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While the concept of trust might date back millennia, building trust online is a relatively new area of study, but what we do know is that trust is incredibly important to your audience’s likelihood to become a customer.

The benefits of trust manifest ins four key ways – people who trust are you are:

  • More likely to enroll in your course (increased conversions)
  • More motivated to complete a course (improved average progress)
  • More likely not to cancel or walk away (higher levels of retention)
  • More likely to share with a friend (more and better referrals)

That’s all well and good, but no one starts off trusting you. Trust is earned, and to earn it you need to overcome the hesitations of your potential customers. Your leads will ask questions Things like “What if this is a waste of time and money?,” “Do I have to disclose sensitive information,” or “Will I get help when I need it most?”

To build trust you need to show that:

  1. You’re safe to do business with; and
  2. You’re an expert – a reputable source of information.

There are many ways to build that trust with your audience (and we’ll be diving into some of them over the coming weeks) but here we’ll focus on your course landing page.

Related: The Top Customer Success Strategies Used by Successful Companies (Complete Guide)

Your landing page exists to show potential customers how their lives could be improved with the course you’re offering. As well as showing your safe to do business with and reputable, you need to show visitors as quickly as possible that they’ve arrived in the right place to find what they’re looking for.

The 5-Step Blueprint to Creating and Selling Successful Online Courses 

Create ‘Message Match’ with your Banner

You banner is the first intro to your landing page, and course as a whole. It should contain enough information to show you understand your audience’s problem and are presenting a clear and understandable value. You should also ensure that you match the your landing page’s headline or banner text copy from your landing page to the title or headlines from wherever you’re directing traffic from (eg. emails, PPC ads).

When speaking about yourself or your course, use storytelling

Storytelling is the best way to instantly resonate with your audience. If you can show that you or one exemplary customer of yours has had a problem resolved through you that the lead now has, they’re more likely to trust you and your product. Being authentic and detail oriented is key to inspiring trust with storytelling.

Every story follows the same arc outlined below:

  1. Setting the scene & presenting the problem

First, you need to introduce yourself or your example character as being in the same place as your potential customer. Paint a familiar picture, a reflection of their own predicament to qualify your lead as a good candidate for your online course.

Make sure to get specific about the problem and its consequences (that you can help eliminate).

Example: “When I first started teaching online I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t feel like an expert, I didn’t know what instructional design was, and I certainly didn’t know the in’s and out’s of building trust with my target audience. I didn’t relate to the lead at all and I never made any sales.

  1. Struggling to fix the problem, but getting there eventually

Next, explain the path you or your example character took to start fixing the problem. Be sure to include any wasted time or mistakes here, because they will accentuate the time-saving nature of your eventual solution (that you’re now selling).

Again, get as specific as possible here to show off your credibility as an instructor.

Example: “So, I researched every best practice and then some, looked at other successful course creators for inspiration, and tested sales tactics on my own landing page, doubling down on what worked.

Sure, I made some mistakes along the way, but I learned how to build trust with my audience eventually.”

  1. The moment the problem was fixed, and life post-problem

In the third act, the problem is gone forever, and the main character is changed for the better. In this part of the story, winding down to a call to action is a necessity.

Details about life after the problem should be attractive but also provable. Screenshots or other imagery work well here.

Example: “What I realized was that leads didn’t care if I had the most attractive looking offer. My audience wanted to know if they could trust me to change their life now and forever.

By making sure my leads could feel secure in their purchase from me, I managed to increase conversions with my audience at all stages of my customer’s experience by at least 33%. The answer was to build trust with my audience. Now I want to pass on that knowledge to you.”

Use a guarantee to indicate you’re safe to do business with

A guarantee is great for reducing the fears your audience might have about spending their time and money consuming your content. Decide on a refund period (eg. 30 days) and create a section near your pricing info to explain the details.

When considering how long your refund policy should last, as a rule of thumb, you should include the time it takes to complete the course plus an extra week or month.

Refund policies can also be contingent on certain conditions like a progress rate in the course or demonstrable effort by your customer to get results from your product. These conditions can be added to your course site’s Terms and Conditions or Terms of Service policy.

Pre-emptively answer common questions with an FAQ

An FAQ is a great way to preemptively answer questions your audience might have before deciding to convert on your landing page. This lets you reduce perceived risk without a phone call and shows your experience at being responsive their needs. You can include FAQs on your landing page, or create an additional page that contains some or all of your FAQs.

Look to common questions that you get from support emails or during pre-sales phone calls for inspiration. You can also poll or survey your past customers, asking them what kinds of things they wondered about before purchasing and enjoying your online course.

You can also use social proof and testimonials to show that others trust you, but we’ll dive into that in a future session.

The updated Thinkific Page Builder allows you to build gorgeous, fully customized landing pages that make it easy to build trust with your audience. Sign up today and check out any of the high converting themes »

Gary Allen is the Product Marketing Manager at Thinkific where he’s passionate about building and marketing great software. He also loves napping, oxford commas, and tweets that combine more than one meme.