Trust issues

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Trust is hard won and easily lost. This is why successful companies invest so much in reassuring their current and prospective customers that they are making the right choice.

When planning and designing a new website for our clients we always start from the perspective of the target audience. Who is going to be visiting this website and why? What are they looking for? What are they worried about? How can we best address their needs?

One of the first things we consider is how to build credibility and trust. We think about the mental checklist a visitor might go through before they would consider making an enquiry or a purchase.

For a business that sells services to other businesses (or B2B, as it is known) often it is useful to include testimonials, case studies, reviews and the logos of brands that the business already serves.

The author Robert Cialdini coined the term ‘social proof’ to describe this approach.

“One means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct,” Cialdini wrote in his book ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.’

“The principle applies especially to the way we decide what constitutes correct behaviour. We view a behaviour as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.”

It is a form of monkey see, monkey do. And it makes sense. We do not have the time to appraise every situation as thoroughly as we might like. And so we use convenient shortcuts. Knowledge that a business is already trusted by others can be highly persuasive.

An often under-utilised trust-builder – especially in the B2B space – is the inclusion of real photography and video, ideally showing the company’s team and the locations at which they work. If well executed this is so much more powerful than stock images and footage.

Underpinning all of this, of course, is the design and functionality of the website itself. If it loads quickly, looks beautiful, and is easy to navigate, then a commitment to quality and customer care is immediately obvious.

A version of this article was published as part of a weekly column by Guy Cookson on marketing, design, trends and strategy in the Lancaster Guardian, Blackpool Gazette, Lancashire Post and other titles. See our brand, web design and marketing recent projects.

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