How to Build Brand Trust

November 12, 2019

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Brand trust is one of the most important factors in consumers’ purchase decisions.

According to research, more than one in three (35 percent) consumers ranked “trust in the brand” as among their top three reasons for choosing a retailer. Brand trust was only slightly less important to consumers than finding items in stock. Reasons like having a loyalty program and knowledgeable sales associates were cited much less often.

But brand trust is earned, not given. 

According to a 2018 study by Edelman, only 48 percent of the population in the U.S. trust businesses as an institution, marking a 10-point drop from 2017. In other words, there’s an ongoing trust crisis facing big corporations and small businesses alike, and brands must work to fix the problem.

Factors Influencing Brand Trust

What makes a brand trustworthy to consumers? Edelman ranked some of the top factors, which include:

  • Delivering products and services that are of good quality
  • Having great reviews and ratings
  • Charging a fair price for products and services
  • Addressing customer service problems quickly
  • Ensuring data privacy and security of personal information

Image courtesy of Marketing Charts

Having great reviews and ratings is especially important in today’s digital age. 

According to the latest Online Reviews Survey, negative reviews drive away customers, with 94 percent saying that an online review has convinced them to avoid a business. Customers don’t particularly trust businesses with lower than 4-star ratings and 80 percent of consumers say the star ratings they trust the most are 4.0, 4.5, and 5 stars.

6 Ways to Build Brand Trust 

Building a brand that consumers trust takes a lot of work and planning, and it’s not just about having a recognizable brand either; as suggested above, there are wide-ranging factors that determine if your brand has earned consumers’ trust. 

The good news is successfully cultivating brand trust helps you achieve competitive differentiation and inspire customer loyalty, benefiting your business into the future. These best practices can help you get started.

Know Where Your Brand Stands

Before looking into ways to make your brand more trustworthy, work at understanding where your brand stands. How do people look at and feel about your brand, and what do they think of when they come across your products and services? To get an accurate pulse of your reputation, try the following:

  • Set up Google Alerts for your brand keywords. 
  • Monitor online reviews and keep your finger on the pulse of what customers are saying online.
  • Identify key metrics for measuring your brand reputation
  • Ask customers directly for their opinions on your brand through surveying and customer feedback management. 

Deliver a Great Customer Experience

High-quality products and services, great reviews, and responsive customer service all rank highly as factors determining consumer trust in brands. These all contribute to delivering a great customer experience. 

According to research by Oracle, approximately 82 percent of consumers have had a disappointing or upsetting experience with a brand in the past. Over half of this number (43 percent) say they blacklist brands that fail to meet their expectations. 

There a multiple ways to unearth the steps needed to delivering a better customer experience: get to know your customers, listen to their feedback, understand their unique wants and needs (and respond quickly), and increase personalization in all the interactions between your brand and the customer. 

With the right attitude — and a serious commitment to putting customers first — you can deliver a great customer experience, build brand trust, and inspire customer delight.

Read this blog post for simple steps you can take to improve customer experience.

Engage with Customers on their Preferred Channels

Modern consumers prefer to do their own research before making a purchase decision. Instead of being influenced by advertising and traditional marketing communications, they turn to their family and friends for recommendations, listen to influencers on social media, and rely on business review sites

To build brand trust, you must engage in conversations with customers on their preferred channels. But don’t simply barrage them with sales pitches, marketing lingo, and “key benefits.” 

Instead, you should answer questions and respond to reviews and social media comments. Claim your business presence and be active in local listings and business directories. Provide helpful information across all digital properties where your brand has presence, and offer ways for visitors on your website to interact with your brand. You can also distribute customer satisfaction surveys and let customers know their voice is being heard.

With a strong community of actively engaged customers, you can solidify valuable brand trust and stand out from your fiercest competitors.     

Manage Online Reviews and Ratings

Whether you’re managing a small business or an enterprise-level organization with hundreds of locations, it’s clear that online reviews have a direct impact on your brand reputation and your ability to build brand trust. 

When customers take the time to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences via a review, the least you can do is respond. (And the worst thing you can do is ignore the review).

If a customer wrote a five-star review, say thank you. If the feedback is negative or comes with a low rating, acknowledge what the customer said and work on resolving any issues related to their experience.

Reviews — both good and bad — create unique opportunities for inspiring brand trust in consumers who navigate multiple channels to discover and evaluate products and services. Proactively manage your online reviews, and you can easily build goodwill with customers. 

Harness User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) refers to original content created and made publicly available by individuals outside your organization or brand: your customers, fans, online reviewers, brand advocates, and even online critics and detractors.

Common examples of UGC include: 

  • Online reviews and ratings of your business on sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor
  • Reviews aggregated or embedded on your site via a review widget
  • “Tips” left by Foursquare users who checked into your location
  • Customer success stories and testimonials
  • Video reviews of your product or service posted on YouTube, Instagram photos, videos, and stories that tagged your business

You can use UGC to your advantage and leverage it to build brand trust. it can be far more effective than traditional techniques and tactics like paid advertising, PR blitzes, and invasive sales messages and promotions. 

Consumers today don’t necessarily rely on TV commercials, glossy magazine advertisements, or sales pitches to figure out which product or service to buy. They’re more proactive and research-driven. They seek social proof. And they’re more eager than ever to validate their purchase decisions, which they do by searching for information on the Internet, on social media, and on online review sites.

According to research: 

  • UGC and peer endorsements hold more sway than celebrity influencers, and are 10 times more likely to drive in-store purchases. 
  • Positive UGC around your brand can also increase the value and desirability of your brand, services, and products by as much as 9.5 percent. 
  • A specific type of UGC, online reviews, is the key in-store purchase driver for 14.5 percent of consumers, while social media — mainly, Facebook and YouTube — is the form of communication that will convince 12.3 percent to make a buying decision.

Check these examples of how you can leverage user-generated content to develop your brand and boost your marketing performance. 

Stay Authentic

Consumers won’t trust your brand if it doesn’t seem authentic. “Real and organic” is better than “perfect and packaged,” and authenticity has proven to be at the heart of brand trustworthiness.

Case in point: according to Northwestern University research, product purchases are most influenced by reviews with an average rating of 4.2 to 4.5 stars out of 5 — making this the ideal average star rating for purchase probability.

Your brand doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be trustworthy. But it has to possess relatable qualities to consumers.

You should share content that demonstrates your brand goals, and culture. Embody values that set you apart. Don’t be afraid to embrace negative feedback. Don’t attempt to manufacture a five-star reputation by posting fake positive reviews. Instead of censoring them, invite your customers to share their stories. And respond openly and honestly to queries on social media and online review sites. 

At a time when consumers value authenticity more than perfection, your brand should do the same.

The Importance of Brand Trust

Building brand trust is an important competitive differentiator, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You have to close the gap between customer expectations and the actual experience, manage your online reputation, listen to the voice of the customer, and develop authentic, engaging relationships with them.

If you make the commitment and apply the best practices outlined above, consumers will choose you over competitors and stay with you for the long haul.

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