7 Tactics to Establish Trust and Grow a Loyal Audience Online
Published Jan 11, 2018. Updated Jun 14, 2019.
Behind every successful business, there’s a strong group of loyal, trusting customers and clients. These people have put their faith in your ability to deliver exactly what they need, on time, every time, and they wouldn’t dream of going to anyone else for a solution. They’re repeat customers month after month, year after year.
Sounds nice, right?
But successful businesses don’t amass a following of loyal customers overnight. That audience has to be built and grown for months or years to reach that point, and it has to be done with strategy and intention.
Want an online following that will take your business to the next level? Here are 7 tactics to establish trust and build loyalty with your audience.
1. Design for mobile devices
The first step to building a loyal audience online is to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. More than half (51.3%) of all website visits come from smartphones now, so if you’ve only focused on desktop design, you’re going to lose out on a majority of your audience.
Take page load times, for example. 53% of mobile pages are abandoned if they take longer than 3 seconds to load, because even though mobile users typically access your website from slower networks (like 4G or LTE), they still expect the same instant gratification they would get from a WiFi or ethernet connection.
If your website loads so slowly that your visitors give up and leave, the chances of them coming back are pretty slim. 61% of users are unlikely to return to a site they have trouble accessing, and 40% will visit a competitor’s site instead.
Your audience won’t be loyal to you if they can’t even access your page. So if you want to build trust with your visitors and get them back to your site again and again, start by tightening up your page load times.
2. Establish credibility
Once people are on your website, it’s important to establish some credibility. Show them that you know your industry and give them a reason to trust you.
One way to do this is to feature reviews and testimonials from past customers and clients:
This kind of referral goes a long way with someone who hasn’t made up their mind whether or not to buy from you. 74% of consumers say word of mouth is a key influencer in their purchasing decision, and studies show that reviews and testimonials are between 2X and 10X more effective than paid media at persuading buyers.
Want another way to establish credibility? Prominently display organizations your business is a part of — like the Better Business Bureau — as well as awards that you have received:
This shows visitors that your own industry sees you as a leader and has recognized you for it. It sets you apart from the crowd and reassures them that they’ll get a quality product if they do business with you.
We’ve included sections for both reviews and awards right on our homepage, where new visitors can’t miss them. Think of how you can incorporate these trust builders into your own website.
3. Showcase results
Another great way to build trust with your audience? Show them what you can do. A separate page for case studies is a great way to do this, especially if the case studies include lots of good data.
The best case studies start with a problem, explain what you did to solve it, and show the results in the form of solid stats and numbers. You can include your client testimonials from the previous step here as well for added credibility — data is impressive, but your visitors still want to see that the customer was happy with the results.
We typically publish a case study soon after we launch a new website to showcase the improvements our web design services have made for our clients.
But you don’t have to be a web design agency to use case studies to your advantage — these work in any industry. Here are some examples to get you started:
Physical therapists: Show how a patient’s range of motion improved through therapy
Movers: Show how a family moved out of state painlessly because you packed for them
Cleaners: Show how an office building is healthier for its occupants after you clean
Are you starting to get some ideas for how to use case studies on your own website?
4. Encourage engagement
As your audience starts to trust you, they’ll feel the urge to engage. Engagement breeds more engagement, and ultimately gives your brand traction to grow and get in front of even more potential customers and clients. Make engagement easy for them, and you’re more likely to see that traction take hold.
Include contact forms throughout your website, not just on the contact page. Popular places are the bottom of the homepage, on your blog, and on your service pages.
Add calls to action throughout your website content. Ideally, every page should have a call to action, but this is especially true for pages like your case studies and blogs — i.e., pages that clearly show how good you are at what you do. (You can learn more about calls to action in our previous blog, “Everything You Need to Know About Compelling Calls to Action.”)
On your mobile site, make sure that any phone numbers and email addresses are interactive, so that visitors can contact you directly from the website. It’s much easier for your audience to tap the phone number on their screen and have it automatically dial than to have to switch back and forth between apps to type in your number.
5. Start publishing content
Including a blog on your website is a great way to build trust with your audience. Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information behind news sites, Facebook, retail sites, and YouTube, and 68.5% of people believe that a blog gives your website credibility.
As for loyalty, 47% of buyers consumed 3-5 pieces of content before deciding to make a purchase — and usually, those aren’t all in one sitting. That means your audience is coming back again and again to read new content as you publish it.
So what should you blog about to get readers back again and again? Your topics should be relevant to the services you offer; they should fit reasonably with the reason people visit your website in the first place.
Let’s use the moving company above as an example. Your audience is people who are looking to move long-distance, not just across town. So topics that might do well with your audience should revolve around the process of moving long distances. Here are a few examples:
5 Tips for a Stress-Free Cross-Country Move
Why You Need a Move-in Kit for Your New Home and What to Include in it
4 Ways to Dispose of Used Packing Materials
Why do people come to your website? What blog topics can you come up with that would be relevant to them?
6. Be social
The ultimate test for whether your audience trusts you — aside from hiring your company — is whether they interact with you on social media. You can start the process right there on your website by including social sharing buttons on your blogs and case studies.
These buttons build trust — social shares from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter add the most credibility to blogs — but they do more than that. 94% of people share blog content because they think it might be useful to their friends and family, so getting those shares is huge trust indicator.
7. Slide into DMs
Just because your visitors trust your company doesn’t mean they’re loyal. Loyalty has to be built through constant, repeated great interactions with your customers and clients. One of the best ways to do this as a business is through email marketing. Employees spend an average of 13 work hours per week (almost 2 hours every day) on their email inbox, so it’s a prime location to build some loyalty.
When it comes to email marketing, pay close attention to the details, because they’re what will make or break the success of your campaigns. For instance, 68% of Americans say they base their decision to open an email on the “From” name. So if your marketing emails send from a personal name, but your mailing list only knows the company name, your open rates could take a hit.
But when it comes to your customers, customization is almost always better. Studies have found that emails with personalized subject lines have a 26% higher open rate, while emails that are personalized throughout the body have 14% higher click-through rates and 10% higher conversion rates.
Remember, every audience is different, and what works for one company might not do as well for another. Test these strategies with your own customers and clients to find what resonates with them.
Find an audience that’s loyal to your biz
Want to grow an audience that trusts you with their life? Need help getting customer to return to your website week after week? Here at Trajectory, we pride ourselves on our ability to turn a so-so website into something that visitors go crazy for. Want to know how we do it? Contact us to get started.