Written by Caroline Cox on Nov 12 , 2019

How to build brand trust and loyalty with customers and prospects through authenticity

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why owning mistakes is key
  • How to respond to positive and negative reviews
  • Tips for creating trust-building content
  • Ways to showcase the people behind your company

Keeping it real. No filter. Cutting to the chase. When it comes to marketing, we’re living in the age of authenticity.

Consumer surveys show that customers reward the brands they consider to be authentic by purchasing from them over others, according to Inc. These days, most people are digitally savvy enough to know when they’re being sold to. And most may not even mind, as long as the messages they’re receiving are honest.

This begs the question: How can companies build trust in this day and age? Digital marketing is a great place to start.

1. Create content that aims to educate

Content is one of the most effective ways you can foster trust for your brand. Not only does it allow your company’s authentic voice and tone to shine, but it can be used to show your audience that you want to help them, not just sell to them.

While driving sales is one of the big foundations of a digital marketing plan, it shouldn’t always be top of mind when you’re brainstorming blog or other content ideas. Instead, your content should aim to:

  • Answer common questions your clients and prospects have
  • Touch on each stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Speak directly to your chosen persona
  • Position your brand as a thought-leader
  • Be easy to read and digest
  • Feature tactical advice and actionable tips

Too much company-facing content can be a turn-off to prospects. Instead, focus on your industry, whether that means expert advice, trend breakdowns, or something in between. Put yourself in your personas’ shoes: what content can you produce to show them you have their best interests in mind?

HawkSEM blog: 9 Ways Digital Marketing Builds Brand Trust

By connecting with your prospects and clients online, you turn individual buyers into a community. (Image via Unsplash)

2. Respond to your reviews

It can be tempting to write up an enthusiastic “thank you” message in response to a positive review — while leaving the negative ones alone to languish. Alternatively, some brands choose to only respond to their negative reviews to offer a rebuttal. 

Customers care more about brand reputation than ever before, according to a survey from Trustpilot. So it’s no surprise to see business experts agree that, if you want to build trust for a brand, it’s wise to respond to all of your reviews.

Thanking someone for a positive review makes the person feel seen and appreciated. Negative reviews are, of course, a bit more touchy. Your type of response should depend on the review itself. If the person had a bad customer service experience, it’s a good idea to respond apologetically. You can also offer up your contact info if the reviewer wants to continue the conversation privately. 

If the issue was a simple mix-up or misunderstanding on the reviewer’s part, you can point this out and, again, offer to continue the conversation privately. 

If the reviewer is a current or former client whose contact info you already have, proactively reach out and try to smooth things over. Best-case scenario: They realize it was an honest error, and update or remove their negative feedback.

3. Start (and participate in) industry conversations

The brands that know how to properly leverage digital marketing to build trust know that it’s all about connection. By authentically connecting with your prospects and clients, you turn individual buyers into a community. 

Starting and joining in on conversations is a great way to foster this community connection in your industry. Social media is often where these conversations are taking place, so get involved! Participate in live chats on Twitter, join relevant professional LinkedIn and Facebook groups, and use popular industry hashtags on Instagram. 

Being part of the ongoing conversations in your field shows you’re paying attention, and it can help grow your company’s organic reach.

4. Use badges and client testimonials to your advantage

Which seems more trustworthy to you: A brand talking about how great they are, or one that lets their clients and business partners do the talking for them?

When it comes to authenticity, it’s better to show rather than tell. Leverage positive reviews and happy client feedback by adding these attributed quotes to your website (as long as it’s cool with the source, of course).

And while you’re at it, don’t be afraid to show off any special accreditations, certifications, badges, or awards your business has accrued, too. Third-party validation makes your brand look trustworthy and helps you stand out. You’ve earned the props, why not share them?

5. Partner with other authoritative brands

Working in a silo can only get you so far. Look into opportunities to partner with other brands, whether for a content swap, joint webinar, or a preferred vendor program. The companies you seek out should ideally be in your industry and have similar target audiences without being competitors.

Build up a relationship with the people behind these brands. You can offer to share their content with your audience, for starters. For the best chance of creating a relationship, reach out in a way that highlights the benefit for them. 

Particularly with more established brands, you may have to reach out to a few before getting a response. Because of this, it’s good to already have a plan or vision in mind for how you could team up in a way that’s beneficial for both of your businesses.

HawkSEM blog: 9 Ways Digital Marketing Builds Brand Trust

If you want people to trust your company, then security should be a top priority. (Image via Unsplash)

6. Make sure your site is secure

Quick ways to lose brand trust: A client getting spam emails from your company or realizing you sold their info to a third party without their consent. If you want people to trust your company, then security should be a top priority.

Having a secure domain (that begins with https:// instead of http://) is a clear indicator that someone can feel safe submitting their personal info via a form on your website. If users log into your site for any reason, make sure you’ve got the proper settings in place to prevent hacking. 

Lastly, if you accept payments through your site or platform, make sure you’re adhering to PCI compliance guidelines (a set of security standards that help keep payment info secure). This will bring you and your clients peace of mind.

7. Own up to your mistakes

Let’s be real: sh*t happens. Sometimes websites crash, broken links end up in blogs, or newsletters get sent out at the wrong time. Instead of trying to cover up a mistake, just own it, apologize (if necessary), fix things, and move on.

Particularly in competitive fields (and these days, most of them are), it can be scary to admit you screwed up. But research shows that people value transparency and the humanizing humbleness that comes with a company saying, “sorry.” No one’s perfect, after all.

8. Give your team time in the spotlight

It’s not just search algorithms that favor sites with human elements (bylines, bios, headshots) over those without. Putting faces to your company reminds people that there are real-live humans behind your product or service. 

Your team is something that makes your business unique — so let them shine! 

A few ways you can highlight employees include:

  • Having them host video webinars or a branded podcast
  • Posting a spotlight series on social media that features different team members with their photo, name, job title, and a fun fact
  • Including a group photo or individual headshots on your website’s About Us page

9. Make your company mission clear

Sometimes it pays to get back to basics. Think about why your business was started in the first place. What’s your mission? What need does your company aim to fill? What problems are you trying to solve?

Mission-driven branding will always come off more authentic than gimmicky ads or sensationalist copy. Keeping in mind why the company was created in the first place can help you stay on course and show people that your intentions are good.

HawkSEM blog: 9 Ways Digital Marketing Builds Brand Trust

Customers care more about brand reputation than ever before. (Image via Unsplash)

The takeaway

More and more people are looking to buy from businesses they can trust. As competition becomes more fierce, leveraging your company as a trusted source can be what makes your offering stand out from the crowd.

Now that you’ve got the trust thing down, let’s chat about how we can take your digital marketing to the next level.


Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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