Drive It – Convert It! #10 (podcast): Converting Web Traffic: Part 4: Building Trust – 50 Tips in 20 Minutes

(Note: This podcast was originally published 1n 2006 under another domain name – bastioninternet.com/blog.  In 2010, the blog was later migrated to this site.  Some links may be outdated or there may be issues with RSS feeds)
Continuation of episode #9 – Techniques to build trust and credibility on your web site.
Trust and credibility translates into website conversions. Here are 50 tips to help you build your web site’s credibility rating.
Suggested Tags: web design, website design, web site conversion, online sales, ecommerce, internet marketing, web marketing, trust, credibility
The 50 tips are separated into 9 categories
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Read a full transcript here …

Hi and welcome to Drive It – Convert It!, for July 21st, 2006. This is episode #10: Converting Web Traffic – Part 4 – Building Trust – 50 Tips in 20 Minutes.
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 leads and sales.
Drive it, convert it.
The more people trust you, the more credibly you come across, the more likely people will be to do business with you. Your website is no different.
I’m John Boulter. I’m the president of Bastion Internet. Podcasts, show notes, and transcripts can be found at BastionInternet.com/podcast. That’s B A S T I O N internet.com/podcast. Email your comments and questions to podcast@bastioninternet.com.
This podcast is a direct continuation of episode #9. I would definitely recommend you listen to it in order to get some background to the subject of trust on the web. However, if your like me and don’t mind diving right in without all the background – they I say keep listening and catch up later.
Today, I’m going to give you 50 tips in 20 minutes. As you can imagine, I won’t be going into a lot of detail on each one. That’s okay though. The real objective is to get you thinking about your website and the trust and credibility it invokes. Each specific tip is just one more thing you can do to throw the odds in your favor.
Now I’ll be surprised if anyone agrees with all of my tips did. Trust is typically based on past experience. We’ve all had different experiences, so the factors that trigger our trust (or lack of it), will be different for each of us.
I compiled my list from my own experiences of 20 years in technology marketing and customer interaction – the last 10 of which have been in the Internet marketing space. I regularly talk to other industry experts, I research and read reports on the subject and have also done a fair bit of research in general psychology.
Even with that impressive background I’ll miss a few things. If you think you catch one I didn’t, or you vehemently disagree with one – drop an email to podcast@bastioninternet.com. I’d love to hear from you.
And remember, not all tips will apply to all sites.
I’ve separated the tips into 9 different categories. Nothing special about the number 9, just happened that that is how they seemed to split out.
So let’s start our clocks and let the tips fall where they may:
Category 1 – Stay current: If you look old and outdated your credibility suffers. This applies to design trends and content – so:
– Update your copyright year: nothing spells old and outdated like a 2003 copyright in 2006. Change it each year.
– Update your content: Go through your site every 6 months and freshen up your words a little. It might help your search ranking, too.
– Don’t use old-style technology and techniques: Get rid of anchor pages, animated .gifs, frames. They are all from a bygone era.
– Don’t have a “reset button” on your forms: Oh my gosh, if I can reset a form on your page, I am so out of there. It just smells of a site that hasn’t been updated in years.
– Don’t have anything that blinks: blinking bad, blinking bad, blinking bad. Not blinking good.
– Avoid “click here”: The words “click here” used to be instructive, now they are just unimaginative and annoying.
– Avoid being too trendy: Trendy is not current. It’s doing stuff for the sake of newness.
– Be trendy: I know I just said not to be trendy, but go ahead a be a little trendy here and there. It shows you’re paying attention. Just don’t be too trendy.
Category 2 – Pay attention to detail: If you’re sloppy on your website, it’s assuming you’re sloppy in your business, too. Here come the tips:
– Use proper grammar: For people that notice bad grammar, it will stand out like a sore thumb. Writing for the web is more conversational then writing for your English teacher, but watch the sloppy stuff. Don’t just do it good – do it well.
– Spell correctly: Just a sign of sloppiness and another brick in the wall of poor credibility. Spell check, baby, and then proof read. Homonyms can cost you business.
– Check all links: Have you got broken links. Is that the best you can do.
– Check navigation in other browsers and platforms: This is a little tougher, but at least check the most popular browsers for proper display and functionality of your website.
Category 3 – Be easy to read: People that play their cards close to their chests want to beat you in poker. People that don’t mind being easy to read are people you can usually trust – so:
– Have shipping rates and policies that are easy to find: Nothing like a nasty $20 shipping charge at the end of my $10 shopping cart purchase to set me off. I’d like to do a little research before I start a process, so please let me.
– Have tax information easily found: One of the great benefits to buying off the Internet is there is often no tax. Don’t make me go all the way through the checkout process to find out if you charge tax in my state.
– Don’t be tricky: If I think you’re trying to trick me in one place, I’ll think you’re trying to trick my every place.
– Don’t host ads: This is going to be tough for some of you. Is your site a real site or is it just here to get me to click on a Google ad. Is it really worth the money. If you’ve got that much traffic that your Ad Sense is paying, you’ve got enough traffic to convert a lot of sales in your primary business.
– Be consistent: I don’t mind dealing with “characters” but I don’t want to deal with schizophrenics. If you’re website is a little wacky, ok. Just be whacky in the same way throughout the site. If it looks like 5 different people designed 5 different parts, your not to be trusted.
– “But” out: Minimize the use of the word “but” b – u – t . It’s like arguing or hedging your bet. It’s rarely describes something in the other persons best interest. Replace it with alternatives like “however” or “although”. You don’t want to be argumentative or manipulative do you.
Category 4 – Give respect: If you respect me, you’ll likely do right by me. Show me respect by doing the following:
– Have the shortest forms possible. You respect my time and aren’t trying to pump me for personal information.
– Minimize your use of .pdf’s. Few things spells disrespect more than enticing me to click on a link and my seeing Adobe Acrobat start to boot up. I hate it. Others hate it.
– Let users know if they are clicking on a .pdf. So if you absolutely have to link to a .pdf, give a warning.
– Don’t default to sound. It’s pretty obvious, however, I want to make sure I’ve included it. If you choose to have sound play, make it the non-default option.
– Know your audience and their tastes. If you have a clear audience, design for them. Make them feel comfortable in your home.
– Write to your audiences’ level. Do this or you’ll either sound pedantic or real real dumb.
Category 5 – Look like a duck: There’s an old saying; if something looks like a duck, acts like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s probably a duck. Do things like other companies in your space and of your quality (or of the quality you’d like to be), do.
– List your physical address: real companies have one.
– Avoid (dash) having (dash) multi (dash) hyphenated (dash) URLs: I know it sucks that so many people have squatted on all the good domain names, but the spammer sites tend to have multi-hyphened URLs – don’t be mis-categorized to be one of them.
– Send order acknowledgements. Immediate order acknowledgements on eCommerce sites are standard for credible, well established Internet commerce sites. Be like them.
– Have a customer login area. Even if it doesn’t go anywhere for now. Is this a little deceitful, maybe, but it’s quack has a nice ring to it.
– Have a jobs page: Successful companies need employees, don’t you.
– Take credit cards. Well established eCommerce sites take credit cards. If you’re just taking PayPal – maybe your too little, or too simple to do business with.
– Don’t have an all Flash site: You want to dare to be different, well dare to have low market share, too. Few flash sites are like one another. Most solid companies don’t have them. That doesn’t mean that companies with Flash sites aren’t solid. It just means it’s not the norm.
– Don’t look hokey or too slick: You want to stand out from the crowd, not stick out from the crowd. People don’t trust things that are too far away from the norm.
– Have some boring, never read pages (like Our Philosophy, Mission Statement, About Us,). It gives a sense that you have a level of reliable (although boring), people helping to keep your business doing business.
– Match your industry’s theme: Once again, you want to do it better than others in your industry, not different. Unless of course, your industry is on the low low end of the website quality spectrum.
Category 6 – Show commitment: Committed people see you through the tough times. Non committed people take the money and run. How do we show we’re committed:
– Treat images. Pictures should have a border, they should be file-size optimized, preferably they’ll have captions, and maybe have a graphical treatment overlaid on them. It shows you don’t mind investing some extra time and money because you’re in this for the long run.
– No out-of-the-box templates: Nothing says I’ll be gone in a week, then a nice purchased template.
– Include “trust” logos. They can be a little trite, but they show you took the time. Verisign, Better Business Bureau.
– Show that you do something other than have a website. Talk about events you’ve done, articles you’ve written, associations you’re a part of. Do a podcast, do a webcast. Write newsletters. You need to show you’re more than just a website.
– Avoid stupid technology (frames, stretching tables, you name it). I have a high resolution monitor. If your content stretches to fit it, I end up looking at a 15 inch long sentence – it’s unreadable, so I don’t read it. If you still have a frame based site – you likely don’t have commitment to your website. You need to invest to change that.
– Host your own shopping cart. Taking the easy way out smacks of a “proof of concept” website. Call me when you’ve proved your concept and plan to stick around.
– Properly repurpose other media content you’re using. If you took your old sales letter and stuck it up there as your main converting page, you really haven’t invested much time or energy to be here. If you want me to look at some touched up PowerPoint, look for someone else.
– Invest in design. People don’t always notice if things don’t have gradients, if they don’t line up, if pictures and images are low quality, they just get a feeling of walking into an old, shoddy store.
Category 7 – Been there, done that. If you’ve done it before, you’re likely to do it again. Show them you’ve been there and done that – here’s how:
– Include testimonials. Hey, customers have dealt with you and like you. That counts.
– Have partial customer lists. Hey, you’ve got customers. I guess this isn’t a brand new business for you.
– List some Frequently Asked Questions. Make sure they’re frequently asked questions: This isn’t some backhanded type of sales copy page. “How do you keep your prices so low”. This page shows you’ve had lots of customers asking intelligent questions and you want prospective customers to get those answers, too.
Category 8 – Watch their back. Hey if someone cares about watching my back, I’m going to trust them. How do we show it:
– Have a privacy policy: Keep it simple. Keep it direct.
– Make sure SSL certificates work: I guess it goes without saying that you should have one if you’re collecting sensitive information. Now make sure it’s not expired and that it works for both the www or non-www version of your site.
– Don’t ask for Driver’s License, Social Security, and Credit Card numbers unless you have properly protected SSL certificate areas. Enough said on that one.
– Include privacy taglines and information snippets wherever you ask for personal information. Put a little tagline and link beside sensitive areas. For example, on your contact form beside the email box, tell people you don’t sell or distribute email address and link to your privacy page.
Category 9 – Have confidence
– Use the word “believe” instead of “think”: I believe you’ll find this tip beneficial. Notice I didn’t say “I think you’ll find this tip beneficial”. Hear the difference.
– Make the first interaction an easy one. I believe a User will want to come back to your site if you make the first interaction an easy one. That builds trust.
– Write in a conversational style: I don’t need to hide behind formality. There are real people behind our website. Real people talk like real people.
Done!
For those of you who were counting – I just gave you 52 tips in 19 minutes.
So did my credibility take a hit because I didn’t do exactly what I said I would – 50 tips in 20 minutes – or do you trust me more because I believe in under promising and over delivering.
Hmmm…. you may want to think about that one. While you’re thinking about that – consider subscribing to Drive It – Convert It!, and automatically download episode number 11 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.
Visit us at bastioninternet.com or Email us at podcast@bastioninternet.com. I’ll get back to you – trust me.

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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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