Guest post by
As the former CEO of Bankrate.com, Don Ross grew revenue from $79m in 2006 to over $550m in 2015. Previously, he has served as the Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Harris Connect, Inc., repositioning the legacy print directory business to help drive $90m in annual sales, and the SVP of Sales at Worldweb.net, where he helped grow the firm from a small angel-backed start up to a formidable player in the content management software space.
My Dad has used the same brand of razors for 45 years. He’s a loyal Gillette customer. Unless there is some type of apocalypse and Gillette goes out of business, he’ll never buy another kind of razor. He just trusts them.
Trust is a funny thing. It’s hard to pin down, and difficult to quantify. But it’s critical if you want to achieve customer loyalty.
Although your industry has fierce competition, and deep pockets, you should feel optimistic about the revenue potential out there. Today, the US spends 8% of GDP on finance, which is twice as much as was spent 40 years ago.
Think of the revenue your business could generate, and the ad dollars you could save, if you were simply able to boost the number of lifelong customers by inspiring more trust in your business.
You won’t be able to generate mass consumer trust overnight. But there are a few key steps you can take, right now, to start moving in that direction.
Beat the Competition
When customers are ready to choose a bank, or other financial service, they’re searching for a clear differentiator – some verification that your business is the clear winner over your competition. In today’s hypercompetitive environment, reviews aren’t just nice to have… they are a must have!
43% of finance consumers will actively seek out reviews before they even begin to shop for financial products online. If they can only find poor reviews of your business, that’s one thing, but if they can’t find any reviews at all? Why would they choose you?
Financial products are a considered purchase decision. Your financial business must earn consumers respect and trust. Your prospects need to be assured that not only is your product right for their needs, but also that it represents a strong value/investment.
Like it or not, many studies verify that there is a level of distrust that consumers have for financial institutions. This sentiment is particularly prevalent among the millennial segment. In turn, reviews can provide a powerful assurance that helps persuade prospects and validate both their considerations and choices.
Action step: Determine and implement a review collection strategy. Make sure you are regularly collecting feedback and displaying it on your site. Bonus points if it’s third party verified, which means customers can place even more trust in the sanctity of the reviews.
Demonstrate Your Most Authentic Self
Think of your customers’ perspective. Investing, exchanging, or borrowing money from a company is one of the riskiest decisions they can make. How can you make that decision a little easier for them? How can you make them feel even more secure?
A recent Market Strategies International study determined that “31 percent of American households feel obliged to do business with one or more financial services companies they distrust.” Furthermore, unhappy customers were found, overwhelmingly, “more likely to dissuade friends and colleagues from doing business with a company they use.”
Save your unhappy customers, and convince dissatisfied customers with other companies to switch to your brand by bolstering every claim you make on your website with verification.
At our company, we call these objects of verification “trust signals” – branding and badges and third party verification that our partners implement on our site to encourage a sense of security in prospects. It may only take you a few minutes to implement some trust signals on-site, but will make a significant difference to prospective customers.
Action Step: Determine all third party vendors that have vetted you. Download badges and widgets with their verification, and add them at any point in the conversion funnel where your customers might be hesitant to continue. A page that requests credit card information? Add your BBB badge. The pricing page? Share third party verified reviews from happy customers. The “request a quote” page? Add the logos of your most well-known partners.
Draw Attention, in a Good Way
The first step customers are taking, once comparison shopping, will likely be to Google your company name. Make certain that when your paid advertisements appear – they affirm your trustworthiness as a business.
Achieving Google Seller Ratings, the ratings extension on Google AdWords campaigns, is critical if you want to succeed in your industry. If a customer sees your ad next to another financial service ad, and the other ad has 5 bright orange stars with a high rating, as vetted by Google – the choice will be obvious to them. The other guys will get the customers’ business.
Action Step: Make your business the obvious choice. Collect reviews through a verified party, full list of Google-approved vendors here, and achieve Google Seller Ratings by getting 150 reviews or more averaging a 3.5 star rating or higher.
Once you’ve started implementing trust throughout the customer journey – in paid ads, organic search, and on-site – you’ll be set-up for success. You’ll be naturally generating more organic traffic by way of enhanced SEO, inviting greater retention, reducing ad spend, and boosting customer loyalty.
Set yourself up so that 45 years down the line, your customers will still be loyal, happy users of your brand.