What if there was one simple thing that would accelerate your business online? What if this thing was completely free and anybody could do it?
This ‘thing’ is transparency, and being more transparent on the web can have a dramatic impact on your bottom line. Read on to find out why.
The Case for Transparency
Before we dive in, I want to clarify what I mean by transparency. I’m not talking about a corporation making their financial statements public. I’m talking about adding that human element to your business. This can also be described as being more friendly, personable, approachable, and trustworthy. Whatever you want to call it, it centers around YOU.
For many people, this feels unprofessional. If you’re shy, it probably makes you squeamish. But if you take the leap and incorporate this kind of openness into your business, I guarantee you’ll thank me.
Transparency is literally my secret weapon for success online. It’s the thing that always works.
This idea is one of the reasons I chose to build my business around my name.
I have also successfully used this strategy for many clients and other projects. It never fails to provide a business boost!
Bring transparency into your business and you’ll see growth in:
- shares of your website
- on-site engagement
- media attention
- sales and conversions
Why Does Transparency Work?
So why does this work? The answer lies in behavioural psychology. It has to do with likability. One of the best-known books on behavioural psychology, Influence by Robert Cialdini, discusses this concept at length. Cialdini says that we’re more likely to be influenced—that is, driven to take action—by people we like.
Who we like is determined by a variety of causes. There are two that are particularly relevant here.
The first is similarity.
“We like people who are similar to us. This fact seems to hold true whether the similarity is in the area of opinions, personality traits, background, or lifestyle. Consequently, those who wish to be liked in order to increase our compliance can accomplish that purpose by appearing similar to us in any of a wide variety of ways.” – Robert Cialdini, Influence
When you share personal details online, you’re creating more ways for people to connect with you. Mention that you like going for hikes and a good portion of your audience will get excited because they also like going for hikes. As humans, we love finding common ground.
The second important factor that leads to likability is contact. For the most part, we like things that are familiar to us. In fact, proximity is one of the major factors for falling in love.
The point is, if you don’t open up online, your audience will barely have any contact with you, let alone discover similarities.
“Companies that use sales agents from within the community employ this principle with huge success. People are more likely to buy from people like themselves, from friends, and from people they know and respect.” – Robert Cialdini, Influence
This is why it’s not surprising that websites with a personal touch get more traffic and sales. Read on to learn how to make your website more transparent.
4 Steps to Make Your Website More Transparent
1. Include Photos of Yourself
Unless your customers can see you, they’re interacting with a brand, not a person. Include photos on your about page, in social shares, and wherever else you feel it’s relevant. This is the first step towards transparency and it will make your customers more comfortable doing business with you.
2. Create An About Page With Personality
I firmly believe the about page is one of the most important pages on a website. I could write about it at length! Whatever you decide to do with your about page, make sure to include some personal details too. Yes, it should be focused on your business, but there’s no reason why you can’t include a section about you and how you got your start. These are the details people—and the media—latch on to.
3. Thank Readers Whenever Possible
Generally speaking, brands don’t express gratitude. But people do. Look for opportunities to personally thank your readers for their support. This doesn’t need to be a huge time suck—there are very scalable ways to do it. One of my favourites ways is to thank readers for leaving a comment. Go and ahead and leave a comment on this post and see what happens! By the way, these gratitude interactions often turn into conversions.
4. Share Personal Stories, Struggles, and Achievements
You don’t have to tell your life story, but you can if you want to. Just stick to the interesting parts. Opening up about important moments in your life, whether in the past or present, are a great way to connect with your readers. Share your joys, and don’t be afraid to share the struggles too. Remember, we’ve all been there. You’ll find that these personal updates really resonate with your audience
5. Use social media to open up.
One of the easiest and most fun ways to bring transparency to your business is with social media. You can do this on any network. Share the occasional personal update, or even just some behind-the-scenes business updates. Many of your customers really do want to know about the trip you’re planning, or that you just hired your first employee ever. Just remember not to overdo on business channels. Everything in moderation, right?
I use Instagram almost entirely for personal updates while other chanels, such as Twitter are more business-focused to varying degrees. Always think about your audience on that network and what kind of value they’re looking for.
4 Transparent Websites That Are Killing It
Heartmade Blog is a thriving business run by Mayi Carles. People are drawn to Mayi because she’s not afraid to be herself. She gladly opens up about the things she’s not good at and shares silly pictures of herself on her blog. It’s no wonder her dedicated fan base consistently raves about her and her website. Who can say no to that kind of positive energy?
Mike has been transparent about his successes online by sharing monthly income updates that break down how he makes money. He’s also been transparent about his failures, including losing 90% of his income overnight. Through the years, Mike has built a large, engaged audience and leveraged it into a very lucrative business.
Pinch of Yum is a food blog run by husband and wife team Linsday and Bjork. In addition to recipes, they share photos of themselves, occasional personal updates such as bringing a new dog into their family, and they even teach interested readers how to become food bloggers just like them. It’s not surprising that their loyal audience helps them earn $20,000 a month through their website.
Smart Passive Income, run by Pat Flynn, is a favourite website of many Internet marketers. One of the reasons why is because Pat is such a great guy. He regularly thanks his audience for their contribution to his success, and shares personal updates about his kids and personal life. Although, he now has a very profitable business with many revenue streams, he openly talks about the struggles he has faced along the way.
If the idea of using transparency in your business makes you a little uncomfortable, start small. Choose one thing from the steps above and give it a try. It could mean updating your about page, or maybe just mixing it up on Facebook. You’ll quickly see the benefits and want to do more!
If you already use transparency in your business, tell me how in the comments below.