The Importance of Trust in B2B Lead Generation Strategies—and 10 Ways to Build It

Image of Brad Shorr
Brad Shorr
Published: Sep 14, 2021

B2B lead generation strategies differ in the details but have the same goal: to persuade target prospects to make a sales inquiry by phone or online form submission. To build a pipeline of qualified leads, a marketing campaign must connect with target prospects, get their attention, build interest and motivate them to act. This is all very difficult, given the high volume of competition on Google search, social media, paid online advertising, email and other Internet marketing channels.

Making lead generation even more difficult is the issue of trust. Trust is important in B2C, but in B2B, trust is arguably even more important.

  • First, B2B purchases are often very expensive. Poor quality may create rejections, replacements, production delays and delivery delays, and in other ways turn profits into losses.
  • Second, expensive or not, B2B purchases have broad and serious implications. For instance, late delivery of a $100 part could cause a production line to shut down.
  • Third, salaries, careers and reputations hinge on buying decisions. Selecting the wrong vendor and creating any of the problems described above adversely affect a buyer’s employment — and buyers well know it.

A major obstacle to building trust among prospects is the pervasiveness of digital marketing. In the old days (very old days), trust was built with a handshake. Face-to-face presentations and frequent phone conversations were the first steps in a B2B marketing campaign. Today they are frequently the last steps, with prospects sizing up vendors online and often reaching purchasing decisions without ever making live contact with potential suppliers.

And therein lies the problem: B2B organizations comfortable with “live” marketing execution must create a flawless digital experience to build trust and generate leads. Here are 10 of the most important online trust-building techniques.

1. Content

The substance of online marketing content must be trustworthy. This applies to all website content, social media posts, email blasts, advertising landing pages, video and even imagery. The key attributes of trustworthy content in B2B are:

  • Accuracy. If buyers question your facts, they will question your capabilities.
  • Reasonableness. If your offer is too good to be true, buyers will be suspicious.
  • Relevance. If your content fails to address the buyer’s needs but instead has an internal focus or misses the mark, buyers won’t believe they can count on you.
  • Precision. Careful editing is essential. Grammatical errors, spelling errors and incoherence convey lack of expertise and reliability.

2. Earned Media

For B2B organizations, effective, trust-building types of earned media include authoritative articles appearing on highly regarded websites and blogs, press releases, and stories about your company appearing in online or print news publications. When others write about your company or your own content appears in places other than on your website, prospects perceive credibility and expertise.

Be careful, though, not to overdo it. Press releases, for instance, build trust only when they report something truly newsworthy. Articles written by staff members that appear on websites or blogs that look unprofessional similarly undermine trust.

3. HTTPS

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a relatively new way to encrypt and secure information transmitted over the Internet. If a website uses HTTPS, when prospects visit that site, they will see “HTTPS” at the beginning of the URL in the address bar of their browser.

Today, B2B buyers understand that HTTPS protocol helps protect the confidentiality of information they send to a website and helps prevent future, unwanted marketing communications.

Privacy is critical for trust-building. Google Chrome, one of the most widely used browsers, has gone so far as to display warnings to users for any website not using HTTPS. This warning is a red flag that instantly destroys trust. If your website(s) has not yet converted to HTTPS, now is the time.

4. Page Loading Speed

Many website issues create a poor, trust-undermining user experience, with one of the most critical issues being page loading speed. Slow page loading drives many prospects away before they even see your marketing message; but even for those with the patience to wait, the annoying experience is enough to sow doubt about your reliability, expertise and attention to detail.

Page loading speed (and website experience in general) has recently attained greater importance for lead generation because Google now considers it in its search algorithm. Slow-loading web pages lower rankings and undermine SEO — which is itself a trust-building lead generation strategy, as we will discuss.

5. Privacy Statements

Website users are reluctant to transfer information online due to privacy issues, especially email addresses, sensitive/proprietary company data and payment information. Therefore, inquiry forms must include a simple disclaimer statement that assures prospects their information will not be saved, sold or shared. If your company uses private information in any of these ways, revisiting existing policies may be prudent. Regardless of what your privacy policy is, a full, detailed privacy disclosure statement should be part of your website, with an easy-to-find link in the footer of all page templates.

6. Response

When an inquiry form is submitted, does it drift in space for a few days or a week — or do prospects receive an immediate email acknowledging receipt, thanking them for the inquiry, and letting them know what to expect and when to expect it?

For a phone inquiry, do prospects sit on hold or go through a complicated automated phone system to leave a message — or are they immediately connected with a sales representative ready, willing and able to address their needs?

B2B buyers will not trust you to respond to a crucial delivery or quality issue if you don’t respond diligently to a sales inquiry!

Thorough, fast and on-point follow-up is just as critical for digital marketing as in the non-virtual world. When lead generation campaigns stop at the point of inquiry, poor follow-up is inevitable.

7. Reviews

Online customer reviews are a type of social proof with extremely high trust-building power. But getting these comments requires more than cultivating positive reviews on external websites and your own — although that can be a daunting task. Fine points to consider:

  • Don’t obsess over or try to expunge negative reviews. Buyers are sometimes suspicious when they see nothing but glowing reviews. No company is perfect, and a few negative reviews convey transparency, which is very desirable.
  • Whenever possible, respond professionally to negative reviews. Whether you’re apologizing, setting the record straight or explaining how you addressed the problem, prospects will see your response and gain confidence in your follow-through and professionalism.

8. SEO for Building Trust

The main goal of B2B SEO is lead generation from Google’s organic search. However, an important fringe benefit of an effective SEO campaign is credibility. The first step most prospects take when sizing up a potential vendor is to “Google” it. If your company is highly ranked for relevant searches, prospects interpret this as a sign of reliability and prominence in your field. If you are invisible for relevant searches, prospects reach the opposite conclusion.

9. Social Media

If Google is the first step in vetting a supplier, a social media search is not far behind. While having social media profiles is not essential in every B2B vertical, it has become important in most. Your social media posts must be professional, relevant and consistent over time. Also important is responding to comments, as this demonstrates customer-focus and follow-through.

10. Social Proof

We’ve already examined customer reviews, but other types of social proof should be incorporated into marketing content as well. Social proof is especially effective on a website’s home page, inquiry forms, about us pages and landing pages. Typical and effective statements and content include:

  • Case studies
  • Celebrity endorsements
  • Links to earned media
  • Names/logos of recognizable customers
  • Number of customers
  • Trust seals from the BBB and other highly regarded organizations

People Trust What Other People Say About You More Than What You Say About Yourself.

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