5 website strategies to engender user trust

Posted by Julie Weishaar on 30 Apr, 2022
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Actionable ways to use your website to build to trust with potential and existing clients.

Website strategies for trust.

When you register on a website you’re often asked via a checkbox at the bottom of the form whether you want to be kept updated with news and offers, or invited to sign up for a newsletter.  It’s an everyday scenario and by agreeing you’re effectively trusting that the company will keep your details safe.

Unfortunately, another common scenario is hearing about data breaches and privacy failures, often involving personal or payment details.  

When it comes to ecommerce, research shows that trust is the one of the most important factors, second only to price, when purchasing from a new brand.

Increasing concern about these data security and privacy issues make it more important than ever to make sure your website engenders trust.

In this article we’ll examine five methods you can incorporate on your website to engender user trust.

1. Security and trust seals

A trust seal could make or break your deal online. Usually, they're in the form of a trust badge, a logo, or an icon, and they're essential for ecommerce websites.

SSL certificates

If your company accepts online payments, you should have an SSL certificate. This shows your website has implemented a secure system for online payments, with certain information encrypted when sent over the web. Most users now know to look for either the padlock in the address bar, or HTTPs in the url to indicate this level of security.

OptinMonster SSL.

Image source: OptinMonster

Research shows that 84% of online shoppers would not go through with their online order if the website was not secure, showing how vital this proof of security now is. 

Other trust seals

Other security and trust seals include accepted payments such as verified by Visa, 3rd party endorsements, and accreditation or membership trust signals.

Accreditation

Image source: Colchester English Study Centre

You can also highlight your own company policies for purchases such as a money-back guarantee, free shipping or returns.

Accepted payment and company policy signals all serve to reassure the customer that their purchases are secure and there won’t be any problems with, for example, returning an item.

Place these security and trust seals prominently on your website. You can also include trust seals and security information in your FAQ section.

2. Easy and direct ways to contact you

Your customers want to know that they can talk to someone about their orders or any other queries they may have. Make sure that your website clearly shows the ways in which people can get in touch with you should they need to.

Contact page.

Image source: CargoHome

Live Chat is a good option to include on your website. It’s an easy way for your customers to contact you immediately and directly to resolve their problems.

HubSpot chat.

Image source: HubSpot

Point your users to the various ways that they can contact you, whether it's your social media pages, contact number, email address, or chat.

If your business has a physical location that your customers can visit, you can also include a map showing your location.

This is important if you have multiple locations available for your business. Each branch should be listed along with its address and contact details so people can contact the branch closest to them instead of being directed to a generic hotline.

Home Depot is an excellent example of a company helping customers find the most convenient location and providing specific contact information.

Home Depot locations.

Image source: Home Depot

Response timeliness is as important as the number of platforms available for your clients to reach you, so be sure to reply promptly and hire enough staff to be able to meet demand.

Larger companies may organise their contact page by issue. John Lewis has a dedicated page where you can find information, submit a form, or view contact details for the relevant department to deal with your query.

John Lewis contacts,

Image source; John Lewis

3. Address pain points

Many websites make the mistake of making their content all about them instead of relating to the customers. 

Product pages generally focus on features - dimensions, available colors, and prices. This is not an incorrect approach as these details and information are needed to help a prospect decide if they want to make a purchase.

However, from both a trust-building perspective and a marketing point of view, it's useful to build content based on your prospects' common pain points.  

One key way to put this into practice is to place your prospects' pain points before your unique selling points or value propositions.

With the spiralling cost of energy, DIY store B&Q has created a section on their website called Saving energy in your home, with categories such as How to save energy in your home, How to insulate your home, etc.

Each category has a series of how-to articles, followed by links to relevant products.

B&Q advice and products.

Image source: B&Q

In this way, the company is providing solutions to problems, featuring both methodology and products.

If you prefer to have your USPs prominent, you can implement a layout that has your customers' pain points side by side with your USPs, which can resolve their problems.

Having an empathetic tone in your content and a focus on your prospects' paint points is a good way to build trust. It shows you’re aware of their concerns and have products to solve their pain points.

4. Upfront disclosures

Clear disclosures are crucial for trust. Whether you're automatically enrolling your prospects into a marketing list when they send you an inquiry, or your product warranty excludes certain conditions, you'll need to state these details clearly.

Even if the details you set out may not be fully in your favor, your transparency about the issue will let your prospects know they can trust you.  

Disclosures can take many different forms, for example, Terms of Use, Privacy Policy or Warranty Policy.  

A common example of such a disclosure is a popup alerting you to the use of cookies on a website.

ClickZ cookie notice.

 Image source: ClickZ

Disclaimers such as for illustration purpose only, or results taken after six treatment sessions can also indicate what your prospects can or cannot expect from your products and services.

Put these disclaimers below relevant photos or sections for clarity and visibility.

Illustrative purposes/

Image source: SRM

The big takeaway here is the more transparent you are with your prospects, the more you will be trusted.

5. Social proof

Perhaps because we’re bombarded with digital ads daily, word of mouth and direct recommendations remain among the most trusted marketing methods.

The growth of social media brings with it the use of social proof as an effective trust signal.

Examples include customer testimonials, recommendations and reviews. Some forms of social proof can be as simple as the star ratings on your Google Business page or your Facebook page.

Testimonials and reviews

There is nothing more powerful than hearing what others have to say about a brand or service.

Testimonials from satisfied customers are a great way to demonstrate your credentials and reassuring potential buyers that you provide a good service.

Collect reviews or testimonials from clients which you can then share on your website and other marketing platforms. Don’t forget to ask for customers’ consent to share these publicly, and make sure they are aware of which personal details will be used, such as name or profile shot.

The beauty industry is an excellent example of an industry where testimonials and reviews can significantly impact potential buyers.

Keih's testimonial.

Image source: Kiehl’s

Good tradespeople are highly sought after and people will research recommendations and reviews before hiring.

Websites such as Yelp or Trust a Trader are popular because they portray recommendations from actual customers, and many companies feature these endorsements on their website. 

Keay Roofers has many trust symbols immediately visible as soon as you land on their website:

  • Google star rating
  • A rolling top rating from satisfied clients
  • Badges showing membership of 2 review sites
  • Accreditation an industry association
  • (and a friendly face)

Keay Roofing.

Image source: Keay Roofing

They also display a Covid notice at the top of the page reassuring visitors that they are following the guidelines of their national association.

It goes without saying that all your online endorsements should be genuine and traceable back to source. Trust is easily lost if fake reviews come to light, and Google will also penalize this.

Trust by association

If you have collaborated with big, renowned brands or have them as a client, including their logos on your website can also boost your trust rating.  It's a trust by association signal.

Companies commonly show the logos of large brands that use their products or services.

For example, monday.com prominently displays the logos of huge corporate brands that use their platform on their homepage.

monday.com

Image source: monday.com

Social signals

There are many forms of social proof which you can use on your website. These could include posts about you on social media, the number of purchases of a particular product, or engagement with your website content.

The trick is to incorporate your social proof onto your website naturally but with impact.

You can include some social signals on your landing page where they will be highly prominent, but also feature on individual pages.

Enabling comments or reactions on your blog posts means you can display these to show how popular an individual post is.

Blog post engagement.

Images: Pinch of Yum

Final thoughts

Building trust with your visitors begins before any direct contact between them and your company.  

Your website is generally the central hub of all your online activity and often where your potential customers first learn about your company and offerings. They can take an action such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter - or just leave.

People will judge your business, and whether to move further with it, based on the impression you present via your website.  Using the strategies above can help to build trust and reassurance for new potential customers, and also to retain a loyal customer base.

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