5 Ways to Establish Trust in Your Online Business

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Trust is critical to success in any business relationship.

Building trust between your online business and your customers can be achieved in different ways. But no matter which method you use, it's important to let your consumers know that their privacy and safety is important to your business.

With recent reports of security breaches affecting major companies like LinkedIn, Tumblr, and a few others, don't be surprised that users are becoming more protective of their data.

This means they may not trust sharing their data with businesses online like in the past.

As an online business owner, what steps should you take to establish trust and get your visitors or customers to become more open to sharing their data with your business? The following are some proven steps you can take in order to improve customer trust online.

1. Use HTTPS on Your Website

In the age of serial data leaks and security breaches, using a secure data transfer protocol to ensure your users' information remain secure is vital. If your website is still running on the "HTTP" markup and not the "HTTPS", then fewer people want to share their data on your website. This is especially important to e-commerce websites.

Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of only transacting on secure servers. In order to build trust in your online business make the switch to the secure "HTTPS" protocol.

This protocol signals to your customers that your website is on a secure server and gives them the confidence that their data is protected. The use of advanced security means they will trust your business more.

2. Display Trust Logos and Seals of Security on Your Website

Just as important as it is to consumers that their data is stored on a secure server, they also want to be sure they are dealing with a business that is actually trustworthy.

Has your business earned a badge of trust or a do you have a Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited business logo? Displaying these badges on your website can make a lot of difference in winning your customers over.

How Important Are Trust Seals for Your Website?

According to a study conducted by independent research firm TNS, consumers are aware of the importance of Trust Seals on websites and have concerns when a website does not have any.

To put the result of their research in numbers:

  • 78 percent of online shoppers say that a seal indicates that their information is secure.
  • Only one in five shoppers did not know the importance of a trust mark.

What Trust Seal Should You Use?

According to a 2013 survey by Baymard Institute Norton Secured SSL seal was voted the most trusted badge among consumers. It earned 35.6 percent of votes from 2,510 respondents. The McAfee seal is second place with 23 percent of the votes, while TRUSTe and BBB Accredited are both in the third place with 13.2 percent.

The importance of this survey is to show that consumers are cautious of the safety of their information on a website. If your business requires customers to send sensitive data such as their credit card information or social security details through your website, then using a Trust Seal is a must.

3. Align Your Online Business With Trusted Brands

Another way to win the trust of your online customers is to align your business with other well established and reputable companies in your field. This is very easy for any business that has prior or existing relationship with companies that your customers are already familiar with.

Identifying with established brands can help you build trust with your first-time visitors. Humans form first impressions very quickly, and it only takes a tenth of a second to form a first impression about someone. The same applies to a business.

Another study shows that when users have a positive first impression of your website, they will stay longer on your website. And this could lead to the possibility of a sale. To help your first-time visitors form positive first impressions about your business, take advantage of the cognitive bias that makes us trust well known and popular brand logos.

How to Get Well-Respected Brand Logos on Your Website

If you're not yet well positioned to have established brands as your clients, a good alternative is to get featured on top media outlets.

If your website has been featured by a publication like Forbes, you can display their logo on your website using the "as seen on" tag. When a visitor sees this logo on your website, the impression they form is that your business is genuine. Learn more about  how to leverage the power of influencer marketing in your online business

4. Use Images in Your Posts More Frequently

Does your business maintain a blog? Use your blog to help your readers warm up to you by including images in your blog posts. Many digital marketers only consider having a blog as part of the company's online marketing strategy but do not go in depth to consider how tiny factors could impact their strategy.

Several reports show that content with images performs better online. This is both on a trust level and on user retention basis. According to Bob Lisborn from Luminate, "we're in the age of visual culture, in the age of camera in everyone's pocket." This means online users want to see images alongside your blog.

In a survey of consumers by UK SEO firm Brighton SEO, 60 percent of consumers are more likely to contact or consider a business when an image is shown in their local search result. Another article by Hubspot states that users are more likely to trust a website that uses real images of their team members over websites with stock photos.

Karen Reed, the managing editor of health and wellness website Positive Health Wellness said, "seeing images of real people can help to induce oxytocin, the hormone that makes people instantly likable and trustworthy. It's no wonder they call it the "trust hormone".

Do you wonder how to do it right? Start with  five ways to make your marketing more visual with photo marketing.

5. Post User or Customer Reviews on Your Website

Posting customer reviews on your website is also a strong trust signal. When users see reviews that other customers leave on your website, it helps them experience how doing business with you feels like. According to a 2011 iPerceptions report, 63 percent of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews.

While you may be tempted to only leave positive reviews on your website and hide the less flattering reviews of your business, users will trust your business even more when the reviews you have are a true reflection of what your customers think of your business.

How to Build Trust With User Reviews

  • Post the reviews directly on your website. This means you should have plug-ins or widgets that allow your buyers to share their experience of a product on your website. Don't let them post their reviews on Yelp or other services that you have no control over.
  • Encourage your customers to leave a review on your website. Do you have a popup that promotes your newsletter? You can add a URL to the popup that encourages your customers to instantly leave a review on your website.
  • Highlight the best customer experience across your website. Do you have a customer that had a great experience using your services? You can use their story to win over more customers and quickly earn the trust of skeptic prospects.

When it comes to doing business online, trust is a very important factor to success. By using these tips, you'll be able to give users the confidence to do business with you.

For more on managing your reputation and increasing trust:

Ayodeji Onibalusi is a blogger and digital marketer. He founded Effective Inbound Marketing to help clients of different sizes with content marketing services. You can connect with him on Twitter.