As an online shop, you effectively have one marketing channel to reach potential buyers — digital.
Yes, that includes everything from Google ads, to social media activity, to email campaigns, SEO, etc, but content is the key to all of it. Without a physical presence like a storefront where you can develop relationships with your customers and build trust, you need to do that in the very impersonal digital realm if you want them to buy from you (over all of the other competitors in your niche) and come back for more.
For me, building trust is the name of the game when it comes to content. It’s the real point of all of it. No, I may not buy from a particular seller just because I see a cool video they recorded or an article they wrote on a topic that interests me, but when it comes time for me to actually come back and buy you can bet that the trust they earned from me through that content will factor into my purchase decision.
Building trust through content starts with:
When I talk to clients about their “brand story” I’m talking about the narrative that underlies everything they’re doing as a business. It’s all about showing and telling what you’re doing in order to generate an emotional reaction in your customers. That’s how you form a connection. Real quick, it looks like this…
Anyway, when building that brand story, you have to be consistent. You can’t be mixing messages and shifting your story. That will only confuse your customers and leave them less inspired by what you’re doing.
Remember, your business doesn’t have a face online. It might have a logo or a website, but it doesn’t have a personality. Yet. And I’m not talking about personalization via marketing automation software either. You have to be personable in your communications so that your customers realize that there are real, live human beings behind your ecomm store and you can be trusted. This isn’t hard to do: Use real from names when sending emails to customers, feature photos and bios of yourself and your employees, use a personable and approachable tone in all of your language, leverage video whenever possible, etc.
Trust is a two-way street, and these days customers come into most digital interactions with their guard up. Years of having our data mined and sold have left most of us gun shy when it comes to interacting with online brands. Be clear with them. Let them know right upfront how you’ll be using their data (and how you won’t be using it). Provide channels for them to contact you directly and ask questions. And always overshare as much as you can about your business and your relationship with them. They’ll appreciate it, even if they don’t know it.
And this last one is just as important as the first 3, it just doesn’t fit into the rhyming format of consistency, personality and transparency.
The term “social proof” was coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book, “Influence,” and describes the “psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation.” Remember how you mom always reminded you not to jump off a cliff just because your friends did? It’s kind of like that. But it’s critical in content marketing: 92% of customers say they trust recommendations from friends and family, while only 72% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.