As you ponder ways to build brand trust, be aware that the way we conduct business today is very different from a decade ago. The internet has revolutionized everything, with more people spending time online. Digital marketing has exploded in the past few years, and there is no sign of letting up. As long as people are getting online and shopping online, digital marketing can only get bigger.
People have to trust your brand enough to buy it and become loyal customers.
The pandemic has forced brands to re-strategize, with more people shopping online. However, most will only shop from brands they trust. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer Special report in 2020, 70% of consumers believe that brand trust is more important today than ever before. This belief cuts across all genders, age groups, and income levels.
What is brand trust?
Brand trust means how much confidence customers have in your products, services, or business as a whole. It reflects on your brand and whether it delivers consistently and stays loyal to its values. The way customers feel about your business is essential. It plays a significant role in building your reputation and your bottom lines.
Most people prefer shopping from a store they know and have built trust.
Advancement in technology means customers have more choices on where they shop. Shopping in an online store across the globe is not an issue. The question is, can they trust that business to deliver their items? How can they be sure that their problem will be solved and that their goods will not be delayed?
This is where you look to build brand trust. If the customers trust your brand, you have proven over time to be reliable and trustworthy.
Why is brand trust more important than ever?
There are millions of online stores. When you start an online store, you are not selling anything new under the sun, and your competitive edge can only come from building brand trust. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer says that people now trust businesses more than they trust the government, NGOs, and the media.
Brand trust has several benefits to your business:
Impacts customer buying decisions
Trust keeps bringing customers back to your brand. Customers who trust your brand will always choose you over other brands. Once you build brand trust, they become loyal and recurring customers, which increases their lifetime value.
Customers who trust your brand are more likely to tell others about it. Word-of-mouth advertisement is a powerful tool that drives more business. Satisfied customers will go out of their way to tell others about your brand and their experience. This type of marketing is a simple yet powerful reputation builder that will attract new business. In the Edelman Report, 78% said they would most likely repost or share content from their trusted brand, recommend it to others and defend it from critics.
Satisfied customers will keep coming back. They will remain loyal, and no matter the types of storms your business faces, they will keep it afloat by coming back time and again. 75% in the Edelman report said they would buy from the brand, even if their products were not cheap. 46% said that they trusted most of the brands they purchased.
In the aftermath of the global pandemic, people expect brands to take a stance and inspire hope for the future, advocate for more change and use their brand to better society. Brands have to steer clear of rapid responses and think long-term. Brand trust sustenance is a conversation that needs to be had every quarter for at least the next five years.
Build brand trust through digital marketing
Once upon a time, all a business needed for it to thrive was an easily recognizable brand. Today’s consumer demands trust before they can buy. The internet has changed consumers’ outlook on things. They can easily search for brand information online before they purchase, and most do. They have to look for reasons why they should trust your brand before investing their cash in your products or services.
Brand sentiment is a critical metric you need to watch. When you focus on the numbers, you only get a shallow perspective of things. Just because your brand gets many mentions online does not mean it is doing well. These mentions could be, in reality, bad reviews from customers.
Evaluating your brand sentiment determines the attitude or feeling toward your product, brand, or services.
Analyzing brand sentiment is made easy via media monitoring tools. With these tools, people tend to express their opinions via social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It’s impossible to search for all mentions manually and evaluate them, making media monitoring tools the best way to assess brand sentiment.
These tools analyze all your online brand mentions. This gives you valuable insights into how potential customers perceive your brand. The tools determine whether the mention’s sentiment is negative, neutral, or positive. However, a computer cannot detect nuances in a language such as sarcasm, so the tool cannot give you 100% analysis. It gives you a general overview of the sentiment.
Make your company mission clear
Your mission statement should define your brand’s business, objectives, and how you intend to reach the set goals. Your brand’s mission is the business’s foundation. This mission sets you apart from your competitors and defines how you value your clients. Other than stating what you do, you need a well-written and concise mission statement.
This goes a long way in making your brand more authentic and gives it a human face.
Consumers are already bogged down with online adverts. It becomes a challenge to connect with potential customers organically. Your mission statement should guide your marketing strategies. Build a brand voice that customers can relate to.
Understand customer behavior
Knowing your customers better allows you to get more business. When you understand your customer, you know how to give them better service. As a result, you forge good customer relationships. When you understand customer behavior, you can identify their purchase patterns or preferences, which allows you to anticipate their expectations and needs. You can do this by:
Tracking the customers’ behavior In real-time
You can only track the customers’ behaviors with tools that can give you a glimpse into their behavior in real-time. You can invest in a CRM (customer relationship management) tool that allows you to view and analyze their activities in depth.
Categorize your customers
Tagging the customers in one general group leads to cross-selling campaigns with no tangible results. Understand how to separate the customers and on what parameters. Group them in purchase frequency, type of products they buy, geographical location, etc.
Once you have the categories, it is now easier to create precise cross-selling and marketing campaigns. The messages in the campaigns are targeted at specific categories and drive value for your brand and the customers.
Encourage user-generated content or reviews
Today, most customers are millennials, and they are on social media discussing their favorite brands. This is crucial for any company trying to build brand trust. User-generated content is an excellent opportunity for your brand to show how real-life people use your products and build brand confidence.
Ensure you share the customer endorsements on your social media handles. You can also have the content featured on your website’s testimonials page. Other than your regular customers, allow other trusted sources to vouch for you. You can showcase your collaboration with other brands, share photos and videos from reputable sources, and use influencers in your industry to push your agenda.
Provide valuable content
In digital marketing, content is everything. Quality content on your blog, social media, or company website can do a lot by setting you up as a thought leader and authority in your industry. Before you write any content, do due diligence and check what your competitors are posting. Find gaps in their content and write content that will fill these gaps. Your content should be engaging, more detailed, and generally better than your competitors.
Stick to the 80/20 rule of content creation. 80% of the content should be non-promotional and impart valuable information, and 20% talk about your brand. This engages the customer and tells them they come first. Remember this when creating a video, writing a blog post, or posting on social media.
Have a solid, active presence on social media to engage with customers
When customers have an issue and raise it on your social media page or website, you have to be at hand to respond. Chatbots can be a part of the solution, and customers like to get prompt replies. A social media presence is beneficial for projecting your brand voice. Clients will be happy that someone listens to their problems and works on a solution as fast as possible.
Respond to your reviews
When you encourage reviews, you demonstrate that you value your customers’ opinions. You cannot please everyone, and there will be negative reviews. Responding with transparency can turn a potentially ugly situation around into a favorable one. If you mess up, do not hesitate to own up and apologize. Customers will be happy with your honesty and your willingness to rectify the mistake.
Initiate and participate in industry conversations
When you initiate and participate in industry conversations, you will be recognized as an authority in your field. You will also be recognized as an industry thought leader. Ensure you are knowledgeable and have done your research to impart useful and accurate information.
Take advantage of customer testimonials
As mentioned, customer testimonials can act as proof of your trustworthiness. Post the testimonials on your website testimonials page. Most customers read testimonials before they can fully trust a brand. If they find unbiased feedback on your website, all the more is why they should trust your brand.
Share trustworthy links
Links are a crucial asset. They connect your business with the online community. The links you share should always lead to reputable sites. Your content posts should refer to sources that provide curated content. Branded links will serve you well on social media as they give your followers a clue of what they are about to click.
Branded links have a custom domain name with a keyword in its slash tag. When you associate reputable links with your brand, your followers know you will never lead them to phishing sites or spam. This trust can boost your click-through rates by a huge margin.
Be transparent and keep promises
Customers need brands to be honest and transparent in their actions. You can show your customers how truthful you are by turning away potential clients that are not a good fit for your brand. This demonstrates your integrity and shows you are not only after money but service-oriented. Honesty creates a good impression on customers.
Keep your promises to clients — they will remember it and keep coming back because they already know they can trust you to keep your word.
Partner with authoritative brands
Partnering with authoritative brands has significant value in building brand trust. It sends a powerful message to your customers that they can also trust your brand. A brand partnership is an agreement between two brands to use both brand names in an alliance.
This tells your customers that you are an authority in your field, and they can trust you to deliver what you promise. Your brand also gets a more extensive customer base from the alliance partner, who will trust you because a brand they trust believes in you.
Own up to your mistakes
No brand is perfect. When your brand makes a mistake, own the mistake and apologize to your customers. Your loyal customers will not run. Instead, they will empathize with you and appreciate that you have owned up to your mistake. Trying to defend your brand when an error has happened only serves to make things worse.
Ensure your site is secure
Website security is crucial in building brand trust. In this era of cyber-attacks, the first thing you need to do is ensure your website is HTTPS (hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). An HTTP URL sends a signal that it is not safe. Remember customers submit sensitive data over your site, especially when they make purchases. If they realize your site is not secure, they will not trust you
Use trust badges on your site to make it more trustworthy. Trust badges are symbols on your site that tell visitors that your site is legitimate. It also assures them that all there is collected data via secure and reputable third-party providers. Having the PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, etc., badges as payment options on your site can increase trust levels in visitors.
Allow your team some time in the spotlight
In the attempt to make your brand more human, it pays to allow your team to shine. Let the consumers know your team members and enable them to put faces to the names. This fosters a good relationship. Include a “Meet the Team” page and allow the team to shine in the spotlight. Post the good reviews left by clients about each team member. It builds trust and boosts morale among your team.
Use social proof on your website
Social proof comes in the form of testimonials and positive client reviews. This goes a long way in attracting new business to your brand. As mentioned earlier, customers trust reviews and opinions from other customers than they do your content.
Most consumers read at least ten reviews before trusting a brand. About 70% of consumers research by looking at several review sites, so it pays to use multiple sites for your brand as social proof.
Keep your brand consistent
Never go off-message. It will destroy the brand you are working hard to build. Keep your brand colors, log, personality, and tone consistent from day one. Consistency is significant in building brand recognition and awareness.
People should recognize your brand immediately they see it. For example, the Apple signature of a bitten apple is recognizable everywhere you go. When you go to any country globally, you will get the same product quality as the origin country. This is consistency. They have never changed anything about their brand, and it is easily recognizable anywhere.
In an increasingly technological world, building brand trust has become a crucial part of online businesses. A consumer has to trust your brand before they part with their money, and it is up to you to build their trust in you. Your brand is not what you declare it is. Instead, it is what consumers say it is.
If all you get are negative reviews, your business will fail.
Come up with strategies that will cultivate brand trust. Positive customer experiences ensure that your clients become loyal and recurring customers that refer you to others. Foster relationships by creating an authentic and human face that customers can relate to. Once you build that trust, ensure you maintain it by being honest and owning up when you make mistakes.
But equity rounds aren’t the only way for a company to raise money — alternative and other non-dilutive financing options are often overlooked. Taking on debt might be the right solution when you’re focused on growth and can see clear ROI from the capital you deploy.
Not all capital providers are equal, so seeking financing isn’t just about securing capital. It’s a matter of finding the right source of funding that matches both your business and your roadmap.
Here are four things you should consider:
Does this match my needs?
It’s easy to take for granted, but securing financing begins with a business plan. Don’t seek funding until you have a clear plan for how you’ll use it. For example, do you need capital to fund growth or for your day-to-day operations? The answer should influence not only the amount of capital you seek, but the type of funding partner you look for as well.
Start with a concrete plan and make sure it aligns with the structure of your financing:
Match repayment terms to your expected use of the debt.
Balance working capital needs with growth capital needs.
It’s understandable to hope for a one-and-done financing process that sets the next round far down the line, but that may be costlier than you realize in the long run.
Your term of repayment must be long enough so you can deploy the capital and see the returns. If it’s not, you may end up making loan payments with the principal.
Say, for example, you secure funding to enter a new market. You plan to expand your sales team to support the move and develop the cash flow necessary to pay back the loan. The problem here is, the new hire will take months to ramp up.
If there’s not enough delta between when you start ramping up and when you begin repayments, you’ll be paying back the loan before your new salesperson can bring in revenue to allow you to see ROI on the amount you borrowed.
Another issue to keep in mind: If you’re financing operations instead of growth, working capital requirements may reduce the amount you can deploy.
Let’s say you finance your ad spending and plan to deploy $200,000 over the next four months. But payments on the MCA loan you secured to fund that spending will eat into your revenue, and the loan will be further limited by a minimum cash covenant of $100,000. The result? You secured $200,000 in financing but can only deploy half of it.
With $100,000 of your financing kept in a cash account, only half the loan will be used to drive operations, which means you’re not likely to meet your growth target. What’s worse, as you’re only able to deploy half of the loan, your cost of capital is effectively double what you’d planned for.
Is this the right amount for me at this time?
The second consideration is balancing how much capital you need to act on your near-term goals against what you can reasonably expect to secure. If the funding amount you can get is not enough to move the needle, it might not be worth the effort required.
Elon Musk said Sunday he “somewhat agonized” over the font designs for his companies Tesla and SpaceX.
The billionaire businessman added he “loves fonts” and has tweaked the logos over the years.
He revealed the SpaceX logo also holds a hidden meaning, representing a rocket’s arc to orbit.
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In a series of Sunday tweets, Elon Musk said he “somewhat agonized” over his choice of fonts for his businesses and revealed a hidden meaning behind the SpaceX logo.
Responding to a tweet about serif and sans-serif fonts, the billionaire businessman took a break from posting cryptic memes and discussing politics to say he loves fonts and put significant consideration into how his companies are presented to consumers.
“I somewhat agonized over the Tesla & SpaceX font design (love fonts tbh),” Musk tweeted. “There are some similarities, particularly use of negative space. We’ve made many little tweaks over the years.”
The Tesla logo — a T-shaped design with a custom, sans-serif font spelling out the brand name — is meant to resemble a cross-section of an electric motor. The SpaceX logo, written in a similar font with an extended X, references the reusable rockets made by the company.
“The swoop of the X is meant to represent the rocket’s arc to orbit,” Musk tweeted.
Other business logos have also held hidden messages: Baskin Robbins, a chain that sells 31 flavors of ice cream, has a secret ’31’ hidden in the letters of its logo. Likewise, Amazon’s arrow logo is meant to represent a smile, while the circular ‘B’ logo for Beats by Dre represents a person wearing the popular headphones.
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The internet has revolutionized the business world and changed how we conduct business. Any business that aims to increase its visibility and boost profit needs to pay much attention to top ranking factors, including local SEO — which introduces the topic of the local search algorithm.
Local SEO is one of the top practices that help boost a business’s visibility and generates more sales.
However, achieving better local SEO rankings is not a walk in the park, especially due to increased competition. To appear higher on local results, businesses and marketers need to understand how the local search algorithm works.
Knowing this helps guide the steps for improving rankings in the local pack.
The competition gets stiffer as more businesses open and optimize for local searching. Besides, Google is updating its algorithm consistently, meaning only businesses that can keep up with these updates can appear at the top of local search results.
Luckily, you have come to this post as this article looks at everything you need to know about Google’s local search algorithm and what you can do to get that top spot in the local pack.
Understanding the local search algorithm
Google aims to provide the best results that match a specific local search query. It constantly updates the local search algorithm to determine which business to rank on top of local search results.
Ideally, Google wants to provide local content that is relevant and valuable to users. As with search engine optimization, keyword stuffing cannot give you that top spot in local search results.
SEO specialists and marketers should consider Google’s local search algorithm updates and make the necessary changes to rank higher. Failure to consider these updates means losing your local search presence, resulting in fewer leads and conversions.
Local algorithms check the Google My Business (GMB) listings to determine where to rank a business in local search rankings.
Ideally, Google’s local algorithm ranks businesses with information that matches a searcher’s query. And the higher a business ranks in local search results, the more chances a potential customer will click on it.
This post looks at the three major pillars that determine local search results to better understand the local search algorithm: proximity, prominence and relevance.
Of course, other factors make up Google’s local search algorithm, but since we cannot identify all of them, we’ll focus on the most crucial ones in this post.
By understanding these pillars, marketers can better position themselves for local search success.
Proximity is one of the major ranking factors when it comes to local search. That means the distance between a business and a searcher is a ranking factor in local search.
When a searcher searches for something, Google considers how far the searcher is from the location of the term they use in the search. When a searcher doesn’t specify the location, Google calculates the distance based on the information they have regarding their location.
Ideally, Google aims to provide the most relevant results to a search query. For instance, why would Google provide a list of coffee shops in Los Angeles if the searcher is searching from Colombia?
That would be irrelevant local search results that won’t benefit the searcher.
Unfortunately, while proximity is a major local search pillar, it’s one of the factors that businesses have little control over. After all, you cannot change where your business is located, right?
You can only ensure your business location is as clear as possible, so that it appears for related nearby queries. Here are steps you can take to achieve this:
Claim and verify the Google My Business listing
Ensure local listings are accurate and optimized for local products or services
Get the Google Maps API Key and optimize for your location and routes
Set up your profile correctly (for Service Area Businesses) to avoid violating Google’s guidelines
Users can perform several types of local searches, including:
Users will perform geo-modified searches when they are planning to visit somewhere. For instance, a searcher in Los Angeles planning to visit Toronto, Canada, may search for a “coffee shop in Oakville.” The results will differ from if they searched for “coffee” while physically in Oakville.
To be specific, geo-modified searches are mainly based on relevance and prominence as opposed to proximity when a user searches for something when outside the city included in the search.
Searchers perform this type of search when looking for something around them. For instance, a user in Los Angeles performing a local search for “coffee.”
Ideally, the user only needs to search for something and is shown results based on proximity. They will get the results that are closest to them.
“Near me” searches
“Near me” searches have been so popular in recent years. Although their popularity has significantly declined, users still perform this type of search when looking for something locally.
For instance, some users could add “near me” when searching for a coffee shop, hoping to get the most relevant results near them. As we’ve stated, this trend has lost popularity because when you perform a local search, you are searching for something near you.
It is not necessary to add “near me” to what you’re searching.
Prominence refers to how important Google thinks your business is, which gets factored into the local search algorithm.
In other words, it refers to how well a business stands from the rest in various aspects, including directories, links, reviews, mentions, among other things.
If search engines view your business as trustworthy and credible, they will likely show it on top of related search query results.
The local search algorithm views businesses/brands with a stronger online prominence as credible and trustworthy. Some of the factors that determine prominence include:
A local citation is the mention of a business’s information online. The mention can include the partial or complete name, address, and phone number (NAP) of a local business.
Citations are an excellent way for people to learn about local businesses and impact local search results.
A business with high-quality citations can rank better in local search results, although businesses must continually manage citations to ensure data accuracy.
Backlinks play a crucial role in local business prominence. Gaining relevant backlinks from high-quality sites is an excellent way to build a business’ online reputation.
If you’re trying to outrank your competitors without much success, your backlink profile could be the reason.
In that case, you should check your competitor’s backlinks and compare them with yours. When doing this, pay attention to the number and quality of their backlinks.
As a rule of thumb, aim to have high-quality local backlinks pointing to your site to improve your page’s authority.
Next, you need to pay much attention to reviews to improve local prominence. Many customers look at a business’s online reviews before deciding whether to engage more with the business or not. Besides, many positive online reviews can increase a business’ ranking factors.
Consider this scenario. A potential customer is looking for a pub around Oakville. When they perform a search, they are presented with two results: one with over 100 reviews and another with less than 10 reviews.
Which business do you think the searcher would trust? The one with 100 reviews, obviously.
As with search engines, customers need to trust a business before they decide to do business with it. Similarly, search engines can view online reviews and analyze them to determine a business’s online prominence.
That said, here are strategies you can use to boost your online review signals:
Have a strategy
You won’t have a strong online prominence if your products or services are not of a high standard. So, the first step to having many great reviews is to develop great products and services.
After that, develop a strategy to encourage your happy customers to leave honest but valuable reviews of their experience doing business with you to help boost your online reputation.
Monitor and manage the reviews
Having many reviews is one thing; you need to develop a plan to engage with your customers for better results. Responding to reviews shows people that you care and are genuine about your products and services.
People will avoid businesses that don’t respond to customer reviews (whether positive or negative).
Search engines, too, can tell whether you engage with customer reviews or not and will use the information to determine where to rank on local search results.
When responding to online reviews, pay special attention to negative reviews and how you respond to them. While no business likes getting negative reviews, how you respond to them can positively impact your business — respond positively to turn the negative reviews around.
As earlier stated, Google wants to provide the most relevant results to a local search query. This key ranking factor will determine a business’s position in local search results — how well does a local business match a search query?
Even if your business ticks the above pillars (prominence and proximity), if the content on your page isn’t well structured and doesn’t cover the topics that a searcher is looking for, you won’t appear on top of local search results.
Here are factors that businesses should consider to create a relevant listing:
Local page signals
Local listing categories and attributes
Social posts and responses to online reviews
Local listing signals and categories
A business GMB listing and category can impact its relevance score for local searches. As such, complete your business profile carefully and continually add quality content to the web page to ensure it is relevant for proximity searches.
More specifically, ensure that all information on all listing pages, including Yelp, Bing, and Google, is complete and accurate. Aside from these factors, here are two crucial features you should pay attention to:
Selecting the right categories for your local business listing is among the crucial factors for ranking locally. With over 4000 GMB categories, you want to choose categories that best describe your business — ensure they are relevant and specific.
Here are guidelines to follow when selecting a category:
Describe your business as opposed to your services
Be specific to minimize competition
Reduce the number of GMB categories to describe your business better
Without a proper description, users won’t know what your business is about. This section is about adding an introduction to your business so that customers and search engines can know more about your business.
However, don’t use this section for marketing your business. Just give users and search engines descriptive info that can help determine whether your business matches their needs.
Local page signals
Another way a business can improve its standing in the local search algorithm is by optimizing web pages for specific keywords. For multi-location businesses, it’s essential to have separate, localized pages for each location, with relevant information and contact details for customers to reach you.
Performing competitor research is advisable to determine what terms or keywords to use for a specific query. Here are top on-page signals to consider when trying to gain relevance for a given topic:
Keyword research — Before creating local content, you need to find keywords that matter to your business. Perform keyword research to determine highly relevant keywords with high intent. When finding relevant terms to use in your content, base your research on the customer perspective; think about what they search for and the type of content they are looking for.
Create local content — After finding the right keywords, it’s time to create your content. Google values the quality of content more than the length of the content, so keep this in mind when creating content. Another crucial thing to pay attention to is localizing the content. For example, you can create content on local news and events or use your city’s name within your content.
The goal is to create a connection between what’s happening in your local area and your business. Also, use pictures with your specific geolocation to increase your content relevance.
Creating quality and relevant content is only the start. You need to optimize your content for on-page signals so local search algorithms can discover and rank them better. Here’s how you can optimize your local content for on-page signals:
Meta descriptions — Include keywords in your meta descriptions to encourage searchers to click through and increase visibility
Title tags — Title tags are some of the factors that search engines use to determine where to rank content. Incorporating keywords naturally in your title tags can help boost local rankings
Image tags — Another way to improve local rankings is by including relevant keywords in your image tags. Including geotags also comes with an added advantage
Headings — Users and Google value pages with clear structures. Consider creating headings within your content to capture readers’ attention and encourage them to read on. However, ensure your heading tags describe the content that comes after them well. Also, include keywords in your heading tags to help search engines understand them and their importance.
Off-page local signals
Gaining high-quality backlinks is a great way to boost credibility and trust. Backlinks refer to external links from another website to your site. Aim to have more high-quality backlinks to boost your website authority.
Ideally, having many quality backlinks shows search engines that your website or page is credible and trustworthy, which boosts the chances of ranking it higher in search engine results.
Guest posting is one of the best examples of link-building strategies you can use. Finding great guest posting opportunities provides an excellent opportunity to share your content to a new but relevant audience, which helps boost your website authority.
Another strategy you can use is to create longer and better content than what is already available on the web. When your content is high quality and relevant, it will be easier to get high-quality backlinks.
Review and social signals
Online reviews can also help boost relevance for your local business. Aim to get as many positive reviews from your happy customers as possible.
Remember, when customers perform a local search, they get not only the relevant businesses but also reviews related to the search. The more positive reviews a business has, the higher chances a potential customer will do business with them.
Closing thoughts on the local search algorithm
Ranking on top of local search results can seem daunting, but it shouldn’t when you know the vital things to focus on. As you have seen above, the local algorithm is based on three pillars: relevance, proximity, and prominence.
Of course, other factors determine local search rankings depending on your industry and competition.