When it comes to establishing trust, it doesn’t matter how compelling your calls-to-action are, how engaging your content is, or how quickly your pages load on mobile screens. If visitors to your site have any doubts about how trustworthy you are, they’ll bounce right out and never come back.
Especially in the B2B sector, where the customer journey is increasingly self-service and often involves several months of careful deliberation, trust is a deal-breaking prerequisite for any sort of relationship building process.
In fact, while nearly half of us trust doctors and firefighters, only 3% trust salespeople and marketers, according to a HubSpot study. So basically, our profession barely outranks stockbrokers, car salespeople, and politicians when it comes to trust. Even lawyers and baristas command more trust than we do.
What is it about these brands that makes one competitor more trustworthy than another? The data doesn’t offer any definitive answers, but there are plenty of measures you can take right now to maximize the impression of trustworthiness that your website exudes.
Here are seven tactics to try, as suggested by HubSpot:
1) Use authentic images.
Horribly generic and formulaic stock photos are everywhere. While there’s nothing wrong with using carefully curated stock imagery in the right places, it’s much better to favor website visuals that look like they were actually taken of you and your team in real situations. Stock photos can get expensive, too. To truly maximize your site’s visual authenticity, you may want to consider hiring a professional photographer to take photos of your staff, products, and office. This way, you still get quality that will display well on your website and work well for other content assets, but authenticity will shine through to your audience.
At InSilico, we HATE those “staged” stock images. We find the most organic, natural images we can that best represent your brand.
2) Provide social proof via testimonials.
Social proof plays a big role in creating trust. Reach out to your clients every time you complete a project and ask them to provide feedback for display on your website. Whenever possible, include a photo of the person, which helps to drive home the authenticity to the testimonial. Here’s an example of a visually compelling testimonial from the homepage of Sisense, a leading business intelligence software provider.
We understand how awkward it feels to ask your customers for testimonials. In fact, we’re guilty of letting this slide as well. However, we’re getting better at it, and we know if we can do it, you can too!
3) Create helpful content resources.
No one likes a constant sales pitch, and most visitors won’t be anywhere near ready to buy the first time they visit your website, anyway. Instead of content that screams, “Buy these products now, because they’re the most awesome things ever!”, aim to publish resources that show the benefit of your product or service, without overtly selling. Creating helpful content, designed to help solve audience problems and address their pain points, is critical when building trust.
We have a separate resource library for our clients. Once they sign up with us, we provide a multitude of information sources to help them understand our efforts and how we’re working to help them grow.
4) Provide social proof via media logos.
Earned media commands more trust than messages on paid or owned properties. Sure, we all know that in the age of “native advertising,” the lines between journalism and sponsored promotions have blurred, but there’s still a certain mystique in being able to say that The Washington Post, for example, has found your company noteworthy enough to mention it in an article.
Those “as seen on” montages of publisher logos that you see on many B2B websites are great for boosting confidence at a glance. Are you getting any decent press? Make sure your website visitors know about it.
If you’ve been published in the newspaper, or in a magazine – BRAG ABOUT IT!
5) Provide social proof via client and partner logos.
We’ve already touched on how important social proof is, but the opportunities here extend well beyond testimonials and media logos. You can also use client and partner logos to show who your allies are. People will recognize larger brands, but even unknowns can make an impression.
Sometimes this isn’t feasible in highly competitive, dog-eat-dog environments. We get it.
6) Include microcopy that sets expectations intuitively.
Behind all mistrust is fear of the unknown. Make it abundantly clear to your site visitors what’s going to happen when they click on your site’s various tabs, CTA buttons, and links. And make sure your navigation labels are extremely intuitive. Quick disclaimers and labels below buttons are useful, too. If a prospect chooses to opt in to your email list, how often should they expect to hear from you? Will you sell them out to a telemarketing agency, or will you keep their contact information under wraps?
Nothing’s worse than unsolicited emails, or too many emails. Once, our CEO, Nicole Sheridan, signed up for email marketing from OldNavy.com. After receiving 2-3 emails a day, she could not “unsubscribe” because the feature was “temporarily broken”. She ended up reporting them as Spam. Old Navy! … imagine that.
7) Put the audience in the center of stories you tell.
When you write content, or have someone write your content for you, make sure to use the word “you.” It works as a placeholder for the reader’s name, which helps to disarm people and help them be more receptive to your message. Research suggests that some people were more likely to marry someone with the same initials as them — that’s how powerful your name is. On the other hand, using a person’s name too much comes off as creepy, so you have to be careful with it. “You” places the reader in your content as if you are speaking directly to them and involving them, without the risks of using their name too much.
You have to give your customer a reason to read what you’re writing. Period.