First glance at the title and you may wonder why an article about trust would be associated with an internet marketing article. Let me assure you, trust is extremely important when it comes to marketing your business online.
Think about the last time you made a purchase at a store. How did you know it was okay to buy from that store? That the product or service you purchased would be of the quality you expected? Your first answer may be "I know the company" or "They've been around for years." What do those comments translate to? You have a good reason to trust them. It's that simple.
Trusting a business to provide specifically what you want or need is paramount to making the very first decision to visit the store in the first place. Whether you've heard good things about a restaurant, you've had referrals to an insurance provider or the business has a strong, well known reputation.
Now think about the last time you made a purchase, or thought about making a purchase,online. What were the factors on the website that made you feel that your transaction would be secure? How did you know that the quality would be good, that the product or service would be delivered as described? Most people who visit websites when considering a purchase or hiring a company don't have the initial level of trust that comes with a local, brick and mortar business.
The lack of trust factors on a website can, and does, cost businesses thousands of dollars each month because trust is one of the primary persuaders when it comes to making a buying decision. It's been proven that if the website looks trustworthy (decided within less than 5 seconds) then the visitor will pay attention to the content of the website for further trust cues.(1)
So the question is, how do you and your customers judge the trustworthiness of a website? The first cue is the visual appearance of the website.
We are visual creatures. Eighty to eighty-five percent of all sensations come through the eyes and half of our brain's resources are dedicated to sight and the interpretation of what we see. That being said, the overall appearance of a website is going to contribute highly to the initial perception of trust. Websites that are clearly out of date in style, use poor color and font choices, and overwhelming amounts of text will immediately cause people to exit the website and go on to another.
Let's assume that your website looks very professional, modern and clearly has current information. The visitor will then move on to the actual website content. (2) At this point it's important to have all the on-screen cues that will convey a further level of trust. While some elements will vary from one website to the next, here is a list of items you can use to effect the perceived level of trust:
Start by showing that your company is for real - make the address, phone number and email contacts obvious and easy to access. It's surprising the number of websites that try to generate leads or sales but the only way to contact them is through a form. This should be a no-brainer but we've worked with many clients over the years that miss this basic step: put your phone number on every page.
Put your unique selling point or value proposition on the front page. This is more than just "we're great" it's the why you're company is great. Do you have a great statistic related to customer service? Did you get a great review of your product by a well known source? Has your expertise been established with interviews in well known periodicals or their equivalent websites? Our website has the logos and links to the articles where we've been quoted or interviewed.
Show your visitors that "people like them" have purchased from you and are happy. Although testimonials on a page is nice, the true, spontaneous reviews are best. Set up a feedback or review form that will post to your website. Link to social posts from people that related to reviews or referrals to your business. A client of ours that sells stamps online has a product review option with every product - giving past customers an opportunity to give a star rating and feedback.
Offer your visitors a guarantee. No this isn't a cheesy sales tactic. Tell them what you will do for them and tell them exactly how your guarantee works. A cleaning company we work with offers a satisfaction guarantee and on a linked page we tell the prospect that if they aren't satisfied the owner will personally come out within 24 hours to make things right.
Show your website visitors other customers you work with. This is often done with the company logos featured prominently on the front page. We have a client that customizes trucks as purposely designed work vehicles. They've worked with some very well known companies and those logos are featured on the front page in the upper 1/3 of the website.
On shopping sites in particular, post the security certificate seal. While it's clear the site is secured when looking at the specific URL, it's not something everyone knows to look for so just put the seal on the site. And while we're on the subject, clearly state any shipping and return policies.
Having as many well placed trust factors as possible will go a long way towards establishing that "good feeling" when it comes to contacting your company. But there's one more thing you should know about trust. Trust is closely related to happiness. In fact the best predictor of happiness is the level of trust.
So it's simple people who are the happiest have the most trust. And happy people like to spend money. Make the overall experience of visiting your website trustworthy and you'll have happy buyers. The happier a person is, the more willing they are to talk about their experience. Keep customers happy with great follow thru and you'll never have to worry about looking for sales - they will come to you.
1) Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click. Weinschenk, Susan. New Riders Berkley CA, 2009
2) 100 Things Designers Should Know About People. Weinschenk, Susan. New Riders Berkley CA, 2011
This article written by Teajai Kimsey Stradley, Internet Marketing Strategist, Ideas That Work - March 2012
It may be reproduced and reprinted provided the author's information including web link is kept intact