A credible web presence is almost a requirement of having a successful business in 2021. There are the exceptions of mom-and-pop shop restaurants that are packed based on word of mouth alone.
That being said, for most businesses in the developing world, especially in competitive niches, websites are essential. Websites are an essential part of displaying information about your product or service and building trust with potential customers. If people don't trust you, they are not going to buy from you.
Here are some trust factors (aka credibility factors) you can use to strengthen your website to make visitors trust you and feel comfortable to enter their information and hit the buy button.
Your website must pass the eye test. The visual appeal of your design and whether or not it fits into the general aesthetic that is expected from your industry and customers is critical. If your visual design fails the eye test, that could be enough for visitors to leave your website. According to a study by GoodFirms, 38.5% of web designers surveyed listed outdated design as their top reason why visitors exit a website.
Your website doesn't need to be a work of art, but it needs to look like your business cares about its appearance. If you have a clean design that appeals to the target audience, they're likely to stay on your website longer.
Is your website mobile responsive? According to Statista, in Q4 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021, over 50% of global web traffic was from mobile devices. If you haven't invested in a mobile responsive website and that statistic didn't make you a little panicky, it should! Your website must work correctly on mobile devices if you expect to compete online.
Most modern websites are built responsively, but a surprising number of businesses have never checked or tested their websites on a smartphone. Don't let that be you! Given that such a large percentage of web traffic uses a mobile device, you are driving away potential customers if your website isn't mobile responsive.
A legitimate business should be easy to contact. As a marketer, our goal is to have customers contact us in one way or another. Your business’ telephone number should be clearly visible, ideally above the fold.
We work with some clients (often with 1-10 employees) who prefer not to be contacted by phone. Employees in small businesses wear many hats and being on the phone can be a time suck. If this sounds like your business, we recommend including an alternative contact method that is visible and easy to use above the fold.
If you work for a larger company that has customer service staff, we recommend displaying your customer service information as well. This will increase customer trust and customer satisfaction by making it easier for customers to get in touch when they have an issue.
Adding your social icons to your website is another box you can check off. Show that your business has all the things that a "real" business has.
Last but not least, displaying your address is another great way to build credibility. Carbon Digital's website includes our address at the very top of our website. If no physical address is needed, you can look at alternative options such as including a map of your service area.
There's nothing worse than coming to a website and seeing outdated content. Your content team should regularly review and update your website content. Blog posts that are out of date or no longer relevant can really hurt your online presence. A website visitor expects to see quality content from a quality company. Leaving outdated content on your website makes it look like you don't care about your audience or their time.
If your website and content marketing strategy have been neglected, we suggest conducting a content audit. A content audit will help you evaluate the relevance and quality of content on your website.
Remember it doesn't hurt to trim things that aren't needed and to add in new content that is important. Your website should be filled with relevant content that answers questions that your potential customers have and are typing into Google.
Monetizing a website doesn't automatically make your website untrustworthy, but advertising is a credibility killer when it negatively affects user experience.
User experience is affected by advertising when:
Your website's user experience should always be your top priority, make sure your web design decisions are consistent with your #1 priority.
We know you've seen it! You visit a website and you see above the fold on a homepage "trusted by Nike, Tesla, and AT&T". Websites who do this are using the power of their client logos to boost their brand's credibility. And it works!
Decision-makers see these client logos and think well if they're good enough for Nike, they're good enough for my company. That doesn't mean that you have to land Nike to use this tactic. This tactic works on a local level too. Do you work with several of the largest brands in your area? List them on your site, and your credibility with potential customers will rise!
Customer reviews and customer testimonials are invaluable for upping the trust factor on your website. Brightlocal found that nearly 80% of consumers place the same amount of trust in customer reviews as they do personal recommendations. Displaying positive reviews and customer experiences from real people is a great way to build trust with prospective customers.
Your website should clearly display reviews for the products or services that you offer. For more advanced products or services, it would be ideal to have case studies or customer stories, which would detail a lot more about the experience that a customer had with your business.
Data security is a huge concern for consumers, as it should be! Data breaches at large tech companies like Robinhood or LinkedIn are proof that consumers need to be careful who they trust with their personal information.
High-profile data breaches also make it quite clear that data breaches can happen to anyone, you could be next! In fact, according to the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, there were 307 breaches in large and 263 breaches in small organizations. So make sure you invest in data security and let potential customers know about it.
A great way to increase web visitor trust is by adding security trust seals to your website. Security trust seals are logos of 3rd-party security partners that are added to a website to increase its credibility. You can partner with these 3rd-parties and have them vouch for the credibility of your site.
A popular place to add trust seals is your website footers, but that's not the only place they can appear on a website effectively. For example, you might want to add these credibility boosters to your checkout page.
You may have overlooked this one. It may be a basic issue, but it's one that you'll see multiple times per day if you're browsing a lot of websites. It's as simple as showing a copyright year or a date range (e.g. 2017 - 2021), yet sometimes these don't get updated. A simple fix, but one that can help people to trust that the business is active and genuine.
A customer's decision-making process is complicated, but earning consumer trust isn't. The first step to gaining consumer trust is to be honest and trustworthy. This blog post isn't designed to help dishonest business people create a credible web presence. If you aren't treating your customers correctly, they will respond by leaving negative reviews online wherever they can.
This blog post is designed to give you a list of trust factors/credibility factors they can use to boost an existing web presence or design a new website with trust in mind.
Just to review.
If you do these things, you will establish a credible web presence for your business.