Offline Trust, Online Trust, and You

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SiteTuners wishes everyone a happy holiday season. For those hoping to learn more about trust-building, we hope this makes a nifty little present.

Every landing page visit is a conversation. You’re either selling the idea that you’re making good use of the visitor’s time, or they're making the case that you’re not. This is what your bounce rate is, an efficiency index for how well you converse. This conversation is not, technically, new. Telemarketers have been fighting this battle, making cold calls for sales. Med reps have been fighting this battle, meeting with doctors for sales. 

As the medium changed from phones and offices to the web, this conversation has been supercharged - it happens with thousands of people at a time, and those people make an initial impression made within 50 milliseconds.

To do well in this conversation, you need to build trust  - and as SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash says, you have to do it as fast as visual processing happens in the brain. Here’s the thing - you have to do it handcuffed. And blindfolded. And gagged.

Your reassuring voice? Gone. Your peer references? Unavailable. You can’t dress up, you can’t use friendly gestures, you can’t even take them dining - but you need them to trust you in a heartbeat.

So what do you do? 

You take all your tools digital.

Your Suit

Your three-piece suit must combine to form a single look – as does your landing page. Your landing page must use fonts, colors, and graphical elements to balance design and usability. Your buttons must look like buttons to increase visual affordance. Optimize display for 1024 x 768 and up - there’s no need to keep your three-piece too retro.

Your form fields and images should be limited to strictly what is required - even optional fields increase intellectual load. Make sure the clickable elements have hotspots that ease the burden on their motor requirements.

Your Calling Card

You need to establish that you’re not a fly-by-night operation, but you can’t show them a calling card. How do you alleviate anxieties before they bubble up?

By showing them you care about them, and doing it above the landing page fold. Show that you’re willing to spend on secure forms of payment, display data security and privacy information, and show them your policies and guarantees at the start, not the tail-end of the process. Show objective numbers of how many people have taken the action they are considering taking, and spell out the digits to show volume. 

Your Peers

Without your character references, what you have to work with is efficient use of space. Borrow trust from better known brands - list your reviews and awards, make a little room for your testimonials, and ask for permission to use logos from marquee clients. 

The key here is to make them trust you, but not at the cost of distracting them for your message. Balance is your friend. 

Your Voice

Just as the look is your suit, the order in which you present things is your voice. You have to keep your message on target.

The logos that establish credibility? Put them below or in a less attention-grabbing area than your call to action - they support your point, but they are not the main attraction. As marquee clients tend to have logos that are well designed and instantly recognizable, you have to de-emphasize their impact - reduce their size, decrease saturation and contrast, and make them visible without overpowering your call-to-action.

Keep elements to a minimum, and grab visitor attention for the call-to-action. 

It’s always a good idea to keep refining your tactics - use the techniques above, test often, watch your analytics like a hawk, and after visitors trust you, make sure you deliver.

Now it’s your turn. Are there any trust-building techniques from the offline world that you’re currently working with online? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.