In days past, customers would meet you first at your work premises, the physical location where you ply tyour trade; this is no longer the case. Your customers meet you first at your website. They thoroughly check you out and then make a decision to visit your office, shop, or restaurant. If you have a website that wows they might just make an immediate purchase.
Now that the Internet is so easily accessible everywhere, even from tablets and smart phones, while at play or work, it is likely that most people will take a look at your website when they do a Google search for your kind of service or product.
When they come to your site they will immediately begin to form an opinion about you. They will look to see whether you are credible, whether your business has value, can they trust you, are you approachable, do you appear to be invested in your own brand, and finally they will make the decision to have a business relationship with you or not.
In their minds, when they take a look at your site, if it does not appear that you care enough to invest in your online business presence, why should they?
When you’re constructing your website, it is important for you to keep in mind that your online presence is also where you start to build trust with your customers. You must consider how your site looks. Does it have the right feel? Does it convey the same message as your product? Does your website go far enough to solve your customer’s problems?
Even more important, will your site persuade them that you are the business they want to work with or buy from? Will they be convinced enough to tell their friends about your business?
By following these top 10 tips, you can ensure your online presence translates into credibility and sales, along with long-term customers and relationships:
1. A Good Web Design is a Good Investment
This may well be the best investment you make. A study of over 5000 people, conducted by Stanford Web Credibility Research, revealed that the way a website looked was absolutely the most important factor when it came to establishing credibility.
2. Always Remember the Customer
This may be hard to believe, but your website is not about your business. Your website needs to be geared to what your business can do for your customer. It is extremely important that your website is easy to use and has the right feel; this is even more important than how it looks. Both elements of course will be taken into consideration by a good web designer. He will create a site that not only gives a tremendous first impression but, likewise, makes it easy for the user to navigate.
3. You Must Be Reliable
In order to build trust with your customers you must always say what you mean and mean what you say. Never over-promise or exaggerate your product or service; doing so can lead to under-delivering and letting your customers down. When this occurs they will not come back. It is better to avoid all marketing and promotional type speaking whenever possible; you just need to tell the truth. You’ll find that people are more likely to trust you and appreciate you when they hear your refreshing honesty.
4. Always Be Professional
In order to set yourself apart, you must always act and look like you know what you’re doing. Just like you can tell when someone has fear in their voice, it is just as easy to pick up on enthusiasm and passion. When answering questions, always be helpful and positive. If you have further information, give it freely; in this way you can position yourself as an expert in your industry; people can tell when you know your stuff. When people see your confidence, it will inspire trust, and trust drives sales.
5. Your Domain Name Matters
Before your customer even gets to your website, they are already judging your credibility. This is why acquiring your own domain name is of paramount importance. This will help you to rank better in search results, which in turn, will make people more willing to click the link to your site. The more people to click to your site, the higher your rankings in the search results; the higher the ranking, the more clicks you’ll get, and it just keeps growing. You also need to make sure your email fits your brand.
6. Customers Love Reviews, Use Them!
If you are receiving positive feedback from peers and industry commentators, or from customers, by all means use them. You will want to post links of what people are saying about you. The use of reviews from independent and credible people is important to customers. You may want to have a dedicated section within your website to showcase your testimonials and references, or you may choose to put a short quote, which is verifiable, on each page.
7. Bring Your Off-Line Business Online
If your business is only a brick-and-mortar business, creating galleries can give a real feel to your customers of what to expect from your business. In order to show off your restaurant, shop, or business in its best light, it is a good idea to invest in a professional photographer to get those perfect shots. Remember: the idea is for potential customers to want to come through your business doors. That is what a good design is all about.
8. Your Website Should Indicate That You are People Oriented
If you want people to call you on the phone and talk with your associates, you need to show them off. Use flattering pictures and fun biographies so customers can see your company is made up of real people. You should include an email address; you want to make it easy for your customers to get in touch with you. These pictures and biographies can be great motivational tools, as it helps to bring out the personality of your business, and will give your associates a real sense of belonging. It also becomes a useful tool to locate expertise within your business. By showing your customers your credentials, outlining your experience, showing your track records, and qualifications you will build confidence in your organisation. Social networking has become a large part of online business. If you are able to get your team Facebooking and Tweeting, that is even better. You will find if your associates love working with you, so will your customers.
9. Keep Your Website Fresh
There are a multitude of abandoned blogs and websites throughout the Internet, and they do not rank well at all. You must make updating your Facebook, Twitter, Website, and Blog a priority. Creating and finding new content should always be on your “to do” list. Make your content relevant, current, interesting, fun and engaging whenever possible.
10. Make Sure You Website Works
If you want to stop sales, nothing will do it faster than a slow download or a link that is broken. You will be creating an entirely wrong impression if your site is full of bad imagery and a multitude of spelling mistakes. This, of course, brings us back to number one in our list: you must invest in a good design!
If, after looking at the above tips, you are still unconvinced as to how a well-designed and easy to use website will make a substantial difference to your bottom line, you really need to be talking to us at Zoom Planet.
Photo: Image courtesy of William Hook on Flickr