The online ecosphere is an ambiguous place. While this faceless existence is great for some endeavors (like, shopping online for underwear . . . while in your underwear), for businesses, the anonymity of the Internet presents a challenge.
Customers like to conduct business with companies they trust; and for new online businesses, creating trust in the anonymous online world requires careful planning and execution.
These five trust-building techniques will help businesses at all stages create a believable online presence that conveys honesty, dependability and trustworthiness:
1. Showcase Reviews and Testimonials from Real People
In the offline world, there is nothing stronger than a recommendation from a friend. When someone we know tells us about a business they trust, we are eager to try it out ourselves. Recently, a colleague told me about an honest and skillful mechanic who fixed his car. When my car needed some work, I contacted my friend’s mechanic without hesitation. When we don’t have any friends with personal experience in a given field, we turn to sites like Angie's List and Healthgrades, or apps like Yelp.
On your own website, you can add a similar sense of trust by incorporating reviews or testimonials from real people. A great example is Amazon, which not only shows how many reviews a certain item received and what its average rating was, but also specific user reviews, linked to real people, like Erin McDonnell, who reviewed this baby toy.
Another example, often used by B2B companies and freelancers, is a testimonial widget, adds testimonials from real customer as social proof for a website. Freelancer Kristi Hines uses the widget on her website to show what satisfied customers have said about her work. By linking the reviews to real people from real companies, potential clients’ confidence is strengthened, and the brand becomes trusted:
2. Publish Case Studies of Successful Client Stories
B2B companies also see improved brand trustworthiness when they add case studies of successful customer stories to their sites. Big B2B brands like SalesForce feature their case studies prominently:
But even small businesses can add testimonials to prove that their company has been trusted by businesses and can be relied upon by prospective clients.
While every business knows the SalesForce brand, there are many other CRM solutions. For example, there is one called Call Pro CRM, which also feature case studies to present successful implementations:
3. Display Comprehensive “About Us” and “Contact Us” Information
To establish trust is to give users a sense not only of the people and companies using a product, but also of the people who stand behind a product. Include thorough information (with pictures!) of the staff and add various ways to reach you.
Another player in the CRM market is Membrain. Their “About Us” page features a photo and information about their management, as well as a link to follow each member of the management team on Twitter or other social networks:
Adding contact information like phone numbers, the office address, live chat features, and social profiles also adds to the users’ comfort level. Convey that you are reachable on multiple mediums and at all times.
4. Adding trust seals and social proof banners to the website
Depending on your industry, there are many trust seals that can be added to your site. Of course, you can add the seals of the Better Business Bureau, Verified by Visa or Norton to any site. But different industries have their own seals, too.
For example, marketing companies may display the Google Adwords Certified Partner seal and retailers can display other sites, shows, and magazines that have featured their product.
Thebouqs.com showcases trust seals from Bizrate and Google, as well as logos of Forbes, MAXIM, SharkTank, O Magazine, and WSJ. Though some of their site visitors may not be as familiar with their brand as their competitors (FTD, 1-800-flowers), seeing these trust images helps give users a sense of security and confidence.
5. Offer Satisfaction Guarantees
A satisfaction guarantee is another mechanism that is guaranteed to build trust. Like the famous free returns from Zappos, which is on the site header (and therefore, on every page the user sees) or the 100% satisfaction guarantee from LLBean, these assurances make customers trust the brand and remove any hesitation to try the company and its products.
How do these trust-building methods generate leads?
How many visitors arrive to your website every day, month, or year? How many leads are generated in the same timeframe? Most likely, a very small percentage. Many website visitors do not convert because they are left weary at some level about your company and its services. By adding these trust-building techniques you increase their confidence level and encourage them to convert to leads . . . and eventually, to sales!
Do you have a trust-building success story? Please share it in the comments!
Tomer Harel is founder and CEO of KeyScouts, and co-founder of Spectoos. He has been practicing Internet marketing for over a decade, helping hundreds of businesses to thrive online. Despite his extensive knowledge and years of hands-on experience, Tomer is always looking to learn more and be a little bit better every day at what he does.