2 Impactful Ways to Up Your Online Business' Credibility With Customers

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

2 Impactful Ways to Up Your Online Business' Credibility With Customers

It seems that businesses with a physical location are either being put out of business by - or are morphing into - online businesses. In the current consumer landscape, that isn’t surprising. Doing business online is a significant convenience for today’s consumer. Customers are willing to forego contact with a salesperson in favor of that convenience, selection and/or price. And as for business owners, running an online business has numerous advantages over a brick and mortar store including no rent or utilities and fewer employees to hire. Online businesses, it seems, represent a hefty slice of the retail pie.

Online businesses have a unique set of challenges, however, that need to be overcome to ensure a high degree shopability. Convenience, selection and price aren’t the only determining factors that figure into where shoppers spend their money. While customers may prefer to shop online, they won’t just shop with anyone. There’s an anonymity factor that an online business must work to minimize. In order to have customers choose to shop with you rather than the “other guys,” you have to project an air of credibility - a persona they can - and want to - relate to.

Building Online Credibility

There are two particularly impactful ways you can bridge the gap with your customers and build your online credibility in their eyes:

1. Tell your story

Expertly crafted advertising copy is a must. It defines your business’ purpose and keeps your marketing efforts on-point and cohesive. But think beyond advertising copy...way beyond. The most important message you can communicate to your customers is your story. Storytelling is an incredibly powerful means of engaging and influencing people. So rather than relating just the facts about your offerings, use the opportunity to interject a bit of context into your website content.

Create an About US Page to tell your customers the story of your business - its inception, its inspiration, its purpose, your hopes and dreams for it… There’s no need for a dramatic tale; just be sincere and straightforward. Capture their imagination so they have a concrete concept of your business’ identity. Once they feel they know you, you’re no longer a stranger - you’re an acquaintance. People like to do business with those to whom they feel a connection.

Include such elements of your personal “backstory” as these help customers get to know you:

  1. Express your passion for your industry
  2. Describe your commitment to quality and customer service
  3. From where does your product and/or service inspiration come?
  4. Discuss why your business is important to you

You want your story to honestly reflect the values and identity of your business. Recount it regularly to whomever acts as your professional advisors to hone your delivery and to ensure that the message sounds authentic and natural. Take every opportunity to sell through the lens of your story - it will cement your persona in the minds of your customers.

2. Get reviews

Your business’ story is compelling and sincere; the only problem is that, if you’re the only one telling it, it lacks depth - and objectivity. That’s why it’s important to collect reviews from your customers. When these third parties’ voices are added to the chorus, it’s no longer just you singing your praises. Think of it this way: who doesn’t appreciate a first-hand, word-of-mouth recommendation as to a product or service? To hear details from someone with direct experience with what you’re considering buying is very persuasive.

Many shoppers actively look for and rely upon reviews when shopping online. It provides them an added measure of assurance that the product will be satisfactory and that the shopping experience will be seamless.

Granted, it can feel a bit awkward asking buyers for reviews, but they’re so important, it’s worth biting the bullet. Asking in context of a sale makes the request a little easier. Follow up a sale with a thank you email to the customer which includes a link to a review opportunity. Remind them of your commitment to customer satisfaction and that their honest feedback will help you to ensure that it remains top-notch. A prompt may grease the wheel, for instance, “We’d love to hear about your online shopping experience with XYZ & Co.” or “How pleased were you with the item you received from XYZ & Co.?” To help encourage reviews, you could offer an incentive, like an entry into a sweepstakes, a gift or a percentage off a future offer in exchange. Such incentives can be offered in advance or as a surprise when a review has been proffered - your choice.

These two elements are critical to building your online business’ credibility with customers. Implementing them will demonstrate your commitment to being a trusted, well-known company who believes that reputation online, like in person, is earned.

How does your online business build credibility with customers?

Read other Gina articles