Face it. You wouldn’t buy a “brand new stereo system” from a guy driving a white van around in a parking lot. And if for some reason you did, you would only go home to open the box and find a shiny new package of sand and bricks. Then why would you expect people to hand over their personal information on your website if they cannot trust you? (i.e, your website looks like that white van driving around the parking lot)
Establishing trust on a website applies to every webmaster and designer out there. Whether you are a blogger, web designer, retailer, or plain ol’ entrepreneur, the people who visit your website will have to trust you before they take action on your website. And what is trust exactly? On the Internet, it essentially boils down to people being comfortable enough with your website and company to hand over their personal information, such as their address, credit card, or other sensitive information.
Are you getting blown out of the water by your competitors? Even if you get more visitors, your website could be losing the battle simply because visitors to your website do not trust you. There are a few simple things you can do on your website to build more trust, and there are a few more strategies that take time, work, and money. In all cases, each technique will add another layer to your website’s “trust factor.” Before people hand over their information to your website, they have to reach a certain threshold of trust that is right for them.
Provide Easily Accessible Contact Information
Do not expect your website to do all of your work for you. It’s a tool, not a salesperson. There will certainly be plenty of people that buy from your website without ever talking to you, but there is also a significant amount of people that must talk to someone before making the final purchase.
Have your phone number in plain view. Provide your address information and hours of operation. For local businesses that is especially important. For businesses that sell nationally, then address information is also vital. Another tool you can add to your arsenal is a Live Chat feature that allows people to speak with a person through your website.
Would you rather buy from a great website with no way to get in touch with a real person, or a good website that has a friendly, helpful support staff?
Be Absolutely Clear about What You Are Doing
When people buy stuff on the web, they want to know when they’re going to get it. When people hand over sensitive information, they want to know how you’re going to use it (ideally, not selling it to third parties or spamming them.)
Providing clear-cut, easy-to-understand answers to visitors’ questions can greatly increase your sales and conversions. Provide a Frequently Asked Questions page. Be very clear about who you are and what you do as users navigate throughout your website.
The best way to do this is to get a friend or relative to navigate through your site. If they can’t figure it out, then most people will not either. For bigger companies, you should have analytics software installed on your site to understand when and where people abandon your website.
Keep Your Website Current
There are plenty of websites out there that were built in the last century that are still online today. You can register domains for 10 years at a time and prepay for hosting forever. But how is someone supposed to know that you’re actually still in business? Is your website talking about technology that went obsolete 5 years ago, or promoting a product that was recalled last year?
Keeping a website current has many benefits. First, it shows visitors that you still have heartbeat. Second, it builds repeat visitors. One of the easiest ways to bring repeat visitors is to build and maintain a blog. Not just a self-serving blog, but a helpful resource of information. Do that, and the third benefit of increased search engine traffic comes naturally. The better your website is at providing helpful information, the more likely people will share it with others. Sharing equals linking, and linking equals traffic.
Get your Certificates (SSL, BBB, Hacker Safe, etc)
If you’re dealing with credit cards on your website, then an SSL certificate is an absolute must. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone crazy enough to give out their credit card information on a website that is not secure.
For e-businesses, the key is to build trust: Running a successful online business requires that your customers trust that your business effectively protects their sensitive information from intrusion and tampering.
But did you know you can also get an SSL certificate when you’re dealing with non-credit card information, such as an address or social security number? While it might be overkill for some websites, some people will be more inclined to work with one website over another simply because they are securing their personal information.
Example: Gieco’s Get a Quote Form which requires a Social Security number.
There are many other site certificates out there that can apply to your business. They can get expensive, but when you are dealing with sensitive information there should be no cost on your customers’ safety. Did you know 71% of people actively look for 3rd party seals?
Testimonials Can’t Say Enough
You can never have too many testimonials on your website. Often they can be the reason people buy from you or move on to the next company. If you’re a new company, wait it out until you have enough satisfied customers to collect a good number of testimonials.
If you’ve been selling products for a while, you can kill two birds with one stone by offering a customer satisfaction survey. You can get some critical feedback on your business, and at the same time have a whole slew of testimonials to put on your website.
People Are Smarter Than You Think
Good business is integrity. Bad business is deception. When you’re building your business on the web, do not take shortcuts because most people can see right through them. Don’t write fake testimonials. Don’t Photoshop your office building. Don’t steal other people’s work and take the credit for it (that’s a hit on designers that “borrow” portfolios.) Don’t lie about your number of employees. And so on and so forth.
Remember, trust doesn’t happen overnight. Have patience. You can slowly but surely increase the “trust-factor” of your website. The good thing is you do not have to be the size of Amazon.com or have the name recognition of Dell to build a successful business online.
Trust is transparency. When people trust you, you can be one person in a basement and outsell a 10-person company.