Establish Online Trust, and Get the Badges to Prove It

  •    Megan is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. ChamberofCommerce.com’s platinum membership program helps small businesses grow on the web.

Although Internet trends come and go, one trend that is here to stay and will certainly be increasing is the preference for websites people can trust.

The trust problem hit the ecommerce world first with concerns over credit cards, but now it touches almost every kind of web property. To help establish trust, a variety of trust badges have popped up. (You’ll also hear them called seals or shields. I’ll stick with badges for this article.)

If you want your visitors to become engaged with what you’re doing, you need to understand the types of trust badges and consider taking the necessary steps to be able to post one or more trust badge on your web pages. When I use the word “engaged,” I’m talking about creating a relationship with your website visitor.

Engagement can take a variety of forms:

  • Making a sale to a website visitor,
  • Sending information to a website visitor, such as a newsletter,
  • Asking a visitor to participate in a forum,
  • Inviting a visitor to a webinar, or
  • Surveying a visitor on a certain topic.

That list is far from comprehensive, but I wanted you to get the idea that whenever there’s a “back-and-forth” between you and a website visitor, you need to establish some level of trust. Let’s look at the specific categories these trust badges fall into and you can decide which, if any, fit your situation.

Privacy

People value their privacy and I’m certain you’ve seen hundreds of privacy statements since the creation of the Internet. TRUSTe is probably the single biggest third-party provider of privacy badges. Of course, there are national and state laws regarding privacy and many companies develop their own long legal documents that define their privacy policies.

Privacy policies cover how you use the information you gather, whether you share it or sell it to others, for example.

Business identity badges

If you’re a commercial operation, visitors who land on your website want to know that you’re a real business. This can be especially beneficial if your website is an adjunct to your brick-and-mortar operation. Third parties such as the Better Business Bureau, Network Solutions, and others offer this kind of badge.

No Spam

Many sites display a “No Spam” badge. There are laws that control the sending of bulk emails that all Internet users should understand and follow. The “No Spam” badge has no official standing. It’s merely a way to let your users know that you respect them and won’t clog their email boxes – or social media accounts – with junk messages.

By the way, encryption via SSL (Secure Sockets Layer technology) can be very important when you’re gathering any information from your visitors. SSL is not just for credit card transactions anymore!

Ecommerce

The issue of trust is elevated when users start to pass credit card information to ecommerce sites. Companies that offer merchant accounts, such as Authorize.net, offer verified merchant badges. eBay also has a “verified” badge. It’s a good idea to do a little research and find out what kind of trust badges are associated with your payments processor and get those badges added to your pages.

Studies show that trust badges give websites a boost. For example, if you operate an ecommerce site, you will probably find that trust badges decrease your rate of abandoned shopping carts.

While you may not want to have a lineup of trust badges that runs across the entire top of your webpages, you should determine which are most important to your visitors and take the steps required to earn the privilege to display those badges.

Image Credit: Public Domain