No matter how many times you toot your horn to customers, they probably won't believe you until they hear it from someone else. Continue reading to see how you can incorporate external signals to boost the credibility of your brand.

About five years ago, I had long, poofy hair. Upon reflection, it looked like I stuck my finger into an electric socket for nine months, but in 2007, I thought it was cool. Granted, I always had a hunch that I looked silly, especially among all the clean-cut kids in business school.

Despite those doubts, I had a pack of fashionable friends who always said that my hair was great. And because of this positive reinforcement from my trendy crew, I didn’t cut it for almost a year and looked, well, kind of gross.

The technical term for that “positive reinforcement” is known as third-party validation. Technical definitions aside, think of this as follows: if someone else tells you that an object or idea is good, it reinforces and validates your similar opinion.

Apart from justifying a bad haircut, the idea of third-party validation is particularly important in boosting the credibility of your business, especially since less than half of Americans trust traditional marketing communications. As we’re all bombarded by thousands of advertisements each day, it’s becoming more common for consumers to tune out marketing messages, and even worse, mistrust the information presented.

Because of this emerging distrust among consumers, using third-party validation on your website and marketing materials is a sure-fire way to help customers trust your business. By having someone else reinforce how great you claim to be, you gain that much more credibility.

Now that you understand why it’s important to leverage third-party validation, let’s talk about how to do so by illustrating some real-life applications:

  • Awards and Accolades: Has your business received an excellent rating from the BBB or your local Chamber of Commerce? What about an industry award for innovation or customer service? If so, mention these awards on your homepage or include respective logos within your template.
  • Press mentions: If you’ve been mentioned or endorsed by a popular magazine, blogger or other publication, include a callout to that press opportunity by linking to the article or adding a logo with text that says, “As seen in” to demonstrate the approval of another trusted source.
  • Security seals: Several consumers are wary of making purchases online due to increased threats of credit card and identity theft. You can help reassure shoppers by adding security seals, namely for your SSL certificate, on important pages of your website.

  • Customer Testimonials: Nielsen reports that 92% of Americans trust recommendations from friends and family, while 70+% trust ratings and reviews from complete strangers. By utilizing customer reviews throughout your website, you can easily turn casual shoppers into recurring customers by encouraging your biggest advocates to leave reviews on various products.

 

By using these ideas to incorporate third-party validation into your online presence, you’re much more likely to leave a solid first impression with prospective customers. Sometimes shoppers need a little bit of reassurance before making the leap to purchase, so don’t be afraid to provide that nudge by showcasing what others think of your brand.

After all, if someone can convince a dorky college kid to keep the worst haircut in history, you can persuade someone to buy from your online store.