Branding your business to foster consumer trust

For small businesses that have yet to establish name recognition among consumers, garnering brand equity can be a bit of a struggle. When companies are still in the early stages of development, customers may be slightly hesitant to purchase their merchandise, especially if it is only available online. As a result, it is key for organizations to win over Internet users, and credibility as a legitimate business so that consumers will learn to trust them, according to Entrepreneur Magazine. There are several approaches that you can take when marketing your business to promote your reputability throughout the Web-based market and increase your brand equity.

Online social proof can make or break a small business
​In today’s digital world, consumers have the right technological capabilities with which they can conduct their own investigations into businesses and organizations. Entrepreneur Magazine explains that Google serves as one of the most prominent go-to tools for online users to perform a makeshift background check before they decide to buy goods or services through an e-commerce retailer. When potential customers look into an organization through Internet searches, they are trying to verify that it is a trustworthy entity with which to do business by examining their track record with other customers.

This recent phenomenon is referred to as street cred, or social proof, among marketing experts. Consumers contemplating an online purchase need to be reassured that they will not be entrusting all of their personal billing and shipping information with some sort of fraudulent front. Because of this, users now have the tendency to explore the Web community, trying to find customer testimonials from individuals they can relate to and trust. From there, consumers will make a purchase decision based off of the reviews of their Internet peers.

A Nielsen study conducted last year revealed that 70 percent of consumers stated that online customer reviews were the second most trusted source with regards to a company’s credibility, with family and friend recommendations being the top source. For this reason, Entrepreneur advises that those of you looking to build your brand equity should make it a priority when marketing your business to ensure you have a solid Internet presence supported by favorable reviews.

Branding your business with favorable third-party reviews
Companies need to provide the Internet community with a wealth of customer reviews from a variety of online sources to assure that consumers will easily come across. Small businesses should outfit their websites with any written or video testimonials given by satisfied customers. It should go without saying, but organizations should demonstrate a high degree of integrity, taking this feedback from real clients and shying away from fabricating reviews in the interest of boasting their image. There is no point in trying to build brand equity by promoting consumer trust if a brand is not even trustworthy. If word were to get out that a company were falsifying testimonials, it would suffer irreversible damage and could possibly never redeem itself in the eyes of the public.

Even if small businesses feature genuine consumer reviews on their websites, online users may still be skeptical. To reinforce reputability and increase brand equity, Entrepreneur Magazine recommends that small business encourages content customers to provide feedback on external review sites such as Yelp, Amazon and Google Local. Additionally, they can appeal to experts within their industries, enticing them to weigh in on their brands through other third-party social media sources, like these specialists’ blogs or Twitter feeds. The more a company can receive accolades and endorsements from reputable, independent sources, the more consumers will learn to trust them. This will not only add to brand equity, but it will also lead to increased sales.

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