Sunday, March 30, 2014

Eight Website Super Signals That Increase Brand Trust

Eight Website Super Signals

That Increase Brand Trust

Getting lost down a dark alley in a seedy, unfamiliar part of town is nobody's idea of a good time, so don't make your customers wonder whether they've visited the wrong side of the Web when they come to your website. That's particularly true of small business websites.

Brand trust is critical to converting site visitors into customers, but how is it created if your name isn't Apple or Coca-Cola? Here's a list of eight quality signals that, when implemented on your website, will increase not only brand trust but also conversions, which means more revenue for your business's bottom line.

1. Show authoritative sites in which you've been featured
Has your site been mentioned by authoritative brands or media outlets? When your site visitors see that you've been mentioned by brands they know and trust, they'll be more inclined to trust your brand by association.

Consider a "Featured In" or "As Seen In" section to your site that lists authoritative sites that have mentioned or featured your brand.

2. Join the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Signing up for the BBB and adding its badge to your site is a great way to instill trust in your business when visitors experience your brand for the first time. The BBB performs background checks on businesses it accredits, so questionable, underdeveloped businesses are typically excluded. 

The BBB symbol also lets visitors know that your brand is subject to scrutiny if it operates in a less-than-ethical manner, which creates an added layer of trust.

A side benefit is that the BBB site will link to your site, which may benefit your search engine optimization efforts.

3. Include staff photographs
Nothing says trust like adding a photo of yourself or key staff members to your site. Why? Customers know that people engaged in questionable business activities typically don't want a mob of angry customers to know who they are and what they look like. Your customers may even develop a personal connection to your brand because they're able to put a face to a name, which is both valuable and uncommon for many Web-based businesses.
The "About Us" page on your site or the company directory is a great place for staff biographies and pictures. However, make sure the photos aren't amateurish, or the strategy could backfire.

4. Add testimonials
Actions may speak louder than words, but the words of your happy clients speak loudly nevertheless. Testimonials are incredibly powerful in building trust in your brand, especially for visitors experiencing your brand for the first time. Many people search for reviews on a particular product, service, or restaurant before making a purchase. I love Amazon and Yelp for that very reason.

Start building your brand through the words of happy customers. Gathering testimonials from satisfied clients is a great place to start. Also, although written testimonials are great to show off on your website, video testimonials are invaluable, because people know those are the hardest to fake.

5. Ensure your site is secure
If your business sells products online, then securing your customers' data is a must. Various products, such as Symantec Safe Site, scan your website to make sure it's not affected by malware; they also let visitors know that the identity of the site owner has been verified. Other companies offer similar products, and each provides a badge you can add to your site that tells customers you value and protect their information—a huge factor in building brand trust.

6. Add social media icons
Although social media is a great way to share new information or products for your online business, it's also a great way to build brand trust. If your site generates a fair amount of social buzz, consider adding share icons to your site that show how many people "liked" or "shared" your content. When people see that dozens or even hundreds of people have "liked" your product or page, they are more likely to feel the effect of safety in numbers and participate in your brand offering.

7. Clearly display your phone number
One of the biggest challenges that online businesses must overcome is convincing site visitors that an actual business, with real people, exists behind an online storefront.

New online ventures, which may not have adequate staffing, often subtly discourage visitors from contacting them in labor-intensive ways, such as by phone, by not adding a company contact number in an easy-to-find location on their website. But if your business gains by having potential customers call in, don't hide your contact information. Display it boldly on your site in an easy-to-find location. I like the top-right portion of the header. Doing so is a surefire way to let customers know that if they have a question or experience a problem with your product, real people stand ready to help. You'll build new customers and a lot of trust in the process.

8. Include a privacy policy
Similar to prominently displaying your phone number on your website, consider adding a link to your privacy policy in the footer of your site. People place considerable value on their privacy, so displaying your company's policy on sharing customer data is good practice. When customers see that a business cares about their information, it goes miles in building brand trust.

If you would like to talk about how social media and email marketing can improve your bottom line,  please give me a call at 440-519-1500 or e-mail me at 

X2 Media can help you target your content and get your message to the audience in a way that it is not only seen and heard, but remembered.
Until next month….remember, “you don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression”. Always make it a good one!  From X2Media I would like to thank you for your time. 

John E. Hornyak
X2Media, LLC

Four Marketing Tips from a Canadian Convent

Four Marketing Tips From a

Canadian Convent

Sister Elaine Lachance—vocation director for the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec—had a problem. She needed a better way to raise awareness of her dwindling order. And then the PR firm she hired gave Lachance a two-word solution: social media.

A Facebook page and a blog did the trick. "The story [of Internet-savvy sisters] has been covered by more than 300 newspapers," writes VerĂ³nica Maria Jarski. "The BBC interviewed Lachance. So did MarketingProfs." It's safe to say young women who feel a call to vocation are now very aware of the Good Shepherd Sisters.

Here are a few of things you can learn from the sisters' experience: 

Know where to find your audience. A young woman planning a life of religious service will research her options like any other young woman—online. Meet your audience where they gather, and be prepared with the content they want to see.

Budget for start-up costs. Creating content costs the sisters nothing at all—but they did budget for professional website design. "Don't go cheap: It shows," notes Jarski.

Maintain a consistent design aesthetic. Be recognizable wherever a prospect or customer encounters your brand. "Lachance's blog, for example, looks like the order's website, which in turn resembles its Facebook page," she explains.

Go beyond your comfort zone. The world of social media felt awkward to Lachance, but she knew she had to risk it. In the same way, you should press forward with new ways of reaching customers even if it makes you uncomfortable at first.

Conclusion: It isn't often that we turn to a nun for marketing advice—but this nun knows what she's doing.



Social Media Weapons for Your Event-Planning Arsenal

Social Media Weapons for Your Event-Planning Arsenal

Anyone who thinks it's easy to plan, promote, and execute a successful event has never planned, promoted, or executed a successful event. In any case, social media tools can make events easier.
 "Whether you need to work with organizers, generate buzz, or share post-party photos, social media should be a primary weapon in your arsenal," writes Ben Parr at Mashable.
Here are Parr's recommendations for each stage of the process:  . 

·         Planning. No matter the size of your event—a small party or a large conference—ease planning with a trio of tools: Skype facilitates productive brainstorming; PBworks is a business-friendly wiki that makes it easy for everyone on your team to manage, edit, and share information; and a collaborative calendar like Google Calendar can arrange meetings. 

·         Organization. "PBworks is once again a great tool for keeping information on the event organized—you can publish guest lists, speaker lists, and more," notes Parr. Also publish updates at a WordPress or Drupal blog. 

·         Invitations. Set up a Facebook event listing (this is where many people will go for information) and consider sites like Anyvite and Eventbrite for invitation and RSVP management. 

·         Promotion. According to Parr, Facebook and Twitter are your go-to promotion channels. When tweeting, be sure to use event-specific hashtags. 

·         Optimization. Provide high-speed wifi so guests can easily tweet from your event; and consider a live stream through Ustream or Mogulus for those who can't attend.

Conclusion: Remember that the event isn't over when your guests leave—continue the social media conversation with thank-you emails and updates.