We’ve all been to those websites of dubious origin. You know the ones. They look cheesy … fly by night. They’re the online equivalent of the guy selling video DVDs or “designer” handbags out of the back of a van in an alley.
And then there are the sites that don’t exactly look suspicious (and may in fact be legitimate). But still … you don’t have enough information to be sure. No big brand name backs the site to give you confidence. The site has no contact information on it. And there’s nothing to indicate who or what company is actually going to fulfill your order or perform the services.
You’re not the only one who doesn’t trust these sites. In fact, lack of trust may be wider spread than you think.
Kikscore, a company that has created and provides an online trust seal for small business websites, recently conducted a survey. The survey found that a whopping 90% of online shoppers have abandoned a shopping cart at one time or another, because they were worried about being defrauded on a site.
According to Rajeev Malik, CEO and Co-Founder of Kikscore:
“[People] hear almost monthly about large data breaches, they hear stories of ID theft, credit cards being stolen and service providers scamming customers. As a result, there is really a culture of fear that shoppers need to get over prior to either buying online or trusting information about service providers enough, to call them.”
Another interesting point from the Kikscore survey: “… over 60% of website visitors are more likely to buy from a site that posts information and details about the management of a small business.” So those About Us pages should be more than an afterthought.
What should you do if you have a website and want to instill credibility? Here is a checklist of elements to give your small-business website credibility to online shoppers:
- Company full name (not just your Web domain name)
- Your own domain name – Don’t have your website reside as a subdomain off a bigger site (e.g., NOT: companyxyz.cheapwebsites.com). Instead, you want your Web address to be something like: CompanyXYZ.com.
- Complete address and phone number – Ideally this information should be at the bottom of each page.
- Contact Us page or form
- About Us page – This should contain enough information so that it is clear yours is a business here for the long haul. When possible, include the founder’s or owner’s name. Show your business is REAL. For more information, read: 5 Must Haves for Your About Us Page.
- Photos – Include high-quality photos of some of your products. Or, if you’re a solo professional such as a consultant or Web designer, then a picture of you.
- Description of your business, products, services – Be crystal clear on what your business does and products/services you provide. The clearer and more specific you are, the more you convey that you know what you’re doing and your business is competent. And remember — shoppers research before they buy! Even if they’re “just looking” that’s the first step toward buying.
- Customer testimonials – Even one testimonial from a real customer is helpful. If you have just one, put it right on the home page. Over time you can add more as the business generates a track record.
- Trust seals and seals from industry associations – Trust seals (Kikscore, Truste, Trusted Business, McAfee Secure) and Web seals from associations such as the Better Business Bureau, are a further sign that yours is a credible business. Make sure you have permission to use any seals.
- Media mentions – Mention any publicity your company has had. Also, publish your own press releases on your site, in a section called “Media” or “Press.” A company that publishes press releases shows that it expects to grow.
- Lack of typos / grammatical errors – Proofread your site’s copy! Twice!
- Logo – While you don’t need the most beautiful logo in the world, having a logo (even just professionally drawn text of your company name) says your company has brand value.
- The best design or template you can afford – Let’s face it: you only have a few seconds to make a great impression. If your website appears amateurish, confusing or unprofessional, what does that suggest about the attention you give to the rest of your business?
- Social media follow buttons – If you have social accounts such as Twitter and Facebook, put follow buttons on your website. It’s proof of social validation when they see your followers and see you interacting with the public.
[Editor’s Note: The above list is adapted from a Q&A session the author did on the D&B Credibility Insights blog, on the topic of website credibility.]
Online Shopping Photo via Shutterstock
These are great ways to communicate your legitimacy to a potential client and I know I’ve bailed from a site because it just didn’t “feel” right. Make people comfortable, like they’re talking to you personally and you’ll make more sales.
Thanks Anita for covering the KikScore Online Trust Survey. That is a fantastic list you provided for small businesses.
I would recommend adding one more and that is the the use of a good intro or product video for a small business. A good video on a website can also build credibility for a website because people get to hear a voice, see a business owner talk about their business/product first-hand etc. That can help create a bond between the website visitor and the business.
Hi Robert, Thanks for that point. I think that is one of the reasons blogs are so popular on websites, because you do speak conversationally — from “me” to “you” — in them. You really do need to make people feel more comfortable. People prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust.
Thanks for the interview, and sharing your data. And that’s an excellent suggestion about video — I appreciate your passing it along to readers!
Raj raises a brilliant point, and is something that can set apart the small businesses from the large sites that dominate (e.g. Amazon) almost every market. A video feels like a more personal touch, and as Raj says creates an instant bond.
Thanks for the post Anita!
Thanks Richard. Videos just seem to have that ability to give the website visitor the ability to see someone and give you an extra sense of a comfort level. Its almost like you get to replicate the in-store/in-office experience just for 30 seconds through a video when you are greeted by the owner!
I like the suggestion with a welcome video. You could also have a audio podcast. I recommend that you have an interactive FAQ section, e.g. Formspring and a physical address listed too.
Good points, I find that the address and especially a phone number and email address prominently displayed helps so much. Most small merchants are very hesitant to give this out since they don’t usually have a dedicated phone number but customers want to know that they can contact someone if they have problems and that there is a real person behind the business. Most won’t actually call the number but just seeing it there is reassuring.