Bridge the Gap – Build Trust in the Online Marketplace

A company must exude credibility in order to earn the trust of consumers and win their business, a particularly challenging feat in the impersonal online market. Even established e-commerce retailers must overcome widespread consumer distrust that has been propagated by online scams, unscrupulous websites and rampant identity theft.

Smaller online businesses that are not backed by a recognized brick-and-mortar store or major brand often wonder how to earn trust and make their websites stand out. Fortunately, improving your online credibility is easy, and may simply involve adding some key pieces of information to your site. These suggestions are designed to help you establish a positive reputation in the online marketplace and in turn convert more of your traffic into loyal customers:

1. Have a professional design.
A professional look and feel, or lack thereof, is the first thing potential customers will notice upon reaching your website. Unless you are a designer yourself, having your site professionally designed is a worthwhile investment. Think about the type of website to which you would be comfortable supplying your credit card information, and hold your website to that quality standard.

2. Focus on the facts and avoid superfluous claims.
Consumers today are bombarded with marketing messages in every area of their lives, especially on the internet. With only a few minutes to capture the attention of site visitors and rouse interest in your products, every word counts. Consider encountering the following claim on a website:

“CompanyXYZ is the premier provider of widgets and widget accessories in the industry. With a dedicated team of widget-making professionals and an emphasis on customer satisfaction, we have proven time and time again that our widgets are the best in the world. Come see for yourself why CompanyXYZ is the frontrunner in the widget industry!”

The paragraph above contains no real substance and mainly states opinions. Sticking to verifiable facts in your text will have a much greater impact on consumers and earn their trust much more easily than unsubstantiated claims. Consider the following paragraph in comparison to the fluff above:

“For the past 10 years, CompanyXYZ has provided quality widgets to over 300,000 widget enthusiasts across the world with breakthrough innovations such as the WidgetPro 5000, Widget Car Adapter and Widget Docking Station. In keeping with our vision to be the premier widget provider worldwide, CompanyXYZ has invested over $2 million in research and product development over the past 5 years and employs a team of 30 engineers, market researchers and widget aficionados focused on providing our loyal customers with the most advanced widgets and widget accessories in the industry.”

The above claim includes verifiable numbers and product names, which lend credibility to the company. Which is more convincing to you?

3. Accept major credit cards if possible.
Accepting major credit cards makes your business look more professional. A merchant account with a reputable provider such as Volusion will involve some cost, but not accepting major credit cards could cost you some customers who do not have other options for making purchases online.

4. Make it easy to contact your company.
Offer multiple ways for visitors to contact your company and speak with a representative, including a toll-free number. Additionally, provide a physical address, fax number, e-mail address and live chat feature to allow potential customers to contact the company through the means with which they feel most comfortable.

5. Let satisfied customers do the talking for you.
Because we tend to trust our peers more readily than marketing claims made by a company, client testimonials on a website can be an effective way to instill trust in consumers while pointing out some of the benefits of your offering. For more impact and credibility, include a photo of each person providing a testimonial. A good approach is to offer a discount or other incentive in return for each customer’s time spent writing a testimonial.

There are many techniques that can be implemented to help build online credibility, but fulfilling these five simple suggestions will put you on track for increased conversions and long-term online success.

-Pam Westbrook, Ecommerce Marketing/Copywriting

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