Does Your Content Make Your Website’s Visitors Feel at Home?

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Scott Baradell

Home.

Merriam-Webster defines it as “a familiar or usual setting; a congenial environment.” And that's exactly what you want your website visitors to feel when they land on your homepage. At home.

How do you make your visitors feel that way? Here are five ways to earn trust with your website content:

  1. Know your buyer, and show it. What do you really know about your buyers, besides the fact that you want them to buy your product? Do you know if they are young or old, urban or rural, liberal or conservative? Do you know the media they trust and don't trust? Do you know what they value and strive for, not just in a product purchase, but in life? The more you know about your buyers -- through buyer research and the creation of buyer personas and "trust profiles" -- the more you can communicate through this prism on your website. That creates affinity, one of the key building blocks of trust.
  2. Educate, don't sell. When it comes to creating content on your website, focus on what your visitors want to know, not what you want them to buy. Your visitors want to feel that engaging with your brand is a two-way street, where you provide useful information in return for their potential patronage. More than 60 percent of online purchases are a direct result of a customer reading a blog. That's how people buy today. 
  3. Be specific, not vague. Vague claims damage your credibility. Check your site's content to make sure you are not using "weasel words." Weasel words (see examples here) are words or phrases that allow a person to avoid speaking in a straightforward way. People use them in business because they are inoffensive and difficult to contradict. But they lose meaning in the process. One of the reasons salespeople are often met with skepticism is their use of weasel words. These words may protect you from making a false claim -- but they don't protect you from losing the buyer's trust.
  4. Be genuine, not fake. Guess what? You're not perfect, and neither is your company. If you start from a place of vulnerability in creating your content, the claims you make will be far more credible to your visitors. For example, I recently came across a website for a restaurant with a rooftop bar. The copy read, "Well worth the three flights of stairs!" That's not only funny -- it's trust-building.
  5. Be accurate, not sloppy. If you want buyers to believe you are telling the truth about the big things, start by being accurate about the small ones. Spelling and grammatical errors on your website immediately engender distrust between a potential buyer and your brand. According to a BBC News study, spelling mistakes cost companies millions of dollars annually in lost sales. Even one misspelling, the study shows, has a negative impact.

The words and images you use on your website, and how you use them, play an integral role in earning your visitors' trust. Choose them carefully.

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