by Brett Bastello, Digital Business Manager with Inseev Interactive
As the age of the Internet of Things continues to mature, having an online presence is of the utmost importance. According to Inc., about 60 percent of “very small businesses” don’t have websites, and of those, only about 12 percent have a Facebook page. While that statistic may sound shocking, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s still a significant difference between having a digital presence, and having one that establishes your authority and credibility as a company.
As a business owner, you only get one chance to make a first impression with your target audience, so it’s important to take advantage of that opportunity as best you can. Here are five ways you can use your website to quickly and easily establish credibility with your user base:
Add Press and Publication Features.
Consider a company like Lagos:
Maybe you haven’t heard of Lagos specifically, but unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last 20 years, you’ve certainly heard of Oprah Winfrey and her “O” magazine, as well as the popular publication Harper’s Bazaar.
By highlighting that their products have been featured in notable press publications, Lagos communicates to their target audience that other credible sources have recognized them, and thus potential customers can rest assured that this company is the real deal; one which industry experts trust and use.
In the same way that seeing your doctor’s diploma on their office wall makes you feel just a little bit better about listening to their advice, these press endorsements can help ease any potential qualms with would-be customers.
Don’t worry if your business is small and you haven’t been featured in anything huge like the New York Times just yet. Try to get your business into some form of media, whether it’s a local online newspaper or even a Trip Advisor or Yelp review. Every little mention counts, especially when you’re a startup and just beginning to build your credibility.
Keep in mind that this does not have to be limited to specific mentions of your business; you can also include articles about people who work at your company or an interview with the CEO or a VP.
Use Your Blog Wisely.
Marketing experts estimate that most Americans are exposed to 5,000+ advertisements and brand exposures each day. There are even advertisements in our regularly scheduled programming and movie experiences in the form of product placement. With this constant bombardment, consumers as a whole have become desensitized to regular advertising, forcing marketers to find ways to do it more creatively.
In comes the company blog:
Businesses looking to add credibility to their online presence should focus on using their blog as a resource to help educate their potential customers, not sell to them.
You want your customers to buy your product or use your service because it’ll help improve some aspect of their lives. It will be beneficial to your bottom line to create this sense of “usefulness” by also providing relevant information that’ll improve additional aspects of your customers’ lives. Whether it’s by sharing articles that are interesting and unique or starting a conversation relevant to your field, your blog can be a powerful tool if used correctly.
Notice how both deal with business machinery, however one blog is clearly more focused on providing actionable and helpful tips to their audience, whereas the other is using their blog as a sales mechanism. Which one would you rather read while conducting research prior to purchase?
Exactly, me too.
Make Your Site Personable.
There are two easy ways to add immediate credibility to your website, both having to do with on-page content: photos and stories.
Have real photos of real people, preferably the people who actually work at your company. In fact, there are multiple studies that show using real photography greatly increases your website’s conversion rates.
Especially when it comes to sensitive subjects that greatly affect people’s lives, like their personal finances or wellbeing, it’s important for customers to know that the company they choose to work with is real, caring, and authentic.
Consider having a short bio of who the people at your company are, their qualifications, and what makes them effective at their job.
For a real life example, look to a health-science company like Colorescience:
Notice how there are headshots for each member of their management team, with in-depth biographies highlighting each individual’s prior professional accomplishments, adding credibility to the company and creating peace of mind within their target audience.
Tell your story! Tell the world how you got started, what inspired starting your company, and what’s important to your business. This is your chance to connect with your customers, let them know what you’re about, and better yet, prove it with photos and other fun content!
Trader Joe’s does a great job of this, taking their customers on a journey spanning six decades, highlighting the company’s rise from small mom & pop shop to a national chain garnering critical acclaim. Tying this in with the above section, notice how in each decade Trader Joe’s has included photographs representative of each time period.
Be Easy to Contact and Respond Quickly.
Make it as easy as possible for your users to contact you, whether that’s via email, social media, or a phone number. When evaluating your website, be sure that you include all relevant links and buttons to social media outlets, to further increase your brand’s reach and provide potential customers additional – and possibly more convenient – ways for them to connect with your brand.
Screenshot courtesy of Community Tax
Not only should you have all the links for your social media, but you should also make sure that you answer relatively quickly, with a best practice being within 24-48 hours upon receipt.
Responding within a timely manner is especially worth noting, as one of the newer Facebook features shows a typical response rate from particular pages. Take for example the StarKist brand Facebook page:
Since it is publicly displays that StarKist typically responds within an hour, this expectation of prompt communication has already been established with their audience. Thus, any response that takes longer than an hour could be a major turn-off to any brand loyal customers.
Show User Reviews and/or Client Testimonials.
People want to buy products or use services that other real humans have already tried and liked. Sure your company may have a Yelp listing or ratings on Amazon, but if a customer is on your website, do you really want them to leave your digital property to go read reviews, hoping that they’ll return to make a purchase?
Not only should you put a link on your site to your main review listings (e.g. Yelp, Google +, Trip Advisor, etc.) but you should also consider highlighting specific reviews that truly capture the essence and culture of your business right on your website. You can even go one step further and respond to reviews (if possible). This little action and can a long way, as it shows that your business cares about its customers. It’s especially necessary to respond to reviews that are negative to address the issues and if needed, apologize.
Consider a company like Hairfinity: as you can see, before and after pictures show that their product works and this information is spread throughout social media, with links to their users’ original posts.
People want to envision what your product/service will do for them, so always show rather than tell, if possible.
There you have it – five quick and easy implementations for establishing credibility with your website. If you have any additional ideas or examples, feel free to leave a comment below to start a discussion on your favorite ways on resonating with your target audience.
Brett Bastello is a Digital Business Manager with Inseev Interactive and the Marketing Editor for 365 Business. He is an expert in digital analytics and loves to show clients what’s working, what’s not, and how to move forward in complex and competitive digital landscapes.