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Gaining Credibility and Trust to Win Buyers
By Kevin Gold, Managing Partner, Enhanced Concepts, Inc.

People buy from those they know, like and trust. Whether business-to-consumer or business-to-business, this basic principle holds true.

People buy from those they know, like and trust. Whether business-to-consumer or business-to-business, this basic principle holds true.  People buy to fulfill a purpose and they want to be right - ideally the first-time. Gaining trust and confidence in a company is a perquisite for customers prior to making a buying decision.

Credibility and trust plays an even more crucial role in the virtual world. Email spam, identity theft, credit card fraud, phishing, and viruses elevate a buyer's concern and reinforce the need for trust. Customers want to know who they are buying from and feel confident that one day they won't encounter unknown transactions listed on their credit card statement.  

How we build credibility and trust is specific to each business and their market. Some markets naturally create higher levels of consumer skepticism including gambling, financing, travel and other highly-competitive, high-demand and high earnings markets.   Here are some "best practices" credibility-building strategies to consider right now:
  1. Placement and size of a security logo directly affects the potential improvement of the website's conversion. National pet supply retailer, Petco, tested varying placements of the Hacker Safe logo on their website and discovered a significant difference in conversion gains. Placing a security logo along your visitors' eye flow such as the top-left underneath your company's logo can generate higher awareness and translate into stronger conversion improvement.

    The range of conversion improvement achieved through the use of SSL security logos like GeoTrust, Verisign and even Hacker Safe fluctuates among e-commerce websites with averages between 5 to 10%. A featured article by Internet Retailer titled, Hand-holding: Fraud-weary consumers look for the seal of approval, by Lauri Giesen stated, "Small, unknown companies typically experience even higher conversion rates because consumers are more likely to be fearful of shopping with them since they don't know if some of them are legitimate businesses - let alone have confidence in their security systems."

    In the same article, Ken Leonard, CEO of ScanAlert who sells the Hacker Safe product explains, "Most of those recognized companies will see single-digit increases while the small, lesser known companies will see double-digit increases, in some cases as much as 30%."

  2. Add your physical address, phone number and other components like pictures of your staff and offices that add a "physical presence" to your virtual store.

  3. Add testimonials and third party endorsements like recognized magazines, industry experts, and associations.

  4. Design your website for ease-of-use and convenience. An older yet still relevant study titled, "What Makes Web Sites Credible" conducted by the Persuasive Technology Lab at Standford University stated, "Going beyond the data, one could reasonably conclude that a simple, usable web site would be perceived as more credible than a site that has extravagant features but is lacking in usability."

  5. Avoid typographical, formatting and design errors. Customers are familiar with the professionalism communicated in the proper design and content presented by trusted websites like Experiencing "laziness" errors like mis-spellings or content that seeps across tables is perceived as unprofessional and hurts credibility.

  6. Speed up web page load times. Customers are on missions to achieve their goals whether for information, comparisons, or purchases.  Although most are resilient and patient with minor web page slowness, the preferred experience is a seamless one. Technology to a customer is like a car engine to a driver. They don't care how it works until it breaks down. Fast web page load times, quick checkouts, and clear error resolution build trust and helps secure both short and long-term customers.
Building credibility and trust extends "off the site" as well. Off site elements include:
  • How your customer service staff answers the phone
  • How quickly customer questions are answered
  • How frequently live chat is "offline"
  • How quickly products are shipped
  • The quality of the shipping package
  • What others including blogs and review sites have to say about you
  • The quality of your product or service
Visitors landing on your website are tainted with the good and bad experiences you're your competitors whose websites they just visited and/or from other buying situations. Some visitors are naturally skeptical while others start from a position of trust and only become skeptical after being fooled once. It is our responsibility to either build the trust or keep the trust going through effectively addressing the visitor's concerns, helping them achieve their goals, following through on our promises and quickly handling any bumps along the road.

If you want to win more buyers, build your credibility and gain their trust.

Kevin Gold is Managing Partner of Enhanced Concepts helping businesses increase their online leads and sales through improving conversions and gaining greater visibility. Download "20 Surefire Ways to Increase Your Website

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