Trust is one of the most valuable business resources in the modern digital world. The internet is awash with wild claims about everything from competitive pricing to product quality, so you sadly can’t give websites the benefit of the doubt. If a particular brand is going to win your business, it must first convince you that it’s a safe and sensible investment to make.
And since the first impression of a website is a key influencer of the overall opinion the visitor ultimately forms, it’s essential to start trying to establish that trust from the moment someone lands on your homepage. This is done using trust indicators. A trust indicator, as the name suggests, is a content inclusion of some kind that serves to demonstrate your trustworthiness.
What trust indicators should you be making time to include? We’re going to take a look at 5 particular trust indicators that every online business needs today. Let’s get started:
#1. Social proof
We take cues from our peers when making everyday decisions, and business matters aren’t exceptional in this regard. When you buy from a big retailer like Amazon, how much time do you spend looking at the reviews? If you spot an item from a third-party seller that has zero listed reviews, how does it affect your confidence in the legitimacy of the product?
Not only does a great business site need to have a decent selection of customer reviews, but it also needs to ensure that they’re entirely believable. Seeing a store feature a product that ostensibly has 350 reviews and a full 5-star rating strains credibility. No matter how good a product or service is, it will receive criticism of some kind.
Image Source: The Hustle
Consider how often reviews are left for questionable reasons – the buyer didn’t understand the instructions, perhaps, or the delivery company made some mistakes. Despite not having anything to do with the product itself, either issue can produce a negative review. If you have a lot of reviews with a 4.4-star rating, display it proudly – it’ll show legitimacy.
#2. Notable clients
Building your reputation is key for winning over larger clients, and they’ll often want to know about the work you’ve done before. It’s all about climbing the ladder – you get results for a small client, then use them to get work for a medium client, and repeat the process. This is because large deals require a lot of risk mitigation – a proven winner is always the safer choice, and leading companies always make an effort to prominently display their successes.
For example, in pitting Wave Accounting against Quickbooks, Wave follows its hero image with a row of big-time clients including Forbes and Bloomberg (see above). The goal is to establish immediate credibility by extending a different kind of social proof. Instead of being about peers, it’s about expertise and wealth. If those huge companies use it, then surely it’s the smart move.
#3. Security certifications
Running an online business generally involves taking online payments, and that’s a huge reason for a prospective customer to be wary. Financial information can be extremely dangerous if not secured properly – it only takes one major data leak to end up finding that your account has been emptied. This is yet another reason why people stick with big brands. They’re confident that said brands have the resources to keep data secured.
So how does someone know when they’ve reached a site with secured payments? They look for confirmation in the form of security badges. Just as you might display the cards you’ll accept, you can include badges attesting to things like VISA verification. This approach was somewhat clunky initially because early schemes made things more confusing for shoppers, but these days you can have payments that are secure and convenient through systems such as PayPal’s One Touch (see below).
If you have your security verified by a trusted payment service, why not mention it? It doesn’t generally take as long as you might think to get verified, and a smart way to figure out which schemes are worth pursuing is to take a look at your competitors’ websites.
#4. Live chat support
What happens if you’re trying to place an order and you keep encountering some kind of issue? You’re not sure if your payment went through or not, and you really need the confirmation that’s seemingly not going to arrive, so you want to get some support. A lot of low-effort retailers will provide obscure ticketing systems using contact forms. Type in your query, submit it and hope fervently that something will eventually happen.
When you see that kind of system on a website, it doesn’t inspire confidence or trust. It makes you wonder if the website will even still exist a day after you’ve placed an order. But a live chat button visible on every page is a reassuring reminder that the people behind the store actually care, and you can get reasonably rapid assistance if needed.
#5. Location map
That your business operates online doesn’t mean it isn’t rooted in the physical world. Even if you don’t have an office of some kind, you’ll still be registered somewhere for business purposes. Consequently, it’s extremely worthwhile to include a location map on your website, complete with contact details (telephone number and email address at the very least).
This matters even if you don’t have premises that customers can visit, because it shows that you’re tethered to your operation. Your website isn’t the sockpuppet of some other company, or an outright fabrication – if you’ve logged your location on Google My Business, the visitor will know that your location has been verified.
As for how you implement this, I suggest finding a plugin compatible with your CMS or using EmbedGoogleMap (see above) to generate an HTML snippet you can insert.
Each one of these trust indicators is not only worth including but also fairly straightforward to implement. For a start, social proof is something you should be gathering anyway, so it’s just a matter of displaying it
After that, adding notable clients and security badges will be even easier, and there are plenty of free live chat and map plugins around. If you want to start building up trust, you should take action immediately.
Guest author: Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups – a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and inspiring entrepreneurial stories.