By Lynn Lewis on April 11, 2018 in Marketing
Thanks to the modern conveniences of the Internet, it is easier than ever to get started selling a product of your choice online. Powerful eCommerce platforms and hosting services allow sellers with varying levels of experience to build great-looking websites to sell their products with.
The problem with this low barrier to entry is that it tends to produce considerably tough competition in the online marketplace. How are you going to convince visitors and new customers to stick with your brand, when there are so many new faces appearing in the marketplace every day? And the deeper question, how can you prove that online is even the right place to buy the types of products you sell? These are important questions for transforming your new venture into a viable long-term business.
The solution here is in how effectively you can build trust in your online product, and ultimately your brand. Trust will help convert visitors into new customers, and trust will keep your new customers coming back time after time. Here are 5 ways you can prove your reliability to your customers.
1. Maintain a Professional Website
Your website is the primary method of interaction between you and your customers. A disorganized, unkempt store and cranky, unhelpful employees are enough to turn all sorts of potential customers away. In the same way, a dysfunctional and unappealing website will do plenty to scare away newcomers. The points below illustrate ways in which you can build a strong and trustworthy website.
Well-organized and clean web design is crucial for helping customers get to the products they want. Checkout should be simple and easy. If you don’t have web development experience, consider talking to a professional specializing in ecommerce web development.
Take care to establish clear expectations for your customers. This means no catches, hidden fees, or sudden notices in the checkout process. Use direct and transparent copy to communicate honestly to customers, so they know exactly what to expect.
Use high-quality images that go well with your site design. Bonus points for images that were taken by your staff. No one cares to see generic stock images or unappealing photos that are hard to make out.
Post certifications your business has earned. If your business has a good rating with the Better Business Bureau, don’t be shy to share it along with the BBB logo. Toward the bottom of your homepage is a good place for verification by third parties.
Make sure your site is actually working! Check often for broken links, missing images, and other types of problems.
2. Build Authenticity Into Your Brand
Does the brand message line up with what your business does? Are you a real company? Or just another cover for a shadowy operation that does its best to part people with their money without giving value back?
Show them that your brand is authentic. Humanize your business by giving it a story and a face. It is a good idea to set up an About Us page that communicates where your business came from, what the people are like that compose it, and what your brand is all about. People tend to trust business owners that have relatable stories and honest products.
For example, let’s say that you’re a jewelry business looking to get into the eCommerce world. How long have you been selling jewelry? Have you served a community with high-quality products in the past? Is your jewelry unadulterated and free of fakery? Positive and encouraging answers to these questions should be front and center in your copy.
Short videos are also great for communicating with your customers and lending immediacy to your message, and videos literally show customers who you are. Regular webinars are even better: not only are they putting a face on your products and services, they are giving customers useful information, and maybe even entertainment.
Are you credentialed? What types of certifications do you have? Relevant credentials and certifications help establish you as an authority in a given market or industry, and you should definitely showcase them on your website. If your business has been mentioned in the media at any point, it is a good idea to communicate this on your site as well. If you don’t have media coverage yet, don’t worry, you can always seek out journalistic outlets and offer them a worthwhile story.
3. Go Social
People tend to trust a business more when they see that others have good things to say about its products and services. Seems simple, right? Just satisfy your customers’ wants and desires with your products and services, and let the good comments start rolling in. Well, it is not that simple. For starters, you have to have access to all of the good things that people are saying about you, and you have to get all of that positive feedback to a greater audience.
Fortunately, there are many ways to improve your exposure and get the word out. Here are a few of them.
Testimonials are perfect for getting the word out. Reach out to satisfied customers and get their permission to post their testimonials on your website.
Case studies are like testimonials, only they are more detailed and involved. If you have a couple of customer success stories to share, be sure to get them written up and on your site.
Encourage customer feedback with comment and rating systems on your products.
Keep in contact with return customers via targeted email campaigns. Beware of spamming, however. Be sure you are sending out emails that are useful to the customer. For example, announce sales and promotions, provide worthwhile information, and etc.
Get active on social media like Facebook and Twitter, where you can interact with your customers, make announcements, share content, and provide customer service. Your brand will spread through word of mouth, and you can post your amount of friends and followers on your site, building trust and credibility.
Are you partnered with another business? Can another business vouch for you? Be sure to display affiliations and partnerships if you have them.
4. Focus on Customer Service
Everyone talks about providing exceptional customer service, but what exactly are you going to do to fulfill that ideal?
To begin with, you should put up a “contact us” section on your website that is plainly visible and easy to access. This isn’t just for the sake of increasing your conversion rate - though it certainly accomplishes this - it serves to provide a readily accessible customer service option when a customer has a problem.
If you list a number or an email, make sure that you make yourself available on those channels. A phone number is no good if your customer spends an eternity on hold trying to reach someone, and an email is not useful if the customer has to wait several days for a response. And if you implement a chat function on your site, be sure to use it! Have a member of your staff ready to answer inquiries whenever they come up.
5. Provide Added Value to Your Site
Filling up your site with useful, informative, and/or entertaining content not only serves to improve your search engine ranking, it also keeps your customers engaged. It builds trust by providing value to the customer with no strings attached.
Let’s go back to our example of the online jewelry business. If you sell jewelry, you can provide useful information such as how to judge the quality of a piece, or how customers can clean their jewelry and make it last.
Regular informative content will keep customers coming back, which helps to alert them about new sales and featured products. It also encourages a sense of satisfaction and gratitude among your customers, which helps with overall trust.
Bringing It All Together
It certainly helps to address issues in any one of the areas above, but keep in mind that they all work together, and it is a good idea to address each area to the best of your ability.
For example: good customer service translates to good testimonials and exposure through word of mouth. Good web design allows visitors to readily take in all of the positive testimonials, case studies, and encouraging affiliations you have to present. Authentic branding helps to spread the word through social media, which in turn builds trust on your website.
These basic guidelines should give you a good idea of how to build up your customers’ trust, which helps to win new customers, encourage return customers, and increase revenue. Best of luck!