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How do you get visitors to trust you

Imagine that you go to a meeting with a new client. Do you come unprepared? No, you don't. You might even have had a sleepless night before the meeting where you went through your arguments, time and time again, to show your customer what they would benefit from a collaboration with you. While you worry at night, another customer - perhaps ten – find their way to your website where you the day before yesterday posted a new text about your business. The text was hard-selling and in some parts misspelled. You were not sure how the word ”parallel” is spelled, but you didn't bother to use the spell-check before you posted the text online. Your customer, who is very picky about spelling, likes the products you sell, but as a person he hates sloppiness, especially when it comes to writing and misspelling. He doesn't like to read about the ”era of parallel manufacturing processes.” He likes your product, but he hates your sloppy text. Now he is not interested in buying anything from you anymore.

Can you rely on your professionalism?
It's one of the very first questions customers ask when they visit your website. To create the necessary trust between you and the customer is all about caring about everything from the design of your pages and what you offer and how you present it, to the way you take care of inquiries and orders. You must show that you are professional all the way.

Be prepared to work hard to earn your customer's trust.

To begin with, it's much harder to get and keep confidences online than it is in real life. It doesn't matter how great your website is, it still can't compete with even the most grimy little shop on the street where you live. In real life, there is a door to enter, there is a person you can talk to and there are goods to touch. It's for real. It doesn't matter how neat and nice a website is, it still can be run by a slick con artist who hides in a crappy basement, just waiting to con people. Online presence is cheap and therefore attracts adventurers of all kinds. You have to work hard to prove yourself to earn your visitor's trust. They want to know things about you. They want to feel secure.

If I'm going to visit your website, I want lots of things:

• I want to know who you are.
• I want to know the purpose of your website.
• I want to know what each page is about with a header.
• I want to know what you offer and why you are the best choice for me.
• I want to be able to contact you at an address that is not called ”Webmaster” or ”Info”.
• I want to be able to reach you in other ways than just by e-mail – by phone for example.
• I want your graphics to be optimized for quick download.
• I want your website to be free from music and other annoying sounds.
• I want the buttons to be consistently placed on each page.
• I want your buttons to define what I get if I press them.
• I want you to give me what I want first and then maybe I will give you what you want.

As you can see, your website is not about you or what you want. It's all about your visitors and what they want and if they can believe that you can give it to them. The common issue for all visitors who come to you is: What do I get from visiting your website?

A website that talks about the products or services clearly earns the trust of its visitors - but it's not enough. You want to get to the point where the visitor will discard the warning signals, lean back and think;”This is a secure place for me to buy things.”

Points that will help your visitors to trust you:

• Show who you are in writing. Tell us about your company. It's interesting for a visitor to know who's running the company. Let a representative of the company be a prominent figure and explain what the pages are about. Always have a ”About us”-page with a short story about your business, the key people and everything else that gives your business credibility. People won't read it particularly careful, but because it's there, you will become more credible.

• Make sure that everything on your website is correctly spelled.

• Address one person. There is one (1) person who comes to your website and to use the word ”you” creates a personal atmosphere. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable online. The more honest you are, the more we will appreciate it. Tell us about the volleyball team you're playing in every week. We are not so interested in what really happened in the last game, but the volleyball team creates a new dimension of yourself that makes you and your website more real.

• Express your personality in pictures. Take pictures of people who work at your company. Take pictures of you. Use your face to make people rely on the content of your website. If you understood how important it is to see who is behind a website, you would call a photographer directly. I strongly believe that one of the reasons that the major distinctive Internet companies fail is because they lack a personal touch. They have no names of people you can contact, no personal email addresses to use and, most importantly, there were no real people visible on the website.

• Show that you are smiling on the website. If you love what you are doing, people will notice this. You must show the customers how important they are to you. Give them a cyberspace smile and a cyberspace handshake and show them that you really launched your website to help them. You have thought about them and you have a solution to their problems.

• Promote yourself by showing that you collaborate with other successful companies. If you have a prominent client, it will make your potential customers will feel much more confident that they can trust you. Never be afraid to showcase the company you are collaborating with on the website.

• Tell us about a mistake you made, but that you also solved - it proves that you are human and professional at the same time and that we can rely on your business.

• See how easy it is to contact you by posting clear contact details on every page. Use email addresses connected to real people. It's much more appealing to write a letter to than making the request to  It seems that many companies think they'll get too much mail if they display their email addresses. Offer a real name to someone who distributes the various issues to people who can answer them in the company. Or better yet, put the names and the functions of each person on the website, so you can write directly to the one you want. Post pictures of all employees so we can see who will be receiving our emails.

• Encourage customers to call or visit you. It's always better to sell face to face than making business with a machine. Show the customers how to find you in the easiest possible way. Post a time table for all bus-and train connections, etc. Make it easy to visit you.

• Work with your texts. Your headline should respond to what the visitor gets, if he/she reads on. Why should I believe you? Why should I buy from you? These are the questions that the visitor will ask. If you can't give a clear answer to these questions, you can put your website on hold for a while and think hard about if you really should have a website.

• Add references to the website. Tell us who you work with and have worked with in the past and tell us what they think about your business. If they haven't told you, ask them. Include references from satisfied customers. It shows that you already have satisfied customers – that's reassuring for all new customers. Always ask permission before using any references.

• Have a privacy policy. Your visitors will ask questions about things that worries them. Why would this company want my address? Why do they want me to subscribe to their newsletter? Why should they have my fax number? Will they sell it to other people? Why should they have my phone number? Will they call me in the middle of dinner and peddle things? A privacy policy is a short statement that tells people what you will do with your visitors' contact information if you receive it. There is nothing wrong in using customer email addresses for databases that can be used by others, but it's wrong not tell the customers about it so that they can make a choice that feels right for them.

• Link strategically to your privacy policy. Add a link to the surrounding order forms, newsletters, etc.

• Tell us what organizations you are a member of, it doesn't matter if it's only the local business association. It creates the impression that you're working for the future, not just a company that will be here today and gone tomorrow.

• After you have captured the visitor's attention and showed them that this is a website that can actually be useful, you need to offer something to make them stick around instead of googling another company that sells similar products/services.
You have to quickly show what you have to offer on the website and why people should care about your business.

• If your target audience is primarily made up of a special group of people, make sure that your website reflects that. Include information that shows that you know the customer market.

• If you click on the links, it's expected that you will come to another page and not get stuck with a sound or image file, or on a page that requires a password page. If there is something downloadable, you should make it easy for the visitor to download the software. If someone writes an e-mail, people expect an answer. There are so many companies that don't even respond to emails. Good for you. This is why you should tell people what will happen if they click on a something, whether it's a link or a button with an email address. If you have something that people need to download, tell them approximately how long it will take. If a visitor wants to write to you, tell them how long it will take before you reply.

• And last, but not least. Show people that your website is alive and not something that was built in 1997 and left to die.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
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