Earning Customer Trust Online
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Building customer trust online is a combination of good
branding, good design, and good content. A website needs all three components to
be successful in creating a climate of trust that encourages sales.
Branding is about finding a specific idea that you stand for,
finding a way to own that idea in a credible way, and ultimately building a
total trust that you will always deliver.
Branding for Success
Maybe you think only big businesses need to be branded, but
I'd challenge that thought by telling you this--As soon as you open your doors
for business (either physically or metaphorically) you become a brand in the
eyes of everyone who sees you or buys from you. The only choice you have is to
become either a negative brand, undifferentiated brand, or a powerful,
Good branding on a website immediately lets a visitor know
what you can do for them. In other words, don't brand your business by a generic
term like "gardening." Instead, brand your business by showing the uniqueness of
what you offer with a benefit statement, "Container gardening for unhappy
apartment dwellers who want to be surrounded by nature."
With Internet branding, you want to present your brand so
customers can interact with your message and interact with your site. On the
Internet, your prospects have total control of what they see, read, and hear.
That's why traditional advertising doesn't work on the Net.
Visitors are interacting with your site when they are
shopping. The Internet gives you total control over what your prospective
customer sees. Their shopping experience needs to be positive or you lose the
sale. According to a 2002 survey by the Stanford Credibility Project, 46% of
respondents said that design plays a role in a website's creditability. Even a
reputable brand with a poorly designed website would cause people to leave.
Just like in a crowded store, where you can't find the
section you are looking for, a crowded/cluttered website confuses a prospective
buyer. Have the website set up with simple graphics and navigation. What you
need to do is remove all the obstacles from the selling process. To increase the
click-thru rate, your site must offer instant gratification in terms of
comprehension and clarity.
Remember, customers are entering your site at different
points, so it is important that your brand message is clear on every page of
your website. Try to have a consistent look on the site that matches your
offline branding. Keep the same colors on your website so that they match your
offline marketing materials.
Creating content that gives your customer a sense of safety
and security is also a way of building trust with your customer. Fraud and
identity theft are big concerns for online shoppers. Sadly, according to
Forrester Research, 71% of online shoppers don't believe the retailer can
protect them from fraud. So, they are reluctant to give out financial
information. Consumers also believe that only 49% of companies will protect
Website visitors need to feel that the information they give
to a website will be held in confidence. Before asking someone to give you their
privacy statement is near the email sign-up.
To reassure your website visitors of a secure financial
transaction, use the security certification seals of Verisign, Hackersafe, and
Thawte. Make sure the seals are prominently displayed on the shopping cart and
throughout the checkout process. Forrester research found that sites using these
certification seals had a 14% increase in conversion rates.
Another technique is to use privacy seals from BBB online and
TrustE. These third party logos communicate that your company can be trusted and
have met a standard of measurement for reliability. These seals need to be
placed throughout the
website: near email signups, registration, cart, and checkout.
Communicate to Build Trust
Building trust online comes down to clearly communicating
with your customer. Something as simple as failing to communicate the total
purchase price upfront, will lead to shopping cart abandonment. Forrester
research found that 57% of shoppers will abandon a shopping cart because the
shipping charges were more than they expected.
The goal of an online business should be to create an
environment of worry free shopping. Create a website that makes a visitor feel
safe, clearly expresses the company's brand through good design, and boosts
website conversions through trustworthy content.
Copyright 2007 Michelle Howe
About the Author
Michelle Howe, MBA, president of Internet Word Magic, specializes in writing
irresistible copy for websites. Transform the way you do business. Visit her
http://www.InternetWordMagic.com for a FR^EE chapter download of her new
book "Turn Browsers into Buyers".
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-01-02 14:11:56 in Business Articles