Trust signals on your website - what are they and why do they matter?
Posted on 1st February 2022
It’s a long-established fact that building trust and rapport holds the key to increased sales, brand loyalty and strong customer relationships. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and the surge in online retail has changed consumer buying habits – including the ways in which people decide whether or not a brand is trustworthy.
With multiple lockdowns affecting both high street footfall and opportunities to socialise, there’s much less reliance on traditional advertising, interactions with salespeople, and in-person recommendations from friends and family.
Instead, consumers are looking for trust signals on your company website and other online channels that reassure them that your brand is reliable and you’ll deliver on whatever it is you’re promising to do. (E.g. supply a product on time, provide great customer service, keep personal information secure etc.)
This change in approach is here to stay. So, it’s important for you to understand the trust signals that today’s online buyer is looking for, and how to embed them in your website. This is clearly business-critical for e-commerce organisations, but should also be a key consideration for any company that promotes itself online. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top 5 trust signals people expect to see from a reputable brand.
1. Bona fide company and contact details
We’ve all heard horror stories about online sellers offering cut-price products that look (and are) too good to be true. Consumers are more scam-savvy than ever before, so the first thing they’ll look for is proof that your business actually exists and they can get in touch. In terms of trust signals on your website, this means including:
Your full geographical address (not a PO Box number) unless you work from home. This shows you have physical premises, even if customers can’t actually visit.
A geographical phone number, e.g. 0115 for Nottingham. A mobile phone number is OK if you’re a sole trader.
Your company and VAT numbers, and your registered address, if you’re a limited company. This is a legal requirement and also means people can look you up on Companies House.
An email address as well as an online enquiry form, together with your target response time to messages.
Links to your social media accounts and how these can be used to contact you.
If appropriate, dedicated contact details for customer complaints or product returns, to include a name and job title.
2. Reviews & testimonials
People trust what third parties say about a business far more than what the business says about itself. This is why building up a strong bank of positive reviews and testimonials is one of the strongest trust signals you can have on your website. As well as leaving reviews on the site itself, encourage happy customers to leave good reviews on your Google My Business page, social media platforms, and third party sites such as TrustPilot and TripAdvisor.
Most importantly, take the time to reply to your reviews even if it’s just to say ‘thank you’. If you receive any negative reviews, take up the issue straightaway. If appropriate, apologise and state that you’ll be taking action to rectify whatever went wrong. Don’t just ignore your reviews, good or bad, as this can give the impression that you don’t care what customers think. Not great for building trust!
3. Security features
Having an SSL certificate, where your URL starts with https instead of http, is recommended for SEO purposes even if you don’t collect any personal information from your customers. However, if you have any type of online form, or especially if you accept online payments, an SSL certificate is an absolute ‘must’. This means that any personal or payment details entered into your website will be securely encrypted.
If your current site doesn’t have an SSL certificate, you can easily get one from a number of sources. They do expire, so make sure you keep it up to date. If you’re having a new website built by it’seeze Nottingham, providing an up-to-date SSL certificate is all part of our service.
4. High quality Design, Content & UX
As we’ve said before, your website is your online shop window. And just as you’d walk straight past an unappealing shop front on the high street, people will quickly click away from your website if it’s badly-written, badly-designed or hard to navigate.
Making a great first impression and providing a top class customer experience are essential. That means high quality design that reflects the nature of your business and well-written informative content that answers the questions people want to know about your products and services. Add in a site structure that’s easy to navigate with a site map and search function, and you’re good to go.
Keep your website up to date with the latest product and service information, and relevant blog articles that people will find useful and informative. Interactive content such as videos and podcasts are excellent for growing engagement and building that all-important brand authority as well as Know, Like and Trust.
5. Detailed, honest product information
Being transparent about your products or services, how much they cost and what they do and don’t offer or include is paramount. People don’t like ambiguity – they want clear, upfront information that tells them what they need to know. So, if one of your products is mid-range, say so. Don’t dress it up as premium.
Similarly, if you’re selling products online, people want to know how much delivery will cost and how the service works. So don’t hide this away in the small print. Being open and honest about delivery charges and timescales – including the process for refunds or returns – will get you a lot more business than keeping mum on the matter. You should also make it clear how customers will be kept informed on the status of their order before it’s delivered, e.g. will they receive update emails or will you send them a tracking number?
The more information you provide at the point of sale, the more likely you are to convert prospects into sales. You’ll have fewer abandoned shopping carts, too.
And a Bonus Tip for smaller businesses: be human!
When customers buy from a small business, especially a sole trader, they’re essentially buying ‘you’, not your company. So, make your website human. Add photographs of you and your team (if you have one), include individual contact details and write profiles that bring you to life. For many people, putting a face to a name is a huge part of putting their trust in a business they’ve never used before.
Like to know more? Ask it’seeze Nottingham.
We offer a free website health check, which includes looking at the trust signals on your site and how these might be improved.
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