Blogging for Businesses: The 3 Pillars of Trust/ November 28, 2016
The practice of building trust through blogging is one of the most underrated marketing tools in a company’s online arsenal.
We all know the cliché:
People buy from people they know, like, and trust.
Traditional marketing efforts take a lot of investment and a long time to even get where consumers feel they know you, and from there, you’ve still got much more work ahead to begin developing trust.
Blogging is the shortcut.
A good blog has the power to humanize a business – your potential clients have the chance to see you as a person instead of a sterile corporate entity.
After all, it’s much easier to trust a human being than it is to trust a logo.
But the reverse is true, too:
A good blog builds trust quickly…but a bad blog can destroy that trust before it has a chance to start.
Poorly executed sites inspire about as much trust as an unsolicited email from a Nigerian prince.
Make sure your blog is sending the right messages and inspiring trust by focusing your effort in the right places.
The 3 Pillars to Build Trust Through Blogging
Content is the center of every blogging strategy, and it’s the key to developing a strong, trust-based relationship with your readers and potential clients.
But before anyone reads your content, you must make a good impression and set the foundation for trust with your design.
Your brand identity brings everything together and seals the deal.
To effectively build trust through blogging, your strategy should give plenty of attention to all 3 pillars. Neglect one, and the others can’t be nearly as effective.
Build Trust with Content
Consistent posting, preferably on a schedule, is a huge factor in cultivating trust with your potential customers.
Think about it this way:
When readers know they can count on you to publish a new post on the first Tuesday of every month, you’re already building credibility.
Posting regularly is challenging as a solo entrepreneur, but you can write extra content when inspiration strikes and use the scheduling tool built into your blogging platform to stay on track.
Aside from demonstrating your reliability through regular updates, your content can prove to your readers that you’re a real human who has their interests in mind.
To do that, all posts should be laser-focused on your readers.
People read your blog for their own benefit, not for yours.
Write for them, not for you.
If your blog is simply a collection of sales letters trying to get people to buy from you, most of the people who stumble onto your site are never going to come back.
Market on your blog sparingly, responsibly, and with great caution. Your blog should be more than a series of spam.
It’s also a good idea to talk about other brands, companies, and people in your industry – with no trash talk!
By keeping your readers apprised of the happenings in your field as a whole, including the good things other people are doing, you’re proving that you know your stuff and giving your readers even more value.
That also means that you should be careful about overhyping yourself. Nobody wants to read about how great you are.
Post after post about your wonderful life, your impressive achievements, or your brilliant business successes is both annoying and obviously fake.
Be human on your blog.
That doesn’t mean you can be sloppy, though.
Make sure you thoroughly proofread everything that goes on your site, because typos and spelling mistakes make you look like an amateur and ruin your credibility.
Everyone hits the wrong key every once in awhile, and you can make (and quickly fix) the occasional typo without too much damage to your brand…but multiple errors on your posts and pages are a major red flag for consumers. They’ll associate you with scammers.
Be mindful of your outbound links for the same reason.
Trustworthy bloggers link to trustworthy sites, use good quality and correctly licensed images, and always cite credible information sources.
Your post structure, too, can inspire confidence in your readers.
Organize your content in a logical order, divide information with subheadings, and use lots of whitespace to make your posts easier to read on both desktop and mobile.
The extra effort and professionalism you pour into your posts conveys to your readers that you are a conscientious, careful blogger, and that you’ve taken the time and effort to produce something better than average.
You are better than average, aren’t you?
Build Trust with Design
Remember the early 2000s internet?
Think about those flashing popup ads, and the chain emails that you had to forward to 10 friends lest an angry ghost exact revenge.
The internet is a different place now, fortunately.
Your website design is the internet equivalent of body language.
Things like colors, layout, font, functionality, and accessibility are the subtext in your online conversations.
Even with the best web copy in your industry, if your website looks like it was built by the same guy who made those bright, flashing popups you used to see when you logged into AOL, your site isn’t likely to inspire much trust.
Trustworthy design isn’t necessarily good design according to professional developers and designers – it doesn’t even have to be pretty.
Slick image sliders, responsive elements that react when you hover over them, and all the latest trends look nice, but they don’t actually inspire trust.
Lots of beautifully designed websites are difficult to use and have horrendous conversion rates.
If you want your site to look trustworthy, here’s what you need to know:
A clean, uncluttered, professional design that’s easy to use and navigate is at the core of great blog design.
Never make your readers work harder to get to the content they want because you want to add slick design features.
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, too, because lots of your potential customers will find you on phones and tablets.
If your website is clunky and doesn’t work on their phone, you seem like a tech illiterate company that doesn’t care about the customers enough to work out such a minor issue as mobile responsiveness.
Your text should be easy to read, your marketing and store pages should be clean and functional, and all of your links should work.
Adding simple features like a search bar and an archive page add to your credibility, but don’t load up your site with useless widgets.
Clutter is your enemy.
Finally, make sure your site is secured.
Getting a SSL certificate is a fairly simple process (click the link above to learn how) and sites which take online payments but lack a certificate are being penalized in Google search results.
With your content and your website handled, you’re ready to expand your circle of influence.
Build Trust with Branding
Your brand extends beyond your own borders and out into the world.
Overall branding is a topic that can’t itself be covered in a single blog post – if you’re just starting a new business and you’re not sure how to go about developing a brand, that should be on your list of things to learn.
Let’s assume that you already understand the basics of branding, though.
When your brand is coherent, consistent across all platforms, and clearly defined, you’ve already taken a huge leap towards trustworthiness.
Think about it this way:
Imagine you find a company that catches your interest on Twitter.
You decide to like their Facebook page, but when you find their profile, the colors are different, their profile picture doesn’t look the same, and their posts are nothing at all like the Tweets that you enjoyed so much.
In fact, you can only tell that these 2 pages belong to the same business because they’re linking to the same company website.
That website, by the way, seems to have another separate personality.
What would you think of that company?
Even though that sounds like an extreme example, it happens with astonishing frequently in the world of small businesses.
Your company’s social media presence should reflect your brand’s identity, not yours.
Yes, your brand should have a human feel to it, and it’s smart to let consumers see the actual people behind the screen from time to time, but stay within your brand parameters.
Humanity inspires trust, but not humanity at the cost of professionalism.
Continue to inspire trust in your brand by being open and communicative – answer comments, respond to tweets, and don’t shy away from feedback.
Your willingness to interact builds credibility, engages your existing audience, and expands your following.
All of that gives you more social proof, which is a fancy way to say that people trust you because other people trust you.
It’s like an upward trust spiral!
Keep that spiral going by partnering and interacting with other good brands, and avoiding association with companies and websites that might be considered shady. We’re all judged by the company we keep.
Meanwhile on your own website:
It doesn’t much matter if nobody ever reads them.
They still need to be there.
For one thing, you’re legally required to have certain statements, agreements, and disclosures on your website if you take payments.
As far as trust goes, though, you might not actually gain trust by having a terms and conditions page…but you certainly might lose trust by not having one.
There’s not one big thing you can do right now to suddenly make people trust you.
Trust is made of the accumulation of little things over time, and it builds as you prove your commitment and consistency.
Go to your website right now and look at your latest blog post.
Can it be improved?
Are there any grammatical errors? If you’re not great with things like grammar and spelling, consider using something like Grammarly to review your posts.
Have you used sections or headings to make your post easier to read?
Update your most recent blog post as needed, and if it will help, leave yourself a note next to your keyboard to remind you of good blogging habits next time you write.