People judge books by their cover instantly and there’s no avoiding this. If you want people to buy into your product or service, they need to know they can trust you.
Credibility is “a measure of how believable and trustworthy your marketing is perceived to be.”
If you don’t have a credible website you are kissing goodbye to potential customers without a doubt. However, what one person perceives as credible can be totally different to the next person.
Your website needs to build trust from the very first sight, proving your expertise and showcasing why people should buy or use your products or services.
So, what exactly can you do to make sure you have a credible website?
Starting with design might seem glaringly obvious, but we can’t put it any simpler; web design matters. Users take around 50 milliseconds to decide whether they like your page or not - basically if they’re going to leave or not.
A study from Stanford University over 3 years resulted in a web credibility checklist. What they found was that people assess a website by visual design, and the design should match the purpose of your website. There are some features that should be avoided at all costs if you want your website to be perceived as credible:
In a nutshell, don’t do anything that resembles this monstrosity.
When you’re looking for a restaurant to have a meal in, you bypass the empty ones and go straight to the ones that look busy and even a queue outside. Why? Because if everyone else is going there, it must be better than the empty ones. That is basically social proof in a nutshell. If everyone else is doing it, we should too, it’s safety in numbers.
Be warned though, no one likes a bragger so sometimes subtlety is key. You also have to consider social proof that doesn’t come from your website such as word of mouth (yes, it’s still a thing!). If you’ve featured in your industry’s best publication or have high profile customers, go ahead and shout about these!
There is a difference between positive and negative social proof,
Examples of negative social proof include:
having a blog/news page that’s not been updated in the past few months, social media accounts with no posts and even down to your phrasing. The Petrified Forest National Park demonstrates a great example of negative social proof. Visitors were stealing the petrified wood which was destroying the Petrified Forest. A sign was put up to warn people from taking wood, saying:
With this sign, thefts tripled! Basically, the sign was saying it was normal for people to steal.
Examples of positive social proof include; testimonials from clients (as long as they’re real), customer reviews, if you have a large client base then tell people, name any well-known customers and if you’ve won any awards or a are a member of an organisation then let people know!
Spelling and grammar errors are like committing a social offence. A study found that 42.5% of people would be put off by spelling and grammar mistakes.
Another study (this time in dating) also showed similar results with 43% of people saying bad grammar is a major turn-off and 35% of people are all for good grammar.
How tempted are you to post on people’s facebook walls, or reply to tweets or comments when they don’t know their there, they’re and theirs? It certainly adds ammunition.
TightsPlease.co.uk discovered that bad spelling was costing them money. The word tight was misspelled ‘Tihgts’, once they rectified the issue, conversion rates rocketed by 80%.
Always, always double check your spelling and grammar before posting, better still get a colleague with a fresh pair of eyes to have a look over. Spelling and grammar defiantly matters (see what we did there?). Don’t be like these big brands getting caught out!
Your prospective customers need to know that you’re a real business. The best way to do this is on your about or contact us page with some engaging content. A specific email address, real photos and a summary about your staff and what they do at your business. People love putting a face to a name and will imagine interacting with your staff depending on your customer’s needs. Use real images of your staff and offices in your photos, not cheesy stock images. By using real images and showing real faces, you instantly build trust.
After all the above, you also need to watch out for going overboard with credibility!
In some cases, believe it or not but negative reviews can actually increase sales.
This is particularly true for new or smaller businesses as it can help increase brand awareness and come across more believable. Obviously, reviews that are brutal do have a negative effect, but when testimonials and reviews are all beaming, it can seem too good to be true. If a visitor sees nothing but 100% and 5 stars they get suspicious.
One of the worst things you could do to damage your credibility is to write fake reviews. People can spot fake reviews a mile off, which is why it’s important to have a mixture of positive and not so positive reviews.
“Testimonials, when authentic or perceived to be authentic, boost the credibility of your offer by engaging social proof. It’s more common than you’d think for companies to fake or embellish testimonials. Keep an eye out for that.”
Whilst you might have your own house in order, take a minute to keep an eye on the competition too. It's the only way to make sure your website is streets ahead. Use this free tool to compare your performance.