Converting Interest To Sales With Trust Seals By Harper Roark
We all know that the single greatest way to convert interest into sales is to build trust between your company and your customer. But establishing that trust can be more difficult than it initially seems. What are the best strategies to build trust and increase sales? There are a lot of different pieces to the trust puzzle, but most of them can be categorized into the following 3 main ideas: be authentic, be uncompromisingly scrupulous in how you deal with your customers, and take web security and the privacy of your customers seriously.
- Be authentic
Being authentic in business is exactly what it sounds like: showing that your business is real and that you’re not some sham internet “business” accepting credit card information and payments only to steal identities or cut and run without a trace (or a delivered product). There are several good ways to establish authenticity with your potential customers:
- Have contact information that works
This can be a phone number, customer service hotline, email address, contact form, or physical address (preferably all of the above). The main idea is to have multiple, reliable ways to get in touch with you and to have them displayed in easy-to-find locations on your website. If your customers know they can easily get in touch with you about a problem, they will be more willing to risk buying from a business they haven’t purchased from before.
- Use photographs
And no, not those terrible stock photographs that every third online startup has. Take dynamic, professional-looking photos of your staff and have bios that showcase what they contribute to your company or organization as well as something of their personality. Why have a bio about Sandra who is an intern with a business degree, when you could have a bio about Sandra the social media intern with a business degree who loves coffee, running marathons, and Twitter. Or whatever. Remember, the idea here is to convey that your business is made up of real people.
If you have a physical location, use some professional pictures of the brick-and-mortar store as well. Nothing says “we’re not going anywhere” like investment in a retail store or office space.
- Include testimonials
After you have a few satisfied customers, go back to any clients who seem particularly happy with your products or services and ask them to write a testimonial about your business. Testimonials should be short, exclusively positive, and as detailed as possible. “My experience with X Company was really great” is not nearly as strong a testimonial as “When I was in the market for X product, X Company had prices 15% lower than I could find anywhere else, and the shipping was fast.”
Whenever possible, use real full names with each testimonial. Using a real name inspires more instant credibility than just using initials or a first name and last initial.
- Use clear, simple language and a friendly tone
One of the most common mistakes I see on websites, especially for companies that provide services rather than material products (though it applies equally to both types of businesses), is an attempt to sound like an expert by using a formal tone and lots of technical terms and acronyms that only other experts in the field would recognize. Being and sounding smart is great, but you’re not writing for an academic journal and your real goal with your website is to increase sales. A much better way to boost your sales is by explaining a customer’s problem—and your solution to their problem—in clear, simple language that they will understand.
Remember the old marketing adage that if you can explain a customer’s problem to them better than they can explain it themselves, they will trust you and assume that you also have the solution? The trick to this adage is that they have to understand what you’re saying to them about their problem and your solution—and they’re probably not willing to put in a lot of work to figure it out if it isn’t readily apparent. So keep it simple.
- Be uncompromisingly scrupulous
Now that you’ve completed the first step of building trust—establishing that you’re an authentic business staffed by real and talented people—you can move onto the next step: convincing your potential customers that you will treat them well if they choose to patronize your business. Here are a couple of ways to do that:
- Be honest and fair
The most important thing to remember here is that it only takes one dissatisfied customer running their mouth all over town (or all over the online reviews) to negate hundreds satisfied customers who may or may not recommend your services to their friends.
Once a customer is dissatisfied it’s hard to undo the damage, so when product or service issues inevitably arise you want to make sure that you deal with them promptly and fairly. Letting concern for your bottom line lead you to deny a refund to someone with a defective product or not refund a price difference when an item goes on sale is likely a short-term gain, long-term loss for the good name of your company.
Ignoring a complaint altogether is probably the worst thing you can do, but being short with a customer because of emotions or a personality difference is about as bad. Be fair and treat your customers the way you would expect to be treated by a company with excellent customer service.
- Publicly demonstrate your excellent customer service
Sometimes dissatisfied customers will send you a polite email or make a friendly phone call to voice their complaint and see what you are willing to do for them to make up for it. But sometimes they will try to publicly shame you into making amends or doing better in the future by taking a hostile complaint to the comments section of your blog, your Facebook page, or Twitter.
When these situations arise, don’t run from them by ignoring them or get in touch with the person privately—confront the situation head-on and use it to your advantage by dealing with the complaint publicly. Ask them for more information about their problem if necessary (an order number, etc.) and make amends publicly and as quickly as possible.
A potential customer who sees a complaint from someone else but then sees the complaint completely resolved a few minutes later will have more trust that they will be treated just as well in the event of a mistake. Everyone knows that things happen occasionally that are out of our control. What your potential customers want to know is that when those situations arise, you will be both fast and fair when resolving the situation.
- Take web security and privacy seriously
While customers want to know that you are not going to take advantage of them if a mistake happens, they also want to know that you’re not going to put them in a position that would allow someone else to hurt them. Convincing potential customers that you will do everything you can to prevent their sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands can be accomplished in a couple of simple steps:
- Conduct security scanning and display a trust seal on your website
Make sure that your company is meeting all current PCI compliance standards and is receiving security scanning regularly. This will show customers that you are doing everything you can to protect them from a data breach and potential identity theft, so they will know their information is safe in your hands. Web security companies also offer trust seals for you to display on your website that are specific to your site and show the date of the most recent security scan. Make sure this seal is clearly displayed on your home-page and on any pages that require inputting contact or payment information.
Most web security companies (like McAfee) offer daily or quarterly scanning, but some companies (like Trust-Guard) offer daily, weekly, or quarterly security scanning. Daily and weekly scanning will inspire significantly more confidence and trust than quarterly scanning, so it’s worth investing in weekly scanning over quarterly, even if your company isn’t big enough to justify the expense of daily scanning yet.
If you cover these three bases with your website, new potential customers will have increased trust in your company and your sales will steadily climb!