Building Trust Online - Strategies to Maximize Confidence
"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently,” said Billionaire Warren Buffet, describing the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to make his business successful.
But if Buffet was thinking in a world of bricks and mortar, imagine what it would look like today, when prospects decide the level of confidence they have in your business in 20 seconds or less by simply visiting your web site. Unlike the old days when prospects could only reach you during regular business hours, customers today can make a judgment call about your business without ever having to speak with you. The bad news: you can’t control your prospects’ personal preferences. The good news: you can take control of your online brand experience and strategically build digital brand confidence by addressing the critical issues outlined below.
1. Use Client Logos
Does your website prominently feature the logos or names of your key customers? Chances are that your best prospects are seeking reassurance that they are making a safe choice. In the back of their minds, they are hoping to save time that is normally consumed by reference checking. Make it easier for them to find who your top customers are. Then, if you specifically target niche populations, highlight names in the list by demographic categories. By doing so, you will earn customers’ trust quickly - especially when a customer is comparing your experience to a competitor’s site that requires three or more clicks to validate credentials.
2. Use Brand Colors
Does your website use brand colors that have been proven to evoke trust and inspire confidence among your target demographics? Think of the brands you tend to trust. Most will have an associated “color visualization.” Target, Coca Cola, CNN and Netflix use red to show boldness, excitement and dominance. Dell, HP, Facebook and IBM use variants of blue to connote a sense of strength and reliability. Some brands, like Best Buy, Hertz, McDonalds and even Ferrari, use variants of yellow to stand out from the crowd.
Which color represents the best chances of building confidence with your particular audience? Assess your competitive landscape and audience preferences and see if you can identify trusted color trends.
Want to find more ways to maximize confidence? Check out our ebook:
Got To Be Real: How to attract leads and win trust with customer stories
3. Unite the Web with Sales
Another way to build trust online is to ensure that your website aligned with your sales process. Often, I find that many of the most visually compelling websites were not designed to lead customers on a specific, sales-focused, digital journey. For example, if most of your leads are generated online, your contact forms must be simple and intuitive, empowering the prospect to feel good about providing the level of information you're requesting. They must also provide you with enough detail to fully qualify the lead. If you ask for too much information, customers may not be comfortable providing answers. If you ask for too little, they may not trust your expertise.
Often, you can enhance your digital brand confidence through your sales inquiry form by asking the right questions and demonstrating your expertise to a pensive buyer. If you are marketing to a CIO, asking, “How many users are in your enterprise,” or, “What enterprise software do you use,” he or she can more easily distinguish you from a competitor that simply asks, “What’s your budget? - Click here.”
4. Show Your Team
Do you feature leadership team bios on your web site? Whether you have 10 or 25 employees, or it’s just you, your spouse and your dog; remember that digital brands are defined by optics. If you are a professional service provider, buyers seek to validate that your experience and educational credentials are pertinent and trustworthy. When you fail to show your management team, no matter how small or large, you may be implying that the company lacks confidence in its own management, or worse, has no management whatsoever. Even if you don’t have a budget for professionally-produced photos, find a creative way to integrate your personality to inspire credibility and confidence in your digital brand.
5. Post Recent News
There is nothing worse than a great web site with a lonely press room that only holds two press releases from 2008. An empty news section can destroy digital brand confidence with your prospective buyers. While it is true that most online press rooms are often full of fluffy accolades and self-aggrandizing content, prospects seek to verify that your company is still in business. If a user clicks on a website’s press room and sees nothing new, the user could assume the worst.
The quick fix to building trust online in your brand is to create pithy press announcements about key milestones, new client partnerships, or internal events. While large companies have whole teams dedicated to making them look good, small business owners frequently only have themselves. Take the digital brand confidence of your business as seriously as you would your own personal reputation. If you want your business to come across professional, you’ll need to dress it up a bit. If you want to instill trust, make sure you demonstrate that you’re associating with the right crowd. The more reasons you give your prospects to feel comfortable and confident assured, the more likely they are to move through your sales funnel and become customers.
About The Author
Mr. Gal Borenstein (@galborenstein) is the CEO and Chief Strategy Officer of the Borenstein Group, a Northern Virginia-based integrated digital marketing communications agency supporting emerging innovators and industry leaders in Information Technology, Management Consulting, Logistics & Supply Chain Management and Professional Services.
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