You have about three seconds to prove to a new visitor that your site is going to solve their problem.
Here is how to ensure they place you in the “trusted” bin.
After all, if there is a human being sitting on their web browser with your site pulled up, you’ve done the hard part. But even after slaying the beast of acquiring visitors through SEO, PPC or social media, there’s still a good chance that site visitor will walk away through the “Back” button and never return.
The science we’re discussing is conversion rate optimization. At the front end of converting a new site visitor are those precious few seconds you have to set yourself apart from the pack.
Of course, there are numerous ways to bring together a good web design, content and call to action to convert a site visitor into a customer.
But here are six surefire tricks of the trade that too many webmasters seem to ignore:
1. Professional Web Design
You’ve heard this before? That’s because it really matters. New visitors form their opinion of your services instantly based on your site design. If you are a legitimate business or service-provider, people assume you can afford to pay a professional designer to make your site purr like it’s 2010, not 2001.
2. “As Seen In”
Positioning yourself alongside trusted brands or news outlets gives credibility by association. More simply put, your new site visitor might not know your brand or name, but they do know The New York Times or the Better Business Bureau. Take advantage of any press or awards you’re received by placing the logos of those organizations on your main page. The more the merrier. Aaron Wall’s SEOBook.com does a great job of this.
3. Customer Testimonials (with pictures!)
Finding satisfied clients or customers should not be difficult. After all, you’re crushing it out there! Take the time to compile the nice notes and emails they’ve sent into a page on your site. Prominently display a few of the best examples on your main page or landing pages.
Be sure to provide the person’s name and location or title along with the testimonial. And here’s an extra tip — post real pictures of your happy customers next to the testimonials. Sites like VA Mortgage Center.com and a lot of universities do this well.
Related: Website Mistake That Cripple Profits
4. This is a Secure Place
Conveying that your website is a secure place to conduct business and exchange personal information is integral to turning a visitor into a conversion, especially in e-commerce.
Most Internet users will not scour the address bar for an “https” designation. You need to put blatant language on your site that says “Your information is secure” and show the logo of the security provider. Examples include Verisign and Truste. Also, have highly visible links to policies on shipping and how you will use customer information once it’s submitted.
5. Showcase Your Physical Assets
Another nuance that many web visitors notice is when you provide a physical address for your business. There is an entire checklist of one-off signals that most “legitimate” web businesses display — physical address, picture of your business, updated copyright date, phone number, business hours and the like. Don’t overlook the benefits these simple inclusions can add up to. Credibility goes a long, long way with consumers.
Related: Internet Marketing Mistakes That Lose Sales
6. Embrace Interactivity
It may seem almost unoriginal to toss up some visible links to your Twitter and Facebook pages (or your RSS feed if you’re a blog), with even the local ice cream shop asking you to follow them on Twitter. Welcome to the new mainstream, delicious Gelateria.
This means site visitors are going to expect it when they hit your page. No visible participation in social networking sites could discourage them. Go a step further and make these platforms a daily forum for answering customer questions and solving customer problems, and you’ll be proud to plop that Facebook feed right on your home page — put it in the sidebar, under the “As Seen In,” above the Verisign logo, next to your physical address . . .
Chris Birk, a former newspaper and magazine writer, works for Missouri-based Plus1 Marketing, an Inc. 500 online marketing firm. He is also a principal with SuretyBonds.com and a part-time college professor.