Due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of noise in online advertising is at an all-time high. Subsequently, with digital advertisers coming at people from all angles, customer trust is at an all-time low. We explored this concept in depth in the first segment of this five-part series.
We also explored using word-of-mouth marketing to reinforce a strong digital marketing approach. Just as important as it is to stand out from competitors with an effective online marketing strategy, you also need to engage existing customers in a meaningful business relationship. Thoughtful interaction keeps them coming back and encourages them to rave about you to friends and colleagues by word of mouth.
Finally, we began an analysis of the customer journey for trust-building potential using the Customer Trust Circle approach. This is where we’ll continue in this segment.
At the beginning of the customer journey are strangers. Strangers have never before associated with your brand, although in some cases they have been referred to you by advocates, which we will explore in the final segment of this series. Your job in this first stage of the customer journey is to gain enough trust that strangers become prospects and seriously consider a purchase from your company.
Inside the Mind of a Stranger (aka, Your Future Customer!)
Let’s look for a moment into the mind of a stranger who is a potential prospect for your company. This is somebody feeling the pain of a problem that your products and services could help solve.
This person is actively researching ways to reduce some of their pain as quickly as possible without a huge price tag. For example, a small business owner may be growing quickly and struggling to keep up with increasing sales volume. An athlete may be at a standstill and looking to improve results, fast. You know best the strangers that make up your target market.
Out on the open web, there are countless strangers that you could potentially help. The problem is first getting noticed by them. For strangers to see value in your company, you need to first have something to offer them beyond your paid products and services.
Unlike prospects, strangers are not yet prepared to spend any money. This is a key difference between the first and second stages of the customer journey. Strangers are, however, ready to consume information and any other free resources you are willing to provide.
Offer Some Immediate Help
At this point in the Customer Trust Circle, your potential customers are seeking guidance. You will gain their trust initially by providing free resources paired with an option to buy an immediate premium solution.
Once a stranger has come upon your awesome free content, you have a prime opportunity to offer more assistance. The best approach is to use a combination of free and paid resources that work together to convert strangers into prospects.
Often after the free resources have been consumed, strangers will become aware they are still suffering from the problem with no immediate solution available. Think back to the athlete. Perhaps you offered free resources related to a basic training regimen, but now they want to improve their results further. This is where you come in with a thoughtful offer of products or services that will provide immediate aid.
Your free content, tools, and resources should all provide some relief and aptly demonstrate your expertise, leaving the door open to purchase the full solution later.
One example of an effective combination would be a free audit tool that boldly identifies problem areas for the stranger. In the audit results, a checklist featuring paid solutions might be displayed. Integrated links will enable the stranger to save these purchase options for later or for a limited time while the offers last.
You might also incorporate your products and services into an informational article that presents paid solutions alongside free resources in a how-to style blog post. You could offer an “Ultimate Guide” of some sort that appears at the end of the article. When the stranger is finished consuming the free alternatives, this presents an opportunity to buy access to even more great solutions.
A good idea here is to upsell the person to purchase a product that costs a small fee but provides extremely high value. This worthy investment of time and resources will leave a lasting impression of your brand, so make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Try offering an introductory online training course that teaches potential customers firsthand how to resolve the problem themselves. You may also create a paid tool that will help them understand the problem further and provide a full diagnosis.
Remember that you can’t serve a stranger just anything. In order to gain their trust, any items you upsell must be truly relevant and useful for resolving what they are struggling with. Offering such high value at a lower-than-market price will demonstrate your commitment to helping them and keep you top of mind for future purchases.
The more accurately you can align all of your resources with the struggle these strangers are experiencing, the more likely you are to remain on their radar when they do become ready to spend the bigger dollars.
Get Ready to Capture Prospects
Once you’ve acknowledged these strangers exist, that you see them and that you want to help, then you can start to treat them as you would a prospect. This will further nurture the relationship as they move into a position to buy.
Now that you’ve gained their trust, it’s important to make sure you are consistent and have not placed anything in their path that might cause them to doubt you. A smart practice is to go over the resources and content you already have out there and assess whether it’s actually useful to potential customers or just there to fill space, add keywords, and improve search engine optimizations. In other words, weed out content that can be deemed primarily self-serving or take the opportunity to edit this content to make it useful.
You should spend some time thinking carefully about the kind of strangers you want to attract. Understand what pains them and create a plan to build content and resources that are actually helpful to them. All of the content you put out going forward should be useful to these people in some way.
You should also spend time thinking about yourself, your own company, what makes you unique, and what you can offer these strangers that no one else can. Keep this in mind as you develop tools, content, and resources for this demographic to consume.
The benefits of using this approach will not only be to gain trust and turn strangers into prospects more quickly and more effectively but it will also naturally build up a toolbox of resources that customers at all stages of the customer journey will love!
If you’re ready to get started on making a plan and bringing your toolbox to life through optimized tools, content, and more, give us a call at 833-277-3444. Reach out here or check our more free resources on our website.