What makes content trustworthy?

Trust is the key to strong digital relationships with customers, but how do you stand up to scrutiny to build trust through content? 

When you’re meandering the streets looking for a café to pause in what is it that pulls you in…or puts you off? You might be attracted to the sleek interior, the delicious aroma of freshly-baked goods or the welcoming smiles from staff inside. On the other hand, a tatty interior, empty seats and unhappy staff might send you in the other direction. Your digital shopfront can have the same effect.

It’s true that trust is hard gained and easily lost, and in the digital world you have to work even harder. According to a 2017 survey by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council digital is the least trusted media – even less trusted than tabloid rags! But with fears cited over ID theft, spyware, viruses and e-mail scams it’s not surprising.

As good-hearted SMEs we know that what we have to offer is trustworthy, but how do we communicate that effectively in our content? I’ll give you ten ways…

1. Reveal your personality

People trust people, not computers. So if your content sounds like a robot, don’t expect to attract too much interest or loyalty. Set a friendly tone, like the smiling waiter in the café and don’t be afraid to be yourself.

2. Turn to video

One of the best ways you can be yourself is on video. Video is the most human of all the media, presenting your face, your voice and your thoughts. If you’re not comfortable being on film yourself, it’s still good to utilise video content as a trust tool as it’s one of the most engaging formats.

3. Be transparent

Be honest in your content, whether it’s pricing (give the full costs upfront) or your service descriptions. It doesn’t take long for discrepancies to be discovered. And Hell hath no fury like a disgruntled customer on Twitter.

4. Share your expertise

Being generous with your expertise in the form of blogs, vlogs or free downloadables showcases your knowledge to your prospective customers, gives you content that can be easily shared across social channels and helps to build your profile as an expert in your field. As long you are offering genuinely useful and accurate information, you’ll build trust.

5. Reviews and testimonials

The annual Local Consumer Review Survey found in 2019 that 82% of consumers will read reviews for local businesses and the average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business. So testimonials and reviews are an important part of the trust mix, providing ‘social proof’ – confirmation from other buyers that this seller can be trusted.  

6. Avoid mistakes

Beware typos and errors of any other kind. To the consumer they are evidence that you’re not meticulous and flags are raised in their minds that this may be the case in other areas too.

7. Provide evidence

Consumers aren’t mind readers. Sharing evidence of your abilities can help them to understand your capabilities. This can be in the form of a portfolio or gallery of your work or providing examples of what to expect from your services.

8. Limit advertising

Cans of spam represent lots of advertising

Too much advertising on your website depletes consumer trust as they feel like they are being sold to. The American Press Institute found that this was one of three main barriers to trust for news websites. Advertising can be profitable though, so if you have to advertise, find ways to integrate it more seamlessly into the design. An example would be through featured products, rather than banners or pop ups.

9. Fix technical issues

Much like the typo, technical errors scream ‘These guys are incompetent!’. If your website isn’t performing as it should, jump on your developer (not literally – you can’t jump of someone while socially distancing) and get them to fix it asap.

10. Have an eye for design

Last but definitely not least, a slickly-designed website can do wonders for your image. Humans are very vain – we like pretty things and we gravitate towards aspirational media (why else would anyone watch Made in Chelsea?). Around 48% of people are said to judge a business’s credibility solely on its website design. That’s almost as many as judge a book by its cover (official figure is 52%).

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(With thanks to the Pineapple Supply Co for the header image)

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