Authority + Trust = Conversions
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SEM Practitioners and Small Business Owners
• Building authority and trust takes effort, but pays huge dividends.
• Trust and authority moves people to act, sometimes without even thinking about why.
• Learn ways to build trust and authority in your brand’s day-to-day communications.
Yesterday, I had an interesting encounter at the grocery store that truly demonstrated the power of trust and authority on conversions. As I reached for my usual almond butter at Trader Joe’s, two women congregated nearby, each with a different type of almond butter in their hands and puzzled looks on their faces.
“Have you tried this before?” one of the women asked me.
“Is it good?” the other questioned.
What followed was a fun tutorial by me about the types of almond butter the store carried. As I spoke with them, I realized this was probably their first time buying anything that wasn’t found in a standard grocery store.
A few minutes later, I found out they had heard about almond butter on The Dr. Oz Show, and how it helps people sleep better.
Curious, I asked them what it was about the almond butter that helped people sleep. Blank stares. Neither one of them seemed to know exactly why it had that effect, but they were sold on the advice. This is what drove them into the doors of their local Trader Joe’s on their lunch break – the pursuit of fulfilling the promises made on The Dr. Oz Show.
To me, this was an extremely powerful example of how authority, trust and right channels can move a person to conversion. Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about establishing authority and trust through various mediums in a way that moves people to act.
First, let’s get one thing straight: the term “expert” is totally played out. I think most of us can agree that there are varying degrees of knowledge contained within the “expert” bubble, and that many of those people are simply professionals who are knowledgeable enough on any given topic that puts them at a level of insight higher than the general population.
These “experts” are also willing to share that knowledge freely. People are rarely deemed experts when they don’t share their knowledge with others. It often happens that many businesses and professionals may have just as much knowledge or more than a competitor or expert in that field. The problem is, they’re not being heard.
In order to be an authority on a topic, you and your business must use the mediums available to you. Building a brand’s voice is a time-consuming endeavor that takes a ton of effort and a lot of hustle. But once you get to a place where you’re considered an authority, it pays dividends for years to come.
There are countless ways to engage and share knowledge with the community each day. Dr. Oz didn’t just magically become a superstar talk show host. He got where he was by being good at what he did and figuring out the best ways to reach people with the knowledge he had.
As a business or professional, you have a wealth of resources at your fingertips to share your knowledge. From your website and blog to online forums, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, webinars, newsletters, speaking engagements, networking events and much more, these are the things that are going to get your business, your name and your insight out there.
Try building authority through:
- Your website: How you architect the information in your website can position you as an authority in the search engine’s eyes. Siloing content and the right on-page optimization ensure your site has a clear subject theme, so search engines like Google can match your site to a person’s search query. Quality, in-depth content is a must. A good target for word count on your Web pages is 450 – but, it’s important to say as much as you need to say on the topic and not a word less or more. Give ample information to the reader so they don’t have to go looking elsewhere to get their questions answered. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes, and your content should be on target.
- Your blog: Adding fresh content to your site via a blog or simply having a free-standing blog can position you as an expert in your field if you take the time to contribute often. Try to put an editorial calendar together to guide you in your content development. This is key to reducing stress in writing. To take it a step further, create some sort of formula for your posts that ensures all the elements of a well-written piece are present.
- LinkedIn: Participate in the discussions that are happening in the various groups related your field in LinkedIn. This often-overlooked community presents a huge opportunity for networking and branding. Once you have your name out there, try creating a group of your own on behalf of your business.
- Twitter: Each day, countless mini-conversations happen on this microblog. Twitter is a great way to connect with influentials and become an influential yourself. But, it takes a delicate balance of sharing one’s own content, sharing other’s content, being helpful in some way and just checking in on your followers through friendly banter – all the while letting you and your brand’s personality shine through.
- Speaking engagements: Find out when the conferences, workshops and networking events in your industry occur and pitch your session ideas. Find out when schools are in session, too, because guest lectures at local colleges can be a great thing for building authority outside your industry bubble.
This is just a tiny sample of all the ways you can connect and establish presence for you or your business. The more people you reach, the more people will start to trust your business as an authority, and the more conversions you’ll see – to the point where maybe one day you can just say something like “almond butter” and a wave of sales will ensue.
With authority comes trust. Trust can make or break a conversion. Trust is what makes two women buy almond butter for the first time in their lives to get a better night’s sleep because it was information they heard on The Dr. Oz Show. These women believed:
- The information presented in Dr. Oz’s show is accurate.
- That Dr. Oz has their best interest at heart.
But this doesn’t happen overnight. Enough people have to believe that you know what you’re talking about and trust that as a business, you are putting their needs first. If you want your business to be an authority online and offline, think about your community and what it is you owe them as people who are looking to you for answers.
I personally think one of the best things you can do as a business (or an individual professional) is a thorough branding exercise that lays the groundwork for what the brand is and what it stands for. This can be the foundation for the entire communications and messaging strategy for your business across all channels.
The brand identity can also be a sounding board for when there are times that you or your staff don’t quite know how to handle a situation. This is when you can always default to the brand and what it stands for as a guiding light.
There are other tactics, however, to build trust in your day-to-day online marketing. At an SES San Francisco keynote in 2010, Tim Ash of Sitetuners.com delivered a great talk on building trust through what he calls the four pillars: Appearance of your Web presence, the transactional assurance, the authority and the consensus of peers.
Here are some highlights of that talk:
Going back to Dr. Oz as an example of the power of trust — people trust him because a bunch of other media people, including the all-mighty Oprah, showed their trust and approval of him by featuring him on their media channels. And all the guests that Dr. Oz now welcomes on his show are instantly bestowed that same trust by association.
Sure, he and his guests were probably doing a lot of great things prior to being catapulted into the media spotlight – but it’s that spotlight that turns people into experts. And it’s that trust factor that moves people to act. The power of believing in what other people say is good is actually good, is … well, kinda crazy. But that’s the mentality of our society and what happens when you build trust and authority.
So the lesson here is this: be willing to share your knowledge and know the right channels that will get your brand’s name out there. These two things together can put you or your business on the road to being positioned an authority, gaining trust and creating more conversions.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This 2012 article was ahead of its time. The importance of trust and authority became solidified a few years later when Google’s guidelines introduced the E-A-T concept for judging quality on the web. For updated information, read our complete guide to Google’s expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T).