Know. Like. Trust.
You know the formula by now. When you accomplish that holy trifecta, you’re well on your way to earning a paying customer. You might even win that customer’s loyalty.
But your readers have very sensitive slime radars.
You don’t even need to be a complete slimeball to discredit your character. Your readers’ trust issues may not trace back to the words you say or write — they could even be inflamed by the stuff you don’t say.
Here are nine ways you might be losing your customers’ trust (without even realizing you’re doing it).
1. Your brand does all the talking
If you don’t let your fans and readers interact with your brand, you’re just being a used car salesman.
Perhaps your website is devoid of dialogue. Maybe you don’t have a blog, a forum, or published reviews of your business. The voice on the site is only yours, and no one else’s.
You have all the answers, but no one was given the chance to ask a question.
Why does your site lack opportunities for interaction? Perhaps you’re fixated on moving product out the door as quickly as possible. Or maybe you’re just not interested in what the customer has to say.
Either way, when your brand does all the talking on your website, you’ve got a recipe for distrust.
2. You’re anti-social
I know, I know. You don’t have time for social media.
You actually checked it out. You even set up a couple of accounts. But after a month of sharing your opinions and pitches, nary a cash register rang.
You think you’ve proved it — Facebook’s not worth liking, Twitter is for the birds, and you never really figured out what Google+ was supposed to be about anyway.
But don’t fool yourself. Those billions of customers you’ve chosen not to connect with are going to find relationships elsewhere.
3. You write for robots
Consciously or subconsciously, the heavy-handed practice of keyword stuffing is a certain mistrust trigger.
Do not compose copy solely to get attention from search engine robots. Even if you get the ranking you covet, you need to remember that robots don’t have wallets.
Write for people first, and search engines second.
4. You’re not helpful
If you don’t offer your audience a hand, it’s the same as blowing them off entirely.
In the online world, the most fervent servants have the most loyal friends. A generous giver of help and advice grows the trust that builds great brands, while the holdouts are left out in the cold.
5. No one’s home
Nothing says “We’re too busy for you” like a site with no email address, phone number, or address.
There’s only one reason you would withhold contact information from your clients, and that’s if you just don’t want to be contacted.
And spare your audience the “chat now” button on your home page — unless there really is a customer service rep standing by to take their questions.
If you want to be liked and trusted, you need to remember that someone who wants to contact you is a probably a prospect (or a media rep who want to give you some free press.) Either way, you need to give them a quick, easy way of getting in touch with you.
6. You’re never wrong
Companies are people, and people make mistakes. And, as a public figure, people will call you on your mistakes.
If you react by getting defensive (or by pointing fingers), you’re bound to see your trust quotient go down.
7. Your place is a mess
When you walk into a store that is messy and unorganized, you’re probably going to leave and not come back.
If your website is cluttered and noisy, or if visitors can’t easily find what they’re looking for, you’ll make a bad first impression. In many cases, you’ll never even get the chance to develop trust.
8. You’re using bad words
Visitors come to your website to read. The copy they find on your site will welcome your potential clients, turn them off completely, or make no impression at all.
Turnoffs include spelling mistakes, poor grammar, blatant bastardizations of the language, clumsy sales pitches, clichés, and jargon-laden nonsense that people struggle to decipher.
Clean up your copy in order to roll out the welcome mat for your visitors.
9. And finally, there’s your plain old bright green slime
The trust killers we’ve covered above are generally innocent ones. The guilty party probably didn’t mean any harm.
But you could be a shady character, trying to get away with something that’s actually nefarious …
- Bait and switch sales tactics
- Convoluted fine print
- Overly aggressive cookies
- Fabricated testimonials
- Unsolicited emails (spam)
- Difficult (or missing) unsubscribe protocols
Let me be clear: Don’t do these things. Ever.
These (and many more variations of them) are all slimy tactics, and some of them are outright illegal. Stay out of the “green slime.” Always. Forever.
You can’t beg, buy or borrow trust. If you want it, you have to build it one article, podcast, tweet, and headline at a time … and that takes effort.
The current citizens of the web have the most finely-tuned BS filters in the history of publishing, and hands that are never far from the back button.
So be good. Be ethical and honest. Be present.
Be like the people you trust most — the ones who are happy to help you.
Emulate the people who help you, because it’s the right thing to do, not just because it’s lucrative.
About the Author: Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative and provides clients content marketing strategies that rock and creative that rolls. Barry also authors "Content Marketing Minds" at Social Media Today, and he was recently named a Top 40 Digital Strategist by Online Marketing Institute and one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. He recently released a comprehensive strategic workbook "The Planner for Growing Your Business with Effective Online Marketing." If you would like a piece of his mind, visit his blog, The Point.