As web users become increasingly distrustful of the information and services provided online, having credibility is more important than ever before. Credibility strengthens your brand’s reputation and is a crucial factor in converting web traffic into sales, but what is it exactly?
Researchers and psychologists agree that credibility perceptions arise from users judging several factors simultaneously. Online credibility can be split into three basic principles: the perceived quality of a website, its trustworthiness, and company expertise. Website visitors assess all three to decide how credible a business is. Put simply, credibility is believability. Once you understand these principles, it’s easier to gain potential customers’ trust and boost online conversions.
Boost Your Credibility: Perceived Quality
Visitors to your website will make a judgment about your company in seconds, simply based on the visual elements of your website. In a renowned study by Stanford University and Makovsky & Company, participants were more likely to believe professionally designed websites that visually complemented the subject matter. Boost online conversions by giving a good first impression. Have you ever been frustrated by a slow-loading website because of all the graphics? Simpler website designs can also improve your credibility score.
Your site’s navigational structure will also affect the perceived quality of your website. Credibility will begin to slip away if your site is difficult to navigate or leaves visitors feeling confused. Assess your website through the eyes of a first-time visitor. Fine-tuning any navigational problems can increase conversions dramatically.
The perceived quality of your website can be seriously damaged by technical errors, which can have the same impact on credibility as poor design and navigation. Make sure your site is regularly checked for broken links. Visitors will attribute faults to your company, not your website host.
Boost Your Credibility: Trustworthiness
Good relationships are built on trust and one of the quickest ways to gain the confidence of your visitors is by showing your media connections. If you are a member of the Better Business Bureau, for example, display their logo above the fold (before users have to scroll down). Also, if you do business with a well-known company, make sure your visitors know about it.
Too many ads on a web page can also devalue a website. Pop-up ads can be especially annoying. If you need ads on your site, ensure they are relevant to the page content. Also make sure you clearly separate ads and actual website content. No one likes to be misled.
Obviously, displaying your contact information is an important part of gaining the trust of visitors. But many businesses still fail to make these details transparent. Try to display your physical address, email address, and phone number at the top of every page.
Boost Your Credibility: Expertise
Recognize the needs of your audience and provide the information or tools to meet those needs. In the Stanford-Makovsky Credibility Study, people who found a website helpful in the past were more likely to give it a higher credibility score. Regularly updated content, printer-friendly pages, and a search box will all help to boost online conversions. Participants in the study also gave strong marks to website content that listed its sources and highlighted authors’ credentials.
The quality of customer service is a key area that can be overlooked by some businesses, but it plays a major part in credibility. How quickly do you provide responses to customer inquiries? Slow response times indicate a lack of expertise and damage credibility. Providing a live chat service with a company representative is another option to consider.
Showcasing your past work is another quick way to demonstrate your expertise. If possible, provide links to relevant material. Ratings and reviews will improve credibility and can also boost conversions, as many customers only buy after reading reviews online. Displaying logos of corporate clients to your visitors is another way to confirm your expertise.
The strategies described here provide an effective starting point for you to address weak points in your online credibility. If your budget allows, working with web design professionals can keep you one step ahead of the competition. A quality team will use a variety of marketing tools to boost conversion rates and enhance your credibility. The bottom line is that your website represents your company and how you do business. If people don’t trust what they see, you’ll find it hard to convert traffic into sales. Try experimenting with these principles of credibility. If you get it right, you may see a dramatic impact on long-term sales.