Assuming you have a valuable proposition, there’s only one thing that can stop your users from converting: trust. If a user trusts your brand, they’ll gladly partake in an exchange with you. However, building that trust is no easy feat—it takes consistently good service across multiple recurring transactions and exchanges, sometimes spanning months or years, before a user intrinsically trusts your brand.

The Time Problem

This doesn’t do you much good considering most users entering your website will form a lasting first impression of your brand based on their first eight seconds of activity. Provided you get lucky enough to win a first-timer’s business, you can build trust with your level of service, but how can you build trust from the very first interaction, with no prior user knowledge of your brand or product?

There’s no surefire way to do this, since it’s impossible to please everyone at the same time. However, there are a handful of strategies that can help establish a baseline of trust with even your freshest users:

1. Include a live chat window. Most users will have initial doubts about a company or product. They may be skeptical of a brand they’ve never heard of before, or have questions about the products and services themselves. Adding a live chat window gives users a chance to relieve these uncertainties, and demonstrates that you’re a brand that’s truly available for its customers. Examples of good use of chat windows include Musician’s Friend and Luxury Homes Las Vegas.

2. Display trust badges and accreditations. Rather than asking users to trust your brand immediately, instead borrow from the trust and authority of others. Include small icons, called trust badges, which indicate your relationships with other known online authorities. For example, you could include logos of third-party providers you use (e.g. PayPal), or list publications in which you’ve been featured (e.g. Forbes). You can also list any industry-based accreditations you have, or any other relationships you think are relevant to show off. Great examples here include Sidekicker and Wealthfront.

3. Offer real user reviews and testimonials. Testimonials and product reviews serve as third-party indicators that your product or service is worth buying. It’s a way of pitching your services without actually doing the pitching—most people hate direct advertising, so it’s a double win. Add in the fact that 88 percent of consumers trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and there’s really no reason not to include them somewhere on your landing page. The more positive these reviews are and the more features of your product and business they highlight, the better—just be sure they’re genuine reviews. Good examples of testimonial use include WPZoom and Campaign Monitor.

4. Make your company history and contact information easily available. Customers who still aren’t sure whether or not to trust you will look to information about your company to verify their instincts—usually a company history page or a Contact page. Moreover, if users can’t find what they’re looking for quickly, they’re going to leave. The best solution to these conundrums is to add more information about your company upfront—including a contact number—with a link to more information for those who want it.

5. Add a guarantee. People have trust issues when they’re about to part with their hard-earned money, so find a way to secure that money, and trust will no longer be an issue. The best way to offer this is with a money-back guarantee. You could also simply offer a free trial as its own kind of risk-free promise: look at major companies like MailChimp or DropBox, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an example of a company who doesn’t use this. The nature of your guarantee doesn’t matter as long as you’re giving users an extra safety net in case they aren’t satisfied.

With these five features added to your website or landing page, you’ll stand a much higher chance of securing conversions from first-time visitors—or at least a positive brand impression. Take active measurements of your user flow and behavior before and after implementing these trust factors; you should see a noticeable drop in bounce rates and a corresponding increase in both time spent on page and conversions. If not, it means you still have more tweaking to do or you just aren’t targeting the right audience—but that’s a topic for another post.

About the Author: Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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