When you’re an entrepreneur, your clients expect certain things from your website. They expect it to be highly professional, easy to navigate, and full of information they can use to determine if your business is worthy of their trust. Trust, after all, is an integral part of doing business with people, and your website is often the first opportunity to earn that trust—or to lose it. Here are five of the most important elements your website needs to successfully build a trustworthy brand.
1. Hire a professional web designer
A well-designed website is a business card, a Yellow Pages advertisement, a brochure, a sales kit, a lead-generating engine, and so much more. Be prepared to budget $1,500 to $5,000 for professional website design. While it might be tempting to save money by outsourcing the project overseas, keep in mind that web development is one area where you absolutely get what you pay for.
For the majority of projects, I recommend WordPress websites. WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS), which basically means it provides a comprehensive template for building and managing your website. WordPress is the most common CMS solution available, so finding designers and developers at a low cost is easy. Choose a designer who has a portfolio of sites that resonate with you.
Web design and development is not a DIY endeavor. Your time is much better spent focusing on other aspects of Internet marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to drive prospects to your site. These days, the way to be found on the Internet and distinguish your site from spammers is to simply be transparent. Let customers know that you are a real business with real people. One of the best ways to do that is through your “About Us” company page.
2. About Us Page with Executive Headshots
The About Us page is one of the most important pages on your website, especially for those who are considering doing business with you, because it gives your business a face and personality. Don’t be afraid to use at least 500 words on your about page to convey something personal about you and your business, and make sure to include professional headshots. Photos of you and your staff let visitors know you are a real company with real people. Executive headshots typically cost between $100 and $250, and can be professionally edited in Photoshop as needed.
3. Highlight Trustworthy Affiliations
Use Trust Seal graphics to increase conversions by up to 10 percent. Surveys of online shoppers show that people will leave your site if you don’t display trust seals. The Better Business Bureau, an SSL certificate, a malware scan seal, Chamber of Commerce membership, NAIFA, Trusted Choice, and even a custom guarantee seal can be expensive. These organizations may require that you become a member, but they provide member benefits beyond the ability to display the digital seals on your website. You don’t need to display every trust seal, though having none at all will certainly not help you build a strong online reputation.
4. Testimonials and Reviews
People love personal recommendations. Customers want to know you’re competent, and one of the best ways to convey this is to let your current or past customers and business partners do it for you. The easiest way to start is by getting testimonials, including permission to publish them.
While there are no shortage of methods used to procure feedback from customers, I’ve personally found that the best way is to simply call them. Make it easy on your customers and have them give you a testimonial right there on the phone. Take notes during the call and have your customer sign off on what you have transcribed. Then, have them send a follow up note indicating their explicit approval that you can keep on file.
Displaying reviews is a bit trickier. There are several new review plugins you can use on your website, although most require monthly fees. The most valuable social proof is from third-party review platforms such as Google, Yelp, BBB, and YP. They provide the most benefit because they are not under your control. A great strategy for leveraging these platforms is to ask customers you already know love your service to post a review for you on one or more of these sites. Just be careful that you do, in fact, offer a great service, because negative reviews on some of these sites can be devastating to your online reputation.
5. Contact Information
It’s astounding how many professionals build a website and then neglect to put a physical address anywhere on it. I know many entrepreneurs work from home these days, but there is nothing wrong with listing your home address on your site. Even worse are the sites that do not even provide an email address. Instead, the only way to contact the company is through a contact form. I understand people are attempting to avoid getting spammed and that people want their privacy, but the whole point of your business site is to have people contact you.
I have had my email address displayed on my site for years and I do get my fair share of spam, but this is handled exceptionally well by the spam and junk filter that comes with my email system. Your website is a tool to allow your potential customers to get to know you and your business, so don’t make it difficult for them to get in touch with you.
A strong online presence through a quality website can either bring in more business or drive customers away. It’s as simple as that. Your website is a direct reflection of you and your business, so spend the time and resources to ensure it’s something that will represent the level of trustworthiness and professionalism you’re trying to convey to potential clients.
Brian Greenberg is a multi-faceted entrepreneur currently serving as a founder and executive of multiple online businesses, including serving as President of True Blue Life Insurance. Recognized as one of the most creative people in the insurance industry, Greenberg is in the world’s top one percent of life insurance and financial services professionals. He may be reached online at www.TrueBlueLifeInsurance.com.