By Marcia Yudkin
Who are you, really? And why should I trust you? Without face-to-face contact or a trusted intermediary who has vouched for you, visitors to your web site often have these two questions paramount in their minds when considering doing business with you. Use these five elements to boost your perceived trustworthiness and coax possible customers to step forward and buy.
1. Contact information. This is the easiest credibility booster to implement. Yet amazingly, many businesses ignore the power of simply stating where they're located on the planet and providing a telephone number and email address. Without real-world ways to contact you, some visitors will wonder whether you have something to hide and whether you can be relied on to deliver the goods. With contact information, you come across as legitimate and more reliable.
2. Photos. You don't need Hollywood-style looks to make an impact by including your photo on your site. So long as you aren't frowning or looking depressed, a photo makes you seem more real, appealing and accessible. Likewise, pictures of your company location or of your sales reps who are clearly not models but actual staff members help bring your company to life. And it's easier than ever to add the dimension of voice to a site via an audio welcome. To get a credibility boost from it, record this message yourself instead of hiring a professional.
3. Testimonials. Pithy quotes from named individuals posted at your site attest to your legitimacy. For greatest effect, testimonial quotes should be brief, specific, unique or unexpected in their wording and signed by a full name with a meaningful identifier, such as a company name or city and state or province. Don't be afraid to ask loyal clients for a few sentences on why they like doing business with you, as most will gladly help you out.
4. Expert articles. By far, this is the most credible way to strut your stuff, to demonstrate your expertise. Provide substantive articles or white papers that people can freely read at your site or download. Especially effective are pieces discussing pressing problems experienced by your target market and describing your solutions. When well done, articles cause prospective clients to feel, "This is the person (or company) who has what it takes to solve my problem."
5. Media coverage. Have you been written up in print or featured on radio or TV? Most people assume that if you've enjoyed media coverage, you're not only legitimate but outstanding in your field. So when you do have prestigious media mentions to tout, add "Featured in the New York Times" or "As seen on CNBC" right on your home page. Buried on your press page, this information doesn't have the impact it deserves.
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