If you’ve been in business for a minute – or half a century – you’ve likely heard (maybe ad nauseam) that people overwhelmingly choose to do business with those they know, like, and trust. Never has this been more true than when you are doing any kind of business online. This is true whether you are seeking to make money completely online, or whether you just rely on the Internet or a website to support your income-generating activities.
There are so many businesses and business professionals “out there” on the Web today, it can be overwhelming for consumers or potential customers.
Compounding the confusion caused by this saturation is the fact that anyone can – if they have the money to pay for it – get a website that looks somewhat professional and credible. Top that site off with some paid SEO, link building, and social media accounts burgeoning with paid likes and followers, and a company or person with little legitimacy can appear like they’re on top of their industry.
The problem is not that people are getting fooled by all of this. In fact, they’re getting rather wise to it. And that’s what is creating a problem for you.
When you combine a saturated digital space (where it’s easy for anyone or any business to appear more “real” than they are) with today’s rapidly increasing tendency of people to naturally distrust what they find online, it can be harder than ever to get people to “buy what you’re selling.”
But don’t despair. There is a solution—and it’s not that hard to implement.
The easiest path to rising above all the Internet “noise” and climbing customer suspicion and doubt, is through building trust and authority online.
Lucky for you, you are a real business. As such, all you need to do is learn how to prove it to those on the Web. Of course, there are plenty of ways this can be done but below we share two simple methods you can employ ASAP to build trust with potential customers quickly and easily.
First, you should provide value to your visitors before you ask them for anything.
When you offer valuable information before trying to get people to do business with you, it accomplishes two things that are solid trust-builders.
First, providing information that your potential customers can use immediately – without spending a penny – shows them you care more about solving their problems than making money off them. The most successful businesses are all in the problem-solving business above anything else. Demonstrating that via providing valuable tips, advice, strategies, etc. on your website, goes a long way to building trust.
However, providing this valuable information “free-of-charge” is a double-bang-for-your-buck trust-builder. It also helps to build your authority. It makes it clear you are an expert in your field and what customer or potential client doesn’t want to be sure they are choosing the best product or service available?
Showcasing your expertise through what you are giving them on your website – without asking them to buy anything – shows you have the necessary knowledge to help solve their problems, without you having to persuade (sell) them. Since it’s natural for us to “trust” an expert more than others, this helps to build that connection in the mind of prospective customers or clients.
Next, you should make strategic use of “social proof.”
You can tell people they should trust you – that you are trustworthy – all day long. And some will believe you. Today, unfortunately, many will not.
On the other hand, what if – many – others tell them the same thing? There’s a much greater likelihood of your prospects believing you are an expert authority and trustworthy when it comes from third parties. That’s the principle of social proof.
It’s likely obvious from the root of the term social proof that one way this is accomplished is through social media. First, you start by having social profiles on at least a few of the largest of the medium platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, BuzzFeed, etc. You don’t need to use all of them, but one or two is almost a “must.”
Once you have established the platforms, you should link to them easily on your website so your visitors can follow and engage with you there. Each time they do, it expands your reach into their networks. You gain trust simply by association.
Likewise, you should make it easy for others to share the content from your website onto their social platformsthose who are seeing what they share.
But perhaps one of the most advantageous ways you can use social media for social proof is by taking advantage of any review and recommendation capabilities. Sometimes this can be a formal review or recommendation process such as that of Google or Facebook. With YouTube and Twitter “likes” and shares are examples of “implied recommendations.”
An important key is making sure you have a (hopefully automated) way to display these endorsements back on your website. No matter the platform or whether the method is formal (a review) or informal (a like, share, recommend, etc.), the end result is the same… your current or past customers and clients help to prove your trustworthiness both to your networks and to theirs.
Another form of social proof are testimonials on your website. While these can definitely be faked, you should still collect and display them. When possible, accompanying testimonials with a picture of the person, a full name, and city/state, is desirable (there are even some legalities with how testimonials can be displayed so be sure to do your research here). Even better, there are companies that will collect and independently-validate testimonials for you, allowing you to post their validation seal on your site too. Talk about inspiring trust!
BONUS TRUST-BUILDER: Trust Seals send trust-inspiration off the charts.
Are you a member of any organizations? Be sure to put their seal on your site. Have you appeared on radio or TV, in magazines, books, or newspapers? Make sure those logos or emblems appear on your site too. Think about it… how does it elevate your trust of sites you visit when you see such seals there? And especially if you are performing sales transactions online, your site should have the appropriate eCommerce encryption and trust seals front-and-center—clearly evident for the visitor to see.
Sure, it’s getting to be more and more challenging to build trust online today. Yet, it’s not impossible. There are some surefire ways to do it—they just require a little effort. The good news is that if you do put this work in you’ll be well ahead of the curve.