Trust is a key usability issue when it comes to running a successful online business. Most people automatically view web businesses with a bias against them compared to their brick and mortar counterparts. Your ability to convince your visitors that yours is a trustworthy business is one of the key components to getting visitors to convert into customers.
Creating a website that conveys trust can be tricky. There are rarely any answers that are always "right" for every visitor. There are, however, several factors that have universal appeal to the weary shopper.
Provide your visitors information about your company and its primary owners and operators. Treat your shoppers with a company history and links to frequently asked questions, policies and physical location. The more information you provide the better satisfied any concerned shopper will tend to be.
Shoppers want to know that they can rely on a company to meet their needs and concerns quickly once contacted. Be sure to respond promptly and professionally to all customer inquiries. Don't let email or phone messages go unanswered for more than a couple of hours, especially if requests are urgent.
Create ways for visitors to provide user feedback regarding your products or services and encourage them to do so. Be sure to follow up with feedback and use it to better your services.
Emphasize that online transactions will be handled securely and that privacy is a top priority. Using secure logos and links to privacy policies page is a must.
Sometimes discounts can be a negative, making you appear desperate. However when implemented properly and professionally, percent-off discounts and coupons can be effective and giving visitors an added desire to move forward.
Be sure to provide low cost and/or varied delivery options. Having more options available allow visitors to select the delivery method they prefer and trust the most, which will then lend additional trust to you.
Brand and product quality
If you sell brand-name products, be sure to emphasis this as your customers will be more likely to purchase a product brand they recognize. If you don't have brand name products, create a brand and emphasize that. An unknown brand name product is still better than a no-name brand product.
Off-line retailer comparison
Provide your visitors compelling reasons why they should purchase products from you rather than an offline competitor. Highlight free shipping, lower prices, easy access customer support, etc.
Adding a no-hassle return policy can clinch a sale. Be sure to have return policy information easily available and spell out exactly what is required to return a product and/or get a refund.
Minimal / clearly distinguishable ads
Don't clutter up your space with ads. Keep your visitors focused on purchasing your products. If you have ads in informational areas of the site keep them to a minimum and make sure they don't overpower your own information.
In an anonymous world where customers cannot examine a product or meet with company reps face to face, trust is much harder to come by. Online businesses have many more hurdles than offline businesses when it comes to establishing trust with their customer base. This means that as an online business, you have to do more than just create a compelling reason to convince people "why you" rather than a competitor.
Establishing trust is the key. Your shoppers need to believe without a doubt that, as a business, you're not just in it for yourself, but that you care and will take care of the customer. Without having established any sort of trust there really is no sale.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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