Trust and Brand Value

Have you ever visited a webshop to make a purchase for something we needed and left because you just did not trust the business? The product looked good. The price was right. But something stopped you from coming to a transaction and that something was a lack of trust.

Trusting-like-a-child

The Value of Trust in becoming a Brand

In order to induce visitors to fill out a lead form of make a purchase in a webshop first trust has to be established with the visitor. A first time visitor wanting to make a purchase or leave his contact details will be looking for signs that the website will fulfill his expectations.

The visitor will only leave his money with a website he trusts. Trust has to be won initially, when a visitor finds our website for the first time. Trust has then to be kept up. The customer’s expectations must be met, so he will come back and make a repeat purchase. Repeat purchases are what makes an online campaign profitable. If we analyze the marketing cost of a a keyword phrase, there are many keywords looking unprofitable if we do not realize the value of the customer coming back repeatedly and making purchase on the phone or by email. This is why it is unwise to pay too much attention to web analytics data and to measure the revenue of a channel as a whole. If we manage to deliver more to the customer than he expected the customer may not just come back, but also recommend our business to others. We then gain business by worth of mouth, which from the point of view of Return On Investment has the highest return.

To recapitulate:

1. win the visitors trust

2. meet his expectations

3. induce the customer to recommend your business to his friends and partners.

A marketing campaign, whether online or offline becomes profitable when we reach 3. Look at it this way. A competitor who manages his campaign from web analytics data will ignore many important search terms,because he is not recouping his investment on those keywords.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

The barricade we have to overcome is the visitor’s Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD). The visitor is uncertain that if he leaves his money the expected product is not delivered¬† or does not meet his expectations.

How to overcome the FUD-factor?

In order to overcome the FUD-factor we have to present ourselves as objectively as possible to the visitor. First we can start write an extensive “about us” page, with who we are, the owner or manager, employees with pictures, a place where the customer can visit our shop or office. Also it is nice to explain what our vision is. Why is it a good idea to become our partner?

Describe in detail to the customer what the product looks like, when it will be delivered, what additional charges to expect. Show the customer our Terms and Conditions, so the serious visitor has the possibility to be convinced of our reliablity. Although only about two to five percent of our visitors will read the “about us” page and our Ts & Cs the percentage of those who read them who will make a purchase is very high.

Because people expect us to oversell ourselves it is a good idea to invest in external validation of our business. An excellent external validator is an online review. By asking our customers for a review and displaying reviews on our websites we establish trust. Our customers can see how good we are and what issues we have. External reviews make us look real.

Overdeliver

Finally, when the visitor decides to make a purchase, we have to make sure that his expectations are exceeded. Our customer service should be very good, if anything goes wrong, the customer should find us quickly and generously putting things right. There should be suffiicient customer service and account managers to engage dissapointed customers and we should make it part of our everyday business practice to feel the customers pulse and to check UNINTRUSIVELY whether his expectations were met.

Becoming a brand

When we built up a customer base of partners who trust us, who are delighted to have done business with us, who recommend us to their friends and partners we have become a brand. We are a business with ther reputation that we deliver what we promise and then some and customers keep coming back. We achieve this by looking further than online, by emphasising good customer service and treating customers right the foundation of our business.

Trust in International Online Marketing

In business the most important condition to turn a visitor to a website into a client is Trust. Before a visitor can become a client he first has to become convinced that you will meet his expectations.

This seems obvious , but can this be proved empirically?

To prove the point I am making here I will offer som Google Analytics statistics as evidence. People tend to trust paid advertisement less than free publicity. So by comparing conversion rates of Advertising and natural traffic to a website, it can be proved how important trust is.

In the last month a German webshop selling packaging materials shows a conversion of 0.65 percent for Adwords Advertisement and a whopping 3,78 for organic visitors. That means that organic visitors buy at nearly 6 times the rate of visitors to the webshop clicking op paid ads.

Finally it is obvious that investing in organic results by engaging an SEO firm makes a good business case.

German-Trust-Graph-short

Owning your brand

To be strong in the long term a company must own its brand. Owning the brand allows the company to build the fortress that I mentioned in the previous post on strategy and branding. Branded search has become an important part of SEO. The more searchers search for your brand the stronger Google will favour your company in your main market. E.g. if your main business is selling electric tooth brushes and your website has the same strength in linking and content as your main competitor, but your competitor, say Oral-B, receives more branded search, your competitor will not just receive all this branded search but also a higher position in organic than your website.

The cost of registering a brand

The question is how much it costs to register a brand internationally.

I just applied to register three brands Europe wide through a international law firm a week ago and the bill was 6.000 Euro’s. That is for 10 years. That is 600 Euro’s per year and 200 Euro’s for a brand. Compared to the cost of hiring SEO staff and the cost of your firm’s Google Adwords campaign in those 10 years that is a very reasonable price to protect those efforts.

Strategy and branding

Strategy and branding

Today, 21 november 2013, was the Digital Marketing in 1 Day Forum in Bussum, The Netherlands, where I watched a presentation by Joris Merks Benjaminsen, a Google House strategist.

Online Strategy

During the symposium I noticed Google Joris conflating strategy and branding. And this makes such good sense!

The object of a long term online strategy must always be branding. A internet driven company should always aim to strengthen its brand. The stronger the brand, the more the public knows a brand, the more the audience identifies a given market with your company, the better your company will be able to drive traffic to your branded website and the easier or cheaper it will be to sell your product or service.

Let’s analyse that.

The question is: how do branding and an Online Strategy connect?

Both we and our competitor have a budget. We spend out budget on marketing to reach our audience paying CPC for search and CPM for display, banners on websites. Both have a branding effect. The more the audience clicks on our ads and sees our offerings the more the audience becomes aware of us. As the audience becomes aware of us they will use our brand name more. The more our brand name is used by the audience the more cost effective our search campaigns will be. Yes our competitor can also bid on our brand name. But Google Adwords will give our ad more prominence for the same CPC because we our website more relevant for a searcher looking for our brand.

This way having the stronger brand gives us an impregnable fortress in search. 

There is more. Conversion is a matter of trust. Someone looking to purchase a product will buy only if he is sure that the webshop he visits will deliver his purchase. If the visitor knows our brand, knows its good reputation, he will be willing to buy our product because the visitor is sure we will give him what he has paid for.

This way having the stronger brand gives us an impregnable fortress in conversion.

Therefore branding should always be the centerpiece of a online strategy. A stronger brand means a larger cash flow. And the larger cash flow means we will be able to outbid the competition. That way our company will win.

International Online Strategy

It works like that in our home market. And it works like that in our export market. Therefore this is a international online strategy.

The difficult thing is how to brand. Branding is about focus. Focus on values, what our company is really about. We will consider this in a next post.