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Build Customer Trust

Jan 17, 2008
One of the biggest assets an ecommerce website can possess is the trust of their visitors. This can be hard to do as con artists, identity theft, and spam make cyberspace users jaded and suspicious. Today a company can hire professional testimonial writers, forum posters, and blog writers. While these are not necessarily bad, in fact, they can improve a company's image, they make it harder to earn visitor's trust.

Ecommerce businesses have tried various methods of increasing their 'presence' including audio, video, animated spokes people, flash e-courses, forums, live-chat, and PDF downloads. However, to build customer trust the information cannot just go from the website to the customer, it must travel in three ways:

1. Web business to customer
2. Customer to web business
3. Web business to web business

Gathering Information

Every website should include a form where visitors can give their email address - if they wish. It should also ask the visitor for their help. Only a small percentage of people will fill in the form, and a smaller percentage will leave their email. But, this can be helpful. One way to use these forms is to create several forms. Each one can only be reached from a certain webpage. This helps the web owner measure the success of different types of web pages.

A web business owner hits the jackpot if they find one web page which brings in more people who fill in the form.

Privacy Statements

Every website should make the privacy of their visitor's of the utmost priority. The privacy statement should be easy to find. It should be easy to read, and include a legal attachment that doesn't put the business owner in danger, but will assure the web visitors that their information is safe.

One important fact is - you must not sell or share your mailing list - even if you are only sharing it between websites that you own. For example, if you own www.AAA.com and www.BBB.com - do not combine the lists and make your AAA site visitors think you gave the list to website BBB.

Tell a Friend

Offer incentives to your customers if they tell their friends. Promise your visitors that you will not keep the friend's email address, nor will you send them offers or promotional emails. It may take several tries until you find the one that works best. An inexpensive, effective incentive is to give them more chances to win a contest. Another one is to offer them something tangible.

In many cases, ecommerce businesses offer a free gift, the only catch is the person must pay shipping. In many cases the shipping and handling charges will cover the cost of the item. Even a book can cost only $.75 if you have 5000 printed at a 'real' book printer, not a vanity press, or a small book printer.

Opportunities for Visitors

There are several ways to create services that customers can use. You may need to be a bit creative in ways to convince customers to use the service. Most of these services are built to encourage current customers to send others to your site.

Some examples are:

Contents and coupons
Bsuiness forums and discussion groups
Phone in Podcast
Affiliate programs
Instant chats between the customers.
Chat times when the business owner will be there - ie, Friday from 7 - 9
Banner programs

Success increases dramatically when the tool lets customers or the club members advertise in newsletters, ad their banner to a banner exchange, host a chat, supply content, promote their own item, post in a classified, add to a blog, or moderate part of the forum.

Trust is built when people get to know the business owner. No one has time to be on their site 24/7, so increasing the 'face' of the business to include other fans who want to take advantage of resources in exchange for promotion, publication, or incentives is a great method of building credibility.
About the Author
Mark Walters is a third generation entrepreneur and author. He offers free training and investing videos designed to speed you towards financial independence at http://www.cashflowinstitute.com/videosignup.htm
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