Bricks & Mortar vs. Online
Despite their bigger overheads, one advantage bricks and mortar businesses have over online ventures (or even the websites of bricks and mortar companies) is the trust they are able to generate - an essential for any sale.
A website can't look someone in the eye, and it's intangible - dodgy websites can be here today, gone tomorrow, potentially making it difficult or impossible to get a refund in the event of a problem.
Then there's the matter of the web's darker side; viruses, malicious code, phishing, credit card fraud - all problems frequently linked to online shopping. It may only be a tiny number of offenders in a sea of reputable online traders, but it's enough to seriously damage consumer confidence.
Unless you're Amazon or Interflora, to get the sale or generate the enquiry you're going to need to convince your website visitors you're trustworthy, starting from a point of zero credibility. It's likely they've never heard of you and they almost certainly have plenty of other options. So where do we start to build visitor trust?
Trust Building 101
It's a cliche, but first impressions really do count. Identify your main landing page and ensure it's sending all the right trust signals (generating trust is important throughout a website, particularly at point of sale, but without making the effort on the landing page it's unlikely they'll ever get that far.
Here are just some of the things you can do to generate trust and help visitors convert into customers:
- Professional Web Design - Amateurish, shabby looking websites make visitors question the business itself. You might think your website is OK and does the job, but what do potential customers think of it. There are lots of businesses with great products and services suffering with low conversion rates because of poor presentation. Strong, professional quality design costs but it really is worth the investment.
- Trust indicators - Sometimes called 'risk reducers', trust-building logos are your friend. Logos like Hackersafe can make visitors feel more secure when using your site - essential where credit cards are required. Offer a guarantee? Use a satisfaction guarantee logo or seal - sales letters (those perfectly honed examples of how to part people with their money) use them all the time. There is a reason for this, they work.
- Memberships - Are you a member of a trade body? Is your business certified by an official organisation? Any memberships, such as Chamber of Commerce affiliations, should be highlighted. Many websites leave this stuff off in the mistaken belief that customers aren't interested. Remember, it all adds to your legitimacy.
- About Us - Few scammers go to the bother of creating a convincing back story (most don't even go to the effort of putting a fake address on their sites). A good About Us section makes visitors feel like they know something about the company and puts them at ease.
- Testimonials - If you have good testimonials and existing happy customers why not put them on your site? Avoid generic, unverifiable stuff like "Great service - A.B." - real names and companies carry far more weight and tend to appear more genuine.
- Reviews - The ability for existing customers to add reviews for products is great social proof. Many people want to know it has worked for someone else before they take the plunge themselves. Bizarrely, seeing some negative reviews and comments can be a positive things - it shows the reviews aren't being moderated or hand-picked to show the company in a good light.
There are plenty more things you can do to increase trust and improve conversion rates; if you've got any tips of your own let us know in the comments below and we'll include the best in the follow-up.