Skip navigation

BLOGFourteen Digital Trust Killers

by Randall CraigFiled in: Make It Happen Tipsheet, Blog, Data, Trust, WebTagged as: , ,

Are you one of those marketers who spend so much time on building trust, but too little time addressing the factors that kill it? Not even sure what these factors are?

Fourteen Digital Trust Killers

Here are fourteen:

Unnecessary web and app trackers: These ostensibly exist to allow better evaluation of marketing effectiveness at the macro level, and user behavior at the micro level. But as privacy — and transparency — are becoming more important with individuals (and regulators), these trackers are quickly being seen as overreaching… and trust killers.

Location tracking: Related to this is overzealous location tracking in apps. And even worse, when this location data is enhanced with third-party data to build a “ghost” profile of your users… without their explicit knowledge. Creepy, and a trust killer.

Poor data security: As more interactions happen online, the security of your client’s data is critical. And so when there is a hack, even if a particular person’s data wasn’t revealed, it is a major trust killer.

Incongruent client service channels: This is when there is a difference in responsiveness (or empowerment) when a client connects on Twitter, Facebook, the website, or traditional real-world service channels. The runaround kills trust.

No direct contact information: There is often an asymmetry of data between the user and the organization: the organization may have collected an enormous amount of information about the user, but too often, the organization doesn’t even provide a real person’s contact information online. Generic corporate responsibility yields a mere fraction of trust when compared to direct personal accountability that is tied to a name.

Incorrect or out-of-date web content: People rely on your information to be up-to-date, and when it isn’t, they will assume that you just don’t care. So why should they care either? And when the information that they rely on is health-related or is to support a major purchase, incorrect data won’t just diminish trust, it may also increase legal risk.

Creepy and overly familiar emails: When I was a kid, my parents insisted I call adults either “Mr, Ms, or Mrs” — never by their first names. While today might be a bit more relaxed, overly familiar emails that pretend that they have a long-standing relationship with you can do more harm than good.

Retargeting ads: These are the advertisements that follow a user around after they have visited a page on your site (or a page on a specific Social Media site). Again, creepy does not equal trustworthy.

Spam (unsolicited commercial email): While spam is bad enough, trust is further destroyed when “unsubscribes” are ignored.

Bait-and-Switch: (And unceasing upsells): This comes in so many flavors: An ad that someone clicks, only to find themselves on an unexpected page. A promise-laden offer that requires either additional modules to be functional. An app that does almost nothing without in-app purchases. A product that is delivered that looks somewhat different than the website. Each of these kills trust, because the high bar of expectation was not met.

Two-factor authentication (2FA): 2FA is when a website requires you to enter a code — usually sent to your cell phone — in addition to your username and password. While experts agree that it improves security — and therefore trust — when implemented poorly, or the user gets overly frustrated, then trust goes down. A simple example: what happens if you need to get to your online banking, and your cell phone battery dies? Or the phone is stolen?

Social media rage: This is when people are upset, and share their anger on social media. It is bad enough when it is on their social pages, since only their friends can see it, but too they post their complaints everywhere, including your social pages. Other people see this, and it reduces both confidence in your offerings, and trust.

Dark Patterns: These are user experience techniques that rely on psychological trickery to cause the user to behave in ways they didn’t quite expect. At best, the user becomes frustrated; at worst, they feel like they’ve been taken advantage of.

Bad reviews: Whether on the web, Facebook, Google, or elsewhere, bad reviews are… bad. And each bad review reduces your brand trust.


While some of these you may not be able to do much about, a surprising number of them you can. This week, meet with your colleagues who are responsible for each of these areas, and help them connect the dots directly to stronger trust.

Related post: Insight: Dark Patterns, Trust Killers

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
Download Randall’s professional credentials: Speaker credentials one-sheet or Management Advisory credentials.

Content Authenticity Statement: 100% original content: no AI was used in creating this content.

@RandallCraig (Follow me for daily insights) Professional credentials site.



Randall Craig

Contact us for more on Randall’s topics, availability, and audience fit.

Back to top