People buy from people they trust.
Especially when just about anyone can sell anything online, the seller who appears most credible or trustworthy will float to the top of their customers choice when it comes time to buy.
Becoming a customer’s top choice – the very first person or company a customer would consider buying from – is every seller’s dream. This is because being #1 means getting not only twice or three times the sales of the #2 in the market, you are likely to get 10 or 20 or even 1,000 times the sales of the #2 in the market.
But first, why does online credibility it matter?
In person, it can be pretty easy to show people that you are someone they can trust and buy from: you show up, sell your customers what they want at a fair price and be there if they have any questions after they buy from you.
But things get slightly challenging when you try to sell online.
How do you convince people who can’t even see your face that you are someone they can trust and buy from?
Especially when a person who visits your webpage will likely leave it in less than 20 seconds, you not only need to find a way to convince your reader that you are trustworthy, you have to do it within a very short amount of time!
Online, the first impression can indeed be the very last one. One of the best ways to improve your chances of making a person stay longer on your website is to seem more credible.
Let me show you.
What does online credibility mean?
In general, being credible means two things:
1. You deliver on your promise. Once they know you are real, they want to know if you are someone who can give them exactly what you promise them.
2. You deliver on your promise on time. Once they know that you are someone who can give them exactly what you promise them, they want to know how quickly they can get it.
However, when selling online, you have to add another factor, which is:
You are real. Your customers want to know if you are a real person and not a bot or some website made for the sake of it.
If you can show your customers all three of these online, they will immediately trust you and have a higher chance of buying from you, even if they’ve never seen you.
You are who you show online
When your potential customers land on your website either through an advertisement or a google search, all they can see is your website and/or social media pages.
Even if your business is incredible offline, if you are online presence does not show it, your business is as good as a scam company.
What you show online essentially acts like your CV.
This is why even classic, trusted brands such as Coca-cola, F&N and so on invest so much in creating a credible, relevant and trustworthy online presence. They know that though a lot of people already know who they are, many young people do not and they want to gain their trust.
Even if you are not a big brand or have not existed for as long, it is still worth your time to create an online presence that makes people want to buy from you.
Here are five proven ways companies in South East Asia have improved their online credibility.
1. Show your business address and contact information online
Even when someone is buying from you online, it is always comforting for them to see your physical address and contact information.
Let me give you an example.
Lelong is one of Malaysia’s largest marketplace websites. There are vendors selling iPhones on it.
So say today I want to buy an iPhone 6. A quick search reveals a few potential sellers.
If I am a potential buyer trying to decide who to buy from, I’ll likely click on the merchant IDs to find out more about the seller.
This is for a merchant named qpet:
And this is the one for ETRADE2U:
qpet’s homepage does not have much information about themselves on display but I can clearly see their physical address and whatsapp contact.
If I am planning to spend more than one thousand ringgit buying online, I would pick ETRADE2U over qpet. It just seems more credible. Having their physical address gives me the impression that I can even drop by their store in case I have a problem with my phone.
What about you? Who would you prefer buying from?
A word of caution: Although it can be pretty easy to fake your physical address or contact information, I would advise you to put your real business address and contact information. What if someone actually tried to pay you a visit or call you?
2. Show customer testimonials
Customer testimonials are one of the classic ways of showing credibility. It shows people that you have helped people before (so you are not a scam) and gives people a sneak peek into what it might be like to buy from or work with you.
The best customer testimonials are the ones with pictures of the customer’s faces and their roles. It also helps to keep the testimonials concise, highlighting the most important aspects of your work together.
Take a look at how this Singaporean patient-doctor matching startup DocDoc displays its client testimonials on its homepage:
Displaying customer testimonials is an easy way to engage your potential customers. Businesses have been using testimonials for decades. If you have not, you should include them on your website.
What if you don’t have any testimonials yet? There are two things you can do.
1. Ask your most satisfied customers to write you one. You can give them some guidelines on how to do this, or even prepare a questionnaire to make it easier for them to write it.
2. Ask them for permission to write it for them based on your experience. This approach is useful when your customers are either too busy or lazy to write a testimonial for you. The key here, however is to ensure that you write things that are accurate and do not over exaggerate. Before using the testimonial, make sure you get your customer’s approval!
Either way, keeping a database of your customer testimonials will come in handy whether you use it on your website or some other marketing material.
Again, it is advisable to show only testimonials from real customers. It might be easy to fake testimonials but soon enough people will find out and it will backfire at you.
3. Give details of your product or service
When selling online, it is best to give as much information as you can about what you are selling. When people cannot see your products or hold them in their hands, your only chance at convincing them to buy from you is from what they read or see on your website.
You cannot afford to be vague online. People are immediately alarmed when someone is being vague about what they are selling online. It feels like they are hiding something from them.
What does this mean? This means If you want to convince people to trust and buy from you, you will need to invest time in giving them the details they need. In fact, the more expensive your selling price, the more details you need to give to your customers and the more time you need to invest in writing it.
But even if you are convinced that you need to give more details, what do you actually write about?
It is always good to write from the reader’s point of view. When someone is checking your website and looking at what you are selling, they are asking themselves:
1. How is this going to solve my problem?
2. Is this the best solution out there?
3. Can I get a similar solution for a cheaper price?
For physical products, they might be asking:
1. How big is this?
2. Is it compatible with what I have right now?
3. How might it feel to touch it
Your goal is to answer all these questions in a way that is easy for them to understand. When you put effort in trying to get your potential customers to understand what you do, you will appear more credible than websites that do not give more than a few lines about their product or service.
It also convinces people to buy from Tokopedia by showing how Tokopedia is scam-free on this page.
You could even include a video to explain your product or service like Thailand’s Lalamove, a startup specialising in providing from one place to another.
The truth is that many businesses overlook the copy on their websites, leaving it to writers they hire part-time. The result? Sloppy writing that doesn’t convince readers to buy from them.
Whether you like it or not, you need to invest time in making sure every word on your website helps your brand.
What if you are not a good writer? The best solution for this is to hire a good copywriter to help you. But remember, the best copywriters are also the most expensive because of their ability to help you turn readers into paying customers.
4. Be authentic
As I said before, people buy from people they trust. One of the best ways to get someone to trust you is by showing them your real self.
But what does being authentic really mean?
Being authentic means caring enough about your customers to be truthful about your values. For example, if you are someone who tells your customers that your business is all about fair trade, you should not be buying from suppliers who do not practise fair trade.
Many businesses have suffered public embarrassment when their founders or members of the company were found to be practising something contradictory to what they appear to believe in.
In order for people to trust your brand, you will need to be comfortable with showing your real self, be clear about what you believe in and be consistent about it.
However, being authentic does not mean you have to tell your customers everything about you, only what is relevant to your brand and business.
For example, after a failed launch of her headscarf brand dUck, Fashion Valet’s founder Vivy Yusof wrote an apology addressing how they failed.
Today marked the worst launch of dUCk. Reading the harsh comments was extremely painful for the team but we had a long meeting on how to tackle this issue. Some of you demanded that I also give a statement even though FV has, so I will be honest with you. The website was down today not because of the massive traffic (we have already prepared for that, in fact the last dUCk launch was smooth) but because there was a small issue at the checkout page which was made worse because of the volume of people checking out at the same time. A lot of you still managed to purchase but different computers had different results, some could buy when some couldn’t. The products sold out eventually even though the website was down/slow for some people. I apologize for the inconvenience but the team has decided to not do a timed launch anymore (in fact, a lot of websites don’t do timed launches, the most they do is give the date). The dUCks will be restocked so please put on your notification as we will notify once the products are up on site. I’m honestly feeling overwhelmed as we have never seen a brand on FV (or even other local websites) like dUCk before and even though this is a blessing, we are still figuring out the best way to deal with dUCk launches. We tried many methods based on your feedback and requests over time (no middle of night launches, no silent launches, timed launches, untimed launches, shoplynks launches, limits online and in store) to best accommodate everyone but a lot of them also had their own pros and cons. I seek your forgiveness for a bad experience today but I will always continue to improve nonetheless. I still want to thank all the dUCkies for their support and want to say that I love you guys. Have a good buka, everyone and my apologies again on behalf of FV. #fashionvalet #duckscarves
By doing so, Vivy Yusof managed to bring herself closer to her customers and convince potential customers that FashionValet is a company that will be willing to admit its mistakes rather than hide it.
Other than helping to make you appear more credible, authenticity also helps you stand out from the other sellers online.
5. Be tactful when posting on social media
As more and more people in South East Asia are becoming active on social media, it is highly likely for your potential customers to check Facebook or Instagram for your brand before buying from you.
What do you want your potential customers to see when they first land on your page?
If you have not been taking good care of your Facebook page, the last post on your page might be months ago and there might be complaints written on your page that are ignored.
This might leave a very bad impression on your potential customers and they might decide not to buy from you, especially when there is another company offering a similar service with an updated Facebook page.
It is hard to ignore the impact social media has on your brand image and credibility online. This means it has become important for you to make sure that your social media pages display a brand that cares about your customers and is consistently updated.
An example of a well managed Facebook page is Althea Malaysia.
Positive indications of credibility for anyone who arrive on Althea’s page are:
2. Althea constantly hosts contests and giveaways that actively engage their Facebook fans:
3. The page has over 70,000 likes on Facebook. Although the number of likes can be a form of vanity metrics, when your potential customers views your page for the very first time, it can be a big deal. Nowadays, social proof such as the number of likes on a Facebook page is a way for people to decide if a brand is credible or not.
Of course, your Facebook page is not the only social media page you need to manage. For most brands, you will also need to manage your other social media channels such as Instagram and Twitter.
However, not all brands need a social media page. If your brand is not strongly represented by social media channels then it might be a good idea to go without them than to have badly managed ones.
As more and more South East Asians go online and find out about companies they want to buy from online, managing your online presence has become a priority.
With so many sellers to choose from online, it is easy for your potential customers to pick and choose. To stand out, you need to make sure you show your customers that they can trust you.
By following the steps in this post and making tweaks to your online presence you will be able to convince your potential customers to trust and buy from you.
However, as with any change you want to make, you need to invest time in improving your online credibility. Only when you are truly committed to making change will you get the rewards of doing so.
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