Let’s say you have a website, you know your lessons are valuable, and you have a marketing plan that will bring English learners onto your site and social media channels.
It all sounds great, but….
You won’t get paying learners/customers if you don’t gain the trust of your audience.
As teachers, it’s vital that we make our potential clients confident that we are going to deliver for them. And working online makes this more challenging.
Luckily, there are many things that we can do to build trust online, and that is what I’m going to explore in this post, starting with first-impressions.
Make a Good First Impression
First impressions matter.
When learners land on your homepage, click play on YouTube or see your promoted post on Facebook, they instantly form an opinion about you.
If they get a bad impression, they leave/stop watching/ignore your stuff. Therefore, your website should be visually appealing and look professional.
This is because when a learner lands on your site, your design is crucial for getting him/her to stick around and learn more about what you do. People can judge a website in milliseconds.
Now, it’s important to point out at this stage that you may not get this perfect first time. But you should always be taking stock and looking at ways to improve upon what you have.
In addition to your getting the look right, you have to engage your audience with content that is going to impress them.
If you solve a problem that your learner has, then they will want to learn more from you. Having content that is useful will help you build a teacher/student relationship, and this will result in more sign-ups for your lessons. This goes for content on your site and elsewhere.
I have also learned that the way in which you present your content helps too…
Make a Connection through Video
So, now that we know a good-looking website with useful content, let’s move on to the best way to get your message across.
From my experience and research, there are two important factors here: personality and video. Learners want to know the person behind the content and they want to see that person in action.
When I advertised my one-to-one lessons more prominently on my site, my conversions increased once I included a video on my booking page. And since I started focusing on YouTube for my new brand, I’ve received many more requests for lessons without plugging them in any way.
What I recommend is having video across your site. This is easy to do these days and, if your first videos aren’t perfect, you can always replace them at a later date. Again, this is striking a balance between perfection and getting started.
And don’t be scared about sharing small details of your personal life here and there. This shows that you are a real person and it will help you make a better connection.
Consistency plays a big role in gaining trust, especially if you are building an audience over the long-term.
As I revealed in this post, I lost a little momentum last year. I wasn’t consistent with new videos, posts, and emails, and I know that I lost the interest and trust of some of my learners because of this.
When you’re consistent with your online lessons, email responses, blog posts, YouTube videos, social media posting etc., your learners and potential students see you as someone who is trustworthy and committed to what you do.
And when it comes time to advertise your lessons or launch a new course, people will know that you’re going to deliver on your promises.
As I expand my online business, I am looking to outsource my work more and more.
One area that I want to keep under my control as long as possible is email communication. This plays a crucial role in building trust and, ultimately, getting more sign ups.
I use TextExpander to help me with this, but I spend about an hour a day responding to emails and comments.
Giving a response within 24 hours shows that you care and that you are someone who takes customer service seriously. And we all know that when buying something, customer service plays an important role in our decision.
In addition to building trust, reading comments and emails helps you better understand your audience. In my series of automated emails that go out after someone signs up, I ask a variety of different questions. These answers have given me great insight and they have helped me build better products and courses.
Give, Give, Give
No one likes to be taken for a ride.
And, unfortunately, there are many learners out there who like to take advantage of teachers who offer things for free.
An example of this is the trial lesson. Learners have been known to request a free trial lesson even though they have no desire to pay for future classes.
A potential problem with this – in addition to giving free lessons all the time! – is that you can start to feel exploited, making you less likely to give your time to help others.
However, there are two types of people that matter to us online teachers: those who will potentially pay for your lessons and courses (the potentials); and those who will never pay for anything (the nevers).
Don’t let the second group put you off, and instead, make it a win-win-win situation by giving as much as possible.
You win because you build trust with the potentials and also feel good about helping others. The potentials win because they receive great content, trust you, and then go on to take lessons. And the nevers win because they get really good content.
That doesn’t mean that you have to give lots of trial lessons – over time you will learn to filter free trial lessons, for example – but you do need to give in order to build trust and to receive in return.
My favorite way to give is through my blog posts, videos, and social media posts. Interacting with learners, as discussed before, is another way that you can give to receive.
Use Testimonials and Add Social Proof
There is only so much that you can say about yourself to build trust. That is why getting others to do this for you is crucial.
The most common way to do this is through testimonials and/or case-studies. With my online courses, I have never directly asked for testimonials. But if I receive an email from a happy customer, I ask them if I could use their email as a testimonial on my site.
With one-to-one lessons, asking is much easier. The best time to do this is at the end of a good lesson.
Going back to a point I made earlier, a video testimonial is much more powerful than a written one. However, they are harder to get.
In addition to testimonials, you can also build trust by showing off your numbers. If you have a substantial amount of Facebook fans, Youtube or Twitter followers, put something on your site so that people can see this.
Over to You
Please leave your experience of building trust in the comment section below and, if you have further tips, please share them!