Inbound marketing has completely shifted the marketing paradigm. Instead of waiting for canned marketing messages to be pushed onto them, customers are seeking out companies that they feel good about working with; companies that reflect their own ideals, have a human element to them, and above all, companies that are honest and trustworthy.
We recently came across a great article from Copyblogger entitled, “9 Ways to Lose the Trust of Your Audience,” and the concept of readers’ “very sensitive slime radars” was too appealing not to revisit. In the article, Copyblogger discusses some of the ways in which your online marketing could be compromising your company’s credibility — even if you’re not being altogether “slimey.”
Here are three of our favorite slime-radar triggers, as well as some simple fixes to help get you back on track if you’re guilty of some occasional missteps.
If you’ve had trouble admitting you’re wrong…
Have you ever met an extremely dogmatic person? Not only does incessant stubbornness come across as arrogant, it also causes you to discredit most things that person says. The same holds true for companies — if you are extremely defensive about errors, it creates the impression that appearing in-the-know is more important than conveying truthful information.
Quick Fix: If you’re guilty of occasionally getting defensive or pointing fingers when your company is called out on an error (hey, maybe it really wasn’t your fault), it’s time to be proactive. Jump into conversations about your industry on third-party sites (Quora questions, LinkedIn discussions, etc.) and share helpful information that doesn’t push your product. Showing that your wallet isn’t your only concern and that you can admit that there are other feasible solutions goes a long way towards establishing credibility and trust with your reader.
If you’ve been anti-social…
We completely agree with Copyblogger that there’s no viable excuse for your company not having a social presence, but don’t forget that misusing social media is one of the quickest ways to lose trust as well. Being too aggressive (“friending” a prospect on Facebook, for example), talking only about yourself, or in any way resorting to rudeness in a public forum are all great ways to instantly up your slime factor.
Quick Fix: Unfortunately, some social media blunders are hard to come back from (consider the case in How NOT to Use Social Media Marketing). But if you’re guilty of seeming a little too self-promotional, the quickest way to reestablish trust on social is to be more…well, social. Find new ways to interact. Set aside 30 minutes a week to check out other companies’ content, and “Like,” retweet, comment, and share. If you’re lucky, they’ll even return the favor.
If you’re guilty of “writing for robots”…
Copyblogger said it all: “Write for people first, search engines second.” Keyword stuffing is not only slimey, it’s a waste of time. Any potential benefits from this black hat approach to SEO are lost when your readers can’t read your content without going cross-eyed.
Quick Fix: The quick fix here is simple: stop. Luckily, it’s actually a lot easier to write for humans than for robots. Humans prefer writing that is simple, conversational, and concise. Check out these resources on writing customer-friendly content and taking a more effective approach to SEO, and only use the keywords where it feels natural.
At the end of the day, there’s no real “quick fix” for establishing trust with your target audience. Just as in personal relationships (and just like Copyblogger points out), earning trust requires a constant effort to be genuine, helpful, and forthright. But, also as in personal relationships, a small gesture can go a long way in making an impression and establishing your company’s reputation. So try out a few of these “quick fixes,” and let us know your thoughts on the matter in our comments section!