Get the business you want, without the insanity: Download my free report

Internet Trust: Building Consumer Trust Online

How important is trust to online marketing?

You do an internet search, and click on a website for a company you’ve never heard of. They may have some valuable products or services, but how do you know you can trust them to deliver what they claim they will?

Trust has always been is a key component of marketing, and building internet trust is just as, if not more important.

Trust is something that’s earned, not automatically given. Offline, the way you handle yourself, your behavior or professionalism either helps to build trust or undermine it. Although you may not be really “meeting” a prospect online, you still must take multiple actions that will establish yourself or your company as credible and trustworthy.

One way that companies establish internet trust is by helping their visitors to “meet” them. An “about us” or “company profile” section is a traditional way to display real information about your company, its founders or owners, its history, credentials, with photos of the key people so that they can see there are real people.

Did you ever click onto a website where you couldn’t find a phone number, address or some real way outside of a contact form to get in touch? Hiding behind a contact form is a sure way to undermine trust.

Endorsements are an age old method of establishing credibility and brand trust. On a website, it’s very easy to display testimonials. They work especially well if they’re from real people, (people just like them, who have the same problems as they do), who are willing to disclose their names, companies or locations, talk about the problems that led them to do business with them, and the benefits and results they’ve gotten from using your product or service. Some companies even display photos of their customers next to the testimonial or utilize videos endorsements on their websites to convey an even stronger endorsement.

Information marketing also helps to build trust by positioning you as an expert. If someone is interested in a certain subject or issue, and your name keeps coming up, it helps build your credibility and therefore increases your trustworthiness. A blog post here, an article there, a mention in the paper, someone referring to you on facebook or twitter, linking to your website or blog, or re-tweeting an article you’ve written, all help to establish credibility in the same way a testimonial does.

Social media is another way that companies establish internet trust. On twitter for instance, supplying useful information, even if it’s re-tweets of info other “experts” supply, helps to build brand trust by positioning you or your company as someone who’s a good resource.

Critics of twitter ask who wants to know that you just got out of a cab, or your kid just skinned his knee? But in fact a certain amount of personal information helps to make you more real (a real person, with a real life, makes you more credible and therefore more trustworthy).

When someone who fits your ideal client description comes to your website, they should be able to recognize themselves and their problems immediately. In that way, an emotional connection is made. Emotional connections also help to build trust.

As well, the copy or content that you use on your website also impacts trust. If you use over-salesy, keyword stuffed jibberish, as too many sites do, with little or nothing of substance to offer, you won’t make that emotional connection and undermine trust.

The look and feel of a site also impacts your ability to establish brand trust. The more generic your site looks, the less likely that people will trust you.

One of my pet peeves, are sites that use Google ad-words to pull in income. When I click on a website that has all kinds of advertisements on it, I am immediately suspect and wonder if this is really a legitimate information site, or just a website put up to pull in residual income. Obviously this also undermines trust.

Poor sales follow-thru and customer service is another sure way to undermine brand trust. If someone contacts your company, and that message is not returned within a reasonable amount of time, any trust that could have been established will quickly be diminished.

Similarly, if someone places an on-line order and doesn’t receive it on-time, or the item is of a poorer quality than they expected, you’re leaving yourself open to disaster, since trust can be destroyed with a couple of well placed comments.

What are your thoughts and experiences with internet trust?

Susan Martin, Marketing Coaching

Previous post:

Next post: