TopRank Marketing Editor

The Four Pillars of Building Instant Trust Online – Tim Ash Keynote

Websites and landing pages face very real trust issues – for consumers they can be a scary and uncertain place. Before people will take a desired action, their concerns and anxieties must be addressed. But how can you do this on landing pages when you only have seconds to establish trust?

Tim Ash, SiteTuners CEO and bestselling author of Landing Page Optimization , shared how to effectively use the Four Pillars Of Trust and optimize your online conversion goals.

Tim started by reiterating what we know – it’s not about technology, it’s about people. If you’re going to transact with anyone it’s all about building trust.

We can’t function without trust, we are social beings. If we are going to cross the street, we have to trust that people driving cars will see the red light. Trust is critical, it’s the glue that holds everything together.

People weren’t designed to be in mobs, we have our “tribe” of a few dozen people that we trust and it breaks down into crowds.

Users understand “cheesy,” unprofessional sites vs. authoritative looking sites. So your site has to communicate authority instantly.

Four pillars of trust:

1. Appearance

We judge a book by its cover. Appearance is very important and a stand-in for fitness. Standards are rising in web development and it’s not okay to have a site which looks like it’s designed in 1998. There is a level of appearance and professionalism that is required in web development. Have 5 random people look at your homepage and answer: “is this clearly professional or not.”

Don’t get disqualified based solely on how you look. Focus on:

  • Professionalism of design
  • Sparseness and neatness
  • Organization and clarity

2. Transactional assurances

I don’t know who you are and you don’t know who I am. Surveys say people are less and less afraid of getting online, but still 70% of users abandon shopping carts. It’s an issue of trust.

Include trust symbols and don’t bury them below the fold. If you’re paying for them, leverage them appropriately. Relieve point-of-action anxieties before they arise.

  • Forms of payment and deliver
  • Data security and privacy
  • Policies and guarantees

3. Authority

We trust outside experts who provide a layer of authority. The trappings of authority are enough, such as uniforms or appearance. By association of authority figures or brands, that can transfer to your brand as well. We’ve seen authority symbols (such as “as seen in X or Y media outlets”) increased conversion rate by 40%. Figure out a way to leverage authority on your landing pages to boost conversions significantly.

Borrow trust from better-known brands such as:

  • Reviews and awards
  • Marquee clients
  • Media mentions
  • Trade associations

4. Consensus of peers

We don’t care what everyone thinks, we can’t possibly. We care by what our peers think. Are a lot of people taking the same action and have a positive outcome? Great, but are you sharing it with other users? Show specifics that are relevant to users.

Support automatic compliance by demonstrating social proof:

  • Use objective, large numbers
  • Likeness

Key takeaways

Take off the rose colored glasses and realize your website is ugly. The next step is to get to work and start to improve landing pages to increase conversions.

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  1. Hi,nnAll great tips and very true.nnI like how Tim said “Have 5 random people look at your homepage and answer: u201cis this clearly professional or not.u201d As this will help in an objective view, rather than a subjective view.nnNabeel

  2. Avatar Vanesa Cordoba says

    Thanks for sharing this, as Tim Ash says… “Landing page testing is the best accelerator of your business that we have available” and I believe it is the truth..

    This four pilars are important for anyone trying to start a business o the internet.

  3. Fantastic advice. I think taken all together it will really make a difference. I think consistency also plays a part. Making sure not to post sporadically, answering questions posted in comments, and so forth. If you want people to trust you, it’s important to give them reason to. Thanks for a great post.

    • Avatar Adam Singer says

      Agreed on “taking it all together” Rebecca. Landing pages need to be well thought out — all the small improvements add up.

  4. It is important to provide real practical content and don’t try to impress that you are so smart. Keep it as simple as possible. People need their problems solved.

  5. Avatar Ian | SEO Brisbane says

    I was working with a client recently who had a web site that was, well, disgraceful!! After re-doing his entire site and bringing it into todays standards, his conversions were up significantly within a month. The funny thing is, he has improved his traffic and in the process had his number of complaints and negative feedback go through the roof…He now has a great website with still terrible customer service. Oh well, at least we did our job right!!

  6. Avatar Eric Weidner says

    Good advice for building a solid foundation for your web presence. I’m keeping this article handy to help clients understand how appearance and customer reviews ultimately help the bottom line – and should be incorporated into your web strategy from the very beginning!nThanks!

  7. Avatar Alta Vista Spain says

    Great article – first appearances have lasting effects. There are so many factors to take in to consideration when setting up your online presence, itu00b4s often more beneficial to engage the services of the professionals when it comes to web design and marketing.

  8. This is definitely an article to bookmark and share with clients! Each point outlined here could be its own story. But it’s very true – with SO many sites out there (including those who ruin the trust for the rest of us) we need to provide signs of legitimacy. The red flags I look for? Little or no contact information – if a business doesn’t supply a phone number – I’m going elsewhere. Also – links that take me to sites that don’t relate to the current site I’m visiting, and lack of user reviews on other websites like Yelp, etc.

  9. There’s a very relevant attribute that was left out of the Trust discussion, wish I could have been there to participate. Saturation in the SERPS is absolutely critical to trust. Just look at your conversion rate on a paid ad when you also have the organic and/or the map placement. Consider your CTR when you have additional snippets because you used RDFa to display prices and ratings. Consider an ideal scenario for a retail business where you own 50% equity or more in the search results with a paid ad, organic listing, news/blog listing, video and maybe even a Google Shopping link. Unified/Universal Search is a key element to trust when it comes to SEO and conversions. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

  10. I think you have hit on some very key points. Long gone are the days where you can just slap up a landing page riddled with affiliate links and no real value and in the end we will be better marketers because of it. We have to be.

  11. Your website speaks of who you are. Glad to know that it’s one of the key element to build instant trust. Thanks for this.