Marketing is all about understanding human behavior. Although there are many risk takers out there, the majority of consumers are risk aversive. Since the Internet is a mysterious and intangible medium, consumers need to feel comfortable they are dealing with a reputable business entity when purchasing online. Anyone can pop up a web site and start selling their products. There is little if any governance and licensing of these activities. Consumers know this and have increased feelings of skepticism and reluctance when it comes to purchasing online as opposed to a physical bricks and mortar channel. As a marketer, it is your job to gain their trust and credibility electronically to be able to turn web prospects into online sales.
Let’s face it. Consumers are timid when it comes to purchasing online. Despite the fact the product or service can not be touched, the brand or company may also be an unknown. People want to feel assured they are going to receive a quality product or service. They also want to know who is getting their identity and credit information. No matter what medium is being used, consumers will look for clues to evaluate and judge credibility and quality before purchasing.
There are a few simple things you can do to increase trust and improve perceptions of quality. This holds true for the web and for your brick and mortar channel.
Improve corporate identity and visuals.
People visually evaluate quality. They just do – it never ceases to amaze me! I’ve seen people short-list unqualified firms because they had a “pretty proposal” and overlook technically fantastic firms that just didn’t do a good job presenting their qualifications in an appealing manner. It seems shallow but I have seen it time and time again in a variety of marketplaces ranging from high-ticket item services to low cost physical goods. Some owners and high level executives dismiss the imagery and identity activity as a ‘nice-to-have’ when in reality – it is a ‘need’. To gain credibility for your web storefront, invest in professional quality logos, graphics and templates. There are a few good resources for quality templates. One such source is http://www.1magez.com. Establish an appealing corporate image and consistently display that image in all your activities. You’ll be shocked at how persuasive it is in gaining new customers!
Quickly respond to all types of inquiries.
Don’t ever forget the marketing mantra…attention – interest – desire – action. The consumer has taken action, now it is up to you to make the sale! Don’t miss that fleeting moment of opportunity. At that moment in time the buyer is emotionally thinking about your offer. Give them immediate response and gratification. Make it easy for them to purchase from you. Employ auto-responders in your marketing arsenal.
Auto-responders are the email responses sent when a prospect submits a form or email expressing interest in an offer. You develop can create auto-responders using email program rules or you can purchase third party tools. The auto-responder can be initiated by clicking a simple hyperlink or by filling out a form. I know it is tempting to get every last bit of detail you can from a prospect during the sales process but remember this is online marketing, the quicker and easier it is for the consumer to purchase, the less time they have to abandon the online inquiry. I am talking seconds here – not minutes or hours. Keep thinking “fleeting moment” when you are designing your online strategy. Categorize the auto-responders by type of request. Personalize them as much as possible. Also reward them for taking action. Include a special offer in the response to motivate them to take further action.
Include client satisfaction guarantees, references and licenses.
Eliminate perceived online purchase risk by demonstrating your confidence and previous client’s satisfaction. You can demonstrate your own confidence by offering a money-back guarantee. If you don’t believe in your own product – why should they! Display client testimonials when possible. A simple one or two liner stating your company met or exceeded their expectations goes a long way in building perceptions of quality. Finally, if you are formally licensed to provide goods and services, include that with the firm contact information. This could be a sentence in a company introduction or a number placed discreetly with your address. Since I mentioned it – include your address and contact information. If you don’t want people contacting you then you obviously don’t want sales! Additionally, many firms’ financial systems require street address and phone number entries. Don’t lose sales because you didn’t post this information. This little point assures new clients that your firm is legitimate.
By incorporating these practices, your fleeting moment prospects can quickly evaluate your online presence and determine your firm to be trust-worthy!