Establishing Online Credibility

 

Article by: Tony L. Callahan


Credibility is a key ingredient for any successful business venture. Building and enhancing the credibility of the product you offer is an ongoing and full-time effort. So how can busy online entrepreneurs add building credibility to all the other responsibilities they are trying to juggle?

Why not make sure the web site you use works as hard as you do to establish credibility? Let's look at elements that can be built into a well designed web site to enhance credibility in the eyes of your potential customers.

Offer A Guarantee
Nothing beats a solid, believable guarantee for building credibility online. It may be hard to believe but the buying via the Internet is still unfamiliar, and uncomfortable, territory for the majority of people. It is up to you, the business owner, to put their minds at ease. One way to do this would be to offer an unconditional, 100% money back guarantee. Include the cost of shipping and handling in your guarantee. By assuming all of the risk, you will earn instant credibility points with most potential customers.

Provide Contact Information
Even the best guarantee won't help establish credibility if the potential customer can not contact you. Post accurate contact information on your web site and make it easy to find. Provide as many methods of contact as possible, do not simply post a link to an email address. For maximum credibility, post the complete mailing address, phone number (preferably a toll free number), and email addresses for customer's to use if they feel the need to contact you.

Use Testimonials
Testimonials are the Internet equivalent of word of mouth advertising. They can be very effective tools for building credibility provided they are believable. To get quality testimonials, ask your past customers for their opinions. Obtain their permission to use their word and names as part of your advertising. Do not use celebrity endorsements, most people assume these are paid endorsements.

Provide A Brief Bio
Familiarity is one of the most effective tools for building credibility on the Internet. But how do you establish familiarity in a faceless, impersonal medium like the 'Net? Simple, tell people about yourself. Post a page that provides a thumbnail sketch that describes who you are. Be sure to include personal data as well as professional credentials. Place your photo on the page so people can put a face with your name. Creating familiarity will impart another level of credibility for you and, by extension, for the product you represent.

Emphasize Transaction Security
Nearly everyone recognizes the need to conduct secure exchanges of information via the Internet. Most web site designers automatically build security features into the parts of a web site where information is exchanged. Unfortunately, most users of the 'Net don't understand that these precautions are being taken on their behalf. Emphasize the fact that transactions from your web site are secure. Place statements to this effect prominently in any location where personal information is requested. Letting your customers know that you recognize their security concerns will add credibility to your site.

Privacy Policies
Most reputable web businesses have established privacy policies to protect the information provided by their customers. Make certain your customers can access and read your privacy policy by placing links near any location where personal information is requested. Be sure the policy clearly spells out if the customers information will be shared with any other businesses. A good resource for more information related to privacy policies may be found at: http://www.privacyalliance.org

To maintain the credibility these element help to build it is necessary to deliver on the assurances each element provides. Be sure to update policies and contact information regularly. Follow through on all guarantees promptly and cheerfully. Review the security procedures on a regular basis to be certain they are still adequate for the task. With proper implementation and due diligence, each of these elements will establish and add to your online credibility.


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Tony L. Callahan, is a successful Internet Promotions Consultant with more than twenty years of industry experience and is president of his own Internet marketing company, Link-Promote. He also publishes Web-Links Monthly, a newsletter full of tips, tricks, tools and techniques for successful web site promotions. To subscribe, send e-mail to: Web-Links-subscribe@topica.com.

Want to use this article? You may freely reproduce this article for use on the internet or for your training materials as long as credit is given to the author and the above author description and contact information (including links or web addresses) are included.

 

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