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If you sell your own products or services or use affiliate marketing in your business, then establishing the know, like and trust factor with your audience is going to be vital.
In a world where we have so many options and decision-fatigue is commonly experienced, trust-based marketing is becoming more important than ever. In order to feel confident in their purchase decisions, consumers need to feel connected to the brand or to the person who recommended the brand.
In this article, we will be looking at ways that you can build a sense of trust and confidence with your audience through content and relationship marketing.
What Is Trust-Based Marketing?
Trust-based marketing refers to an ethical way of approaching marketing products or services based on relationship building, trust and authenticity.
The consumer will usually get to know the marketer via content marketing, social media or an email newsletter and start to trust them based on previous interactions.
They understand that the marketer will deliver unbiased opinions and helpful advice and feel comfortable making purchases based on their prior experiences with the marketer or brand.
Trust-based marketing can refer to marketing your own products or others (as an affiliate.) It usually requires a channel for building a relationship for example an email list, social media platform or online community.
However, there are also ways you can start building a relationship with readers via a simple blog post which we will look at later in the article.
What is the Know, Like and Trust Factor?
The Know, like and trust factor takes trust-based marketing a little further. It’s not just about being perceived as trustworthy. It’s also important for the consumer to feel like they know and like you. They start seeing you as a friend and look forward to your recommendations.
This is why showcasing personality is one of the pillars of my affiliate marketing framework.
The process of building the know, like and trust factor does not happen overnight but by establishing healthy relationships with your readers and subscribers, you can see better long-term marketing results. This means more people returning to buy your other products, recommending them to friends or purchasing the affiliate products or services that you recommend.
It’s the type of feel good, ethical marketing where your business flourishes whilst you feel good, knowing you have genuinely helped your community.
Why is it Important?
The internet is a noisy place. With over 2 million blog posts being published each and every day, many offering conflicting advice, it can feel overwhelming for consumers.
It’s important to break through this noise and show up in a way that helps reduce overwhelm.
Think about the last big purchase you made. Chances are (if you’re anything like me) you spent a long time researching the product online, reading reviews and comparisons and ending up feeling more confused than ever?
The options available to us can feel totally overwhelming at times.
But now imagine if an acquaintance came along now and identified with your struggle to choose between those products. They had the same issue but went on to make a purchase and they couldn’t be happier with their choice. They’re happy to answer any questions you have about it.
How would you feel now?
But what if that acquaintance was actually a close friend? Would that make you feel even better?
I’m guessing you would feel more secure in your choice and would be able to confidently purchase that product?
Now I’m not saying we have to become besties with every single person who buys your product (or the affiliate product you recommend.) But the more someone knows, likes and trusts you, the easier it will be to see conversions.
Plus, it is a lot more rewarding for you as a business owner to make meaningful connections with your audience.
So hopefully you are satisfied that trust and likeability are super important in sales? Let’s talk about how you can develop trust with your audience.
Building Trust in Marketing
What makes a marketer trustworthy?
In my opinion, there are 5 factors that determines how much I trust a person or brand.
If someone is honest about their experiences, you are far more likely to trust them. So instead of trying to make out you are the top expert in everything you do, be open and authentic.
Instead of raving about every product you promote, be willing to address the flaws.
When someone asks a question you can’t answer, be honest. You can always offer to find out the information and get back to them. Chances are, someone else in your community will have a similar question down the line!
When someone opens up about their past, their aspirations, their hobbies and interests, it makes them more relatable. When someone is relatable, you want to get to know them.
So talk about your ‘before’ story. Share your passions, beliefs, insecurities.
One of the reasons my affiliate marketing course Affiliate Marketing Superstars has been successful is because I made sure I was relatable.
For example, instead of claiming to be some huge affiliate marketing superstar earning 8 figures monthly, I shared more realistic achievable results. I showcased how I earned a good full-time income from blogging without huge web traffic.
When I surveyed my audience recently, many of my students told me that being able to relate to this was what tipped the balance and persuaded them to purchase the course.
If you can show someone that you truly understand how they are feeling, it instantly makes you more likeable and trustworthy. People want to feel understood so show empathy in your writing.
For example, if you were a fitness coach promoting a weight loss program, just quoting stats and figures about why someone should lose weight isn’t going to help them warm to you.
However, if you address how they are feeling and their specific worries and maybe even touch upon your own experience or someone close to you, they are far more likely to purchase your solution.
Trust isn’t just about how you present your brand. It’s also built on foundations such as experience.
If you can demonstrate your level of experience and expertise, consumers are more likely to trust you. So if you have qualifications, awards, case studies or life experience relevant to what you are promoting, make sure you talk about it often.
5. Logic and evidence
Make sure you can back up any claims that you make. This might be with logic or evidence. For example, you might be able to share studies that back up your claims or case studies and testimonials from previous customers.
Building your EAT score – Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.
Generating trust in marketing is not only important for email lists and social media it is also a ranking score for search engines. There are various factors that improve your EAT score – essentially how trustworthy Google deems your site to be.
Ways to improve this include;
- Having a detailed ‘about me’ page that includes your experience, qualifications, accreditations, awards etc.
- Having a contact-us page with an easy way to get in touch
- Having an SSL certificate (e.g. your site starts with HTTPS://)
- Links out to authority sources
- Backlinks from authority sources
- Good grammar and spelling
- Guest posting
- Keeping your content relevant and niched down.
- Having an author bio with a profile picture.
Ways to build the Know Like and Trust Element for Trust-based Marketing
As we’ve already mentioned, there are 3 main components to consider
- How well does your audience feel that they know you?
- How likeable are you?
- How much can your audience trust you?
Let’s break these down a little…
Connection: Ways to help your audience get to know you
Show up on social media
Firstly, you need to show up on social media. As a fairly introverted business owner, showing up on social media isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I have no inclination to post selfies or document every moment of my life on social media.
But, I do know how important it is for my audience to know who I am. And so I put my dislike for attention to one side and prioritise my community and show up for them.
This means posting regularly on social media, embracing Facebook and Instagram stories and going live from time to time.
It also means showing up when your audience has questions, worries or concerns. If someone posts in your Facebook group, take time to respond. If they comment, then reply.
Essentially, you need to show up as often as you can. Even better if you can show your face or at least include some audio so that people can hear your voice which makes you appear more real.
You also need to be popping up elsewhere, not just on your own social media channels.
The more visibility the better. This could be by
- Guest posting
- Being interviewed on podcasts
- Having relevant discussions on Clubhouse
- Being interviewed on a Facebook live in someone else’s group.
- Doing joint venture webinars.
- Speak at a conference or virtual summit
- Responding to HARO requests
Consider joining forces with someone else in your industry to increase each other’s exposure by occasionally giving the other person a social media shout out or sharing a link to one of their freebies.
If you are a product owner and have an affiliate program, you can always set up the freebie as an affiliate link which makes the other person more inclined to share the link more frequently.
If you own digital products, then contributing to product bundles and giveaways can also be a great way to increase your exposure.
Get SEO savvy
If you want more visibility on search engines, you will need to make sure that you optimise your site for SEO and focus on targeting the right keywords which are not overly competitive but which also have decent search volume.
Learn more in this SEO guide for beginners.
Whilst many people will land on your site and navigate away before they have a chance to get to know you, there is the possibility to convert readers to followers.
Offer highly relevant freebies as an incentive for them to join your email list and promote your social media wherever possible. This might be at the end of a blog post, in your sidebar, on your homepage, via social media icons or even as a pop up when someone goes to exit your site.
Create an author bio
Add an author bio at the end of every blog post with a few lines about who you are and preferably with a photo of you smiling and looking approachable. That way, even if someone only lands on your blog for a few minutes, they still have an idea of who you are.
Likeability: Ways to help your audience come to like you
Create an About me page
The ‘about me’ page is a great opportunity to let your readers get to know the person behind the business. Use it as an opportunity to build that relatability factor we talked about earlier.
If possible, demonstrate your before and after story which showcases how you have moved from where your readers are now. For example, if you blog about vegan food, your about me page might talk about your journey and your struggles to move towards a vegan lifestyle.
Try to make your ‘about me’ page approachable and friendly. Add a little humour if you can. This is meant to be a page that maximises your likeability.
Encourage your relationship with your readers and subscribers to be a 2-way one!
- Invite them to comment on your blog posts by asking a question at the end of an article.
- Ask questions on social media and make sure you respond to the answers
- Occasionally invite your email subscribers to hit reply.
Inject your personality into your branding.
Businesses don’t have to be formal. Being fun, friendly and approachable can be part of your brand. But whatever personality you do inject into your brand, make sure it is consistent and cohesive.
Be a nice person
It seems obvious but apparently to some it isn’t!
Remember that as a blogger, product owner or service provider, you are in the public eye and anyone can be watching. Making a snide comment on social media or being negative about a competitor is going to be seen by your potential readers and customers.
So always show up in the way you want to present yourself.
People appreciate honesty and trust over expertise. If someone asks you a question that you don’t know, don’t bluff! Instead offer to find out and get back to them.
Also, if someone isn’t a good fit for a product, tell them!
Go beyond the business
It’s much easier to like someone when they let you in a little! So don’t be afraid to talk about things not related to your business from time to time on social media.
For example, inside my Facebook group, we have a Friday Funday thread where we ditch the business chat and talk about fun stuff like our pets, hobbies and personal achievements.
Each week there is a different theme but it not only helps to build a community feel inside my group but it also helps my readers get to know the person behind the business.
Go above and beyond to be helpful
When I surveyed my audience recently, one of the things they told me they liked was that I went above and beyond for them. So when they ask a simple question I gave a detailed answer with additional tips they weren’t expecting.
Send voice messages
If someone can see your face or at least hear your voice, they will feel more comfortable with you. I like to reply to emails with personalised voice messages. I use the Chrome extension tool Vocalbird.io which allows me to do this on the go. It actually saves me time whilst also helping my audience feel more connected to me.
Put user experience first
Always make sure you prioritise your audience ahead of making money. It will likely pay off in the long run anyway!
For example, if you have an email list, don’t use it to sell your products or promote your affiliate links 24/7. Instead provide lots of value, inspirational and support.
Trust me, your sales emails will be more successful as a result.
Support other businesses
Collaboration over competition every time!
If you are seen to be a supportive community player, it helps your audience respect and like you.
Plus karma can only be a good thing, right?!
Building Confidence: Ways to get your audience to trust you
Talk about your experience and show them you understand
Connect on a personal level with your audience and give them real-world stories. Tell them your own before and after transformational story. Show them that you empathise with where they are at right now.
And if you don’t have the before and after story of your own, share stories from people you know or other customers.
Here are a few examples:
Say you are promoting a photography course, how did you feel before you learnt the skills you have now? Were you frustrated? Disappointed?
What about a food blogger promoting a healthy food delivery service? How did you feel before you discovered this service? Perhaps you were there once feeling stressed and struggling to juggle work, a family and healthy eating?
Perhaps you are promoting coaching for public speakers, how did your clients feel before they found you? How was their problem holding back? What opportunities were they missing and how did that make them feel?
If they feel that you understand them, this will increase their confidence in whatever you are promoting.
Under-promise and over-deliver
Don’t make unsubstantiated claims about a product. You want someone to be blown away when they make the purchase not feel deflated. That way, they are more likely to purchase from you again (or purchase another of your affiliate recommendations.)
Build lots of related content
Make sure you share content related to the offer to build your position as an expert of the topic. This can be a combination of social media posts and blog articles. But the more content you have, the more it will build that sense of confidence in you and your brand.
Depending on what you are selling, it can sometimes be beneficial to get a formal certification to boost your level of authority on the topic. If you already have related accreditations or qualifications, then make sure you mention them from time to time.
Don’t be positive all the time.
This is especially important for affiliate marketers. If you are positive about every single aspect of every single product you review, it is going to look a little suspicious!
So don’t be afraid to occasionally mention negative aspects. Presenting a balanced opinion is much better for helping someone feel more confident in their purchase decison.
Be honest about your level of experience. Don’t try to make out you are more experienced than you are. If you get caught out down the line, you will lose credibility. If you can, find ways to demonstrate social proof to back up any claims you make.
Instilling trust into your content Marketing Strategy
Improving the know like and trust component in blog posts
When someone searches for something on a search engine and lands on your blog post, it’s entirely possible they will navigate away once they found their answer and never land on your site again.
But the relationship (whilst transitory) is still important. For that brief time when they are on your website reading about your recommendations, they need to be able to trust you.
Whilst it’s harder to establish trust with someone just via a single blog post, there are ways you can gain their respect and make them feel more comfortable acting upon your suggestions.
Make your blog posts super valuable
Firstly, make sure not ALL your content is promotional. If they click around on your site, they want to see that you provide value. Articles or blogs which are overly promotional are very off-putting. Think about the last time you received a cold sales call. I bet you instantly put up walls of defence, right?
So use a mixture of types of content. Sure, write your promotional content such as product reviews and comparisons, but sprinkle these articles amongst other content such as stories, how-to guides and fact-based content.
Your promotional articles should also do more than JUST promote a product. Keep in mind that even if someone doesn’t purchase the product you recommend, you still want them to walk away having gained some value.
That value can take various forms. Maybe the content will inspire them or teach them a new skill? Or just open their eyes to possibilities they weren’t aware of!
Give honest opinions
It’s very rare that a product is so good that you cannot see any room for improvement.
So when you write an article where every product you mention is ‘amazing’ and ‘perfect,’ it doesn’t come across as very sincere.
Instead, be open to mentioning a product’s flaws but do so in a positive way.
So for example, you could write something along the lines of
I really enjoyed using X product for the following reasons
- Reason 1
- Reason 2
- Reason 3
However, I would like to see [insert improvement.] But.. [insert reason why it’s not an issue]
Reasons it’s not an issue could include
- You found an easy workaround
- It makes very little difference to the end result – and for bonus points prove this eg with a case study.
- The affordable price tag makes compromise worth it
- It’s something the brand are working on improving
- It’s still the best product on the market for X purpose.
- You found an alternative that solves this problem – which is your next affiliate product…
Be transparent about your experience with a product
If you haven’t experienced a product and your article is based on research then make that clear in your article. It is often very obvious when the person has no personal experience so you might as well be honest about it.
Let me give you an example. I have written an article on my travel site about the best cameras for travel. I have personal experience with 3 of them. No one would have expected me to buy all 10 cameras to make a listicle. So I am clear about which ones I have experience with and which ones I think look promising from their specs and other online reviews.
Lead with your credentials
Ask yourself, is there a reason someone should you over someone else?
Do you have extensive experience with the product? Extensive experience with the topic? Do you have relevant qualifications? Awards? Publications? Have you been quoted by authority sources?
What makes you an expert that should be trusted?
Let’s take that camera article as an example again. It could be something as simple as saying “I have been a keen amateur photographer for 15 years and during that time, have had every type of camera you can imagine from point and shoots to mirrorless cameras to DSLRs.’
However, if you have any other qualifications, you could make that statement even stronger. For example, you could say ‘I have a degree in photography’ or ‘I worked for 5 years as a portrait photographer.’
Include links to reviews or demonstrate social proof
Finally, back up your opinions with facts, authority links and if possible, other views. For example, in this article where I review Frase (an SEO tool,) I talk about the review scores Frase is getting on various review platforms like TrustPilot and Capterra.
On another article on my travel site, I review a Maldives sailing trip and I have included opinions from other people who were on the trip with me.
Improving the know like and trust factor in email marketing
Once someone is on your email list, you have a great opportunity to build a trusting relationship with your subscribers which is super important for affiliate marketing. Here are a few ways you can nurture that relationship via email.
Lead with value
Just as your blog posts need to be packed with value, the same is true for your email list. You shouldn’t start selling the very moment you get inside someone’s inbox. Instead, start with building a trust funnel.
Start with a welcome email that introduces your background story and follow up with some emails which are packed full of easy action tips to help someone save money/time or achieve a goal related to your niche.
Once they associate your emails with being helpful, they are far more likely to continue opening them. Only then should you start adding some affiliate links or promoting your own products or services.
Offer the option to opt out
If you are planning to send more than one promotional email on the trot, then you should offer your subscribers a way to opt-out of sales emails for that particular product. Maybe they have no interest, cannot afford it right now or already have that product.
You don’t want to carry on annoying them with emails when they are clearly not interested!
I include a little note at the end of the email that looks a little like this:
‘If you are not interested in X product, that’s fine! Just let me know by clicking here and I won’t bother you with emails about this product again but you will still stay on my email list so you don’t miss any of my top tips about X topic.’
I then set up a tag called unsubscribe from X. I tag anyone who clicks that link and then make sure I exclude that tag from future promotional emails about that product.
Convertkit makes this tagging system particularly easy and is the email platform I recommend.
By offering an opt-out option, this reduces unsubscribes but also shows my audience that I respect their wishes.
Deliver content relevant to them
Show your readers that you appreciate them letting you into their inbox by only serving them with content they will love. If you are a food blogger, don’t send Beef Bolognaise recipes to your vegan subscribers!
The best way to do this is to set up tags and segments for your email list so that you can make sure every email that lands in your subscriber’s inbox is something they are going to care about!
Show interest and invite them to respond
Every now and then, invite your subscribers to respond to your email. And then make sure you reply!
It can be time-consuming to type out responses so I use a Google Chrome extension called Vocalbird which allows me to create voice messages which I send in response to emails.
This is also a way to add a personal touch and make my subscribers feel valued. Relationships with affiliate marketing managers and brands
Trust-based marketing for service providers and digital product owners.
Whilst most of the advice above will help both those doing affiliate marketing and marketing their own products, I want to focus on some trust-building activities specific to digital product owners and service providers.
Selling digital products comes with its own set of problems. Without something tangible which someone can pick up and look at in person, being able to trust that product or service will live up to expectation is even more important.
Here are a few things you can do to make your brand and products more trustworthy to prospective clients and customers
Offer free samples
If you are offering a membership, consider giving someone a free trial. If it’s an ebook, how about a free chapter?
This gives your ideal customer a chance to try something out and see that it is quality content.
Offer free lead magnets and low priced options
If you can’t give away a free sample, then at least give SOMETHING away for free or a low price.
For example, if you are selling an online course, consider a free mini-course teaching the basics via email.
No questions asked refunds
Consider having a no-questions-asked free refund policy.
Will you occasionally get freeloaders playing the system for a refund that they always intended to ask for? Hmm, maybe, occasionally. But, you will also find a reassuring refund policy will turn many prospects into customers benefiting you more than it harms you.
Potential customers will always feel more confident to make a purchase when they see other positive reviews, case studies and testimonials. I like to include a mixture of formal written testimonials, video reviews and screenshots of social proof where people have posted on social media raving about a product.
I particularly like the screenshot option as it adds a whole other level of trust. Screenshots cannot be manipulated. Seeing someone that was so excited by their positive experience that they felt compelled to post about it is very encouraging for prospective customers or clients.
Here are a few examples for my Blog Boss System:
Give free advice
Some digital product owners are reluctant to give too much free information away, worried that people won’t purchase their information-based products (like ebooks and courses) if they can get information for free.
But let me position this another way. Would you pay to learn from someone who has shown no proof that they know what they are talking about? Probably not!
I actually suspect potential clients are more likely to think ‘If their free content is this valuable, what will their paid content be like?!’
Be willing to tell someone NOT to purchase your product
If someone is not a good fit for your digital product, tell them. If they do purchase it and it’s not right for them, this will dent your reputation and may lead to bad reviews.
Instead, direct them to a product which is better suited for them. If you don’t have an alternative product then consider becoming an affiliate for another brand or company and promoting them instead!
Don’t go back on promises
I see this often. Ads which say ‘this is the lowest price you will ever see this at’ then a month later they offer a better deal.
This does not help to generate trust or likability. So if you make a claim, stand by it.
And when making claims, always think ahead to the future and ask yourself if you are being smart. Will you regret making that statement later when you want to launch another sale?
Support your affiliates
Often your affiliate team is made up of your most loyal customers. So look after them. I’ve seen some affiliate managers pull an affiliate program as soon as people had purchased the product in order to review it. It made them look very shady!
Support your affiliates and they will support you.
Have I missed out on any other ways to incorporate trust-based marketing? If so, be sure to let me know in the comments!