With fake news littering the internet and scams happening left and right, many consumers feel they don’t know who to trust. They want to rely on small local businesses, but how can they feel safe with a company most people don’t know about? How can they know they’re spending their money with a reputable business?
According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, only 48 percent of the general population trusts businesses. That means that for every two potential customers a business has, it’s likely that only one trusts the company. It’s up to companies to change that with smart marketing techniques, content production and local SEO tactics.
The Importance of Trust for a Local Business
Fortunately, 84 percent of consumers trust small businesses more than other kinds of businesses. Why? They like the customer service, convenience and ability to support local consumers. This makes it a bit easier for local companies to win over customers’ faith.
However, it still requires effort. People aren’t going to build a relationship with a business just because it’s from their local area. They need reasons to trust and hand over their money to a small company.
How Businesses Can Build Trust
Today we want to share with you some of the top ways in which local businesses can establish trust with their customers. Some of them can apply to large corporations as well, but most are specific to small companies that want to reach local customers.
1. Get Active Within the Community and Online
There are few marketing strategies that are as powerful as word-of-mouth, especially when it comes to local businesses. Get involved in local events and festivals. Market with other small businesses and establish a real presence with the people. You need people to start talking about the business and what it has to offer.
When it comes to the internet, the best thing a local business can do is manage its online directory listings. People need to be able to find the business online, regardless of where they first heard about it. Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), Yelp and Bing Places are some of the top local pages to get on ASAP. There, local businesses can list their name, address and phone number (NAP) data and other valuable business details.
Another way to get active with the community via the internet is to optimize the business’ social media platforms. Are they filled out with accurate information? Can people easily find the business’ Facebook page or Twitter account? Becoming more active on social media will boost the local business’ online presence, while building links to the business’ website, which improves trust among search engines as well as consumers.
2. Boost Communication With Customers
No matter what industry a company is in, emphasizing positive communication with customers is a key step to achieving long-term success. Whether the business representatives are responding to a phone call or speaking with a customer in-store, the more they communicate, the better. According to PWC, 71 percent of Americans would rather interact with a human than a chatbot – make sure their interactions are pleasant.
Communication isn’t just about specific conversations, though. It’s also about conveying to the community what the business has to offer. Clarify the specifics of the business, its history and how it makes a positive impact in the local area and their industry. Ask yourself this question: What value does the business offer to customers that the competition doesn’t? Then, communicate the answer online, offline and throughout the business’ marketing and branding efforts.
Google knows just how important it is for local businesses to communicate with their customers or potential clients. That’s why they included the Messages feature on their Google Business Profile (GBP) mobile app. Now it’s easier than ever for local businesses to reply to inquiries and have an open line of communication with consumers right from their phones. Here’s how to use the messaging feature and other items available through the GBP mobile app, such as responding to reviews.
The Messages feature is only available for local businesses that have a claimed listing on Google Business Profile – just another reason why local listings are so important for local businesses.
3. Make Customers Feel Safe
Shopping online is a risky business nowadays with increasing cyberattacks and a lack of foolproof security on many sites. When a consumer visits a new site, they need to feel like the business behind it is reliable. Spam emails, confusing checkout processes and slow-loading pages can be concerning.
Even if a business is not exclusively online, there are ways in which they can make customers feel safe – like adding a SSL certificate to their site, for example. A HTTPS address not only adds a level of trust for consumers, but also for Google. The search engine ranks sites with secure domains higher than those without. Take every step possible to ensure that consumers feel safe while exploring the business’ services and profiles online. Here’s more on why a business’ website needs to have a HTTPS address.
4. Encourage and Respond to Reviews
We’ve been telling people for years that reviews matter for more than just that gold star rating everyone aspires to obtain. According to BrightLocal’s research in 2018, 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses. The average consumer readers about 10 online reviews before they feel they can trust a business, and most people between the ages of 18 and 34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Not only do businesses need to establish a positive presence on popular review sites, but they also need to respond to reviews in a timely matter, regardless of whether they’re good or bad. Roughly 89 percent of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews, according to BrightLocal, which means it’s yet another opportunity for businesses to impress consumers and gain their trust. Here are some tips on how to respond to reviews.
5. Make the Brand Personal and Local
Regardless of their industries, businesses can always make themselves more relevant to their target audience. For instance, a local auto shop can pay attention to the weather and offer services that are specifically useful to people nearby. Local clothing stores can advertise for particular events and restaurants can offer residents special discounts. Partnering with other local businesses is a win-win situation and can have some other positive side effects, too.
The important thing is to create a local presence that makes the business stand out – but not at the sake of losing its authenticity. Develop a personality that appeals to the people without coming across as boastful or overly advertorial. Lots of times, it helps to put a real face to the business. Get the owners and team members out there with the community to breathe life into the business’ name and logo.
In a world full of technology, 59 percent of the people surveyed by PWC said they feel companies have lost touch with the human element. Local businesses can benefit immensely by presenting an authentic, relatable front to the people.
How Advice Local Can Help Local Businesses Gain Consumers’ Trust
You know what can really break people’s trust in a brand? A lack of presence online or incorrect information on directories. That’s where we come in – listing management is our thing!
At Advice Local, partners choose us to help them manage the local business listings of their clients on many different platforms. Request a demo today to see how we do it and why our partners love us!