strategies posted in business strategies  on 13 May 2009
by Andrew Lang 
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Short-Term and Long-Term Trust

A couple of years ago I wrote an article about trust (How to look like a trusted website). The article title seems a bit dodgy - surely if you ARE trustworthy, then you will LOOK trustworthy? Not always so. A lot of people run their businesses honestly and sincerely, looking after their customer's best interests because that coincides with their best interests. However, they cannot effectively communicate their trustworthiness to their first time website visitors.

Look at it like this : there are two types of trust - short-term and long-term.

Short-term trust means people like what they see so far, but want some kind of verification to move onto long-term trust - maybe a trial of your product, maybe a guarantee or warrantee, maybe it's gained from a few friendly phone calls. Maybe it's none of these things for some people, and it just takes TIME to give you a deeper trust.

However, attention spans are forever shrinking, so you need to give a good first impression to a casual and fickle website visitor to try and win their short-term trust. I listed some ways to do this in my previous article (keep info up-to-date, write accurately in terms of facts and grammar, write about topics you are enthusiastic about, keep your writing style informal, keep your contact info in plain view etc). All this advice still holds true of course (and the full list can be found on the linked-to article), however there are some new tips to help win over your website visitor's trust:-
  • Extend the registration of your domain to the maximum it will go - sometimes up to 10 years into the future. puresilva.com's reg date currently expires on 17th March 2017. This earns you a little bit of trust from the search engines. Why is this? Securing your domain for up to 10 years can cost between 75-300 depending on your TLD (top level domain e.g. .com). Normally fly-by-night companies register no more than a year or two into the future because such nefarious operations by their nature do not last longer than a few months - and quite often they don't need the trust of the search engines for their website's purpose. So registering your domain for a lengthy period is one signal to the search engines that you COULD possibly be trusted.
  • Get live chat on your site (like puresilva.com). It shows there are real people operating the site, quite often in realtime while you are visiting it
  • Offer guarantees, if possible. Many people, even at the point of purchase, are quite often conflicted with their actions. There's often a twinge of doubt when a purchase is made. Have I made the right decision? Can I REALLY afford this?! Offering a guarantee let's people know they can change their mind. Most people don't, but you'll get more sales by giving them the chance to. This point very much depends on what you sell.
  • We all know now that companies come and go. Some of the biggest banks have folded, car companies and huge tour operators have gone bankrupt overnight. So a big concern for many shoppers is after-sales service - is the company EVEN going to be around to offer it a few months down the line?! Get your company credit-checked and display your credit score on your site. An example of this is one of our customers' sites - Stop Garden Moles - they have been verified by the CheckRate.co.uk service so everyone who visits their site knows they are credit worthy. They have also have their credit rating displayed on their other 9 pest control sites. This has made a marked increase in their sales conversion rate.
Overall, trust is a hugely important factor for your business. I know this only too well, since the questions asked of puresilva normally revolve around trust issues : "How long have you been in business? What are your future plans? Is there a money back guarantee? Do you backup our website, and how often if so?" And of course, they evaluate our template to make sure it does what we say it does :)

The good news is people WANT to trust you and your business - it's just a question of anticipating, and alleviating, the doubts people may have.

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