How important is trust in building your customer base? A recent BrightLocal study shows that consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business. The study also found that 91 percent of consumers age 18 to 34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

But here’s the thing – and it’s underscored by the BrightLocal study. While you definitely have to contribute to trustworthiness, the label itself must be given to you by customers.

The actual value of reputation

It’s possible to compute the dollar amount of trustworthiness. According to Forbes, each one star increase in your Yelp rating can generate a 5-percent to 9-percent increase in revenue. This demonstrates that it’s not what you say about yourself, but what others say about what you do that truly has an impact on your bottom line. The important thing to remember is that you can participate in the conversation about what people say about your business – but only if you make it your business to pay attention.

Management company Lucid Press stresses the importance of actively monitoring your brand, pointing out that you’re not going to be able to participate in conversations which you don’t know are happening. How can you be everywhere online? You can’t, but technology is on your side. It can be as simple as setting up Google Alerts. Or, seek out the services of  sophisticated online brand monitoring companies.

Ignorance is bliss – maybe for some. For a business, ignorance is bankruptcy.

Helping with the conversation

It’s a smack to the ego, but the average customer may have difficulty saying good things about you. They probably don’t know enough. Successful organizations understand that they are a part of the customer conversation, and people are often looking for help in describing what it is they like and trust about them. Do you know what people like and trust about you?

Reach out to your customers if you’re unsure. Today’s consumer wants to be a part of your brand. They’re willing to give you their opinion of you ask for it. Start with a foundational measurement like your Net Promoter Score.

Authenticity above all else

“To thine own self be true,” says Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Today’s consumers agree. They place authenticity at the top of what constitutes trustworthiness to them. They want to understand your organization’s culture – the values and goals that shape why you make your product or service.

Demonstrate authenticity by incorporating data and research into your content.  A recent survey shows that 73 percent say an article is more persuasive when it’s accompanied by statistics and data. 82 percent of those survey-takers aoso said they prefer reading information based on data because they view it as objective, or truthful.

This is especially important because of the dominance of social media in marketing. These platforms make it easy for people to share their opinions and experience. User-generated content and influencer marketing has become crucial to growing and managing brand trust – and for one key reason. People trust people, not ads.

Don’t be afraid of the negative reviews you’ll attract along the way. Even the best loved brands are not universally loved. They’ve made the commitment to be authentic and truthful, and they encourage your customers to do the same. Thanking a customer who chooses to share some tough love communicates that you care about what they have to say, and that you are paying attention when you respond. Other customers are paying attention.

The Internet is marketing’s great equalizer. Competing companies usually all have the same features. Only one thing differentiates them. It’s what consumers think of them. Consumers today want to know why you do what you do. They want to support companies which align with their own values. It gives them a sense of ownership. And they own your brand Truthfulness and consistency create comfort and trust. Learn how we can help you gain customer trust.