One of the most important goals for marketing your business is to earn trust from your customers – trust that you have quality products or services and the experience and ability to deliver on the promises you provide.
Before any of your potential customers choose a company, they will likely either research several options online, or seek a referral from a trusted source. When they do this, you want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to be at the top of the list.
Websites often require a lot of trust from visitors – aside from asking our customers to do business with us, even asking them to visit our website requires them to trust that it is secure and that they can safely submit their personal contact or payment information. Our websites are vital to our businesses and so we should do everything we can to use them to increase rather than decrease trust from our customers.
Fortunately, your website’s design and content can go a long way towards helping you to gain your customer’s trust. The following are proven methods that you can start using today.
First and foremost – know your audience
Before you create any content or design for your website, you must first know your audience. If you don’t know who you’re speaking to, you won’t be able to effectively market your business to them. Before I start creating a website, I always begin with helping businesses to develop their customer personas. A customer persona is a fictional representation of the ideal customer that is most likely to do business with you. Creating this first helps to focus your marketing and speak to your customers in a way that most appeals to them, thereby earning their trust.
Another way that creating a customer persona helps is that it allows you to shift the way you talk about your business on to the needs of your customer, not just how great your product or service is. Establishing your customer as the hero of your brand story, as described in the Storybrand framework lets them know that you care about meeting their needs, not just making a sale.
Finally, knowing your audience well helps to earn their trust by allowing you to more effectively develop and focus on your specific niche. There’s something inherently untrustworthy about a business that claims to be able to serve everyone and do everything well. Focusing your marketing on promoting the services that your business excels at and even stating what your business doesn’t excel at, can help your customers to see you as more honest and trustworthy.
Position your business as a guide
If you have a business website where you promote and sell your products or services, your customer visited it for a reason – they are looking for a solution to their problems. This means that your website should be focused on identifying the problems your customer is having and demonstrating how your business can guide them towards solving those problems.
An effective guide is presented in three main ways – through demonstration of 1. authority, 2. empathy, 3. authenticity. Your customer is looking to you because you are an authority in your particular industry and are the most qualified to help them. In order to demonstrate this on your website, you can display team member bios and credentials, company history, number of years in business or clients served. You can also display educational articles that helps your customers to learn more about your products or services and also positions yourself as a though leader and expert in your field.
On top of demonstrating authority, a guide should also demonstrate a touch of empathy. Help your customers to see that you understand their problems and in fact have dealt with similar problems yourself. This shows them that you are someone who cares about not just making a sale, but possess a greater purpose of making a positive difference in their lives. To achieve this, state in your copy “We know what it’s like to (have back pain, lose your keys, forget an appointment, etc…).” followed by what you discovered that helped you to solve this problem.
To appear more authentic and as someone who your customers can relate to and trust, you should avoid any technical jargon that your customers might not understand. Rather, speak in a language that relates to them and how they speak. Finally, make sure to avoid staged and overused stock photography. Instead, use real photos of your products or customers as it adds an element of authenticity to your website.
Finally, the most effective way I have found to position your business as a trusted guide in your customer’s journey is to focus less on making a sale and more on providing value. Use your website to educate your customers about your product, not just sell. Offer free educational resources such as articles, videos, webinars, or ebooks. This will help your customer to see you as someone who they can trust because you are looking to help them, not just land a sale.
In today’s age of social media, most people don’t make any decisions without consulting reviews and comments on social media or review sites first. People want to see what other people’s experience was with your business, as well as how many positive reviews you have. When given a choice between two identical business – one with poor or even no review and one with many positive reviews, customers will always choose the business with the positive reviews first. Because of this, it is essential that you display positive social proof throughout your website. This can come in the form of testimonials, case studies, links to media coverage, logos of prominent customers you have worked with, certifications ans awards. Positive reviews of course aren’t limited to your website – searches for a business will often display Google reviews first. But make sure that you don’t miss out on an opportunity to display those good reviews on your website as well.
Address concerns and eliminate risk
Before someone decides to do business with you, several fears often go through their mind. “Is this product too expensive?” “I doubt it will work for me.” “What happens if it doesn’t work for me?” “I doubt the quality is as good as they’re saying it is.” “I won’t know how to use it once I place an order.” “I’ve tried something like this and it didn’t work.”
In order to solve this, use your website to address their concerns and eliminate the risk they are taking when deciding to do business with you. To address their concerns, first determine what your customer’s primary concerns are. You can then use your website’s product or services page to display an FAQ section where you can answer each of them individually.
Another effective way to use your website to eliminate your customer’s perceived risk is to add your product or service guarantees such as a warranty or return policy. If creating an ecommerce site, you can set up a free trial period where your customers can sign up to test your product for a period of time before they are billed.
Quality design and user experience
When given a choice of doing business with two identical companies – one that has a well-designed website and one that has a poorly-designed website, most people will choose to do business with the business that has a better design. This is because quality, consistent brand design enhances the perceived value of a business. This is based on the fact that your customer can see that effort was put into the design of the website and therefore the business likely puts more effort into the quality of their products and services. Similarly, a bad website user experience (hard to navigate, broken links, doesn’t display well on mobile, too cluttered or difficult to read, etc…) is a sure way to lose trust with your customer. It shows that you don’t care enough about them to put effort into making their experience on your website a positive one.
Other simple website user experience tips that can have a great impact on improving trust with your customers:
- Keep your website content current. Websites with blog posts or case studies from 10 years ago look like they are no longer in business or don’t care enough to keep their website updated.
- Make your contact information easy to find. Trustworthy companies should want their customers to contact them – don’t make them search for how to contact you.
- Fast page load time. Keep your website optimized so that it loads fast in both desktop and mobile browsers. Customers will think there’s something wrong with your site and abandon it if they have to wait too long for it to load.
- Fix any grammatical or spelling errors, check for broken links. Again, if you don’t care enough about your website to double check the spelling and grammar, how is your customer going to trust you enough to do business with them?
- Don’t throw a million popups on the site. While popups can be effective when used strategically, too many make the site difficult to use and give the sense that you’re trying to get something from them instead of providing the solution they’re looking for.
- Communicate well with your customers. For example, if someone contacts you from a form on your website or if someone makes a purchase, make sure they receive a followup email or message immediately. Send a confirmation message, a receipt, shipping notifications, etc.. so they know that their message or order has been received and processed. Otherwise, they worry that they won’t be hearing back from you or receiving their order – thereby losing their trust.
Make sure, especially when you are asking customers to submit personal or sensitive information such as credit card number that you use software that offers excellent standards in security. Only use trusted payment gateways for ecommerce sites such as Stripe, Authorize.net or Paypal. To let your customers know that your website is secure, display the security badges of the software that you are using.
Every website should use an SSL certificate, meaning that all data that is submitted through your website is processed in an encrypted format.
Finally, make sure you use secure passwords and/or 2-factor authentication for all software used for your website that provides access to customer information so that accounts can’t be broken into and customer information compromised.
Familiarity through multi-channel marketing
Finally, while your website may be the most important component of your marketing strategy, look for other platforms to market your business besides your website. Doing so helps you to become familiar in the eyes of your customer. Use social media, email, and print marketing. You may use each medium for different purposes, but remember to always stay consistent in your messaging and brand design.