One of the immutable golden rules of doing business online is that you must first build online credibility before you can really influence potential customers and business partners to respond to your calls-to-action. But establishing your credibility is often a slow process that can take a considerable amount of time and effort.
Below are eleven tips that you can start doing right now to build online credibility even if no one has ever heard of you and your business:
1. Be very specific about who you are targeting with your services. Make it a point of explicitly stating which people and businesses will benefit the most from your services. At the same time, make sure you clearly define who shouldn’t be working with you. You could even take it a step further and recommend other businesses that would be a better fit. People will appreciate your honesty, and you will instantly gain more credibility.
2. Use outside sources to back up your claims. You can build credibility by providing third-party support (from citations, research, authority blogs in your niche, history, case studies, etc ) for the information you present. Where possible, make it a point of linking to this “evidence.” Even if people don’t follow these links, you’ve shown proof for your material.
3. Share some personal information. Let your potential clients and business partners get to know you a bit by sharing a few interesting personal facts in key places like your About Page, author bio, and social media accounts. This can have a powerful effect. Consider this study which found that college professors who shared personal information were perceived as more credible than those who didn’t. Just a word of caution: don’t over-do it. Too much information can end up hurting your credibility, instead of helping, so make sure you give some thought about which information to share and than you have separate online personal and business profiles.
4. Show off your credentials. Be sure to list any credentials that you already have, such as advanced course work or training. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear.
5. Don’t round your statistics. If you ever make statistical claims, then give your readers the actual numbers, not a rounded off version. Aside from the issue of transparency, recent research suggests that there is more believability in precise numbers as compared to rounded ones.
6. Work on the design of your business website. Your website may be the first chance you have to make an impression on a potential client, so make sure that impression is a good one.
- First, the layout and overall design should be clean, modern, and easy-to-navigate.
- You should also make sure your title and by-line clearly convey what the site is about and who it is for.
- Where possible, putting a forward-facing head shot can also increase credibility, trust, and engagement.
- Another thing thing to pay attention to are typos and broken links. Both of these things can make you look unprofessional and hurt your credibility.
- Make sure your site is not over-run with outside ads and where possible leave them out entirely.
- Pay particular attention to your header and your side bar. Does your header clearly convey what the site is about, as mentioned above? Do you have a call-to-action there and in the side bar? Are you using the side bar to highlight your social media presence or useful content? All of these things implicitly tell visitors about how you run your business.
7. Make it easy to contact you. A simple way to boost your site’s credibility is by making your contact information clear. There are many ways to do this. You can include your phone number, physical address, and email address, you could have various contact forms on the site, or you provide an online chat option, and even web-based voice mail.
8. Keep your communication clear and confident. Where ever you know your stuff, check your tone to see if it sounds that way. While you don’t want to be perceived as know-it-all, the more confident you seem of your abilities, the more others will be likely to believe in them as well.
9. Make incredible guarantees. Offer guarantees of quality or outcome that make it obvious that you have what it takes to deliver. Just make sure it’s something that you can really keep and also that the guarantee itself is remarkable or else no one will pay any attention to it.
10. Deliver on a promise. Promise your readers or visitors something valuable- even something small- and then deliver on it. This doesn’t have to be an actual item or service that you offer, it could be a small favor, such as offering to help people with a problem they’re having or introducing them to someone else (see below). This helps in two ways: 1. You help to prove your credibility simply by doing what you said you were going to do; 2. The act of doing something for another person will change the way that person perceives you and your business. Check out this interesting study on The Effects of a Favor and Liking on Compliance.
11. Hook people up. This last tip I learned on a great video featuring James Altucher. You can read a little about his story on that link. One of his tactics involves acting like a middleman, connecting people and businesses to others who have the skills and resources they are in search of. If you do this enough times, not only will you generate a tremendous amount of good karma, but pretty soon people will start seeing you as an authority, a go-to person in the industry, and of course that does wonders for your credibility online and off.
So, there you have it; eleven things you can start doing today to give your online credibility a significant boost even if you are just starting up your micro business and no one knows who you are yet.