5 Ways to Build Credibility with Your Digital Marketing
There are a lot of reasons that you might be looking into the Exciting World of Digital Marketing ™, but one of the most important is to build your credibility. You see, if you’re not online in some form these days, you basically don’t exist to the most populous generation since the Boomers. Say what you will about those Millennials, but they need services, too, and they’re looking for long term relationships with professionals like you.
How the Other Half Sees You
Depending on where you fall on the generational spectrum, you may try to learn more about a potential provider by calling the Better Business Bureau, asking friends and family or requesting references. That worked, it did, until a new generation of adults with jobs and homes demanded something even easier. That’s how we got to where we are now. Bit by bit, service providers found that it was to their benefit to accommodate these up and comers. Even if you’ve not taken that digital leap yet, it’s one to consider unless you’re content to limit yourself to an audience that’s roughly half the size of what’s possible and growing older every day.
While your Boomers may not care if they can learn about you online, your Millennials do. And boy, do they. Studies have show that more often than not, the younger generation will pass up service providers and merchants that don’t have some kind of digital footprint. That’s the bad news. The good news is that with a little time and some elbow grease, you, too, can get your company online.
Caution: there are a lot of places to jump in, which has made the whole Internet marketing thing sort of confusing for people who are coming in a little late to the game. Do you need to get an Instagram account? Should you Pinterest? What about Google? What’s new with SEO (everything, constantly)? Does anybody read blogs? What is SnapChat even?
Digital Credibility Five Way
It’s ok to take your digital marketing step by step. The first step, as with any marketing effort, should be to define your goals. Everybody wants to make more money, that’s a no-brainer, but the ad campaign should have some other sort of goal. Something like making your brand stand out better or selling 300 air conditioner tune-up packages in 2018 are decent goals. The more specific, the better. For the purpose of this blog, we’re going to make your goal the above stated “establishing online credibility.”
This particular type of effort is more of a branding tool than it isn’t, meaning that you’ll have to be patient or you won’t see any gain. It’s all about getting people to recognize and remember your company. Generally, blogs take eight to 12 months to really pay off, try to keep that in mind as you go through the process. Rome wasn’t built in a day, your digital footprint won’t be, either.
For online credibility, we look for opportunities for you to show, not tell, how much you know about your particular specialty. By “you,” of course, that could mean you or it could mean you and a team of writers, editors and graphic designers. A team with experience in your field will be able to create materials that not only engage, but inform your audience accurately. Still, it’s a good idea to take a look at the finished assets before they’re published just in case there’s something extra you’d like your hired hands to incorporate.
There are several ways to approach a digital credibility goal, these are the ones we most commonly employ:
Google My Business. If you don’t have a Google My Business profile yet, stop what you’re doing right now and claim yours. These nifty free listings do double duty, both proving that you’re a real company should someone look you up and giving you a free platform from which to start your marketing. Just because it’s digital doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. You have the option to have your company appear on Google Maps, too.
Sign up for some review sites. Yelp! and Google reviews via your My Business account are probably the best bang for your buck. Since you already have a My Business account, it’s really just a matter of getting a Yelp! account for the time being. When you’re comfortable with those, feel free to expand out. Just don’t take on too much at once or you may become seriously overwhelmed. Online marketing is kind of a constant struggle to not spread yourself too thin because there are so many options.
Your review sites will make you cry, possibly scream, definitely want to punch something now and again. It’s because people are far more likely to complain than to pay you a complement. In this case, that’s ok. In fact, that’s great as long as it’s not something criminal that they’re complaining about. How you respond to complaints paints a better picture of how you are to work with than a million five star reviews ever could. Some people can’t be pleased and that has to be ok, too.
Blog regularly. If you’re not a strong writer, don’t like writing or feel like you can’t do your blog justice, it’s ok. You can still have a blog, you’ll just have to hook up with a ghostwriter (a writer who lets you take the credit) and a good editor. Any full service marketing agency can provide you with a team like this, but it’s important that you find a team that has experience in your industry. You’d never expect someone who went to school to groom a dog (or to study literature) to do justice to a piece about the inner workings of an air conditioning system.
Assuming you or someone knowledgeable about your field can be properly motivated to get started, establishing a regular blogging schedule with topics that are somehow revolving around a theme helps to demonstrate how much you really do know. Over time, your blog collection will grow, you may even link to older blogs to prove your point in a newer one, and you’ll start to get noticed by search engines. From there, you could connect with some industry or customer-facing publications and offer to provide them with guest blogs in exchange for publicity.
When your younger market goes out on the web to Google you after that, they’re going to see your website and a load of blogs that you’ve authored. Their confidence in your ability will definitely improve. Pair that with your reviews, even if they’re not perfect, and suddenly you’re in business big time.
Social media. It’s tempting to rely too heavily on social media. After all, everybody’s there, you can get all kinds of data about your demographics and you can time your ads just right to make them seemingly appear out of thin air just when someone is thinking about calling a plumber or buying a bicycle. Social media can also be really loud and confusing, which is why it’s further down this list. Even so, with a good social media presence, you can connect to your customers in real time — just remember that the goal is to have a conversation, not to sell things to them outright. You can also enable reviews on some social media sites, like Facebook. Double win.
Time and external links. All of this is building to something. With your expanding credibility, other bloggers and even journalists will start to cite you as a source from time to time. When they link to your blog from their own publication, they’ve given Google a vote of confidence that you’ve got the stuff it takes. These external links are powerful things when they’re done correctly (that is, more or less organically). Don’t be tempted to buy external links from link farms. This will almost always end you up in the Google slammer. And it’s not an easy thing to come back from that on your own.
Digital credibility is huge, especially for local businesses. As it gets harder to reach those local audiences with paper, it’s going to be even more crucial that you have some kind of online paper trail to follow. The world of business has changed dramatically since everyone started carrying computers in their pockets. Ultimately, spending some time establishing your company’s online identity will ensure that you’re able to continue to compete in the long run.