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    Perl Archive : TLC : Webmaster : Building Trust
    Guide Search entire directory 

    Date Published: 1999-12-19

    by Marnie Pehrson

    Unfortunately, there have been a few hucksters and dishonest people on the Internet who have given the rest of us the necessity of working doubly hard to build trust. While big corporations that have a brand name following are perceived as trustworthy, other small-medium size businesses that are not well known have to work hard to let visitors know they are respectable. What are some ways you can build trust and help potential Internet customers feel more at ease with purchasing from you?

    Show that you are a real person.

    • Put photos of your key personnel on the Web site.
    • Put your full name and address on your site. Avoid using a PO Box. A real physical address is perceived as more trustworthy.
    • Personalize your site. Give it that down-to-earth appeal by speaking in language that you would use when speaking to a friend. Use this heart to heart, friend to friend language in your articles and editorial.
    • Remember that people buy from people, not from companies.

    Don't use spam to promote your services.

    Although, with current legislation, it is still lawful in some states to bulk mail people that you feel would be interested in your products and services (given certain conditions are met), it lowers the perceived respectability of your company. Avoid it.

    Instead of using unsolicited e-mail promotions, consider opt-in e-mail lists and e-zine advertising.

    Don't promise the moon unless you are prepared to deliver it.

    Headlines like ''Earn $3,000 per week in your spare time'' scream, ''I'm a scam. I'm here to steal your hard-earned money.'' Don't make promises like this that would put up red flags in the mind of any logical human being.

    Offer ordering through a secure server.

    Speak with your Web hosting provider about how to take credit cards over a secure server. Not only does the encryption lend confidence to the transaction, but also the fact that you have been approved for a merchant account, lends further credibility to your operations.

    Put testimonials on your site.

    Get permission to use quotes from real people who have used your products or services. I've used this on the International Association of Computer Professionals Web site, with a little different twist to it. I've interviewed several of our members about their businesses, what types of business challenges they face, what marketing techniques work worst/best for them, and also how they've used their IACP membership. We've linked these under a ''Meet our Members'' section so that not only do they function as testimonials, but they also give additional exposure and promotion to our members. It's a win-win situation for both of us.

    Be accessible.

    Make links to your e-mail address easy to find on your Web site. Encourage visitor feedback. Then, when people e-mail you, follow through within 24-48 hours. You can use autoresponders to at least give a standard reply to visitors, but I continue to cling to the individualized response. I like talking to my customers and prospects, sharing ideas and learning from them how to make our products and services better. When you take the time to read and respond to visitor feedback, not only do you gain their respect, but you also learn a lot about what people are looking for and how to serve them better. Some of my best-selling products and services have come from customer feedback.

    Follow these guidelines, and you will be on your way to building visitor trust. Once you've gained their trust, the sale is only a heartbeat away.  

    Marnie L. Pehrson (706/866-2295) is an Internet strategist and writer who helps professionals and consultants economically achieve bottom-line results online. She develops tools that give her clients fresh informative content and easy ways to market & control their sites without knowing a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo. Reach her projects through or email her at


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