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5 Ways to Build Digital Trust

By Roger Dooley

In person, trust is affected by factors like appearance, clothing, body language, and facial expressions. But, when a person arrives at a digital property, how can one gain trust immediately? Here are five ways:

1. Make a good first impression

Carleton University researchers found that website visitors formed their first impression in just 50 milliseconds. Clearly, these subjects didn’t read the headline, see glowing testimonials, or even fully process any images. Your digital property needs to create a positive instantaneous impression so the rest of your content can do its job. Consumer psychology expert Dr. Brent Coker believes, “As aesthetically orientated humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites.”

2. Use a familiar domain

A study run by Stanford and Microsoft scientists reveals that the content on better-known domains was more trusted. Subjects rated two pieces ofcontent for credibility, one from the well-known webmd.com and the other from the unfamiliar genetichealth.com. Their results showed that the domain was more important than the content. Regardless of the domain-content pairing, the webmd.com content was more trusted.

3. Display trust symbols

Those little badges that verify data security, privacy, etc. affect the perception and behavior of your visitors. 71% of consumers look for these symbols according to one study. More importantly, real-world conversion testing usually finds that trust symbols have a positive effect. In one case study, Visual Website Optimizer found a 32% conversion boost from a checkout trust symbol. Your visitors want to feel safe. They don’t want the details, though, and a trust symbol is an easily-processed visual indicator.

4. Show Impartial Reviews

There are many reasons for Amazon’s success, but one of them is the presence of impartial product reviews. A survey by marketing software firm Moz found two- thirds of those queried found online reviews important. Ironically, the presence of negative product reviews increases trust in the credibility of the site content. Consumers find uniformly positive review content suspicious, and reports of negative review deletion can damage a brand. It’s been marketing wisdom for decades that showing a weakness increases trust in the rest of themessage, and that applies to reviews as well.

5. Make it easy

Research at Southampton University into website trust found ease of use was the top factor. Clarity, simplicity, and ease of finding information outweighed more predictable trust factors. That study used focus groups, always suspect for neuromarketers, but the conclusion is supported by more rigorous science. Researchers at the University of Warsaw used the “trust game” to show that higher cognitive load caused a decrease in trust. Inshort, don’t make your customers think.

Many other techniques like authority testimonials, social proof, and other classic influence factors can help. Even simple things like a visible street address, pictures of founders or staff (not stock photos!), give unfamiliar sites a boost. Fortunately, digital testing tools make it easy to determinewhich techniques will work for you. Trust me on that.

About the author
Roger Dooley is author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing, and the popular blog on www.neurosciencemarketing.com

References are available on request via office@nmbsa.com

This was originally published in Insights Magazine, NMSBA members have access to the full archive of this quarterly magazine on neuromarketing. Interested in joining? Check the options