I've been doing a number of competitive analyses for clients, which means I've been spending a lot of time looking at websites. As I discern the the basics about each company, I also realize that, for right or wrong, I make quick judgments regarding how formidable a competitor each company is.
Of course, this got me thinking: what is it about companies' websites that make some seem more powerful and legitimate than others? What is it that makes me -- and your potential buyers -- trust one company more than another when viewing a website? Here are the things that make an impact on me.
Is the website professionally designed?
The first thing that catches my eye is (obviously) the design of the site. If it looks like it was thrown together, you immediately lose credibility with me. It's as simple as that.
Are others using the products successfully?
As a prospect, one of the things that makes me feel good about a product or service to is to see that others have had success it, and there is no better way to do that than through case studies and quotes. If you have an extensive list of clients, that helps, too. Not only should you have case studies on your site, but make them easy to find.
Can I understand what you do?
I often talk about writing for your ideal reader. People want to understand what you do without trying too hard. But, having a clearly-written website also inspires trust with me as it gives me the feeling that you a) know your business and, b) haven't simply repurposed existing content to go on your website.
Can I understand how you're different?
If there is one thing I think many websites fail to do, it is clearly telling the reader why their solution is unique. When a company has a good handle on this and presents it well, it makes me trust them because I feel like they understand the market (and the need of the reader to understand this.) As a suggestion, if you have an FAQ section (which I highly recommend), it's effective to include the question, "How is XYZ unique?"
Is it easy for me to contact you?
You would think that having contact info on a website would be a given, but this isn't my experience. . . . or Seth Godin's, either. In a post he wrote recently, Godin lamented that six out of eight websites he visited hid their email address and used a form instead. If readers can't contact you directly (preferably in multiple ways), they likely question, "Who is that man behind the curtain?" which plants a seed of doubt.
Is the information current?
We've all seen this on websites: "Come visit us at XYZ event," with a date that passed months ago. Boom! You just lost credibility with me. If you can't keep your website updated, it makes me wonder how much attention you are paying to other parts of your business.
Do you have a lot of relevant content?
I love seeing lots of content on websites (and not just because I'm always on the lookout for great content examples). To me, a body of different and well done content signals that the company is active in the space and really wants to educate prospects. There are lots of reasons to develop content, but it certainly develops trust.
Have you been in the business awhile?
For many, there is comfort in knowing that a company has been around for awhile and has lots of clients. If you have a lot of experience, make sure to tout the number of years in business and the number of customers you have. It likely won't make the sale, but it won't hurt, either.
These are the elements that are important to me, but I'd love to learn what you think it critical. What inspires trust with you?
- How to Make Your B2B Website More Buyer-Centric
- Eight Things Your Prospects Wish You Knew
- People Aren't Reading Your Web Copy? It's Not Them, It's YOU
Read more Savvy B2B posts by Michele.