Building Trust

Can your website be trusted?

Who is this company or organisation? Can I trust their opinion? Is the service they provide a good one? Will they take my money and run? Are the products they sell any good? Most new visitors and some old ones for that matter will at the very least subconsciously be asking some or all of these questions. You need to address these if you are going to get your message, service or products across to them!

How can I get my audience to trust my website?

To resolve this question you have to show your audience (visitors) that you are who you say who are, you are good at what you do and you will deliver on service and products you sell them. To do this you need to have trust flags – these are pieces of content on your site that jump out at the audience and says “We’re to be trusted”.

How you look is a key factor in building trust with your audience!

The first point that people most often subconsciously make a judgement on is ‘Quality of Design.’ Before the average visitor to your site reads any content from your home page in any detail, they will have already made a judgement about you and your business based on the quality of design of your site (Graphics, Colours, Layout.) This process happens in the first second or two that a visitor looks at your site. A bad site design flags up trust issues before a visitor has any other tangible way, such as by reading content, to trust you. Do yourself a favour and remember that in this case you are what you look like! Investing some time or money in design is a must for all companies and organisations, no matter what the size. [Tip – A good designer will want to see all of your content before making any decisions on a design concept. Stay clear of anyone that does not want to see what they will be designing for!]

Trusted testimonials and reviews help build website trust!

Before consumers part with their time and money, they want to know that the product or service they are buying is a good one. This is where you can deploy the “Trusted Testimonial”. Issue sorted? Well not quite! You see, a lot of savvy consumers these days are increasingly cynical about testimonials on organisations’ websites. The piece of content you put there to gain the potential consumers’ trust can itself make you seem untrustworthy. [Tip – Never put a testimonial on your site that is not associated with a first name, last name, and a part of the person’s address, otherwise it will just seem bogus.] So how do you get your “Trusted Testimonial” trusted? Well, the best way is to get the trust of a major brand to back up the testimonial! The web is now full of review sites that will review everything from your website to your delivery of service and/or products. The trick here is to get your consumers to place their review on a third party site that you can quote and link to from your website in order to get the consumer to trust the review to trust you! [Bonus – Each time you get a good, or for that matter mixed review on a third party review site, more links get built to your site – Good thing for SEO and brand awareness!]

Show your audience that your website is a secure place to transact business!

Ok, so your design is now shouting quality, other people are shouting that you are great and that your products and services are worth buying – Job Done? No, unfortunately not. In order to provide a service or product, you need to get paid for it! People do not like handing their details out over the internet; they are concerned that they will get ripped off and that their personal details will be all over the internet for all to see. You need to get the message across to your consumers that you care about their security and their personal details; you must establish a rapport with the client here. Have a privacy policy that tells them exactly what data you store, why you need it and what you are going to use it for. Explain to them that when they send their data to you, it is encrypted and cannot be read. Make sure that your site uses an SSL certificate and uses it to form a secure connection when transferring sensitive data [Tip – To the consumer, ALL data is sensitive.] Be sure to make the consumer aware that you are using an SSL certificate. Most of the providers of SSL certificates will let you use their site seal to display on your site. These seals act as trust flags and work wonders in breaking down the consumers’ perceived barriers to online payment.

Build trust by emotionally connecting your brand with your audience!

‘Great’ I hear you all cry, they know we can do the job, and they can trust us with their money, so the orders for services and goods should be flooding in! Sure, the advice above will have helped, but these days people want more than a service or product, they want to purchase it from a trusted brand! If you are not a high street behemoth or a world renowned service provider, how the hell do you gain trust in your brand? Well, you can start by telling people about the company, why it has the authority and brand values to deliver services or products, why your products and services are as good as, if not better than the big boys. All it takes is a bit of your time and energy; the energy you put into your business every day to write a few short paragraphs on why you love to deliver services and/or products to people. [Tip – Connect emotionally with your audience, and trust is not far behind.]

Be clear about the route the consumer’s money takes from their bank account to yours!

So what else? Well, if you take payments online, trusted credit card symbols are a good move – provided you take the card in question. Tell people who is going to be processing the payment, and what payment gateway are you using. All payment gateways let their clients use their logos on the client’s site, it helps them promote their services and it helps you by association with a big brand that is trusted!

Get awards for your products, services and website to build authoritative trust!

These days, every product or service has a whole industry of people wanting to give you an award for it [Tip – Google your service or product plus the word “awards”.] If you can get an award logo, badge, or medal on your home page you could see your sales increase overnight! [Tip – An award from your dad might not cut it, unless of course he is a big cheese and well known by the consumer.]

Build trust by affiliating with a trusted brand!

Look at ways you can join affiliations and place their logos, badges, or seals on your site. These affiliations carry trust points with your consumers! [Tip – This is another Google search.]

Trust comes from truth!

Be careful about your site content.  Never exaggerate or mislead your audience into believing you are something you’re not!  If you have the best product in the world, the cheapest price, the greatest service, can you prove it?  If not, do not say it!  You’re using the internet through your website to showcase your goods and services.  Your audience is going to use the internet to research your goods and services, and they will check up on you!  Never hide a bad review unless it is offensive to your audience [Tip – remove reviews that contain racist, homophobic, sexist, ageist and bad language, as people will associate your brand with them.] If you are open in your communication in responding to a bad review, and more importantly if you needed to put right a misunderstanding or a bad job, people will trust you more than if you just ignored the review in the first place.

The successful SME website – Checklist for success – Building Trust

  • Design for trust
  • Display trusted testimonials and reviews next to your products and services
  • Show that your website is a secure place to do business
  • Emotionally connect your brand with your target audience
  • Be clear how you process payments
  • Get awards for excellence in service, best product and best website
  • Gain trust by affiliating with well known brand names in your industry or sector.
  • Always be truthful in all that you do!