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Part 2b: What’s your Trust Score?

October 14, 2012

A startup recently came to me concerned with the high bounce rate they were experiencing.  We discussed two key tactics:

  1. Optimize the home page, (the subject of an earlier post) and
  2. Do more to build trust (the subject of this post).

In the real world, people are more likely to buy a brand name product or buy from a friendly, helpful, knowledgeable salesperson who stands behind the product.  While brand names pack instant credibility, your online visitors don’t know if they can trust you or your product. Consequently, you’ve got to give them many proof-points to demonstrate trust.  Here are a few for you to consider. Keep count. If you score higher than 10 out of 16, trust is probably not a barrier to sales.

Do I trust your site and your business?

The very first thing I want to know is if I can trust your site.  What reputation are you conveying?  Do I trust that you’re not going to sell my contact information? Spam me? Compromise my credit card? Is your site secure enough that someone won’t be able to hack in and steal my credit card or other confidential information?

There are several ways you can quickly and confidently convey trust on your website:

  1. Display a customer count.
    • There’s nothing like seeing “over 50,000 customers” or “over 500,000 widgets under management” to make someone feel good that they’re not alone – that your site has lots of happy customers.
  2. Show customer quotes.
    • Show customer quotes or tweets in a small scrolling window. If you’re a B2B product, show some of your customer logos.
  3. Media mentions.
    • If trade or general media have written about you or mentioned you in articles, show the publication logos with a link to the article.  If you don’t have any media mentions, consider reaching out to key publications that your customers read and tell them about your business. But before you do, make sure your pitch is polished and ready to go. And that you’ve got a reference customer who will speak to the media. See this pitch workshop for how to structure a pitch.
  4. Partnerships.
    • If you have partnerships with established, brand name companies, mention them somewhere on your web site.
  5. Awards.
    • If you’ve won any industry awards, show the award logo with a link to the announcement.  If you haven’t won an industry award, set this as a marketing objective.
  6. Blog, speak and contribute.
    • Perhaps one of the best ways to establish your reputation is by positioning yourself as a thought leader in the industry.  Blog, speak at conferences and contribute articles on trends you see in the industry; key problems customers are facing today and the sorts of solutions that are available today; or anything related that your customers would be interested in that establishes you as a thought leader and trusted information source.
  7. Trusted certification.
  8. Social Media.
    • Show your viewers your Facebook Like counter.
  9. Team.
    • Show off the bio’s of key executives, investors, board members and advisors.  If they’re credible, customers will be more likely to trust your business.

How did you score?

If you scored 7 out of 9 or higher, you’re doing well.  Your visitors are likely to consider your site trustworthy.

Do I trust that your product does what I want it to do?

It’s not enough to show that your site is trustworthy.  Does your product do what I want it to do?  There are several ways to ease your visitor’s concerns.

  1. Recommendations.
    • It’s well-proven that friends and colleagues that recommend a product are the most trusted and therefore the highest converting lead source.  What can you do to encourage people to recommend your product to their friends?  Price breaks? Special offers? Special status? A thank you email? One example I’ve recently come across encourages customers to a Tweet a recommendation (including a predefined a hash tag) and the vendor would give users a free upgrade.
  2. Product reviews and analyst reports.
    • Independent reviews from industry analysts, journalists and bloggers that describe your unique approach to solving customer problems is a valuable tool for establishing credibility and trust.
  3. Customer testimonials, case studies.
    • Write customer testimonials and case studies showing how your product solves customer problems.  Here’s an example from Ricoh.
  4. Product tour.
    • YouTube is a wonderful source for leads.  It is also an excellent tool to show customers how your product works before they buy.  Provide a simple online demonstration or walk-through of your product. If your product is more complex, create a series of videos to demonstrate various aspects of your product.
  5. Freemium Pricing.
    • Freemium is a well-accepted sales model. Many B2C companies give away a limited product to engage the customer and build trust in the hope that the customer will upgrade to a paid version to access increased capabilities.  A Freemium pricing model typically requires a large addressable market and typically achieves a 2-4% conversion from free to paid.
  6. Try before you buy.
    • A time-limited or seat-limited version allows customers to try the product, verify the fit, functionality and quality of your product before they buy. This pricing option often works well for B2B sales.
  7. Money back guarantee.
    • Finally, offering a money-back guarantee may be a good option to catch any last doubters.

How did you score?

If you scored 4 out of 7 or higher, you’re doing well.  Your visitors are likely to consider your product is trustworthy.


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