Blog: Digital Strategy
Best Ways to Build Trust in Online Visitors, Part 1
Building trust is one of the very first steps successful business owners take when turning website visitors into loyal customers. With the prevalence of online scams firmly embedded into the consciousness of most consumers, online visitors won’t be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt if your website comes across as less than professional.
Fortunately, there are several ways to build trust with online visitors no matter where they are in the conversion cycle. Here is part one of our two-part series on simple, yet effective ways for you to build trust from the first interaction and onward through customer retention:
Meet (and exceed) initial expectations
In general, people will come to your website via one of several ways:
- Paid advertising
- Organic search
- Social shares/social content
- Person-to-person referrals
- Articles/referrals from third-party websites
The interest-level you manage to generate at this first touchpoint determines if a potential customer will click through to your website. The combination of an intriguing headline along with an interesting visual or graphic (where possible) is what typically prompts this first interaction. In short, people visit your site because they have a specific need, and some piece of content – a headline, an article, an infographic, etc. – leads them to believe that you can meet this need.
Treat your initial touchpoint like a promise. If the content on your page doesn’t match what they’ve seen or read so far, you’ve broken a promise to your visitors. Once that trust is broken, it’s difficult, if not outright impossible, to regain it. In the case of website referrals, a recommendation from a trusted site can improve overall engagement. However, the same rules still apply with regards to keeping that initial promise.
Some website owners, driven by the need to improve traffic in an increasingly crowded online marketplace, have resorted to using sensational headlines to bring in more clicks. These so-called “clickbait” headlines, far from improving engagement, typically receive a lot of pushback and negative responses. This is particularly true when it comes to posts on Facebook, to the point that the company says it will show posts with these types of headlines less often.
The reason behind this pushback is simple – clickbait headlines rarely deliver on their promise.
While you may initially get a surge of traffic, it’s not likely to deliver any measurable gains such as a larger mailing list or more sales. How then, does one balance interest with delivery? The answer comes in two steps:
- One – Generate interest through benefits, emotional engagement, and a strong call to action (CTA).
- Two – Over-deliver on the content promised in the initial touchpoint.
Here are a few examples of how this might work in practice:
For advertising: Match your landing page wording to the wording of your ads. If you have an ad that promises 15% off to all new clients, the page that your website visitors come to when clicking on that ad should showcase that special (and the savings) prominently. Experiment with placing your best-selling or best-rated services at the forefront, but always make sure that the sale or offer is clear from the start.
For social shares: Successful articles/blog posts/images contain what’s promised without forcing the reader to jump through hoops. If you share a blog post with the title “5 Mind-blowing Ways to Keep Your Yard Green” then you need to discuss ways to maintain a lawn that aren’t widely known/practiced, and ideally you should display these tips in a way that is easy for readers to scroll through and share, versus requiring multiple clicks or other gateways.
For organic search: The best page titles and descriptions build interest while still accurately reflecting the content of the page. If you have a page that discusses your service offerings, build interest by having a brief description that discusses the benefits of your services. This will encourage people to click through to learn more about how your services can help them.
Beyond the initial touchpoint, every company has a particular style of communication that is best-suited for their brand. This is known as your company’s “voice”. Legal firms tend to be professional and authoritative, while a more artistic brand such as a graphic designer might have playful imagery and language. Staying true to your voice makes your messaging more engaging as well as more trustworthy overall.
In small businesses, authenticity is typically baked in – the company founder, trusted colleagues, and partners can readily agree on what style of messaging best fits the brand. This becomes more challenging as the business expands, or if content creation is outsourced. The possibility for misinterpretation increases, as does the temptation to write in a ‘generic’ fashion to avoid any potential controversy.
A simple way to avoid the pitfalls of inconsistent (or nonexistent) voice is to come up with a style guide that incorporates the unique voice of your company. An example excerpt of such a style guide might state:
We at XYZ Associates value thorough research and verifiable claims in our blog pieces. We therefore require the use of reputable sources and inline citations when referencing outside data. In each blog piece, writers are expected to use third-person perspective and neutral, unbiased language.
Including examples of the type of writing that best matches your voice along with such guidelines will be helpful to new employees, contractors, and others who produce content for your site. It will also help you to keep a consistent brand voice that will encourage customer engagement and brand loyalty.
Building trust in online visitors to your website isn’t a one-time action. It incorporates all of your messaging and policies from the first touch to the conversion and beyond.
By putting policies and processes in place to inherently build consistency, transparency, and value, you can gain (and retain) more customers and boost loyalty to your brand. In part two, we'll cover two more strategies that you can use to build trust in your online visitors, and practical ways to implement these best practices.
If you need help with building trust in your online presence, we can get you on the right track
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