSpot or WordPress hosted blog brings a whole host of business problems.
  4. Use a reputable host. Because downtime and slow loading make you look incompetent.
  5. Avoid grammar goofs. These credibility-killers just make you look foolish.
  6. Mind your spelling. Because typos undermine your credibility.
  7. Study copywriting. Don’t let poor editing let you down. Write tight. Don’t bore your readers with clichés. Compose compelling headlines.
  8. Design a timeless logo. Because it adds stature.
  9. Use a professional headshot. What impression does a holiday shot make?
  10. Provide a money back guarantee. Because it shows your confidence.
  11. Use symbols of trust. Security shields, authorized badges, and seals of approval increase your credibility.
  12. Provide confidence. Be clear about your privacy policy.
  13. Show social proof. That’s obvious isn’t it?

The truth about gaining a loyal audience

The reward for earning trust is a big one: loyalty.
~ Sally Hogshead

To build trust, you have to build self-confidence through experience first. Because, if you don’t trust yourself, why would others?

Don’t overpromise. And don’t break commitments to yourself. Be consistent. Show up. You’ll be richly rewarded.

Be credible and helpful, and you’ll build a loyal following. Exceed expectations and your online business will grow.

Come on. Be confident. Show that you genuinely care.

What can you do today to build trust?

About the Author: Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent marketer and copywriter on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to add sparkle to boring business blogs. For more writing tips, join her Enchanting Marketing newsletter.

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Comments

  1. To me, starting an email list is the most important thing every content marketer must do. Blogging has gone beyond writing and commenting. The noise about social media is too much to aid relationship marketing. I’m not saying is impossible to relate to your fans, but email tends to produce better results. I love collecting leads and helping my subscribers to grow. This post is amazing, thank you.

  2. I second the email list.

    I’ve also become really fascinated with using interviews to not only make new connections, but also bring value to my audience. There are so many things you can do, and for anyone who’s stuck, just pick one thing from this list and brainstorm how you can implement it today.

    Do that, and results shall flow like melted chocolate from the heavens.

    Always love your stuff, Henneke!

  3. I’ve used this great article as a stick to beat a few of my clients! There’s definitely a belief among the uninitiated that online marketing means just sending out a bunch of sales emails and waiting for the orders to come in.

  4. “Don’t constantly sell. Teaching is a much better way to gain sales. ”
    Couldn’t agree more. Teachers are trusted and respected, most sales guys can’t claim the same thing. You want to educate your audience, not pitch them every step of the way.

  5. I love list posts because even when you think you’ve got it going on, there’s always a few items that serve as reminders of what you need to work on. Good list, Henneke!

  6. Great post! Don’t underestimate the value of providing valuable information. As Nick Stamoulis wrote earlier — teaching trumps selling.

  7. Well done Henneke! A nice round up.

  8. That’s an excellent article Henneke. You could add “Use odd numbers in your lists” though of course that would bring yours up to 50!

    Speaking from my own experience, as an on-off social marketer, but a dedicated email marketer since October 2001, I can attest to the real and lasting *commercial* value of building your own list.

    I would say our email newsletter, which goes out monthly, is our biggest revenue-generator after word of mouth. And I try to follow all those guidelines you collated and explained so clearly every time I write an article.

    If I could echo a couple of your points, the most important thing to me seems to be not just good content, because to a certain extent a lot of what you read is based on a core of good ideas, but the personality of the writer, which creates the experience for the subscriber. I have always tried to engage my readers by offering my own particular take on the world, from the joys of whippet ownership to teeth-grinding moments with my bank.

    • I agree, Andy – showing some personality, offering your own point of view and sharing a few personal experiences or stories make emails so much more enjoyable. It’s a good way to increase likeability and trust.

      And I recommend your newsletter – I’ve been a subscriber for a few months ;-)

  9. The list gives so many things that are important that we often think, oh yes, I’m going to do all of these! And off we go to implement everything at once. Even if we tell ourselves we can’t do this, we often try!

    What helps me when i get a list like this is to look closely and realize that I’m already doing several things. So, there’s one advantage right there. Then I look at the things on the list that just don’t make sense for me to do at all. Okay, that reduces the list once again! Now I’m down to a manageable list that resonates with me.

    Then I prioritize what remains and take the top item. OKay, how can I implement that one now … today? If I can add one a day, one a week, one a month … it’s just fine. Of course on this list, character and honesty are prevalent throughout and couldn’t we just BE that way? Now? :-)

  10. Thank you for sharing these helpful tips. I’m struggling with how to persuade my readers to make comments so that there would be more discussions towards the end of my posts. Now, I can re-evaluate my blogs and try achieving loyal and and trustful audience.

  11. Familiarity breeds trust. I like that, Henneke! Blog comments and social shares are among the easiest ways to accomplish familiarity, and they’re both fun to boot. Seeing all of these helpful, bite-sized tips in one place is beneficial to any blogger or businessperson. :)

    Adding to #16: I’ve often heard the phrase “under-promise and over-deliver,” which makes much more sense than promising the world right off the bat. Glad you covered that, too. Is there a particular tip that you favor over the others, just out of curiosity?

    • That’s a really difficult question, Jill.

      Could I suggest two?

      #2 is really important because our mission should be the foundation for everything we do.
      #23 (show your personality) is probably my other favorite because for me it’s too easy to fall into the trap of hiding my personality online.

      Which are your favourites?

      • * sigh *
        That’s the influence of my British education – should read “favorites” ;-)

        • No worries, Henneke. I actually prefer British spellings, and I’ve (unfortunately) never been there! I’ll make it there someday…

          #2 and #23 are good picks. I mean, they’re ALL good picks, but those deserve to be singled out. I’d have to go with #14 and #16 as my faves, only because I’ve had vast success meeting new bloggers through guest posting, and I love researching in order to help someone find what they need. It pays to be kind and thorough! :)

  12. I agree with almost your tips above Henneke! They seem to be simple but are great problem when not taken into consideration. In order to gain trust and loyalty of your audience you must be the most well-powered individual in all those ways to show light for others and I think that is what I have seen in you friend! Your writing is really impressing and educative. Thanks for sharing this and I wish to say that every tip above is beneficial to any blogger or businessperson when focused on. :)

  13. Nice post. Thanks for the info.

    Personal Opinion – Good content is the base of blogging :) , all others being equally important second base

  14. This is encouraging. Thanks for putting it up.

  15. Hi Henneke! excellent post and great compile list of expertise points. I really love reading this article.

    For me gainning trust of your site readers is the big and main challenge every blogger face at the starting point but eventually he learned how to build trust and authority while engaging regularly and producing problem solving content.

    Thanks for sharing valuable information :-)

  16. I’ve learnt a lot from this… thanks for the info.

  17. Curiosity has got it is own reason of existing and so if we want to exxecel in whatever we do then we shouldn’t miss an opportunity to ask questions. All in all our personalities also matters, l have learn t quit a bunch from this and thanks for sharing.

  18. Thanks for the useful information the best weapon we have to have is total trust from our clients and their loyalty. We should also be confident in ourselves if we want others to be confident in us and appreciate the work we are doing.

  19. Great article! Very helpful. I’ve learned a lot. Thank you.

  20. Hi Henneke,

    thanks for sharing a great article. I have to admit to having a love/hate relationship with list posts – I like to learn one solid concept when I read an article online otherwise I end up feeling like I’ve been given a ‘To-Do’ list. That being said it’s a great article, well written, and I completely agree with 99% of what you put forward.

    I also like that each point is so succinct.

    One important point about building trust which I guess is mentioned implicitly but is not on your numbered list is consistency. Building trust takes time, so doing a lot of the things you mentioned above over time is how to get there,

    take care & best wishes,
    Alan

    • I agree, Alan. Being consistent over time and becoming familiar are hugely important when building trust. But some of the other points – such as guest posting, emailing regularly and showing your personality – can speed up the process somewhat.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  21. Brillant article, very informative as usual

  22. I vote that points 18 to 36 be issued as standard on Twitter (and I’m a big fan of number 18 – Listen. Lurk. Observe.)

    I’m printing this off and pinning it up above my desk now – dank u wel!

  23. Great stuff, Henneke – thank you for sharing your expertise with us. I’m happy to see that I’m already doing some of the things on the list but you’ve definitely given me food for thought with some of the others!

    Also – it’s great to see it in black and white that internet marketing is not just about spamming and telling people to buy your product. There’s a lot of that going around in the music industry and a lot of time gets wasted by musicians issuing their followers with orders constantly and expecting them to act on command. There is more skill involved in promoting a product online than we are given credit for!

    Thanks again and have a lovely weekend! Love, peace and pie! Clara :)

  24. Having a blog that shows your integrity is important these days. An honest, caring blogger goes a long way with keeping the readers coming back for more!

  25. Awesome list! And it’s free of gobbledygook to boot! :)

  26. Talk about a big list, I like the 3 steps you put in the beginning even more though :)

  27. This is a very great contribution would be nice if some German marketers would abide by it, rotate completely through :)

    Bye for now
    Jacqueline

  28. This is good stuff. Thank you for sharing how to build trust, credibility, loyalty and reputation. I’ve been looking for this.

  29. Really helpful, Henneke. You articulated the concepts very well. Thank you for the post.