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Why trust is key online (and how to earn it)

by | 12 May, 2020 | People

Say you’re out shopping. You go into a local store but things don’t quite feel right. It’s broken down with smashed windows and poorly kept displays, nobody else is in there and the staff don’t seem very interested in helping. You wouldn’t just be annoyed, you likely wouldn’t trust it.

The same principles apply when running a website. Trust is vital when trying to secure or retain business, and there are clear ways to build it. Let’s take a look first at why you should take trust so seriously and, secondly, how you can earn it.

Why trust is key

Whether you’re a brand or an ecommerce store, it’s essential you put significant effort into gaining the trust of your audience. 

Shoppers have more choice than ever before, coming to them on the platforms on which they regularly congregate, such as social media. To separate yourself from the pack and make your brand more attractive you need to come across as at least as trustworthy as your competitors. Looking like you provide an inferior service makes all other offers and features redundant. 

Online customers are both more reluctant and cynical than ever before, hurt by years of high profile data leaks and fraudulent sellers operating on trusted platforms. It’s not enough to offer a deal that’s too good to be true, because customers will think just that.

Trust is the first hurdle you need to overcome before you can start competing over price and additional features. Strong trust usually leads to customer loyalty and opportunities to establish yourself as a thought leader. These factors can help you secure a strong position within your industry that further builds confidence in your business.

5 steps to earning it

So, now that we know why trust is so important, let’s take a look at how you go about earning it.

Essential pages

Essential pages are what I like to refer to as those pages that every website has, but aren’t at all the selling point of the website. About Us, Contact Us, Delivery and Returns; they’re all pages that might not be glamorous but are essential. Why are they essential? They build trust. 

Believe it or not, users will visit these pages as part of their initial check to see whether or not you’re legitimate. These pages need to be professional, assure the reader of your aims as a business and interesting to read (if you’re wondering what you can possibly do differently with an About Us page, check out this helpful guide). 

You can’t afford to skip over these pages or be lax in your production of them. Eventually, users will come along and question a lack of detail, leading to a constant rate of failed conversions that will haunt your website and analytics.

Social proof

There’s nothing customers trust more than the opinion of other customers.  

You can be the most legitimate brand in the world, fill your website with essential information and have the most enticing products around. But, if you don’t display that other people have shopped or worked with you before and enjoyed the experience you’ll struggle to find business. 

Social proof can come in many shapes and sizes. Customer reviews hosted through a trusted review website such as TrustPilot can have a significant impact on conversions, whether placed on your homepage or individual product pages. 

Likewise, testimonials from significant names in the industry and other businesses you’ve worked with can add an air of professionalism to what you do, and show that other institutions trusted you enough to work with you. People don’t want to feel stupid for working with you, and the sight of an expert or contemporaries endorsing a business can put them at ease.

Content

Specifically, content that shows emotion and tells the story of your business. 

Content that entertains and explains the features of new products is great. But content that tells your audience everything they could want to know about your business and how you got to this point is key to building trust. 

Behind the scenes videos and employee of the month blogs highlighting your staff are great for building familiarity with your brand among customers, even if they only skim through the content. They give users a sense of who they’re shopping from and working with, which can help them feel at ease and realize there are genuine people behind this website. 

Your content doesn’t just need to be high-quality (although good production values can be another sign of a legitimate business), it needs to carry genuine human emotion.

Security and support

Trust is often about getting the basics right. In the world of online retail, the basics are strong security and exceptional customer support. 

You need to ensure people are safe using your website. If you don’t have secure payment gateways a significant portion of all visitors will drop off at the checkout point. If a customer can’t be sure their details will be safe, they’re not going to risk it. 

Trust is built up just as much by how you support a customer after they purchase as how you support them before it. Exceptional customer services, and being seen applying it, is crucial for making your brand feel trustworthy. Customers want to know that should something go wrong with their service that your brand will be there to support them and not suddenly disappear.

Show you’re listening

Finally, you need to listen to your audience and give some indication you’re doing so.

Audiences want to be heard, especially online. That’s why Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even YouTube comments are full of people trying to grab attention and get their ideas heard. People want to build relationships with brands and have an influence over what they produce. 

To show you’re listening start by asking questions. Don’t be afraid to interact with your existing audience or potential customers when you’re just starting out. It’s a vital part of brand building that shows you’re willing to take on new ideas and take the time out of your day to listen to people’s issues, not just praise. Being seen to do this doesn’t just show you’re legitimate, but that you care, which is an essential step in the trust-building process. 

You should never consider building trust to be of secondary importance. Negativity can spread quickly, especially in today’s social media landscape. Providing a quality service and experience is well worth the effort, just ask anyone with an untrustworthy brand.

 

This is a guest post from Kayleigh Alexandra, writer for Micro Startups, your online destination for everything startup. She’s passionate about hard-working solopreneurs and SMEs making waves in the business world. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup and charity insights from top experts around the globe @getmicrostarted.

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