Optimizing Your Website for Trust & Goodwill — 7 Things You Overlook, But Shouldn’t
Note: This post is a part of our CRO Month 2019. Share it with the #Optimizein28Days to promote optimization awareness and how CRO can help businesses thrive.
A couple of days ago I was browsing Facebook. Amidst the usual fare of cat images and babies toddling, I found myself pausing the scroll to read an ad with interest. Given the fact that I’m exposed to dozens of these almost every hour, the ad was special.
It was well laid out. And the ebook covered a topic I’m looking to master. All’s well.
I finished the sign up process and settled down to dive into the content.
*Ping* – Guess what that was?
An aggressive email from a sales rep who wanted to “book time with me” – just because I had downloaded the eBook. And let me clear this up – I never “consented” to being hounded.
I unsubbed ASAP.
This is so typical in the marketplace.
There’s a barrage of data privacy violations, rampant profiling, sponsored content, and selfish businesses that only care about their profits and little about their customers (or the planet!). Yet marketers wonder – why are audiences so sceptical?
By default, they’ll not believe you to be a legitimate business when they land on your website (especially when it’s their first visit).
But they can trust you if you can earn it.
Optimizing your website for trust and goodwill is as important (if not more than) optimizing your website for search engines and conversions.
After all, as buyers become more aware of the very many social challenges, pick their causes and values, and seek to regain control of their data, you, too, have to adapt as a business. You have to convey to them that you’re with them working toward and empowering a better tomorrow for them, the society, and, at large, the planet.
Despite being two intangible concepts, trust and goodwill can be directly tied to conversions. So let’s look at seven actionable ways to inspire trust in your website visitors and build goodwill.
1. Reflecting Transparency Throughout your Website
Transparency is one of the key factors that inspires trust and goodwill in today’s digital-savvy audiences.
Conveying your culture of transparency doesn’t just get your website visitors or leads to trust you some more, but it also helps you secure a second chance with about 85% of your customers who have had bad experiences with your business.
Here are some ways you can add transparency to your business website:
- Offer transparent pricing: One of the easiest ways to earn a visitor’s trust is to offer your solution’s pricing upfront. Yes, you can hide the costs of more high ticket items behind the “enterprise” wall, but your regular offerings should be one price for all. This is non-negotiable.
- Share honest reviews: Share your customers’ reviews on your website, and when you do so, try to include even the not-so-stellar customer experiences. Being open about when you went wrong doesn’t just help your brand look more “human” to your visitors, but it also helps you explain how you approach such instances and make the customer win!
- Explain how your product compares to the alternatives: Publish content that compares your solution to your competitors’ and explains how your pricing and features stack up against those of your competitors.
- Publish transparency reports: Business transparency reports are a great way to earn trust. Alternatively, if you aren’t comfortable with sharing formal reports, try publishing annual or monthly update posts around what product updates you made through the month, your customer success stories, your big business decisions, and any other content that you feel might convince your visitors that you run an open and transparent business. We have a ritual of posting “Support Wisdom” compilations with our NPS and our response times, almost every quarter.
- Design (and publish) transparent data policies: Using transparent data policies tells your users that you care about their data and are diligent when handling it. This alone can go a long way in earning your visitors/leads’ trust.
You can also publish content like incident reports. Doing so will tell your visitors/leads that you own your issues and are quick to respond.
Here’s an example of an incident report from Hotjar:
2. Asking for Too Much Too Soon
A lot of business websites ask for too much too soon.
For example, if you ask your users’ to signup for your trial using a Facebook signup option (on their very first visit on your website), they’ll most likely not commit.
They’ll most probably leave your website because your ask is too big. And they hardly know you or trust you enough to use their Facebook credentials for signing up for your trial.
To fix such issues that prompt a feeling of mistrust, research organization, Nielsen Norman Group, has defined a trust pyramid (much like Maslow’s pyramid of needs) to guide websites for meeting the basic trust needs of their website visitors at their different buying/discovery stages.
Nielsen’s trust pyramid identifies five levels of commitment:
At win your website visitors’ trust at each level, your website needs to convey some very specific messages and trust signals that match with their needs at that point:
Level #1: Baseline relevance and trust that needs can be met. At the lowest level of the trust pyramid, your website must reassure your website visitors that they’ve landed on the right website. You can use a clear headline and USP to explain to them that your website offers the solution they need. Also, complement your clear messaging with a beautiful design that looks trustworthy.
Level #2: Interest and preference over other options. To earn the interest of your website visitors/potential leads who are fairly interested in your solution, you need to post content that helps them evaluate your solution and understand how it stacks up against the alternatives.
Level #3: Trust with personal information. Your website visitors who are ready to give you their names and emails (for example, to sign up for a product demo), can also be encouraged with a few trust signs. To retain their trust, add personal data disclosures and links to your data policy pages on your demo/trial landing pages. This way, you can demonstrate that they can trust you with their data and feel confident in giving you all the information you seek.
Level #4: Trust with sensitive/financial information. Your website visitors (or leads) who are at this level are looking for some very specific trust signals that give them the confidence to go ahead and enter their credit card details on your website. Design optimized checkout pages that use trust seals to encourage them to make their transactions with the peace of mind that their card details are safe!
Level #5: Willingness to commit to an ongoing relationship. To build trust with your leads who have committed, you need to offer them some great, personalized content.
3. Sharing Strong Ethical and Moral Stands
About 59% of millennials associate the word “ethical” to the companies they feel loyal to. And about 42% of them find the ethical and moral stands of a company an important factor impacting their brand loyalty.
If your website establishes you as an ethical business, you’ll instantly earn your visitors’ trust, and they’ll be more open to exploring your solution and doing business with you.
To optimize your website around your business ethics:
- Feature instances where you walked the talk: One of the best ways to show your moral stands on issues that matter to your target audiences is to share stories where you did what you believed to be right and inline with your business ethics (even when doing so meant losing out on a profitable contract). Here’s an instance where we stuck to our ethics and turned down a potential client.
- Add a Values page to your website: Add a values page to your website and list down all your business values and ethics on it. This can give your website visitors a nice insight into how you approach key business matters.
- Add a Mission and Vision page to your website: On this page, explain why your company exists and write about your commitment toward your employees, partners, customers, society, and the planet.
4. Committing to Data Privacy
Instances like the recent social media data leaks have online users very apprehensive about their digital data footprints.
And while they’re still OK with sharing their data for better website experiences, they want to first be able to trust a website enough to give their content to data collection.
To optimize your website for gaining your visitors’ trust and build goodwill, demonstrate to your customers that you care about their privacy. Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Establish a clear data collection and usage policy for your website.
- Appoint a data privacy and security officer who owns this domain and can be accessed if a visitor has any queries.
- Give your users all the control over their data. Add opt-out pages to your website. You’ll be surprised to know that about 95% of people would like companies to give them opt-out options for certain types of information they had collected about the users.
Here’s an example of a user-friendly privacy page:
When it comes to committing to data privacy, you shouldn’t just take care of your website’s data collection and privacy practices, but you should also ensure that your data partners also use the same data privacy standards that you’ve set.
5. Embracing Transparency on Social
Now, this one’s more of a trust signal that you build off your website, but it’s an important one.
But they find only 15% of brands to be actually very transparent.
People find it a lot easier to trust companies that share their wins, fails, values, and more on social media over companies that work in blockboxes.
In fact, social media transparency can be tied to more sales and higher retention rates with 53% of people looking to buy from brands that are transparent on social.
So, support your website with a social media presence where you share your real business stories about everything right from operations to customer service and success. Your potential leads want to hear all about it.
Also, see if you can transform the role of your CEO into a transparency champion because social media-savvy CEOs< are a great tool to earn trust.
6. Leveraging trust signals that are known to work
You can fix a lot of trust issues with your website by simply redesigning it or rewriting its copy for more clarity. Here are a few things to try:
- Use a beautiful, professional design: Most of your website visitors make snap decisions about working with you within seconds of landing on your website. Often, the first thing they use to base their decision on is your website’s design. In fact, about half of your website visitors tie your website design to your business’s credibility. So use a clean, modern design that inspires trust.
- Write clear website copy: Your website’s copy, voice and tone, and messaging are very important parts of your branding that can help you win your visitors’ trust. So write clear, engaging copy (with loads of social proof like customer testimonials) that your target audience can relate to. Also, have a content plan that you can use to offer meaningful, relevant content to all your visitors as content is very effective at earning a website visitor’s trust.
- Fix usability issues: Poor navigation, cluttered (or unclear) menus, broken links can give your website visitors the impression that you aren’t a serious business. Because if you were, your website would offer a great user experience. So audit your website for such issues and fix them.
- Install an SSL certificate: One of the biggest turnoffs a website visitor can experience is a browser warning them against browsing your website. So, use an SSL service to secure your website.
- Showcase awards and badges: If you’ve won an award for your outstanding customer support, or if you’ve been recognized as a cool vendor or a great employer, feature those on your website.
- Use showcases for featuring logos of clients and partners): To showcase your brand’s credibility and earn the trust of your website visitors, feature logos of your clients and partners on all the key pages of your website.
7. Having a Corporate Social Responsibility page
Customers prefer companies that advocate for a cause they care about.
In fact, about 87% of Americans engage with a company that works toward an issue they feel for.
AND customers (especially millennials) actually research about your company to find out the different programs you support and how you contribute to them. Your company’s social responsibility IS a factor they consider when making purchasing decisions.
It doesn’t matter whether you sell a snack or an enterprise-level software, many of your website leads are looking for your social responsibility commitments.
To get such visitors to trust you, add a corporate social responsibility page to your website. To this page, explain the structure of your corporate social responsibility program. Answer questions like:
- What are the different social responsibility projects your company pursues?
- Do you let your employees choose the causes they’d like to donate to … and do you help with making donations?
- Do you offer volunteer hours on company time?
… and so on.
At Convert, we’re a conscious business. And all our daily choices — right from marketing decisions like pursuing (or not pursuing) some leads to operational decisions like choosing a certain hosting provider over others — are based on the social values we believe in.
Check out our social responsibility page to learn more about how we run our socially conscious business.
Wrapping it up …
Optimizing your website for trust and goodwill won’t just help you earn your regular visitors’ trust and connect with them, but it will also help you market to the fastest growing buyer demographics — millennials.
Millennials mainly prefer to do business with companies that: 1) have strong ethics, 2) are socially conscious, and 3) are committed to their data privacy.
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