Companies that conduct the majority of their business on the internet are always fighting an uphill battle to gain loyal fans and regular website visitors. With many industries experiencing an overcrowded marketplace and unprecedented levels of brand saturation, small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners are trying to gain that most desired of customer values: trust. Aside from the strength of their online presence, many large corporations have an easier time attracting internet shoppers due to simple brand recognition which lends itself to trustworthiness. When faced with an unknown mom-and-pop retailer and a company that has twenty years of advertising power behind it, there’s no doubt that the average person will choose to conduct business with the more well-known store.

So then, how does a SMB owner manage to gain the trust and patronage of online customers? Well, as many SEO and social media companies tell their clients, the first step towards gaining a strong online customer base is to work towards building up one’s brand. Simply put, the more well-recognized business will always have a considerable edge over those companies that hold far less clout. In order to create a business that people will flock to, SMB owners need to make their company name not only trusted, but also a prevalent entity on the World Wide Web.

Become a Certified Online Business
One mistake that many start-up businesses make when getting started is forgoing extensive certification. Although it’s a sad truth of the digital world, there are countless spammers and fraudulent companies around today that masquerade as legitimate businesses. Fortunately, online shoppers have become significantly more savvy and careful regarding their online habits. Every potential customer a SMB will see will undoubtedly be looking for signs that a website can be trusted before committing to a purchase. If an online business lacks a certain amount of certification, then wary shoppers will go elsewhere.

Aside from the requisite official channels for certification, small business owners will want to become as thoroughly guaranteed to be ethical and legit for site visitors. One excellent avenue for certification is through the Google Trusted Stores program. By submitting one’s company through this Google program, the business will receive a report card that will help ease shoppers’ minds and gain their trust. As an added bonus, Google is gradually implementing Trusted Store badges onto its AdWords results. This means that your company’s future PPC campaigns will appear on Google’s SERPs with a stamp of approval for everyone to see.

Popularity is a Sign of Trust
When someone who is unfamiliar with a business recognizes that company as a dominant force in social media, it speaks highly of their online presence. While earning a follower base numbering in the thousands can be a true challenge to any SMB owner, getting to that level of exposure can be made much easier through the right social media behaviors. Those companies looking to expand their social network influence should look into the following techniques:

  • Work together with other established businesses to get a leg-up. If a company is just getting started on Facebook or Google+, it should be turning to preexisting follower bases for potential “likes” or subscriptions. Company owners should never hesitate to seek out partnerships or mutual deals with other companies on social media sites. This will grow a following much faster than otherwise.
  • Once it’s begun to garner a respectably-sized follower base, a company should always be engaging users on a regular basis. By posting interesting or timely content, any business can keep its followers paying attention to its feed. An important note: posters should remember to pace themselves. Diluting a user’s stream with never-ending updates is a surefire way to lose their following.
  • Always remain active in your social network proliferation. As any social media company will tell you, ignoring other networks in favor of big names such as Facebook leads to stagnation. Should follower growth begin to decline, consider switching some of your focus elsewhere. Twitter in particular is an excellent place to accrue new loyal customers.

As a business’ online following grows, so too will the ease of which users come to trust that company and recognize it as a respectable place to shop. With trust comes frequent and loyal customers, and it’s those people that will lead to consistent and steady sales. Should any SMB owner have any further questions about how to improve their brand recognition and trustworthiness, feel free to contact me at jwersits@webimax.com.