When was the last time you visited a website only to leave after only a few seconds? If you are like me, chances are you did this several times just this morning.
Great websites are key to attracting and retaining visitors, and these days entrepreneurs have numerous tools at their disposal -- Squarespace, Wix, Weebly -- for creating sharp, impressive and mobile-ready websites easily and quickly. The problem is that these great resources are also creating a big issue, namely how does one identify the most trusted, authoritative and reputable websites?
In its second annual survey, the 2015 B2B Web Usability Report, Huff Industrial Marketing and KoMarketing sought to determine the website elements buyers really wanted from vendor websites, which were critical for retention and revisits and most likely to lead to conversions.
The key takeaway: Buyers want authenticity in business websites, and the most effective way to create authenticity is to demonstrate trust and credibility.
The report went on to find that most businesses are overlooking easy opportunities to improve their websites and create trust and credibility. Here are four key and surprisingly simple elements most companies are missing.
1. Contact information
According to the report's findings, 51 percent of respondents indicated that "thorough contact information" was the key website element missing from most websites. An astonishing 98 percent of respondents said that "No Contact Information / Phone Number" would cause them to leave the website (44 percent) or be so annoyed that they might leave the website (54 percent).
These days, buyers want and need to know that the site belongs to a real business with a real location. Including your physical address with your phone number and email address is the best way to do this.
Visitors also need to find your contact information easily. Burying it in small print and camouflaged in superfluous content sends a bad message. Make it clear, bold and easy to find, with all your social media links, in the footer of each page. If you create a separate contact page, make it easy to find and navigate to.
2. About you
Another important factor for creating trust and credibility is providing information about you, your team and your company. Fifty two percent of respondents indicated that "About / Company Information" was information visitors most wanted to see on your homepage and best established credibility (second only to "Contact Information").
Spend time developing your company story and provide your visitors with detailed bios, backgrounds, histories and even relatable personal stories of each key team member. Include links to each of their professional websites, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as a clear, high resolution picture (you should consider hiring a photographer to take professional headshots).
Another valuable element to establish credibility is to publish your client list and testimonials. This may not be possible in many cases and for many reasons, but nothing speaks to your value and credibility more than a long list of happy clients.
3. Appropriate content
Many entrepreneurs believe that having an engaging social media presence and creating regular blog posts are the keys to converting clients. While these are useful strategies, the survey found that videos, social media activity and blog posts ranked lowest on "content assets that create credibility."
Instead, focus your marketing efforts on creating white papers, case studies, research reports and articles that establish your credibility as an expert in your industry. Write often and leverage customer feedback to create fresh and relevant content they want.
For this information to permeate organically, you should consider providing it for free without requiring personal information, as the survey found that more than 70 percent of respondents indicated they would not be willing to provide their information to receive yours.
4. Keep it simple
While businesses continue to move to mobile-first strategies, especially given Google’s recent search engine update that prioritizes mobile-ready sites, the survey found that for now, at least with business-to-business companies, 61 percent of respondents indicated that a mobile-friendly website did not impact the buying decision.
Clearly, companies should not abandon a mobile strategy, nor should they rush to abandon their website strategy. Instead, entrepreneurs should embrace an approach that pursues both with the same strategy: keep it simple. Resist the urge to load your site with content and limit it to only what your visitor needs.
As websites improve and as more people consume content on mobile devices, we will all come to expect the same experience from our websites as we do from our mobile sites. Easy navigation and simple and responsive designs will not be enough, however, so businesses will need to rely more on creating and establishing authenticity to attract and convert visitors.
How does your site compare?
What do you think? What other ways can businesses establish trust and credibility with their websites? Please share your thoughts with others in the comments section below.