“In our increasingly low-trust world, trust has literally become the new currency of our global economy.”
– Joel Peterson, Author of The 10 Laws of Trust
Credibility is “the quality of being trusted and believed in,” (Source: Dictionary.com). In every business interaction, there is a level of trust involved. Our customers are trusting that in exchange for their investment, be it time or money, we will provide them with something of value that surpasses their investment. When we break that trust, meaning we wasted their time or didn’t reach their level of expectation, we stop being credible and they stop doing business with us. However, when we exceed their expectations, it creates more credibility, and our customers are willing to invest more time and money into us.
Becoming a credible business is so important because in today’s skeptical world we don’t start out as credible. Businesses are often viewed as biased and noncredible. Imagine we’re out looking for a new SUV, and we want to be sure we get the best one. Would we go to a Toyota salesman to ask him to tell us which SUV on the market is the best? No, we know that he would only tell us all the great things about Toyota’s SUV and all the negative things about his competitors. To find our answers, we want to turn to unbiased, credible sources.
“People don’t really trust advertisements, they trust people.”
– Bernard Kelvin Clive, Author of Rebranding
These days, research has found that 96% of consumers don’t trust advertisements (Source: Inc). Consumers are getting more and more skeptical. They’ve been fooled by flashy advertisements too many times. Only 1% of millennials say that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more (Source: Forbes). That’s why traditional advertising methods are no longer working.
Not only do our customers not trust ads, but they’re also actively avoiding them. Almost half of all internet users have installed an ad-blocker (Digital Information World). Credibility marketing can help us create advertising that doesn’t feel like advertising. More importantly, it can help us create messaging that is more trusted by consumers.
When we break our customer’s trust, we’ve not only lost their trust but also their business. Lack of trust is costing U.S. businesses $756 billion and 41% of their clients (Source: Accenture). These customers are not only switching their business over to our competitors but oftentimes they’re also telling others to switch over to our competitors.
Achieving our monetization goals will require that we are effectively leveraging credibility marketing. We need to be providing superior products and services to our customers so that they trust us and stay loyal to our companies.
Customers are Seeking Information from Credible Sources
“What you say isn’t nearly as important as what others say about you.”
– Seth Godin, Marketing expert and author
One experience I had early on in my business career showcased the importance of credibility to me. I was blessed to win a business plan competition, the US West Seed Money competition. Because I had won, reporters came to my office building to interview me about it. My landlord saw the reporters, learned about the competition, and immediately wanted to invest with us. He had never shown any interest in our business before that day, but the credibility of the competition win and reporters was enough to convince him that we were going to be a successful business.
Just because our customers aren’t trusting us doesn’t mean they don’t trust others. Consumers are seeking after reviews and recommendations from their friends and family, influencers they respect, credible industry experts, and authoritative voices. Nine out of ten consumers trust what a customer has to say about a business more than what that business says about themselves (Source: Wyzowl).
Part of credibility marketing is recognizing this trend and finding ways to get these credible, trusted sources to talk and write about us. When the benefits and features of our products and services are shared by unbiased, credible sources, consumers trust what they hear and feel confident giving us their business.
Roads to Credibility
There are some paths we can take to help us bridge the credibility gap to help convince our potential customers that we’re credible and trustworthy. Although I do want to add a quick but important note: none of these strategies will work if we are not credible businesses. Credibility marketing is not about tricking or manipulating customers. It’s about creating happy customers with our superior products and services and then sharing their stories with others.
1. Influencer Marketing
Influencers are seen as credible and trustworthy sources of information. In fact, 92% of consumers put more trust in influencers than they do in advertisements or celebrity endorsements (Source: Question Pro). When we team up with influencers to promote our products and services, the credibility that influencers hold can flow through to us.
Consumers really are interested in reviews and place a lot of trust in them. 97% of consumers read online reviews (Source: Bright Local). Additionally, 88% trust an online review at the same level as a personal recommendation (Source: Source Engine Land). On average a consumer will read 10 reviews before they feel they can trust the company (Source: Bright Local). Plus, 86% of consumers would pay more for a service provider that has high ratings and good reviews (Source: ReviewInc).
When Airbnb first started trying to get investors, they were consistently told “A business requiring this much trust between strangers will never work,” (Source: Forbes). The company had to find a way to create enough trust between strangers that they would be willing to open their homes to each other. The method they chose: reviews.
Airbnb can’t check up on each and every home listed on their site. They have no way of guaranteeing cleanliness, facilities, number of beds, etc. Instead, they rely on a review system. Guests are asked to give between a 1-5 star rating on cleanliness, communication with the host, ease of check-in, accuracy of the post, how great the location is, and the overall value of the stay for the price. Most guests will also include a written review of their stay.
Airbnb has 2.9 million hosts and is valued at $18 billion (Source: Business Insider). Ultimately, Airbnb’s entire success is based on trust and that trust has been built through reviews. If reviews are capable of creating enough trust to get strangers in each other’s homes, they’re probably capable of instilling enough trust in your consumers to give you their business.
When a product gains reviews, a study shows that companies gain on average a 108% traffic increase, 92% sales lift, and a 65% conversion lift (Source: Power Reviews). It’s definitely worth our time to look into how we can gain more reviews for our products and services.
3. Success Stories
Would you trust someone to give you entrepreneurial advice when they’re driving a $500 beater car with a handwritten sign in the back stating “I can teach you how to make $10k a month!” Would you believe that sign? Probably not. The person doesn’t appear to be generating $10,000 a month themselves, so how can I trust them to teach me how to make that kind of money?
The power of “been there, done that” is when we can demonstrate to our customers that we truly have the experience or expertise needed to handle their business. If we can show them that we’ve been where they are, gone through the journey they want to go through, and achieved the results they want to achieve, then they will trust us to help them do the same.
Client success stories can be amazingly powerful in creating credibility. They’re ultimately the “been there, done that” story from our clients. A great success story will share details of that customer’s problem and how our company was able to provide the solution they needed. Details will add to the credibility of the story and help other customers relate to the problem. In addition to details, a great success story will add in emotion. Emotional stories are memorable and powerful.
In my own career, I’ve seen how much a good customer success story can do. After my work with Deseret Digital Media, where I was able to help grow their online reach, my boss, Russell Banz, was kind enough to share his success story with me. His video is placed right at the top of my consulting site, MonetizationPartners.com. Watching that success story does a better job convincing potential customers I’m credible and capable than anything I can say about myself.
4. Credible Website Design
“As aesthetically oriented humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. Our offline behaviour and inclinations translate to our online existence.”
– Dr. Brent Coker, Consumer Psychologist
Design affects your company’s credibility with 75% of consumers admitting to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on the company’s website design (Source: Kinesis Inc). People are constantly making snap judgments about your business and 94% of first impressions are design-based (Source: Sweor). The same study also found that 94% of negative website feedback was design-related (Source: Sweor). Good design will help communicate to our potential customers that we are credible and effective.
One company learned firsthand how much user experience can improve conversion rates and revenue. Century Hearing Aids was struggling with low conversion rates. Their webpage was cluttered and unattractive. It only showcased pictures of products that didn’t help customers relate to them. The products were all shown without any kind of organization into different categories.
The CEO, John Stoddard, turned to a consulting company for help. The first thing they did was add an image of a smiling grandfather with his family. This connects to the company’s older clientele who want to be able to hear their family when they speak. The next change was combining the different hearing aids under the categories in the ear, behind the ear, and open fit. This helped customers find the specific design they were looking for more quickly because they weren’t wasting time looking at every hearing aid the company could offer.
Stoddard explained to me that the changes ultimately came down to a “gut-feel for how to move a customer from this to that.” These small changes had a huge impact on Century Hearing Aids revenue. After a period of four months, these changes had improved conversions by 220%, revenue by 300%, and profits by 3,000% (Source: Neil Patel).
Here are some of the key takeaways that stood out to me from today’s episode:
1. Sufficient trust must be established before any successful business dealing. Credibility marketing helps us establish that trust.
2. 9 out of 10 consumers trust what a customer has to say about a business, more than what that business says about themselves.
3. Nearly all consumers put more trust in influencers than they do in advertisements.
4. The vast majority of negative website feedback is design-related.
5. Customers don’t trust what companies say about themselves. They trust what credible sources say about us instead.
6. In order to succeed at credibility marketing, the first and foremost thing we must do is BE credible businesses.
7. Influencer marketing, gaining positive reviews, sharing success stories, and designing a credible website are all great avenues for achieving credibility marketing.
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If we desire monetization we have never before achieved, we must leverage strategies we have never before implemented. I challenge each of us to pick one thing that resonated with us from today’s episode and schedule a time this week to implement it to help achieve our monetization goals.
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