Trust is crucial to your brand’s success.
It’s what makes a customer feel comfortable purchasing from you, doing business with you and recommending you to their friends and family.
Think about it this way: Would you let someone you don’t know borrow money? Would leave your child in the hands of someone you didn’t trust? Would you recommend a plumber to your sister if they did a shoddy job? Of course you wouldn’t!
Well, neither would your customers.
Your customers work hard for their money, and their businesses are their babies. They don’t want to put the fate of either in the hands of someone they don’t trust, know or like. They want absolute surety that their money, interests and resources are will be well taken care of.
So what can you do to improve this trust? To make customers believe in your abilities and feel comfortable putting their hard-earned cash in your hands?
There are lots of things – providing great customer service, delivering on your promises and being honest and forthright with your clients are just a few. Unfortunately, these take time, and they’re not something you can implement today, right away, and see results.
Changing your website? That’s something you can do right now.
Using Your Company’s Website to Build Trust
Your website is the perfect place to start building trust with your customers. After all, for most, it will be the first way they’re exposed to your brand and your services. This makes it ideal for building trust, as you’ll have a clean slate with which to work and build on.
The best place to start is to consider your site’s transparency. How much are you really telling users? How much can they learn about you, your services, your work and your employees from your site? If the answer is “not much,” you’re doing something wrong.
A recent study from the Edelman Trust Barometer polled more than 11,000 web users across eight countries, and you know what 90 percent of them said? They want companies to be as transparent as possible, meaning they want to know how you work, who works for you and what exactly they do for your company. They also want to know what other clients you’ve worked for, what you’ve delivered to them and how you performed.
Through all this, you’ll build a relationship with the customer, showing them that you are, indeed, someone they could put their trust, faith and, of course, money into without fear of loss or disappointment. They can go forward with you expecteing good outcomes, more sales, additional revenues or whatever else it is you promise them.
Considerations in Trust and Transparency
The whole point of earning a customer’s trust is to decrease their perceived risk of doing business with you. That means getting them to feel like the pros outweigh the cons – that the money they’ll pay you for X product or X service is worth it, because of the positive impact it will have on their life or their business.
But trust isn’t easily come by. Being transparent throughout your entire site is definitely necessary, but there are also many other moving parts that come into play. You must also be able to demonstrate:
Ability – You have to show them you have the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver on what you promise.
Integrity – Customers have to believe you have the moral compass and principles to follow through on your promises and stay committed to their needs.
Benevolence – You also need to show customers that you are concerned about their needs, committed to their interests and invested in their welfare.
If your website can effectively show your brand has these three characteristics, then you can bet they’ll want to do business with you in a heartbeat.
Specific Ways to Build Trust
Now that we’ve talked about what it takes to build trust, let’s go into some very specific ways you can use your website to start doing it.
1. Make Them Feel Secure
This is extremely important if you accept payments on your site or require your customers submit any sort of contact details or personal information. In this day and age, where identity theft is an everyday occurrence, web users are highly concerned about security and online privacy.
On forms, make sure to tell them you won’t be selling, distributing or using their email addresses for anything other than the purpose stated. You can also implement price guarantees, refund policies and other similar strategies to ensure customers feel safe and secure doing business with you.
2. Show them proof.
The best way to make people trust you is to show them that others, people just like them, have put their trust in you, too. This is called social proof, and it’s one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal – especially on the web.
Now, there are a number of ways you can show proof on your website. You can do one or two, or you can implement them all for maximum effect:
Testimonials – No one wants to be the first person to try something – they want proof that it works before they jump on board. That’s where testimonials can come in. They show customers that others have been there before them – others who have worked with your brand, bought your products or used your services. Most importantly, it shows them that those people have had success with your company – and that’s the best proof of all.
Reviews – According to studies, 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations from friends and family. Additionally, products and brands with reviews are also 7.3 times more likely to be shared – something that can make a huge difference in exposing your brand to new customers. To implement reviews on your website, start with your product pages. Create a ratings system where customers can review past orders and products, and share their opinion with others. You can also encourage past customers to review your business on Yelp or other similar review sites, and integrate a widget on your footer or within your site so visitors can see.
Client lists – If you’ve got some clients (or past clients) that hold real clout in their industry, then use those to your advantage. Display their logos on your website, and make sure potential customers know those big-name brands and companies trusted you for the job. Just this simple change instills more trust than you think!
Press mentions, awards and certifications – Anytime your customer is honored with an award, mentioned in the press or certified in some new or state-of-the-art process, it should go on your site. These can go a long way in showing that your company is knowledgeable, experienced and worth of a customer’s trust.
When combined these four elements do all your marketing for you. They show 1) that you’re successful, 2) that you have satisfied customers and 3) that you have the chops to do what you say you can do. In the end, they put you just one step further in gaining that trust.
3. Establish yourself as an authority.
If you want customers to trust your abilities, you need to convince them that you’re the go-to company in your space – that you’re an absolute authority in your specialty. In order to do that, you have to prove your knowledge, skills and abilities, and show them you have what it takes to meet their needs and help them reach their goals.
Your website makes doing this easy. Instead of just using your site for sales and marketing purposes, use it to provide valuable, useful information to your customers – even if they’re not paying ones yet. Start a blog, and offer up tips, advice on guidance that can help readers overcome challenges. Give them access to resources, ebooks and whitepapers that give them the tools they need to succeed.
Don’t withhold information or resources in an effort to gain their business. This will only cause distrust.
Instead, prove to them that you’re the expert by giving them information they need and can use. Once that information helps them in some way, they’ll come running to you for help next time they’re in need. And that, my friends, is when you gain a paying customer.
4. Don’t make sweeping claims or exaggerated offers.
The worst thing you can do is make bold, exaggerated claims about your services or what you can deliver. First of all, customers more than likely won’t believe you. But even worse than that? You’re setting yourself up for failure.
If you don’t deliver on those promises, you’re making an enemy out of that customer, and we all know that enemies are much more vocal than fans. Just one bad Yelp review or scathing Facebook post can take your brand down in an instant.
Although it’s tempting to make big claims about what you can offer a customer (50 percent more sales, Lose 10 pounds in 10 days, etc.), the truth is you’re better off sticking to more attainable goals. The customer will be more apt to trust you, and you won’t be promising anything you can’t deliver on in the end.
5. Have a great looking, easy-to-navigate website.
The amount of time a prospective customer gives your website would shock you. In fact, according to a study published in Behaviour and Information Technology magazine, you only have a mere 7 seconds to impress them and earn their trust.
Here’s how it breaks down: There’s the exposure period, when the customer sees your site for the first time and judges its color, design and overall layout. The average person will do just in just under 200 milliseconds. Then there’s the inspection phase, when the user does a quick once over of your content, your menu, and any buttons or links that are present; this period lasts for about 3 seconds. Then, there’s an interaction period, where the user might click a link or navigate to another page to learn about your services. This takes another 3 seconds.
If they’re not impressed by that time, they’ll close your site and find another one they do like.
The simple fact of the matter is, just like in real life, looks do matter. They play a role in how people perceive you and think of you – especially if it’s their first impression. If you want your website to have the most impact, to instill trust in users and to turn them into viable customers, it needs to:
Look professional – You don’t want to come off as amateurish or like your site was thrown together haphazardly. If you didn’t put time and effort into your site, customers will assume you won’t put time and effort into them, either. And that’s the last thing you want.
Be easy to use – Make it easy for customers to learn about your brand and find what they’re looking for. If your site is hard to navigate, your message is lost. On top of that, you’ll confuse and frustrate the user, likely turning them off for good.
Load fast – Respect your customers’ time. Make sure your pages load fast and don’t bog down their computers with too much data.
Are error-free – Show customers that you pay attention to the details by having crisp, clear content that’s free of errors and spelling mistakes.
Ad-free – Nothing says untrustworthy or money-hungry like a site full of ads. They make you look unprofessional, and they clutter up your page. Do yourself a favor and keep obvious ads and banners off your site’s main pages.
Current – Avoid any outdated looking graphics or images, and update your site regularly with new content and images. Few customers want to do business with a brand that’s behind the times.
You’ll also want to avoid broken links, and pay attention to the overall layout of your site. The easier it is to navigate and understand, the more the customer will be able to learn about and interact with your brand – both of which will build trust in the end.
6. Humanize your brand.
This goes back to the idea of transparency. People don’t want to do business with companies; they want to do business with people. So use your website to humanize your brand – to give it personality, voice and feeling.
Here’s how you can do it:
Through your content – Use a professional, conversational voice and address your customers directly. Choose straightforward, easy-to-understand language, and engage them, entertain them and delight them. Avoid jargon, overly complicated sentences and third-person tenses – they’re impersonal and just not fun to read.
Through your images – Forget using stock images on your site. Sure, they’re easy to come by, but they don’t do anything for showing who your brand really is. Instead, use real-life photos of your team, your offices, your work and even your clients. These will resonate most with potential customers.
Through your about pages – Give customers a behind-the-scenes look at what your company does. Show them who works for you, what they do and how they do it. Give them a glimpse at your processes, and tell them exactly what your company does, how it does and why it does it.
Through your blog – Carry your brand’s voice through to your blog, and use it to gain a loyal following of readers. Give them information they can use and implement in their own lives, while also giving them a look at who your company really is and what they believe in.
Once you’ve established your brand as a person – maybe even a friend – your customers will start to trust you and believe in you. They may even begin to feel a certain loyalty to your company, and that’s what will inspire them to buy later on down the line.
Even if you’ve had a site for years, it’s never too late to revamp it and start using it as a trust-building tool. Start small by adding SSL, blogging, integrating reviews or changing up your copy, and then move on to bigger items, like a more user-friendly layout and design or new custom images.
Remember trust is much easier to break that it is to build, so don’t forget to follow up with the new customers you gain. Give them great service, deliver on your promises and make them feel like a part of your brand at every chance you get. This is what turns one-time buyers into lifelong customers.
Need help building loyalty through your own site? Contact Steadfast Creative today for a free consultation.