It’s official: people have changed the way they buy. With the information literally at their fingertips, they no longer rely on salesmen as their sole source for answers. Long gone are the days of sleazy car dealers changing the numbers on the odometer. Long gone are the days where your sales person did the whole job and the website served only as a brochure. With the internet at your prospect’ disposal, you now have to do something very very important before you start selling. You have to earn their trust.
Your prospects must first establish that you are a trustworthy company before they consider your product or service. They need to be sure that you will not try to rip them off and that your product or service is what you say it is. And you have to be able to do this without ever speaking to them in person. Sounds impossible? It’s not; it’s not only possible, it’s very doable. Here are 5 things you can do to start.
1. Stay Away from Blackhat SEO
SEO blackhats are essentially tricks that companies use in order to game Google’s algorithm and get to rank higher in the search engine page results. While these blackhats may bring a lot of traffic to your website, they also have a super high bounce rate and a super low conversion rate. The biggest blackhat that affects your prospects’ trust is the bait and switch.
In the bait and switch, you optimize your website for a popular keyword even though it might not be relevant to your company. For example, let’s say “cute puppies in hats” is a popular keyword. The National Rifle Association would optimize their website for “cute puppies in hats” to attract more traffic since it’s more popular than “guns and ammo”. Now they have a lot more traffic coming to their website, but when those puppy-lovers reach the NRA website well… we all know what happens.
So even though these scams can bring you more traffic, they also have a high bounce rate and a low conversion rate because you’re promising people something you can’t deliver. You are not the answer to their problem. Google’s new Penguin algorithm update specifically works on discovering and penalizing blackhats.
Optimizing your website for relevant keywords (even if they are long-tail and not-so-popular) might attract less traffic, but it would have a lower bounce rate and a higher conversion rate because the traffic would be more qualified. When your prospects see that you offer exactly what they are looking for, they are more likely to trust you and take your into their consideration.
2. Use Real Photos and Real Names
Who are you more likely to trust: a faceless, nameless logo or the smiling, brown-eyed face of Suzie Brooks? People are more likely to relate to your company if they think of it as a group of people working to meet their needs. It stops being nameless and faceless building and transforms into their friend that they know and trust. Here are some things you can do:
Replace all stock photos with real company photos. The beautiful, happy multi-cultural group photo has been abused and no one believes it. Instead use photos of your own staff, in your own offices, using your own product, working, or having fun.
Let’s take HubSpot as an example. HubSpot take all of their photos. Even their homepage banner is a photo of one of their employees. As you browse through their website, you start having a sense of understanding of who they are. HubSpot stops being a faceless corporation and becomes a group of people that you know. This makes you more likely to work with them because you feel comfortable.
Place employee photos in the About Us page. Have a photo there along with a brief biography of the person: their background, their duties, their hobbies, etc. Your prospects would know exactly who they’re working with, which will make them more comfortable.
Place photos of your blog’s authors on your blog page. People are more likely to believe what you’re saying if they can see who’s saying it.
Rosetta features photos of all of their authors in the right column of their blog page. If you click on one of the photos, it will take you to a page about the author so you can know more about him/her and what his/her expertise is. Now you trust him/her a lot more!
Encourage your employees to use their personal social media accounts to interact with customers. This is a little bit like seeing your co-workers outside of the office. You connect on a personal level, not just a professional one. This will add a huge plus in the trust department. HubSpot provides a great tool to integrate your employees’ social media accounts with the company’s.
3. Use Client Testimonials
You’ve heard this time and time again. Client testimonials are the perfect way of showing your prospects that your product or service works. They’ll see that someone before them has tested it and was satisfied with the results, which will relieve some anxiety they might be having. Ask your recent customers for a brief testimonial on how they feel about the product or service and pick out the ones you feel are most informative. The testimonials must be:
Specific: testimonials like “It’s great!” or “The best ever!” won’t do. The more specific they are, the better. They must talk about specific end-benefits, specific advantages, or specific pros that are unique to your product or service. If you want, you can prepare a list of questions that your customer can answer, then format into one paragraph. The questions can be “What did you enjoy most about our product/service?” “What did you think about the process?” “Why would you recommend our product/service to a friend?”. You can even ask what they didn’t like about it, that way you can improve.
From Real People: you can always create fake testimonials but that is as bad as using SEO blackhats, maybe even worse. You’re trying to gain your prospects’ trust, why would you lie to them? If someone decided to Google the customer’s name and come up blank, that would reflect horribly on your company. Always make sure to state the full name, job title, and company website of your customer. It would help to have a photo of them too. Ideally, you can have experts in your domain provide you with a testimonial. It would be similar to having a celebrity endorsement.
Visible: place the testimonials in visible locations across your website. You have to have the best one on your homepage, but you can also add in more specific testimonials where you see fit. For example, if someone provided a testimonial for your product, place it on the product page.
Here are 2 awesome examples of client testimonials.
Basecamp made sure their testimonials were loud and clear. They went for a full upper body image and a speech bubble. The testimonial communicated specific end-benefits. The person has a name (hello Victoria!) and they link back to her company (Quite Strong indeed). They also placed it right next to the call to action to give you that extra motivation you need to sign up.
Toastmasters International opted for the sincerest form of testimonials: the video. While the video is more difficult to view (it needs to load and you have to sit there and watch the whole thing), it projects the most sincerity. You can see that these are real people, they mention who they are, you can hear their voice, see their facial expressions. They also put the video on the homepage and above the fold so it’s very very visible.
4. Less Talk About You and More About Them
You know that douchebag that always talks about himself and never listens to you? Don’t be that guy. People won’t trust you if you don’t listen to them and talk about their wants and needs. Use your blog and social media to address their pains and offer them solutions that can help. Talk about subjects that appeal to their interest. Ask yourself “what do my buyers want to learn more about?” Remember that the answer isn’t “me” or “my company”.
5. Apply to Google Authorship
Speaking of using real images and real names, there’s one more tool you can take advantage of: Google Authorship. With Google Authorship, you can have your headshot and your name appear next to your blog article in search results.
Eyes naturally gravitate to more colorful images, which means that your prospect’s eyes will gravitate to your link even if it isn’t at the top of the page. Having your photo there also provides transparency and credibility. Not to mention it looks a lot cooler.
Signing up is very simple, all you have to do is click here. HubSpot wrote an awesome detailed article about this, check it out if you want to know more details.