The Alphabet of Trust

In these increasingly technological times, digital marketing is everywhere. You can’t escape it. No sooner have you searched on Google for whatever your guilty secret is then the personalised adverts begins on your social media and targeted emails are likely to follow suit.

All part of the wonderful world of digital marketing… but as marketers we often find that it still doesn’t quite hit the spot. We’re doing everything right but somehow it’s not achieving the desired results. Why?

The answer might be in the wording you are using. The old Bee Gees song – Words – puts it this way:

“It’s only words, and words are all I have
To take your heart away”

If we want people to engage with our content, then we need to use the best words and phrases to draw them in. This is not manipulation but common sense! Words matter. People spot insincerity a mile off, and sometimes our attempts to be clever with words simply backfire and turn people off. To quote the Bee Gees again:

“You think that I don’t even mean
A single word I say”

Believe it or not, there is an exact science behind why some words work better than others in terms of gaining people’s’ trust. There is also a mountain of research on the topic, and journals about the research. A whole new world!

A very brief overview of this is that there are three attributes of words that influence how people respond to those words. They are:

  • Phonology: the way words sound
  • Connotative meaning: relationship between the word and other words that may have a negative connotation
  • Denotative meaning: the generally accepted meaning of a word that classifies it as trustworthy

Based on the above, many researchers have come up with lists of words that could potentially gain or lose trust. We have delved through them and come up with the Xcite Alphabet of Trustworthy Words. Ok, it’s slightly tongue in cheek, but if you use some of these positive and trust-inspiring words in your content you may be pleasantly surprised by the results:

A – Authoritative — Most people give respect to anything with the stamp of authority on it. The awareness that someone or something is authoritative is bound to create a feeling of trust

B – Best-selling — This is a subtly influential word because it conveys that many other people trust and respect that product or the person behind it

C – Certified — Similar to authoritative, this is a reassuring word because it means that someone else trusted it

D – Dependable — This is a wonderful word both from a phonological point of view and also has connotative links to words like “deep,” “pensive,” “able” – all of which inspire trust

E – Endorsed — Another word that indicates that others have already considered and valued the recipient of the endorsement

F – Factual — This is a strong word because facts are stronger than opinions and claims that are backed up by facts can be trusted

G – Genuine — People are searching for authenticity and this word offers it to them

H – Help — An excellent word to use because of its implications that you are working alongside someone in partnership

I – Integrity — Whilst this word is more usually associated with personal character quality, it can also be effectively applied to products or services, to inspire similar feelings

J – Join — In the appropriate context this word can inspire a sense of connection and also reassurance that there are already people out there enjoying the product or service

K – Knowledge — Similar to factual above, people are reassured to know that a product or service is based on solid ground and not just a creative idea

L – Lifetime — People like to think that a product or service is long-lasting and that they will not have to go through the decision-making and purchasing process again any time soon. The word also taps into our personal hopes and expectations for a lengthy future

M – Money-back — Whilst you may initially think that this has something a bit street market-ish about it, it does act as an effective guarantee to people that you have trust in your product and that they have nothing to lose by giving it a try

N – No Obligation — Whatever product or service you are offering, you need to be aware that people are usually cautious about obligation of any kind. So if you address this directly you are likely to build up trust

O – Official — This is a similar concept to certified above. If there is any aspect of your product or service that can be branded as “official”, it will be viewed as trustworthy

P – Proven — People are more likely to trust something if it has been tested and shown to be of value

Q – Quality — People are more likely to be interested in your product or service if they associate it with being high quality. The word itself is reassuring and will inspire trust

R – Research — If your product or service has been researched, people will view this as it having been “checked out” and will be more likely to trust it

S – Satisfaction — Customer satisfaction is in many ways just as important as the product or service itself. The word satisfaction is a good one to use, especially if it can be backed up by customer reviews

T – Tested — People tend to avoid things that are untested. Including the word “tested” indicates that your product or service does what it says on the tin!

U – Unconditional — People trust simplicity. They need to know that there is no “small print” associated with your product or service. What you see is what you get, with no strings attached

V – Value — This reinforces the idea that a customer will get a good deal – particularly effective if combined with the word quality, to avoid any connotation of ”cheap and nasty”

W – Warranty — This word demonstrates that you stand behind your product or service and trust it is good. It also reassures the customer that you will make things good should anything go wrong at any stage

Y – You — this is one of the most powerful words in the English language. It can make written copy seem more personal and directed toward the reader, and enhances trust by creating understanding and sympathy with the user. Put simply, who is the most important person in the world? YOU!

Talking of you… if you are as observant as we expect you to be, you will have noticed that the X and Z are missing from the above alphabet. Well X is for Xcite obviously! We certainly inspire trust in our clients and hope that we do in our blog readers too. Our aim is for our name to become synonymous with trust.

As for Z, well if you follow all the above we reckon your marketing will zoom to new levels of excellence! Enjoy using the above words and we’d love to hear your success stories in due course.

Author: Robert Walker