Credibility is important in building a successful online business. Whether your online business is a spinoff of an already-existing enterprise or a new solely online venture, how customers perceive your company plays a critical role in your success. Strong brand credibility can help everyone from e-commerce stores to freelancers earn and keep their online customers' trust.
Unfortunately, the alarming rate of security breaches means overall trust in online businesses is shaky at best. All it takes for your customers to give up the idea of doing business with you is a little lack of credibility.
If winning customer trust and increasing online sales are among your business concerns, here are some proven ways to improve your brand's credibility online.
1. Third-party awards.
Displaying awards from reputable third-party sources such as industry regulators and trade magazines will boost confidence -- just as it does when customers shop brands in the physical world. These accolades signal your brand has been deemed trustworthy by an impartial reviewer.
Imagine you walk into a bookstore without a predetermined title in mind. You're instantly confronted with two interesting titles. One is a winner of The Man Booker Prize, and the other's only claim is its great title. Which do you choose?
Awards and other third-party recognition are more important for small businesses. While small- and medium-sized businesses make up the largest number of businesses nationwide, they also are most in danger of closing down. Displaying a third-party award on your website gives consumers peace of mind your business is in it for the long run.
Awards will set your brand apart from the competition and instantly bestow credibility upon your online business.
2. On-site customer reviews.
Statistics show some 61 percent of buyers read customer reviews before they make a purchase. Yelp is popular for good reason. Consumers want to see what others are saying about your services before they commit. And what better way to do this than show them on your website?
San Diego criminal law website Monderlaw.com provides a good example. While the style of the awards might strike some as abrasive, viewers see a roundup of customer perceptions -- mostly from the firm's Yelp reviews.
Including client reviews on your website immediately tells visitors your brand is transparent and ready to own its image. Transparency and consistency each have a significant part to play in building your brand's long-term credibility.
3. Display certified trust seals.
According to consumer trust research, users now understand the importance of trust seals on websites. Be assured that users who access your website for the first time will look for one of these well-known stamps of approval.
A Baymard survey of over 2,500 consumers revealed Norton as the most trusted seal -- despite also reporting that users aren't all that particular about which technology protects your website. It's a practical concern: Most customers don't have the technical know-how to determine your specific toolkit. All the same, they do value the sense of security these seals provide them.
The lesson? Ensuring online security isn't enough. You need to show your customers what you're doing to protect their transactions and their information.
4. Solid online reputation.
Many consumers won't patronize a business whose principal member has a poor reputation online. Building online brand credibility only works in tandem with your personal identity -- even more so for small businesses. You should leverage content marketing to create a strong, personal identity. In turn, your online credibility also will get a boost.
PWC uses its CEO's identify to strengthen its brand through content. The company's CEO Insights blog features thought-leadership content that not only educates consumers but also builds strong credibility for the company's leading members.
5. Videos that demonstrate trust.
Video content can help your online business connect with consumers better than text and images.
As consumers become more accustomed to fast content and reality TV, they expect businesses to adopt similar practices. Small-business owners who allow consumers to see and hear them will garner more trust than those who hide behind stock photos and static text on a web page.
6. Personality in brand communication.
Consumers are increasingly averse to brands that use corporate-speak. Customers want to relate to your business before they seek a connection with you. This means your business must interact with customers on a more personal level. It's a good practice for small businesses to allow their founder's or CEO's personality to be reflected in how the business is run. That includes the tone, message and format of communication tools such as content pieces, emails, and videos.