7 Trust Killing Mistakes to Avoid Making When Selling Online

Ed Leake
August 23, 2016 ·
7 Trust Killing Mistakes to Avoid Making When Selling Online

In a world rife with online scams, phishing sites and get-rich-quick ploys, building trust and confidence with your customers is ever more crucial.

Satisfied people tell one person about their good experience; dissatisfied people tell everybody.

Therefore, if you’re running an online store, building trust should be at the very top of your ‘to-do’ list. And why is that exactly?

Trust converts.

To build trust in your store, put these 7 critical steps on your list!

1. Associate Your Business with Trusted Brands

Associate Your Business with Trusted Brands

Nothing breeds trust like trust…

For example, you will look more attractive to consumers if you accept payment through major credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. It would also benefit your store to accept PayPal payments and electronic cheques/checks.

Secure, familiar payment gateways are one of the simplest ways to calm shopper nerves. What’s the most valuable asset of a transaction, from the customer’s side? Their money, and if you put that in safe hands, you’re off to a good start.

People also put a lot of faith in Amazon star ratings.

It may feel like you’re feeding the beast, but offering your products on Amazon enables you to take advantage of positive ratings to leverage other people’s trust.

There’s nothing like a positive review to build trust in new customers. A visual recognition of trusted seals builds more trust and ensures security to customers navigating your site.

In summary, borrow trust:

  • Credit card logos such as Visa, MasterCard, Amex etc.
  • List your product awards and brand association logos
  • Put products on Amazon to generate star ratings and reviews
  • Show off logos from media outlets that have talked about you
  • Validate with numbers such as total products, customer count etc.
  • Highlight social share numbers on homepage
  • What brands you carry/stock
  • Solicit testimonials

2. Show Your Real Side

Show Your Real Side

Sure – it’s obvious – but there are numerous ecommerce sites out there that still don’t get the simple things right.

Give details about your business to verify that it is, in fact, a business.

Don’t assume because Amazon doesn’t have these details at high-visibility that you can get away with being scant on them too.

When you reach Amazon’s summit and share their levels of brand recognition, then you can perhaps stop worrying about the basics.

For now: consider that when a new customer hits your store, they’ll be asking themselves many questions. Key of which will be, is this the real life or is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide of emotions, on whether or not to buy from you…

Website visitors are often easy come, easy go.

Show them you’re a real operating business and that you exist.

Online retailers should also consider creating a short video where they speak directly to the customer in a frank and earnest manner about their business and products.

Online, nothing validates you more than a video… after all anyone can hide behind a website, text and innocuous profile.

Be front and centre.

In summary, make it easy to get to know you:

  • Display clear contact details, a phone number does wonders
  • Include photos of staff, particularly if there’s a team and blog
  • Find a spokesperson (ideally the owner) for testimonial
  • Do a short backstory video of the founder, make it honest and fun
  • Spell out your returns policy in plain English
  • Got a physical store? Great, make a page about it – remember, trust is a conversion catalyst

3. Allay the Customer’s Fears with Quick, Decisive Answers

Allay the Customer's Fears with Quick, Decisive Answers

Even today, several decades since people could buy online – customers remain fearful of online transactions with unknown websites.

To allay their fears they might ask questions like:

  • Why do you need my email address?
  • What are you going to do with my phone number?
  • Are you going to sell my information to the highest bidder?
  • How good is your encryption and overall security?
  • When will I get my order?
  • What happens if I don’t like the product?

Be ready to answer them in your website copy.

Create a compilation of answers that include rich media explanations such as short videos. These videos should be recorded by you, the owner and/or the team, not some slick hired-hand who oozes polish but skips authenticity.

Answer frequently asked questions in product descriptions and on the checkout, displaying your security credentials is always a good idea. Let people click and validate them too.

Unsure of what questions people ask? Survey your recent buyers, it’s a simple method of understanding why they bought but also why they nearly didn’t.

As ever – be utterly truthful.

If you charge for delivery, show it. If you offer a 365 day returns feature – shout about it!

In summary, answer pertinent questions.

4. Be Credible, Be Memorable

Create your own images – but don’t use Microsoft Paint™.

Create your own videos – but avoid a wonky mobile phone selfie-stick.

Stay away from stock photos, they shout “we’re not real – we bought these!” and that you lack imagination. Or worse, you don’t actually give a damn…

Don’t create an air of ‘too-good-to-be-true’ by using airbrushed models or unrealistic pictures of your products. I’m not suggesting you drop your quality, but take a look at the Facebook and Instagram pages that do well – they’re not usually littered with perfect pictures!

Be sure your website is user-friendly and intuitive and also that you use only first-rate copy for your advertisements. If you’re ever unsure, keep it simple.

Proofread everything, and make sure you verify every single claim you make. People won’t trust what they know is hogwash.

In summary, build credibility by being memorable:

  • Create and share unique images
  • Avoid stock photos like the plague
  • Don’t pretend to be perfect (because there’s no such thing)
  • Keep your website and advertising clear and simple
  • Check for typos, there’s no excuse for sloppy copy

5. Encourage Satisfied Customers to Leave Testimonials

Encourage Satisfied Customers to Leave Testimonials

This goes hand-in-hand with seeking star ratings on Amazon.

Incorporate a review system in your website and encourage customers to leave reviews. A little incentive, such as a gift card with their order and follow-up email could be enough to trigger their feedback.

Looking for an edge, a contrarian view on reviews?

Consider that it’s unfortunately very easy to create mock testimonials. Perhaps provide people a secure way of contacting each other via your review system so they can discuss and ask further feedback. This will enable potential customers to determine the veracity of your claims and will go a long way toward building the trust you need to succeed.

Also, give customers the chance to leave negative feedback. This is an opportunity for you to show how you took the constructive criticism and changed for the better.

When any negative or sub-par reviews are left, be sure to respond to them in an open and frank manner. Admit any faults and show that you care by going out of your way to rectify them.

Finally, a great tactic we’ve had success with is using product launches as a platform to gleam insights and feedback. Give a set number of products away for free to people who commit to completing a survey of questions surrounding your industry, related products and competitor offerings.

This information can reveal some interesting ideas for product revisions, additions and of course the copywriting on your website.

In summary, satisfy your customers desire to be heard:

  • Offer a review system
  • Consider working on a 2-way review system where potential customers can engage with existing ones
  • Don’t shy away from bad reviews
  • Always reply to feedback, positive and negative
  • Use product trials to survey willing participants

6. Secure a Celebrity Endorsement

Secure a Celebrity Endorsement

Lights, camera… run away from the pap!

It doesn’t have to be the most famous movie star in the world.

Endorsements can be from a respected local celeb, smaller sports teams, the list is greater than you think. A real review from a real person is worth more than your sales patter alone, so start small and build from there.

The celebrity could also be someone who is either an aficionado of or expert on yours and similar products.

Such an endorsement creates legitimacy even if your product is brand new and hasn’t had time to be rated or otherwise endorsed on Amazon or elsewhere online.

Not really in to the whole celeb thing – how about thought leaders and curators in your industry instead? YouTube, Twitter and Instagram are a potential goldmine of willing people who already have an audience and would be happy to test/trial your product.

We’re skewing towards ‘influencer’ outreach rather than TV stars here, but hold fast – some online experts and personalities have just as loyal a following.

If you’re struggling to get traction here, again start from a humble position of contacting bloggers who will often welcome a product review and placement opportunity.

In summary, build a rapport with like-minded people:

  • Celebrity comes in all shapes and sizes
  • Start small and local, grow from there
  • Hunt down personalities and influencers on social media
  • If all else fails, ask a friendly blogger

7. Create a Targeted and Engaging Ad Campaign

Create a Targeted and Engaging Ad Campaign

In our media-saturated world, time is precious, so relevancy and engagement are key.

When setting out a plan of attack for any ads, start with the audience message-match. It’s the simplest way to reduce your advertising strategy and complexity.

In other words, focus on one audience, with one message and one reason (fulfilled through your call to action).

Create personas from your research, understand demographics from your own website data and put your message in front of the right people! It’s much easier to gain trust that way.

When you find a method that shows promise, you have the luxury of scaling up.

Still unsure of who, where and what these customers look like? Using Facebook to build your brand message by offering informational and educational content first can be a low-friction entry point for new (and even established) brands.

With all these things flying around, it can be easy to neglect the obvious elements.

You’ve been working hard to build trust so be sure to reference your customer feedback, star ratings, testimonials and endorsements as part of your advertising. If you can get video case studies – even better.

Do ‘proper’ research into advertising trends of course, but tune out the noise and focus on where your target audience is and avoid chasing the latest fad. Find out as much info as possible on how to succeed with your ad campaign.

In summary, don’t market to the wrong people:

  • Opt for engagement over impressions
  • Keep things simple – scale what works
  • Get your messaging honed to your audience
  • Use low friction content first where possible
  • Do your research, but focus on where your customers are

Bonus: Go All Out with Candid Content

Write an objective buyer’s guide on your product/category.

Woah! Won’t my competitors see it?

Yeah they will – why – do you have something to hide?

Be open and honest about the positives and the negatives of your own offering versus the industry.

That means including testimonials from around the web, use rich media to enhance the guide and invite credible buyers who are active on social media to share their experiences.

You can then use these sources of media assets as outreach opportunities whereby, as a result of you including them, they help spread the word of social media.

This process delivers both kudos to your brand and traffic to your store.

Not only does this transparent tactic offer immediate credibility, it also serves as further ‘competitor research’ and can highlight opportunities in your own range.

Furthermore, you can do a follow-up content piece of how you answered criticisms and turned the negatives into new found positives.

They Came, They Saw – They Should Have Bought!

Beginning an online business is exciting and challenging.

There are, to be sure, problems to overcome and metaphorical mountains to conquer.

If you carefully apply these seven concepts, however, you will go a long way toward building the trust you need to succeed in the ecommerce marketplace.

Of course, it goes without saying that all of the traditional methods of building a business still apply: terrific customer service, exceptional problem solving, friendly professionalism, remarkably good products, outstanding follow-up, and … well, everything that’s ever been uttered at any seminar on “How to be Successful in Business.”

Remember, trust converts – so build it first.

Originally published August 23, 2016 - Updated January 12, 2022
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Ed Leake
Ed Leake Ed Leake experience is cemented in rapid growth, enabling his client’s to achieve big returns on their marketing investments.

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