When people first navigate to a website, studies have shown that businesses have about 6 seconds to create a positive impression with users. Visitors will spend about 200 milliseconds (yes, milliseconds!) looking at the color, density and layout of the site and decide if they think it is up to snuff. From there, users will spend less than 3 seconds "inspecting" a website. This includes looking at the content, grammar, assets and anything else on the website that they might find interesting. Another 3 seconds is then spent interacting with the website - clicking on links to see if there is anything useful on the site. At the end of this 6 second process, users will form an opinion about whether they find the site trustworthy or not. This is an extremely small window of time to convince users that your website is one that they can trust purchasing from - so what kind of trust factors can you include to promote your reliability as a business? More importantly, what kind of actual value do the assets on your webpage have?

1. Testimonials

Consumers ultimately begin trusting businesses through recommendations from peers, experts, and friends. Testimonials are most credible when attributed to a real person. Adding a name, face, or voice creates a legitimate source that customers can identify. Authentic testimonials that are featured on your website can also be properly leveraged across multiple marketing channels, such as social media or email marketing, which can also be powerful trust builders for any business. Additional tools like rating scales and comment sections allow customers to leave honest reviews. Reponses from real people give prospective clients a glimpse into the customer experience and can help encourage undecided potential customers to convert. Applying testimonials can result in increased conversion rates and customer satisfaction. When watch retailer Express Watches found out that their users were concerned about not getting the best price, quality, or security, the company immediately took steps to minimize these fears. Initially, they tried to simply address these concerns, but they didn't see much of an increase in sales. As a result, they decided to integrate a customer testimonial for each product.
Express Watches Comparison
After testing, Express Watches found that the testimonial variation of their product page improved conversions by 58.39%.This experiment shows that while you can always do your best to reduce the anxieties of your customers on your own, sometimes a trustworthy testimonial is a required catalyst to get uncertain users to convert.

2. Design

Your website is the first point of contact for many potential customers. This means it is responsible for the first impression that a user has about your business. A clean design that looks professional lets visitors know that your business is legitimate and not just a fly-by-night operation that could eventually disappear from existence. Design is a trust factor that helps establish credibility even before they interact with your site. If your business doesn't bother investing in a professional looking website, users will look elsewhere for a similar product or service. Part of designing a professional looking website is remembering that the user experience is paramount when trying to build trust. If a visitor has to search far and wide on your site to find information, they will likely get frustrated and try to find the same service or product elsewhere. People never want to work harder than they have to, so create a website that is easy to navigate and attuned to the user experience. What is the actual value of making sure that your website's design is professional and has clear navigation? In the case of fitness site Daily Burn, formerly known as Gyminee, it was incredibly valuable. While they had a professional looking site that established trust with their customers, the navigation was so cluttered that many people were getting irritated and navigating out of their conversion funnel. In order to remedy this, Gyminee reduced the number of navigation options on their website to make it a clearer, more streamlined process.
Gyminee After
The new variation increased their website signup rate by an average of 20.45% - a hefty increase just by making their design cleaner and easier to use.

3. Business Information

Providing contact information, like a phone number or a business address, shows that you have actual office space with real employees. This is another great way to build trust with customers. List your physical address, phone number, and e-mail on the contact page to allow visitors to easily access your business information. Knowing that they can talk to an actual human being if they run into any issues can reassure consumers and allay fears of inadequate quality or service. Another great information asset is to show that you are actively hiring to grow your business. Continually searching for the highest quality employees adds credibility. It proves you are a business that will be around for the long-term and that people are applying for a company they trust. One of the best ways to provide business information is to spend time creating an "About Us" page that is descriptive and visually stimulating. Showing the names and faces of employees personalizes your company and allows users to get an idea of how things are being run behind the scenes. Be honest with your customers and you will instill a sense of trust in them that will make them navigate from your "About Us" page to the product or service you are trying to sell. What kind of value does providing business information provide? For Tomedes, a translation service company, it meant changing the copy on their "About Us" page to be more attention grabbing and honest about the services provided. They were able to increase their overall conversion rates by 13%. Why was this change so effective? The team over at Tomedes took the time to go through their site analytics reports and noticed that a lot of site abandonment was taking place on the "About Us" page. As a result, this is where they focused on making trust-building changes.
About Us Page
It should be noted that this approach should be taken on a business by business basis - maybe your "About Us" page is fine but you need to supply a company phone number on certain pages. The only way to know for sure is to go through your website data and identify where your website needs additional trust factors.

4. Awards and Certifications

Another effective trust factor is certificates and awards that show you are a respected business with notable achievements. This helps users feel more secure when browsing your website and filling out personal information about themselves. Even if your business is only asking for something as simple as an e-mail address, adding trust elements will increase the likelihood of a user providing that information. Blue Fountain Media conducted a test for our "Request a Quote" form which users see when they contact us for a quote about our services. The original form had a picture of a lock and simply stated: "Your information will not be shared with any 3rd parties under any circumstances." For the variation form, we replaced this message with a VeriSign Trusted business seal in the same location. RAQ Before and After The difference it created for us was mammoth - form fills from organic, non-branded search traffic improved by 81%. The addition of a certified logo helped increase user trust where simply saying "trust us" was not as effective. This made a significant difference in getting new visitors to convert who had been previously been unwilling to do so.

5. Case Studies

Case studies are a great way to attract attention to the work you've done by providing quantifiable results instead of just telling people how good your product or service is. This is particularly useful for businesses that sell services because it shows potential customers how valuable your work has been for clients who have purchased it. Blue Fountain Media's case studies show detailed results and positive analytics surrounding the work that we've completed.
case studies
By showing that your service has done work for others in the past, you help your product or service appear more reliable to customers who may need an extra trust factor to convert to your business.

6. Social Media

Social media can be one of the best trust building tools for companies. Not only can you talk directly to existing customers, but you also show prospective customers that you have a responsive company that will promptly address any user needs or concerns. Also, having social media indicator buttons next to any sharable articles, shows that people are interacting with the content you publish. When they share your articles, current and potential consumers know that they can trust and engage with you on a regular basis.
social media widget
So how much can this actually increase conversions on a site? For voice-over service, adding various social media buttons equated to a 400% increase in conversions. The business took the time to implement a widget that displayed the major brands had worked with in the past like NBC, ABC, the History Channel and PBS. They also added other socially sharable content to the site such as demonstration videos. Together, these new social media assets help communicate why potential clients should trust you and sign up for the service. It also helps make the people who had once fallen out of the conversion funnel feel more secure in the legitimacy of your business.

7. Guarantees

Guarantees are often thought of as gimmicky techniques that are shamelessly used to get people to buy a product or service. However, when done correctly, return, delivery, and satisfaction guarantees can go a long way towards building potential customer trust. These promises can help consumers feel confident purchasing from you.

A great way to provide a satisfaction guarantee is to give users a free trial of your product. While this may seem like a dangerous idea because it could minimize the amount of people that will ultimately buy the product, free trials are actually a good way to spread brand awareness and increase your customer base.

An example comes from GetResponse, an email marketing platform. They had offered a free trial for their service, but purposely hid it from their front page. Instead, the "Buy Now" CTA was prominently displayed because they were concerned that free trials might negatively affect the amount of signups for their paid version. However, adding a free trial button on the homepage next to the "Buy Now" option helped increase the number of free accounts by a staggering 158.60%.

GetResponse Control

GetResponse Variation
Interestingly, adding the free trial button had no negative influence on the number of paid accounts created on the homepage. This case study suggests that adding a satisfaction guarantee is a great way to build trust and leads without detracting from sales.

8. External Links

Building customer trust through third party relationships has a lot in common with using trust certifications. They are not only concerned about being verified by a bigger business, but also providing proof that you work closely with recognizable brands. This means providing users external links to other websites that reference your business, like reputable news sources and articles that write about their experience working with you. The idea is to show users that people who aren't necessarily affiliated with your business still have nice things to say about what you do. While external links pointing at your website are important trust builders, third party relationships also apply to the sites that you link to in your content. If you have blog posts that lead to link directories or scam websites, your credibility with any prospective customer will be destroyed, as well as any chance for potential conversion. Make sure your outbound links are to reliable sources that you want your business to be affiliated with.
external links
Sharing external links with third party relationships can directly help your business's sales. This was the case for the online retailer Bag Servant. They replaced their homepage's Twitter button with a "WOW" badge awarded to them by another business and increased their conversion rate by 72.05%, while simultaneously increasing site engagement by 10.27% and product exploration by 60.42%.

Utilize Trust Factors

While most websites know they need to have trust factors, they are often overlooked because sometimes it doesn't seem to provide measurable value. These examples make it clear that strategically implementing the right assets on your website can increase your brand's trustworthiness, resulting in greater conversions. If you are missing valuable trust factors on your site, potential customers are slipping out of your grasp. Don't let that happen - utilize these features to positively influence your brand and reputation to gain trust from your users. Have you had any success using a trust factor on a website that we didn't include? Tell us about it in the comments section below or by tweeting us @BFMweb.
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