Drive It – Convert It! #9 (podcast): Converting Web Traffic: Part 3: Higher Credibility, Higher Conversions – Trust Me!

(Note: This podcast was originally published 1n 2006 under another domain name –  In 2010, the blog was later migrated to this site.  Some links may be outdated or there may be issues with RSS feeds)

Techniques to build trust and credibility on your site.
The more credible your website, the more trustworthy and capable you will be perceived to be. The more trustworthy and capable you are perceived to be the higher your website conversions.
Web site design and refinement plays a key role in building a site’s trust level and credibility, all which translate into a higher conversion rate.
Suggested Tags: web design, website design, web conversion, online sales, ecommerce, internet marketing, web marketing, trust, credibility
Topics include:
1) Web smarts – today’s street smarts
2) How web visitors judge us
3) Improving credibility and trust
4) Introduction to 50 tips in 20 minutes
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Read a full transcript here …
Hi and welcome to Drive It – Convert It!, for July 14th, 2006. This is episode #9: Converting Web Traffic – Part 3 – Higher Credibility Higher Conversions – Trust Me.
Drive It – Convert It! is the podcast where Small and Medium Sized businesses learn the marketing strategies and tactics behind Driving More Traffic to their website and Converting that Traffic into qualified and leads and sales.
Drive it, convert it.
The more credible your website, the more trustworthy and capable you will be perceived to be. The more trustworthy and capable you’re perceived to be the higher your website conversions.
I’m John Boulter. I’m the president of Bastion Internet. Podcasts, show notes, and transcripts can be found at That’s B A S T I O N Email your comments and questions to
We’re up to part 3 of our series on Converting Web Traffic. If you haven’t listened to Parts 1 and 2 yet (that’s episodes 7 and 8 ) – that’s okay, but I do recommend going back and downloading them. Also, if you didn’t catch the very first episodes of Drive It Convert It (episodes 1 and 2), I highly recommend you give those a listen, too.
Trust and credibility is a fairly extensive topic. So rather than trying to cram it all in – I’m going to cover it in two episodes – this one and episode 10 later this month.
Do you have kids? I have kids – one of my kids is 14 and one is 8. Both their schools recently organized meetings regarding My Space. It seems that with 40,000,000 or whatever number of users they have, My Space has attracted some people that have less than honest and ethical intentions. Of course it’s going to make the news when some 50 year old man tries to lure some 15 year old through the My Space service.
Now I don’t discount the dangers, however, I don’t see that much news coverage about the weird people that hang out at malls or arcades (do they still have arcades), or other places the younger generation can be found.
Now when I was a kid and then a teenager I developed something call street smarts. My parents gave me some initial guidelines (don’t take candy from strangers, don’t help that guy look for his lost puppy). Then I developed a sense- a sense for which streets to avoid riding my bike down. I learned to sense which friendly people were really friendly and which were just sort of creepy.
Now when I got a little older and needed to buy things like a car I started to learn how to tell if people were telling the truth or if they had something to hide. If they were hiding something it was usually either a matter of them being dishonest or were they just hiding the fact that they were inexperienced. They were trying to pass themselves off as knowing more than they did or being more capable then they actually were.
I started to learn what poker players call “tells”.
Tells are mannerisms and movements that tells a person’s true intentions regardless of the words they are saying.
I actually encourage my kids to get involved in online interactions. So much of our world is heading that way that everybody needs to develop online street smarts. You should be starting that at a young age or whatever age you are now and continuing on.
Is that person commenting in your forum just trolling to disrupt or are they leaving a legitimate opinion. Is that email requesting information from a real prospect or is it a competitor. Is that My Space friend a potential confidant or a creepy old man.
Part of online smarts is being able to tell the character and credibility of someone based on their online presence. We all start to look for online “tells” that give us insight into the real character and capability of the online entity we’re dealing with.
Whether we realize it or not, as users of the web we all are developing online street smarts. We are constantly picking up “tells”. Tells in a website we’re looking at, tells in an email we got. More than often, we aren’t even aware of what’s happening. We think we have instinct. We learn to trust our gut. Really, were just learning from experience. There’s actually a neat book out called “Blink” which talks about some of this. It’s written by Malcolm Gladwell. He wrote “The Tipping Point”, too. I’d highly recommend both.
If I’m a visitor to a website – what does the fact that the Copyright says 2003 tell me. Does a broken link reflect a person with bad character. I don’t know. What does that Flash element say about this company – do they respect my time. Is their contact form like a dimly lit street that I don’t want to risk walking down.
Now, as a web professional I’m more interested in making sure that my clients don’t get misclassified or mischaracterized by giving off the wrong signals. I don’t want their “tells” to tell visitors the wrong thing.
My clients are of course experienced, upstanding companies and they deserve a web visitor’s trust. They’re a credible resource for the products and services the sell. Now, some of them are sole proprietors just starting out, some are corporations that have been in business for years and have hundreds of employees.
If you’re my client, it’s my job to make sure you don’t dress funny, you don’t say stupid things that give the wrong impression. It’s my job to portray you in the best possible light. If this were like a job situation, your website is your resume, at a minimum. You need to nail it in order to get the interview. Then you need to nail the interview. Now I’m would never tell you to lie on your resume – that will catch up with you. I am going to tell you how to talk, how to walk, what to play up, what to play down so you get the interview, and the job – or in web vernacular – you convert.
We need to start by looking at how you’ll be judged – how you’ll be evaluated. I call these the four “c”s:
– Capability
– Competence
– Commitment
– Character
Capability: If I’m going to deal with you I want to know you have the capability to deliver what you say you can. I’m going to look for experience, I’m going to look for expertise, do you have a track record.
Competence: I want to know that you are going deliver the right level of quality with minimal hassles to me. This doesn’t just apply to an end sale. It applies to the entire process I’m going to go through with you. Are you going to give me the information I need or the product I order in an efficient manner. Will your delivery be smooth. Are you going to protect my identity, my credit card information, my time.
Commitment: Are you committed to this. If I get involved with you are you going to be around next week when I make my buying decision. Are you going to be around next month when I have a question. Are you going to be around next year when I want to order again.
Character: What will you do if something goes wrong. Do you choose your partners wisely – so if you’re outsourcing part of your process are your partners likely to be trustworthy, too. Will you sell my email address to a spammer.
Now, instead of coming out and telling people that your capable, competent, committed and full of character it will be much more powerful if they just get that feeling from your site. Your tells will consciously and subconsciously tell your website visitor the right things.
The words, the information, the images on your site are going to explain what you do, how you do it and why it’s in their best interest to work with you.
The way you present those words, that information, those images will be your “tells”, they’ll imply capability, competence, commitment, and character.
So what says “we are capable”. Well, you need to show you have expertise. You need to show you have experience (lots of alliteration in this episode isn’t there). You can do this in a couple of ways. First you do it by including sections that show your expertise and experience. Some things that come to mind
Have content displaying knowledge of your subject – pretty straightforward. Normally I recommend this be done in layers. Most people skim a website, but they absolutely notice that there is more there should they want to read it all. You need to have the more on display and a click of a page-down away. So when people tell you to just put the high points in your site because that’s all people read – don’t do it. Extend your pages, link to white papers, downloads, whatever. I agree that people skim, but they will subconsciously know that there’s a whole lot more substance to you if they want to investigate a little further.
Customer testimonials and case studies. This shows a been there, done that, and done it well kind of attitude. People like to know they’re not your guinea pig.
The last one I’ll mention for now is functionality. Functionality on your site is going to reflect how capable you are. You don’t necessarily lose credibility if you have a 10 page site that is simple in design with static HTML content. However, you can get “capability” points by having a few areas of sophistication within the site. Whether its’ site-wide-search capability, database driven content areas, it helps to have something that’s a little beyond run of the mill website stuff.
Competence: What screams “We are competent!”, without screaming it. Once again it’s going to be two-pronged. First, your content describes your knowledge and can provide examples of industry competence.
However, a website that is well thought out and functions smoothly will properly shows your competence. Your ability to get your message across to the web visitor shows you are competent. Links that all work show you are competent. The tough part is that it’s way easier to show you’re incompetent. Often competence is more of a matter of avoiding the pitfalls.
Commitment: We are absolutely committed to this industry. Our website looks like we spent 150 bucks on it and we haven’t updated it in a year, but we are absolutely committed to this industry. We have no physical location but we are absolutely committed to this industry. Now I’m in the business, but if I see a site that looks like it was bought from a template company with a logo and a tagline plugged in that’s just not a good thing. Now, a template can be a fine starting point, but if you cut corners on design, whether your site has a simple design or one that’s really elegant it will show – and what the brain picks up is – no investment, no commitment. That’s just one of a dozen things that show a lack of commitment.
Character: Character is proven over time. However, indications of whether you have a good or bad character are being picked up from the instant you come into contact with someone. I believe you need to be at the top of your peer group without being over-the-top. What do I mean by that. You need to look a lot like everyone else in your space (not My Space – your space), only better. Your goal is to be the belle of the ball.
If your ball is a bunch of 6’s – be an 8. If your industry is full of 4’s – be a six. If your crowd is all 8’s – you better be a 10. If in your industry your competitors are all selling online and you aren’t – that can be a red flag. If none of your competitors sell online and you do – that can be a red flag. If everyone’s site is blue and your’s is orange – that could be a red flag. The trick is to stand out without sticking out. You stick out if you are different in an unusual or bewildering way. You stand out if you are similar but of a higher quality. Take the same track but raise the bar 2 levels.
Now that doesn’t mean you can’t be innovative or a leader in your space. But be careful how far ahead of the pack you get. People, right or wrong, get suspicious of companies that are too different. If you have the time and the right environment – you can explain why you are so much better. But if someone is meeting you for the first time through your site – be conservative at the site.
Now the exception to this is if your industry just sucks from an online perspective. In that case you may want to bump up the bar more than a couple of notches.
Well, we’ve laid down a good basis. Next up is some detailed tips and techniques to get your trust level and credibility way up.
In episode 10 I’m looking to give you 50 tips in 20 minutes. Now usually I get this podcast out about every 2nd week. However, I’m due for a little vacation. But I don’t want to leave you hanging.
I’m going to do my best to get the next podcast out next week – trust me.
Here’s a little preview:
– Use gradients.
– Treat images
– Use proper grammar
– Spell correctly
– Check all links
– Update your copyright year
– Update your content
– List your physical address
– Avoid having a multi-hyphenated-url
– No out-of-the-box templates
– Include testimonials
– Have partial customer lists
– Send order acknowledgements
– Have a privacy policy
– Have shipping rates and policies easily found
– Have tax information easily found
– Make sure SSL certificates work
– Have a customer login area
– Have the shortest forms possible
– Link to credible industry sources
– Use the word “believe” instead of “think”
– and a whole lot more
Well, we’ll slow it down get it organized and add some comments. Don’t worry it will all get clear soon.
So – Subscribe to Drive It – Convert It!, and automatically download episode number 10 when it comes out.
You can follow the subscription links on our site. Or, if you use iTunes, do a search for drive it convert it and pick us up there. I’m John Boulter, for Bastion Internet’s Drive It – Convert It! podcast.
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About JohnB

John Boulter is the President of Bastion Internet and a major contributor to the Drive It - Convert It! website. Avid interest in the web and Internet marketing and a student of life.
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