Sunday, 2 September 2012

What Do We Need to Do to Get Customers to Trust Us?

It's a common complaint in the world of internet marketing . . . that there are people out there selling the "secrets" of their own methods - without having had any success with them themselves.  I've been amused recently by a number of tweets on Twitter that proclaim the writer's excitement at being able to get thousands of new followers in a very short space of time.  The implication is that they have tried it and it works.  Out of curiosity I looked at the number of people following these accounts.  Not one had more than a few thousand.  Two which proclaimed "get 10,000 followers today" had, respectively, 2247 and 3350.  Which begs the question, if it works then why haven't you used it.  And, if it doesn't, why are you advertising it?

In my life outside internet marketing, I work as a counsellor where 'congruence' or authenticity is very important.  We don't hide behind a facade because we can't help clients if they don't trust us. Similarly, I believe that in internet marketing we need to prove to our customers that we are trustworthy.  If you're buying a high price item, would you rather buy it from someone you've dealt with before and whom you trust or from someone you've never heard of?

But how do we build this trust?  Well, obviously, first of all, by not making false claims.  And secondly by being absolutely open and honest in our dealings.  Offer a money-back guarantee if the customer isn't satisfied - and make it a no-quibble guarantee, even on downloadable items that can't be returned.  Yes, certainly, a few people will rip you off by asking for their money back when they intend to use the product, but they are few and far between and offering a guarantee will mean you’ll gain far more than you’ll lose.

Another way to build trust is to give good value (something that I was writing about a couple of posts ago).  It's all about perceived value, which is why so many internet marketers offer 'free bonuses' with products.  Now I'm not sure about bonuses.  Obviously, it’s important to offer bonuses that are totally relevant to the product.  But I believe that it’s equally important that they don’t appear to be just a continuation of the main product because otherwise the prospective customer may wonder why they’ve been offered separately.  In such a case,  the bonuses could actually have a negative effect, diminishing the value of the product itself.  After all, you wouldn’t expect to buy a book and find that the last chapter was being offered as a ‘free bonus’.  

I also believe that it’s very important to appear professional.  This doesn’t mean to pretend we have more experience than we actually have but, rather, not to make elementary mistakes that set people to wondering exactly how much we do know about the subject.  So, for me, it’s vital to check spelling, punctuation and grammar.  If I’m irritated by the typos and the poor grammar on a sales page, I’m not going to want to buy the book it’s trying to sell.  Similarly, the page needs to be well formatted.  WordPress themes have made it so easy to construct a good-looking website that anything less than that can appear amateurish.

And finally, I believe that it’s very important to communicate with customers.  If they have a question, answer it.  If they’re not sure how to use a piece of software you’ve sold them, explain.  Let them know that you (or your staff) are real people who understand their needs and will always  give good service.  This has always been how small businesses have built up a loyal customer base and, as far as I can see, whether it’s a bricks and mortar business or one that’s online makes no difference at all.

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