Let’s pretend that someone has stumbled upon your website and happens to be looking for exactly what you have to offer. They can afford you. They are in a buying mood. Just for giggles, let’s say they have to purchase by the end of the day.
But they don’t buy from you. Why?
The traffic game
You might be like many businesses that invest significant advertising dollars and marketing effort into funneling web traffic to their site. Your web design may be sleek and on-trend, your web copy may pop, but you’re missing an piece of the puzzle that means web traffic isn’t translating into sales.
The truth is, your website must establish your credibility and engender trust in your reader if they are to buy from you. And while trust and credibility are subjective and obscure, you can foster both quite easily with these six techniques.
Think about the last few times you’ve received a quote from a company. If the figure was a round number, chances are you suspected they were rounding up. If the figure was quite precise, such as $2455, you’re far more likely to believe the quote was accurate.
More precise numbers appear more accurate, and credible, because they give the impression that someone has gone to the trouble of sorting through data to accurately record the results.
We all make snap judgments based on how accurate things appear. While most won’t bother to double-check accuracy never assume that people won’t check up on the validity of your claims. If a Google search and a bit of commonsense exposes you as a liar, that’s a lot of wasted effort gone into building trust that is quickly destroyed.
Sometimes precision can also trump other signals. Consider the ad below. The design is spammy but the advertiser has been specific – in the number, and in the location. This level of detail makes the viewer far more likely to trust that the ad is, indeed, accurate and legit.
Anecdotes are not evidence
Personal stories are very useful to use in business writing for a number of reasons. They give colour and interest to readers, they make you more relatable and, over time, they help develop relationships and build your online tribe.
But they don’t build credibility or trust in isolated incidents when your web visitor is new to your site, or if you’re not adept at weaving them into data, statistics and other supporting evidence.
The best kind of business blogging weaves amusing anecdotes and intimate details with relevant statistics towards insightful conclusions. This killer combination draws the reader in, builds rapport, establishes credibility, and builds trust. A strategically placed link to a sales page and – presto! – you’ve got yourself a sale.
Statistics and technical details are easy to find – start with the Australian Bureau of Statistics or an industry publication or association relevant to your field.
One juicy statistic on which to hang an insight is enough to craft a wowing blog or sales page.
Keep your eyes out on mainstream media for articles that are indirectly related to your field – journalists are adept at turning dry data into a newsworthy article and, with enough time and practice, you will be too.
The quickest and easiest way to destroy your credibility is to embrace hyperbole. Unfortunately, hyperboles are in fashion. But reason never goes out of style, and reason stands that hyperboles are, by definite, false.
You simply cannot speak for everyone. Your business will not be a perfect match for all people and suggesting otherwise will destroy trust quicker than a door slams in a steak salesman’s face.
Not only are hyperboles unlikely true, but they also smell like the swagger of false confidence.
Use social proof
Wonder why businesses display those Facebook boxes on their websites that show their fan numbers and the smiling faces of strangers? Because they provide ‘social proof’ to web visitors that this business is ‘liked’ by others.
Regardless that testimonials can be doctored and Google reviews paid for, we are pack animals seeking social clues to determine whether or not a business is trustworthy. Testimonial quotes used midway through a sales page, photos of Facebook fans and Google Plus circle numbers indicate that your business has the tacit approval of others. And others count.
Argue against your interests
We know that businesses can be self-interested. We may suspect, as web visitors scrolling through a business website, that this business wants our dollars at all costs. We may believe that, given the chance, an over-eager salesperson would harangue us for our commitment and credit card details.
So it surprises us when a business argues against its apparent self-interests. And it works.
When we argue why people shouldn’t buy from us – particularly phrases such as “This is not for you if …” – it makes us appear honest and credible. It’s clearly in our interests to encourage sales, so why would we suggest that people not buy unless we were totally honest, open and trustworthy?
There are a couple more benefits of arguing against your interest too.
First, suggesting situations or people where purchasing isn’t recommended means you are discouraging those who won’t get a great result from you. The more you can discourage people who are a bad fit away from your business, skewing higher customer satisfaction as a result.
Second, suggesting that people shouldn’t buy makes what you have that much more appealing. Things that are difficult to purchase (but not too difficult that people abandon their purchase from exasperation) and things that are limited or rare are far more attractive.
So go ahead and discourage people.
Too often in business, we’re so well-versed in why people could, or would, or should buy, that we give little to no thought on why they don’t. Knowing the multi-layers of value your business offers is pretty useless without also knowing what people fear.
It’s fear that stops people purchasing. It’s fear that wastes your web traffic dollars. It’s fear that unravels the most brilliant marketing plans.
If someone is ready to buy what you sell but doesn’t, it’s the fear that you won’t deliver on your promise that stops them. It’s lack of trust and credibility in your ability to deliver the benefits that your business promises.
The final step towards of entering their credit card details is another key moment of anxiety – anxiety which often leads to an abandoned shopping cart. So allay fears with small additions around the shopping cart, such as guarantees (with credible detail), contact details (with a landline number), and a graphic badge of your site security if you use it, such as ‘Secured by Securi’.
Too often businesses make the mistake of trying to bypass the flirtation of social media, the dating of email marketing and caress of phone contact. Their website reads like the door-to-door salesman, haranguing the hapless homemaker into purchasing, now! At all costs!
Become familiar with the flipside of trust – fear. Get to know the many and varied fear points that influence people not to buy. Then subtly address these throughout your site, while building trust and credibility in your business.
Remember that your job is not only to make sales – it’s also to build trust that will fuel your business’s longevity.