Smart people only visit and buy from credible and memorable websites. In the past, if your startup had a website presence, the company was credible by definition.In today’s world, a website is necessary but not sufficient for credibility. Dreamers and gamblers have found out that if the website isn’t validated as credible, it’s probably a scam, and everyone loses.
Yet most startups I know experience the same shock of disappointment when they first open up their website to offer their “million dollar idea” product, and nobody comes. What validates credibility and makes your site memorable in the minds of consumers, and how much does it cost?
People buy from people. Until the company name is a famous brand, you are the brand.
No name, picture, address, or business history only convinces customers that you are hiding, located in an untrustable country, or don't have a clue. They will exit quickly.
Third parties are always more credible sources than you are.
Highlight interviews and reviews from recognised industry sources, and popular news sources. Include links to other sites showing your positives.
Show your visitors some evidence of community involvement and charity efforts.
Offer something that is really free -- with no strings attached to cause them to lose their trust. Set up an award, and show winners.
If you can have an affiliate relationship with any recognised brand names, or any connection to publicly recognised experts, highlight these and provide links to their websites.
The presence of a few related advertisements can actually improve your site credibility, since most credible sites have them.
Of course, too many or obnoxious advertisements are especially harmful to a site's credibility.
Most will give you a membership graphic for your website, and an association link to give your business extra credibility. Don't forget the local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau.
Publish the terms of your support, return, and replacement policies.
Be consistent is their application, and provide contact information for both phone and email access. Follow-up for customer satisfaction.
Studies have shown that consumers gauge credibility in large part based on the appeal of the overall visual design, including layout, typography, font size, colour schemes, no broken links, and correct language usage.
Don't forget basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so search engines improve your ranking.
These are all minimal-cost survival marketing efforts. Beyond these, you will likely need to budget time and dollars (up to $50,000 is not unusual) for real marketing efforts to enhance your visibility and credibility, which include branding, promotions, give-aways, and free services.
In summary, a startup with no website, or a website with no credibility will kill your business. Use the tips outlined above during the first three months to get in the game, and count on much more time and money if you intend to stand out. Make your website not only credible, but incredible!
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