Online Buying Behaviors

Do People Really Buy from Sellers They Know and Trust?

Online Buying Behaviors

Whether you read a business article, an email marketing article, or a blogging article, each and every author recommends that you build relationships with your readers and prospects, or otherwise you’ll fail…

“People buy from sellers they know and trust,” they say.

It makes sense. It’s logical. However, I would ask you a question… Does everything that happens in this world follow a rigid, mathematical and expected pattern?

So… Even if it makes sense that people would rather buy from sellers they know and trust, is that true? What if it’s just yet another internet marketing myth? Let’s see…

Why Does Spam Exist?

Have you ever bought something from a spammer? I haven’t. I don’t even click the links from spam. I report and delete email spam, I even take the time to detect and delete the clever blog comment spam, etc. I guess you do the same.

Not buying from a spammer makes sense, isn’t that so? However, have you ever asked yourself why email spam or other types of spam keep existing?

There’s a simple answer… Because it works. That’s why spam still exists.

Who are the buyers? I’ve no idea… Maybe newbies, teenagers, old people, drunk people, dumb people, etc. What I know for sure is that there are a lot of such buyers. Otherwise spam would stop.

What do you think? Are all those gals and guys buying from people they know and trust?

“Screen Capture” Taken from My Online Selling Experience

Let’s put aside what makes sense. Let’s put aside assumptions. Let’s see another piece of real life…

I’ve been selling digital goods since 2001… Quite a great deal of experience in online selling…

Here’s an example… Someone searches on Google for “solo ads ebook“, sees my book, gets on my website and ten minutes later that person buys that book. Did we know each other in advance? Total strangers. Trust, bla bla, no such thing.

It didn’t happen once. It has happened for ages.

As a matter of fact, I didn’t always have time for building relationships via social media or other ways.

Lately I had more time. I’ve read a lot of blog posts… So many mistakes. So many dumb ideas… On top of them, misleading controversial blogs posts, subtle lies, and even more.

I spent my time writing long comments, trying to help some bloggers… Wasted time. Most of the bloggers look for yes-men. A comment that tried to offer another perspective was many times deleted, ignored, or considered a negative comment instead of helpful feedback…

Making a potential long story short… I didn’t build too many relationships… My blogs never had lots of comments… I don’t join blog commenting tribes, and as opposed to many bloggers I know that the number of comments posted on my blogs won’t pay my bills…

My websites still keep selling. Whether they are blogs or static websites. Whether my name is posted on them, or a “John Doe” pen name is used.

Online Buying Behaviors, Relationships & Trust – Conclusion

Buyers don’t always follow logical patterns. People don’t act according to math formulas. The buying act is determined by lots of factors such as emotional triggers or other things out of statisticians’ or theoreticians’ control ;-)

Finally, I don’t want you to get this article the wrong way. It is super fine to build relationships and trust. They both add value and may increase your sales… However, be aware that a lot of bloggers who are very much appreciated in their small world don’t make any money, or earn less than a teenager working at the local McDonald’s… Guess why! That’s your homework…

Anyway… some people – including myself! – usually buy from sellers they know and trust. Many other people don’t do the same… There are other multiple reasons behind their buying decision.

To Your Online Success!
Adrian Jock

P.S. This article may look cynical, but it’s not. It only shows the truth the way I experienced it and I keep seeing it… What’s your take on this topic? What’s your experience?

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16 thoughts on “Do People Really Buy from Sellers They Know and Trust?

  1. Great post Adrian! Direct marketing has always been successful when the ads are properly done by people that know their trade.

    People have needs. Companies advertise their products and benefits. Match up. No relationship necessary other than the confidence in the buyer that the seller can follow through.

    In my experience, I have bought many, many things from people I didn’t even know. I think that many of us do, as your article points out.

    In fact, usually this is how I find the businesses that end up serving me well, and make me a loyal customer. I find these companies through advertising.

    Like most busy people today, I do have limited time, and when I have a “want” or “need” (sometimes the same in this society), I do my research, and I make the purchase on faith without hesitation.

    Sure, there may be testimonials galore, or company history that shows reliability throughout time. They may even have a track record of satisfied customers a mile long.

    But…I make the purchase based on my reasons and my urgency.

    That is why advertising is so effective. Advertising connects buyers and sellers that do not know each other. Advertising gets the word out.

    In order for companies to even get their products on your radar, you have to find out about them somehow.

    Once the companies have people’s attention though, they had better follow through, or that relationship will be short lived. In the competition of today’s society, there is abundant choice in the marketplaces in just about every sector.

    Still, before I go “outside” my network though, I look for someone I know that can help me with what I need. If there is, I buy from them. If there is no one, I then look outside my network. I think that there are many people that act similarly in their buying approach.

    Hence, building relationships is still the “go to” choice for long term lasting customers. Not the only way, but it has consistently proven over time that people want to buy, and would rather buy from people they know and trust when available. The key word here being “available”. IMHO of course.

  2. Hi Al,

    Thank you for your… shall I say comment? Or article? :-)

    Anyway, whatever we call it, you may not believe it, but… I agree 100% with it :-)

    Thank you very much for your time. And for your … second part of my article :)

  3. LOL. Thanks Adrian! It is my pleasure. Gotta love a fundamental business strategy like advertising. If companies didn’t advertise, how would anyone even know they even existed? We do live in a noisy world…

  4. “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.” – Stuart Henderson Britt :)

  5. Yes, I saw this on JustRetweet and I am glad I did. You hit the nail on the head. Trust is important, but that does not (for the most part) come from building relationships. The little cartoon actually says it all.

    I wrote a very similar duo of articles on my blog on this topic:

    Content marketing is not king of trust

    How to instantly establish trust and authority with your website

    There are so many “articles of faith” out there that are totally wrong. Look at all the SEOs talking about relevancy, for example. Some of that is starting to get kicked around a bit now, as in this discussion:

    The moral of this story is to not take articles of faith for granted. Test…and use common sense. Think it through for yourselves. Sheep and lemmings never win.

  6. Hi David,

    Thanks for stopping by. Testing is internet marketer’s magic word. As for common sense… LOL … it’s so hard to find it these days… So many “me too” and “because my mentor said so” ;-)

  7. Another article of faith I forgot to mention is relevance. People are being taught by the wise to comment only on relevant blogs, for instance. So an insurance agent comments on insurance blogs. OK, that does help build some authority with one’s professional community, but that’s not where the customers hang out. This is an SEO-centric view of the world, and way skewed from where it should be.

  8. Hi Adrian,

    This is really a thought-provoking post. I won’t say that if you don’t build relationships, you’ll fail. I don’t think this is a common view, though I agree that some might be of this view.

    But yes, I believe that if you’ve a relationship with your potential client and the person trusts you, it does make it easy for you to convince and make the sale. However, this also depends on many factors and cannot be taken as a thumb rule of marketing.

    As you said, spam either works on the ignorant, desperate, confused, or depressed people, or those who get tempted by the offers that the spammers present.

    Sometimes temptations work much better than the relationships, and the sale through ads speak of it. Repeated targeting without any relationship factor also works better sometimes.

    In your example, the person already has a mindset to purchase a product as a strong need is there, and in that case, even offers from people who have no relationship with the person are also successful to make the person make that purchase. Of course, there can be many other factors.

    However, if that same or similar product was sold by another person with whom this person has a relationship, there’s high probability to be inclined towards the person who has already won the trust.

    So, relationships increase your probability of being selected by the person to purchase the product from, but does not guaranty it.

    I’d say that there are always different ways and paths, and one can choose whatever suits best. While you might have your view point and you consider it to be valid, it’s not that the other persons view is wrong and useless.

    There are bloggers who prefer building relationships and use social media in a big way, because they believe in it and it works for them, like you believe in direct sales and it works for you.

    If you think trying to help is wasting time, you need to read a post with exactly this title on my blog. When you try to help, it need to be selfless and you need to be giving. If you expect something in return, and you don’t get that, then you feel like you’ve wasted your time, and in fact, then you’re not really helping at all. These are my views, however, I agree that you might’ve your own different views, and that’s all okay.

    I don’t agree with you that most bloggers delete or ignore the comments that don’t match with their viewpoint. At least, it doesn’t happen so at my blog.

    You’re right that more comments on your blog don’t pay your bills, but blog commenting is not always about money. I’ve met many internet marketers who’re so either addicted or passionate about money making, that they try to assess or value everything with money.

    It’s great that you still make the sale, without the help of blog commenting and social media. However, what works for you may not work for the other, and what works for the other may not work for you. Isn’t it?

    I agree that buyers don’t always follow logical patterns, and also, many a times, their emotional judgement override the logic. You’re right that emotional trigger works for many buyers. And, relationships leverage this emotional aspect better.

    Again, not all bloggers are internet marketers, and you cannot generalize that bloggers who believe in relationship and trust don’t make money, or make less money.

    Well, its good to know that you too value trust, which comes from relationships. It’s okay if some others don’t, because as you say, there are multiple reasons that help you make that sale, or for the buyer to make that purchase.

    Thanks for this great post. Have a great day ahead! :)

  9. Hi Harleena,

    Thank you for your comment.

    1) Believe it or not, I agree with your ideas, including “what works for you may not work for the other, and what works for the other may not work for you.”

    2) “bloggers who believe in relationship and trust don’t make money, or make less money” – that’s not true, I agree with you. I didn’t say that. I’ve said: “a lot of bloggers…”

    3) “When you try to help, it need to be selfless and you need to be giving. If you expect something in return, and you don’t get that, then you feel like you’ve wasted your time, and in fact, then you’re not really helping at all. ”

    Well, we don’t really disagree. Maybe you didn’t understand my point. When I try to help someone, I don’t expect money or any favor in return. I expect a minimum level of respect.

    A great day to you too, Harleena! :-)

  10. Hi,

    Everyone has their own perspective and you have your own. You are somewhat right at your point. Building relationship is very important and I have gotten good result of it. No one like spam. That is obvious.

    My regards to you.

  11. Hi Adrian,
    I do buy from people I don’t know. But I do check into their digital footprint to see if they are trustworthy before I do so.

    In other words would you be able to sell without having a digital history of trustworthiness. Without your blog or social outposts?

    Maybe you are looking at the ‘relationship’ aspect too literally?

  12. Thank you for your comment, Jacob.

    It is possible to sell without having a “digital history of trustworthiness”. Definitely. 100% sure.

    For example, there’s a large number of uneducated people who buy pretty anything from anyone, without checking anything. If the copy does its job, they’re in.

    For reference, internet veterans might remember the so called money making programs. Michael Matthews’ The Work at Home Millionaire and other similar programs.

    No such Michael Matthew. No real digital footprints. I guess it was a pen name anyway. The person behind that site added to the members area a list of places selling ezine ads. Their members were instructed to buy ads from these places and promote that program.

    I know it because I was listed there. During 2008 and 2009 (I hope I remember the years correctly LOL), I’ve got tons of traffic from that site. Tons. Orders from people who bought solo ads without even knowing what a solo ad is. In order to educate them I had to update my site and write some articles especially for them. Or sometimes I had to refund their money. Etc, etc.

    The point is that the traffic came from the members area. Customers of that “Work at home millionaire” – Oh, btw, it’s not so difficult to create fake digital footprints, fake testimonials posted on forums and third party places, etc ;-)

    As for “maybe you’re looking at the relationship aspect too literally”, well, have you read the whole article you’re commenting under? ;-) Let me quote myself,

    “Someone searches on Google for ‘solo ads ebook’, sees my book, gets on my website and ten minutes later that person buys that book.”

  13. Great article, Adrian!

    I do tend to believe that people buy more often from people like they and trust, but not necessarily exclusively.

    I think it also depends on what is being sold and at what price point.

  14. Thank you for your comment, Brent.

    You’re right. A low price is yet another emotional factor that can make the lack of trust barrier disappear.

    The low price usually makes the prospect automatically think, “Even if I’m scammed or it’s a low quality product, what the heck, it”s only five bucks. I don’t lose a fortune.”

  15. That’s a really good point you bring up. I myself don’t even always buy from people I trust. I would like to just add that in today’s complex world of online marketing and advertising, gimmicks and other overnight fixes come and go, ultimately replaced by the core tenants of Internet marketing 101, which are the following: Pick high-quality long-tail keywords, author good-quality content, publish regularly, and you’ll be good to go. Add on some social media, publish press releases regularly, along with article marketing, and you should be fine. Study and implement the basic best practices of Internet marketing and watch your online presence grow.

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