Recently I did a presentation at NSW Micro Biz Week with Michelle Gamble, Lara Solomon and Paul Wallbank and spoke about … you guessed it … online marketing.

For the first half of the talk I spoke about high level strategy and the 5 C’s to online success, and for the second half I covered some specific quick tips.

This is the first in a series of posts covering these 5 C’s to succeeding online.

1. Credibility.

The starting point for someone arriving at your website for the first time is usually from a place of mistrust. They assume you are not trust worthy. You need to build their trust. From scratch.

This may not be entirely true, in that they think you’re  total fraud, but this mindset can be helpful to get you to take proactive steps to increase the credibility of your website.

However, if you think about your website in this way, you will go a long way to improving conversions. I encourage business owners to think of ALL their ‘real world’ credibility and make sure ALL of it is represented on their website.

Once you start brainstorming, the process gets easier and easier. And it may well be the best investment in your online marketing that you will ever make.

I challenge you to make a list of 10 credibility indicators you could add to your website.

Before we get into examples of these indicators, it goes without saying you need a well laid-out website (information architecture), pleasing design (portrays your brand accurately), well written copy AND strong calls to action. Without these (a complex area indeed, and a subject of squillions of books, courses, webinars & consultants) you are doomed to fail.

But let’s get into it. How many of these do you have, and what additional credibility indicators could you add?

  1. Landline phone number on every page. Mobile/cell numbers scream “I’m a one man band operating from home in my pajamas”. If that’s your intention, that’s fine. But for most businesses that’s not the image you’re looking to portray. A Skype landline number is cheap and easy to set up. aA premium 1300 number (routed to anywhere of your choosing) is even better.
  2. Physical address on every page (I like at the top of every page – so that it’s very visible). A P.O Box number also screams “operating from home”.  Again, if that’s OK with your target market, so be it. Virtual offices are pretty cheap too. You can add human call answering, which is a nice professional touch if you can’t pick up all calls. (A few weeks ago I was looking for some high-end PC speakers and had a technical question. Blow me down if I couldn’t find a phone number. Eventually after hunting around, I found it. The call went to message bank – during business hours. No one there, not even to take a message. I don’t have to tell you if I made the purchase or not.)
  3. Full descriptions of your products/services. A web developer with one small paragraph on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is not going to persuade too many people that you’ve deciphered Google’s algorithm. More likely you’re just a reseller of someone else’s service. I might as well find an expert.
  4. ‘About Us’ page – People buy from people not websites. Visitors want to know who is behind the business. The more info the better. Include detail about why you’re in business. Your passion is contagious!
  5. FAQs – Detailed FAQs give you an opportunity to prove you know your stuff.
  6. Customer testimonials. You may think you’re awesome. But who cares what you think. Show me what your customers think. You can’t have too many testimonials. Adding actual names (and pics) improves believability because you could actually call them. Video is even better. And remember you don’t need to put them in one place. You can use in different places, and multiple places, on your website.
  7. Business awards. If you’ve bribed a judge or two and won a business  award, shout it from the roof tops. (The winning part, not the bribing part.)
  8. Industry regulations. Including links to and information about regulations of your industry proves you understand your market and raises trust instantly.
  9. Media. Have you appeared in the newspapers or on TV? You legend! Make sure you include the media logos, and links to this valuable content. (If it was an investigation by a trashy 6pm TV show, perhaps not – rather find a reputation management consultant to suppress the search engine results.)
  10. Membership of industry associations. Include their logos and what your involvement is – especially if you’re on any committees.
  11. Contact Us’ page – It’s simple, you have to have one. Include all contact details, addresses, maps etc
  12. Commitment to learning – If you’re in any industry that requires continual learning, include any activities your staff undertake to keep up to date.
  13. Guarantees – If you provide any guarantee for your product or service make sure you include it on your website, and make it easy to find. (If you don’t have a guarantee, why not?)
  14. Privacy policy – Every website needs a policy explaining how they deal with their website visitors’ privacy. While I haven’t used this service to create a privacy policy personally, it looks useful.
  15. Email address from your business domain. This one drives me nuts. If you’re sending business emails from an ISP address (eg Optus, Bigpond or Gmail) rather than your own domain, you’re doing your business a massive disservice. Included with your website hosting will be domain email addresses. (eg enquiry AT rather than cleverclicks AT Get it sorted.
  16. Social media profiles. If you’re active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube or other services, include these links so prospects can get to know you and start a relationship.

I hope this list will get you thinking about improving trust and credibility on your site. Most of these don’t cost much, it’s more about the time to implement, but I offer my (incredible) personal 1 beer/wine guarantee that by adding a few of these indicators you will provide a big boost to your conversion rates.

What are your thoughts? What have I left off?

Next post will look at the 2nd “C” of succeeding online. Stay tuned.

By Philip Shaw

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