How To Build Trust In Your Online Business

When somebody goes online to search for products or services, they are instinctively suspicious. This is even the case with big, multinational brands. Most people are fairly educated about the way in which the web works, and they understand that just about anybody can set up a website. Even if your business is Nike, the people that visit your website will always be on the lookout for signs that you may be an imposter.

Of course, suspicion is never helpful when you are trying to secure a sale. It is your task to convince potential customers that you can be trusted. Unfortunately, they rarely give you more than a few minutes to convince them that you are a legitimate, responsible business that can deliver on all of its promises.

If you sell products, customers want to be absolutely sure that you will dispatch items quickly and they will be received as described. If you sell services, your potential clients need to believe that you can do the things that you claim.

In both cases, customers often need to be persuaded that they can trust you with their confidential payment details.

In this article, you will discover just how crucial it is for you to be build trust on the Internet if you hope to turn your business into a success. Read on to learn why trust is so important, the disastrous consequences of getting it wrong, and some practical ways to get it right.

Customers See Your Online Business As Smoke and Mirrors

Imagine that you are walking the high street searching for books when you see a sign stuck to a door. It says ‘Cheap Books Here!’ and so you go inside, briefly noticing the name of the shop at the top of the window.

Once inside, you realise that the shop is empty. There is nothing more than a curtain in the corner of the room. A voice echoes from behind it.

“What book are you looking for?” it booms.

You respond into the air.

“Yes, we’ve got that one. £10 please.” A hand creeps around the curtain, waiting to take your money.

If you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t give your money away that easily! You haven’t seen the item, the person who is selling it to you, or any proof that this is the kind of business you can trust.

But this is the same experience that customers get when they decide to shop online for products or services. They are expected to pay for something that they haven’t physically seen, to somebody that they don’t know anything about.

Your business may be honest and upfront. You may have the best products in the world and the best service to back them up. But everyone says that.

Why should your visitors believe you?

Three Trust Building Features Of The Best Online Businesses

If there is a simple answer to the complex question of building trust as a business, it is reputation. If the potential customers that visit your website can read feedback and comments from satisfied customers, they will be more confident in your abilities to do what you claim and deliver quality products and services.

There are many ways that you can leverage the power of customer feedback. Here are just three to get you started:

1. Use Customer Testimonials On Your Website

The easiest thing to do is just publish a long list of testimonials on your website from existing customers. If you are doing good business you will receive a lot of positive feedback naturally, but always ask for permission to publish the review along with some customer information.

Many online businesses publish testimonials without saying where they came from. This is a particularly spurious way of doing business, and will probably raise more concerns than having none at all.

So what do you do if you have no existing customers to quote and are just getting started with your business? A great technique is to ask reputable online organisations and individuals to help you out. Perhaps you could send a free sample of your product to niche bloggers, and ask them to provide testimonials in return?

2. Sign Up To An Independent Reviews Website

Once you are more established, do not assume that the need to build trust disappears. In fact, as your customer base grows and you have less time to concentrate on each individual visitor, it can become even more difficult to spend time on bolstering customer confidence.

There are many external websites and business directories that include business reviews, and these are great tools for building trust and also winning new customers.

At FreeIndex, the leading UK business directory, you can create a listing for your business free of charge. This public profile will contain information on what you do and how people can get in touch.

But FreeIndex also offers the capability for customers to post reviews and increase your overall rating. As your number of reviews increases, you can add a badge to your website. This has two significant effects – you can show potential customers that you have received lots of positive feedback, with the added authority of an independent website.

Some other great places to get your business reviewed are Yelp and Google Places.

3. Give Your Customers A Voice That Can Be Heard

Finally, if you have enough customers to support it, integrating discussion with your website is a highly effective way to build trust.

A message board, or forum, gives visitors the chance to start their own conversations about your business, your products, and the wider industry. As these individuals discuss your services, potential customers can quickly see that you have lots of happy customers.

Of course, starting a message board opens the door to negative comments. Hopefully, you will not receive any of these! If you do, though, turn them into positive opportunities by being professional and supportive. After all, this is your chance to show potential customers just how brilliant your customer service is!

Your web hosting provider will usually be happy to tell you which options are open to you when it comes to launching a forum on your website. Usually, you can install a message board like phpBB – which is free – automatically with a script installer that is included with your plan.

Several plugins are also available for WordPress that offer message board functionality. You can explore them at wordpress.org/extend/plugins/tags/forum.

Security For Your Online Business

Of course, reputation is only one side of what makes a trustworthy business online. People don’t just need to trust that you can provide great products and services – they also need to trust you with their confidential information including:

  • Credit Card Data
  • Address Details
  • Passwords and Logins

The first thing that people check when parting with this kind of sensitive data is to look at the security features of your website. All confidential data should be sent through Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL. The way that you prove your trustworthy nature when it comes to this information is with an SSL Certificate.

SSL Certificates are issued by companies that vouch for the security processes that you have in place. Your web hosting provider should support SSL, and can help you to get an SSL Certificate for a small fee.

Although there are alternative ways to take payments online including Paypal, an SSL Certificate does more than tell customers that data is being transferred securely. It tells them that you are a trustworthy company overall, responsible in the way that you conduct business online.

Be A Real, Accountable and Reachable Business

Finally, perhaps the most important thing of all when it comes to building customer trust is just being a real person, not a faceless business name without connections to the real world.

It almost goes without saying that your website should tell visitors everything that they need to know about who you are and how you can be reached. By publishing your phone number, a mailing address, and a company registration number if applicable, your visitors can get in touch to check you out before they make their purchase, and be confident that they could reach you if something went wrong.

There are many reasons that people shy away from giving out this kind of information their websites. Some people expect to receive nuisance calls the moment they put their phone number online. Others don’t like the idea of publishing their home address, but do not have a business address to use.

These are understandable reasons, but let them go. If you want customers to give you their trust, you’ll need to give them something in return.

Be an open, honest person and visitors will see your business as open and honest too. Show them that you are a real human being that they can trust and they will always put their trust in your online business.

The Echo Effect of Social Bookmarking

A short time ago, I was preparing an SEO Case Study using some recommended Web 2.0 strategies and I thought my notes might be an interesting read for someone on the same path of learning.

I have a series of five websites that are four months old. Each site has about 5-700 pages indexed in Google, some pages indexed in Yahoo, but almost nothing in MSN, according to the data at Marketleap. All of these sites were roughly built by following the business plan outlines and ideas offered by Rick Butts.

This experiment intends to combine the idea presented in an Internet Marketing Secrets Podcast, (to pre-schedule blog posts intended to take over the top search placements for details surrounding Big Public Events that are already scheduled to occur) and utilize methods of Web 2.0 marketing that are currently proving effective, (after posting to your blog, announce it on several web2 sites. Then bookmark your post and the announcement pages on social bookmarking sites).

The measurement of success will be – the number of people who sign up to download the ebooks that are offered along side announcements about the event.

As I’ve been carefully targeting a narrow set of niche keywords, I’ve been monitoring the resulting changes in the top 30 ranking websites.

Just as before, I’ve been able to quickly grab several of the top placements for my keyword phrases. Results are showing up where I own four of the top 10 and fifteen of the top 30 searches on my phrase – because I’m using a series of five blogs on WordPress, a series of five independently hosted websites and a blog on LiveJournal. In addition, I’ve been posting summaries of my blog posts to three document and news release websites like Scibd and Propeller.

After all these co-ordinated posts are completed, I’ve been following directions and bookmarking the articles and the article summaries with ten or twelve popular social bookmarking sites using Onlywire service to make it easier.

I started to see by blog posts appear in the top search results first – often within an hour. Soon these listings are overtaken by the new release sites. After a day or two, my hosted website pages begin to show in the top 20 to 30. To my delight and surprise, within another day or two, I begin to see even more top rankings because of the “Echo Effect” of Social Bookmarking.

The ‘Echo Effect’ occurs when the RSS feeds from these Bookmarking sites are picked up by other sites and blogs around the internet. Google is indexing these feeds, giving my campaign more top rankings and more links back to my original article, resulting in an echo effect of even more website traffic.

Of course… this gives me lots of new ideas for marketing in new Niches – and inspires me to continue building a complete list of web 2.0 sites that Google loves.

Here’s to Business on the Internet!

Launch Your Wholesale Video Games Business Store – Insider’s Secrets!

Wholesale video games businesses along side eBay, they aren’t supposed to sound like strangers to you. Unless you’re totally cut off from the world, you won’t need to be introduced to eBay, regarded as the largest auction website in the world. eBay has a presence in nearly every country. But did you know that it was supposed to be called “Echo Bay”?

However, the Echo eBay dot com domain was already taken, so “Echo Bay” was shorted to just “eBay.” There’s a trivia for you. The creator originally intended for it to be an online venue for people to auction off their personal and unusual items. However, as we can all see, eBay has become more than a place where you can have a virtual garage sale.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to break into the world of wholesale video games business are still using it to jumpstart their wholesale business. And why wouldn’t they? eBay is easy to use and it’s still very affordable no matter if you sell new or used items that are popular and in demand!

Instead of discussing how eBay works (you can find this information on eBay anyway), below are a few tips on how you can use eBay to your advantage:

o Regard it as your launch pad, the starting line for all your online marketing efforts. Be prepared to grow and move beyond once you have built customers and contact.

o Always follow eBay rules. Don’t try to go around the rules or worse, break them. You’ll have yourself banned and your reputation ruined even before you could establish yourself.

o Pay attention to the expenses you incur. These include listing fees, fixed price sales, shipping costs and other extra fees to make your auctions stand out. Make sure that you’re actually making a profit listing and selling your items on eBay.

o Take advantage of the social networking features. These include blogs, groups and discussion boards. Participate in these areas because it can help expand your knowledge and give you opportunity to connect with other marketers.

o Never be satisfied with your e-commerce structuring. Make minor tweaks or changes and test them. Sometimes, a small change can bring you higher wholesale video games tangible profits.

o You can accept online payments using Paypal. When you do, though, apply for a Premier or Business account with Paypal. This will give you credibility and allow you to easily accept payments from buyers around the world.

o eBay has a vibrant and active international market. In fact, there is an eBay in nearly every country. Visit these country versions because you may just find an untapped market outside the US. You may even be able to list your products in these places without paying any listing fees.

o Regularly visit eBay’s Help and Tutorials sections. These are great places to find information on how you can maximize your use of eBay.

o Use eBay’s PULSE, a great source for the hot search terms and items that are hot sellers.

o Don’t be afraid to use eBay’s tools and statistical analysis products because they can give you information that will help increase your profits and minimize your workload.

The success of your business depends on your imagination, vision and determination. eBay can be a great starting point for you to start and grow your own business.

Of course, if you’re new in the wholesale business on the Internet, you’re likely to become overwhelmed by the things you’ll have to learn and become familiar with. You’ll definitely experience “information overload” but remember that this is natural, and everyone who’s starting an online business will feel the same way you do. Realize that eBay has a system in place that makes it easy for anyone to start. You simply need to concentrate, learn things in a step-by-step manner and apply yourself to the task.

When you have made a secure place for yourself in the marketplace, your next step is to start thinking of ways you can expand your business beyond eBay. Look into how you can set up and host your own wholesale video games business shop online, buy a domain name, build your contacts and customers and such if you can afford to invest, for a better tomorrow. eBay is definitely the place where you can start making a profit, but you can grow your business beyond eBay.