11 secrets to using copywriting to build trust on a website
Why do salespeople have such shady reputations? Maybe it’s because they’re constantly trying to push products their clients don’t need. Maybe it’s because we know (or at least suspect) they’re driven by commission or profit rather than the best interests of their clients.
Either way, we don’t trust them. And without the trust of your clients, the chances of persuading them to buy something from you is slim to none.
This challenge of building trust is one that copywriters face. And building trust is even harder for us because we don’t get to meet our clients face-to-face. Instead, well-crafted copy is all we have to establish a connection with our audience, demonstrate that we understand their pain, and convince them that we have just the thing to make their problems go away.
Great copywriting is mainly about overcoming client objections. The objection that they are going to end up with a product that costs more than it is worth, or the objection that getting in touch with you will end up being a waste of their time.
What gets a client to believe you’re offering value and you won’t waste their time? Trust.
Use these copywriting tips to lay that foundation of trust with your clients:
1. Establish yourself as an authority in your copywriting
Ever heard the story of the two men who crossed the road?
People trust authorities. This is verified in countless studies, including the infamous Milgram experiment where a group of participants obediently carried out dubious orders given by a stranger in a lab coat.
What do you have that establishes you as an authority?
- Testimonial from an authority?
2. Back up every claim you make
In order to build trust among your clients, you need to back up every claim you make on your website. It isn’t enough to say you’re the “leading financial planner” in Australia or a “customer-centric social media marketing agency” when every other business in your industry is saying the exact same thing.
Use proof liberally in your copywriting
Find another way to claim your difference then back it up with proof. (Here at Taleist, we’ve made it easy by listing 39 types of proof you can use to optimise your conversion rate, and
3. Data talks when you’re building trust
Speaking of proof, incorporating data into your website copywriting tops the list. When it comes to backing up your claims with proof, there are few things more potent than hard facts and figures.
For example, did you know that Vitamin C supplements reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 25%?
Gasp! Now imagine if you had that statistic on the website homepage for your company that sold Vitamin C supplements. Value proven.
Providing data and statistics makes your copy sound more credible than unsubstantiated puff like “most people think/do/drink…” Using data shows you’ve done your homework and know what you’re talking about. Also, it’s hard to argue with something thoroughly studied and tested by, say, a Nobel Prize winner.
4. Client reviews build trust
Client reviews are one of the best types of social proof you can have for your website. People are more likely to choose you if you’ve made someone like them happy. But don’t waste your testimonial…
Here is an example of one of Taleist’s review:
“Steven did a great job of taking my words and re-presenting them in a way that resonated well with our audience. It was the time he took asking deep questions that gave him the background/context to do that. The blog piece has got a lot of traction and our Perth newspaper is interested in running with the article. I’m hoping it will lead to speaking offers for me and the traffic it’s generated will give myself and others the confidence that the message is important.”
Common objections to paying for copywriting include:
- A copywriter won’t provide value — I could do it myself
- A copywriter won’t understand my business
In less than 100 words, the client offers proof that you don’t need to worry about those things. We asked the right questions to understand the business. And not only did we write a blog post that got eyeballs, the local newspaper wants to run it too, an unexpected extra piece of value from the copywriting.
Make sure your testimonials are blasting objections not just shooting rainbows.
5. Case studies for building trust and authority
If a review is a summary of your services to a client, a case study is the short story equivalent with a beginning, middle and happy ending. A good case study documents successful projects already completed. Genuine discussion of the client’s challenges, the steps taken to solve them and the results. In the event your prospects remain unconvinced by your glowing reviews and list of accolades, case studies paint a more comprehensive picture of what they can expect if they engage your services.
To quote our free copywriting guide Writing Case Studies That Sell,
“A case study is a risk-free rehearsal of how your prospects will feel if they become clients.”
The storytelling aspect of a case study also has the ability to connect your audience on an emotional level. They feel your previous clients’ frustration as their own, and they cheer alongside them when those problems are finally resolved with your help. This emotional connection opens the pathway towards building trust and taking action.
6. Make bold guarantees
Every purchase decision carries risk, especially when you’re a first-time customer, and there is nothing people fear more than making a bad decision. What if the product breaks down the next day or doesn’t do what it is supposed to? Risk reversal marketing techniques allay those fears by prompting the seller to take on their customers’ purchase risks as their own, through warranties and buy-back guarantees.
As customers, we love guarantees. If you were offered two identical frying pans, but only one had a 90-day guarantee, which would you be more likely to purchase? Warranties and money-back guarantees are promises that if the purchase does not deliver on its promised value, customers are given the opportunity for a do-over. In other words, sellers are confident enough in their product that they are willing to provide buyers with a no-strings-attached return policy if the product does not meet their expectations. That confidence is what needs to shine through in your copywriting in order to inspire trust amongst your audience.
When a prospect isn’t taking a risk because you’re guaranteeing the result, what’s left to object to? That’s why only the most trustworthy would make a guarantee, right?
7. Know your customer
What do your clients wake up in the morning wanting? Chances are, they don’t want another tax advisor, but they may want a way to get rid of the creeping headache forming as a result from their muddled up taxes.
Knowing what your customers want and addressing those concerns is the first step towards building trust. You are not providing tax advice, you are offering the relief customers need from the stress they are facing from dealing with their taxes. This shows that you are not only concerned with providing a service to the masses, but that you care about their personalised needs. This is where researching your customers comes in handy.
We trust people who understand us, and we’re suspicious of those who don’t.
8. Research, research, research
How do you show people you understand them? First, you have to understand them, and that takes research.
Here at Taleist, we make it our mission to research our clients’ business down to the nuts and bolts. This involves asking our clients a thousand and one questions, interviewing their clients, checking out their competition, peeking in on what potential clients are saying, and much more.
In-depth research is what allows us to get to know our clients on a deeper level, to identify the challenges they are facing, as well as some insights that even they may not have realised about their business or website.
We can use these insights to show the clients of our clients how well they are understood and that we share their concerns. There’s more in this blog post if you’re interested in how copywriters research websites.
9. Engage your readers
The tone of your copywriting matters. However, there lies the debate: Is it better to write in a formal, polite manner as was taught in school, or is it easier to connect with your audience by writing as if you were having a conversation with them?
20 years ago, the answer was probably the former. After all, didn’t our English teachers teach us that formal writing is the best way to convey your point while still sounding polite and respectful? Never use contractions, don’t start a sentence with a conjunction and definitely no internet slang as you write website copy for readers on the Internet.
But here is the counter-argument: We want our clients to think of us as a kindred spirit, a friend who listens to them in their time of need. And we certainly don’t talk to our friends like we’re giving a presentation at a business meeting because it doesn’t sound sincere, not even to the people at the meeting.
When we write a website, it’s easy to forget sometimes that we are not just writing for Google’s algorithmic robots, but to the people who will actually be visiting our website. Overly robotic formal writing may not perturb the search engines, but it hides our true personality and can come across as pretentious, causing people to doubt our sincerity. Your clients don’t want to take a stroll down the Uncanny Valley, they want to talk to a real person behind the website. Humanising your website through a conversational style of copywriting is one of the ways you can build trust with your clients.
10. Eliminate jargon
Jargon walks hand in hand with formal writing, and it is also a copywriter’s worst enemy. It may be useful in small doses to help explain the more intricate aspects of your business, however when it comes to building trust and rapport with your clients, plain speaking wins out every time.
Some people are under the impression that big words cement their authority, but ironically the more jargon is used, the less trustworthy your website seems. Nobody wants to spend their time trying to figure out what you meant when you tell them to “leverage their core competencies”. It’s annoying, isolating, and causes people to suspect that you’re trying to hide something in all that doublespeak.
The Barefoot Investor himself, Scott Pape, has sold millions of books because readers trust him. And they trust him because he delivers complicated financial terms and ideas in an entertaining, easy-to-understand format.
You can do the same with your writing, too.After all, which website is likely to earn your trust…
One that requires you to have another Google tab open as you frantically search for the definition of every word you see?
Or one that offers straightforward, practical advice that your children could understand.
11. Paint a picture
The greatest competition every business faces is often the clients themselves. Or rather, their instinct to stick to the status quo of not doing anything. Your potential clients may have a problem, but if they wait it out a little longer, maybe a better solution will come along. Your copywriting has the gargantuan task of nipping that thought in the bud and convincing your audience to take a leap of faith with you. So they need to trust you. You can help them do that by taking a walking into their future…
We’ve already talked about the importance of connecting with your audience on an emotional level with your copywriting. Another way to do that is by getting your clients to focus on how much better their lives would be if they engaged your services. Your copywriting needs to paint a picture in their heads about the life they could have if they just got in touch with you. Instead of telling them you will put together the perfect retirement plan, help them to envision themselves travelling the world after retirement. Instead of convincing them that their taxes are in good hands, assure them that they will never endure a tax-related headache again.
Copywriting is more than just selling a product to your customers, it is also a way to engage a conversation with them that leads to a relationship built on trust.
Trust leads to confidence which leads to sales
We can talk about marketing tricks that generate leads until the cows come home, but ultimately it all comes down to building trust with your clients. Copywriting works to increase brand awareness and persuade clients to take action. In other words, it is salesmanship in content form. And you never want to come off sounding like a shady salesman, which is why it is important to prioritise building a relationship with your target audience so they can get to know and trust your brand.
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