Creating Website Credibility
What does credibility have to do with building a website? Well just about everything.
If you want your visitor to stick around you better make a good impression and you better do it fast. It starts with your site’s look and feel but there’s still so much to be done after that.
Buying online is still a scary process for most people. A computer screen is impersonal and intimidating for some. Most people would much rather buy from a real person that they can look in the eye.
At any rate, online or offline, everyone wants to buy from someone they know and trust. Creating this kind of credibility is something we call Preselling. It’s an integral part of the online marketing process.
So how do you create a website that builds this kind of relationship with your visitors?
How To Create Credibility
Preselling is an art. Just as some singers can captivate and move you and others don’t, connecting with your audience is not something everyone can master. Yet it is so critical for success that delving deeply into why some sites connect and others don’t is worth the effort. We believe it’s a skill that CAN be learned.
Here are some of the site development skills that we feel are critical to success.
Make Sure Your Site Looks Professional
They say you only have about 5 seconds to convince your visitor that it’s worth staying on your site. A simple, clean design is critical for that "first impression" to be positive. There must be an initial sense of balance and order.
But once they’ve decided to stick around the job is not done. Make sure your navigation is simple and logical, but most of all consistent. Navigation that changes from page to page is a big no-no. Links to other pages and to other sites should be easy to identify. No surprises please!
Type should be easy to read and your color scheme should be harmonious without too many different colors. Two or three at most.
Reading text online is much harder than reading out of a book. Online text copy should be large and use short sentences and paragraphs. Use bulleted lists whenever possible. Avoid jargon that the typical visitor would not understand.
Above all, be absolutely sure there are no typos and misspelling. Nothing destroys credibility quicker than misspelled words and awkward sentences.
Many people skim a page before they decide to actually read it. For the "skimmers" be sure to add lots of headlines and subheads and bolded text for important highlights. Someone should be able to "what’s in it for them" in a matter of seconds. This will help you hold their attention longer.
Put A Face To The Website
To make the online buying experience less intimidating try to "humanize" the experience as much as possible.
Use your own picture and name whenever possible. Share personal details that help your audience get to know you. Let them know you are human and much like they are. The goal is to build credibility and trust.
If you can’t use your own or anemployee’s pictures be sure to use pictures of real people. Ideally use pictures if people enjoying the benefits of your product or service. Help your audience identify with the experience your product offers. If your site is about travel show pictures of people enjoying their vacations. If it’s about golf show folks having a wonderful time out on the golf course.
Videos are a powerful way to show your audience who you are. And these days they are extremely easy to add to your site. Remember many of your visitors will be "visually oriented." And a good picture (or video) can still say a thousands words.
Perhaps even better than telling your own story is letting someone else do it for you. Happy customers who share their experience can reach your prospects in a way that no amount of "here’s what I can do" advertising will.
Real testimonials not only create credibility but they also let your prospects identify with people who have what they want. Be sure your testimonials focus on the emotional benefits that underly every customer need. Joy, satisfaction, security, and fun are the underlying "needs" of any purchase. Those emotional connections are what drive all purchases.
For example. When someone buys a new golf driver what are they really thinking? What is that conversation going on inside their heads? What do they visualize in their minds?
Sure they want to picture themselves hitting the best drive of their lives. But that picture is in the context of being out there on the golf course, on a beautiful day, away from work, and just having fun. So the underlying need is the joy of getting to play golf.
Understanding the underlying need will help determine the correct imagery to show on your website too. Show people getting what they really want from your product or service and you will be able to connect with them emotionally. And remember people always buy on emotion and justify it with logic. Make that emotional connection the first goal of your website.
Make Them Feel Secure
Buying online is again scary. Will these folks deliver what they say? Will they steal my credit card data? Is their site secure? Will the product really come?
Testimonials will help relieve some of these fears but there are also other things you can do.
There are 3rd party companies that will verify the security of your site. Verisign, Entrust, GeoTrust, BizRate, and others all offer ways to help give your customers confidence in a purchase. They provide banners you can add to your order page that your customers can click on to check for security.
Offer A Guarantee
Just about every online company MUST offer a guarantee these days. It’s become the standard for letting your customers know you are a serious, professional company.
Be sure to deliver on that guarantee. The Word spreads fast on the Internet when a company doesn’t live up to it’s promise. If you are an affiliate make sure your merchants have a rock-solid guarantee before you support them.
Update Your Site Often
When a site doesn’t change for months on end it’s a clear sign the "nobody’s driving the bus." Google and other SEs will be the first to know and slowly your SE rankings will begin to slip.
But if you want your visitors to come back you must give them a good reason. Your great content may get them to come back once. But if they continue to see the exact same information they won’t keep coming back. After all, who wants to come back just to watch a "rerun" of something they’ve already seen.
That’s why it’s a good idea to run a Blog in conjunction with your main site. You can use it as reason to keep in touch with your audience. Simple updates on what’s happening in your niche can be enough to hold their attention. Of course the more valuable the information the better.
Provide Valuable Content
The absolute most important thing you can do to build credibility for yourself and your monetization partners is to build a site that has valuable information. You MUST give people what they want and need to keep them coming back. Put yourself in their shoes, solve their problems and help them in any way you can (within your niche’s topic) and you will succeed.
It brings to mind the quote by Dale Carnegie…
"You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you."
This is the cardinal rule of all great marketing. Give the people what they want and need. If you don’t know what they want you had better find out.
Finding Out What Your Visitors Want.
Every link on your site is trackable. You can find out where your visitor comes from, where they go on your site, and what links finally take them away. You can find out what pages get viewed the most. You can find out which merchant partners get the most clicks.
Study your visitors behavior and you begin to understand them. Then give them more of what they want.
If you focus on knowing your visitors and giving them what they need eventually you’ll build a loyal following of customers who will be happy to buy what you offer or recommend.
But it must be real. You must truly care about your visitors. They WILL sense it if you don’t. If you are too pushy and seem like you are just trying to sell them they will know. So be real and care about your visitors.
If you position yourself as a solution provider and truly want to help solve people’s problems they will begin to see you as a "friend" they can trust. They’ll come back and they’ll tell their friends about you. You can call it "from-the-heart-marketing" and it works.
If you’re an affiliate this credo still holds true. Help your visitors find the best merchants to meet their needs and they’ll thank you. So try to partner with merchants that deliver all of the credibility creating characteristics above. And of course do it yourself.