Introducing a new product in today’s fast paced world can be an intimidating venture. The product can be anything – a blog, a service, software, or an actual physical “product”. The first part’s relatively easy – building the product.
Gathering users’ trust and establishing credibility – now that’s a whole different ball game.
It might be worth mentioning that Steve Jobs was the only person to believe in the iPhone when it was first launched. The important thing is that you’ve done your market research. You can vouch for your product – you believe in it. That’s a great start.
But the real question is – how do you get your customers to believe your product? How do you make your customer believe that what you’re offering is something he would find useful? That’s what today’s article is all about.
We’ve scoured the web – studied a few authority sites in marketing and blogging, and have come up with 10 actionable strategies and tips to increase trust and credibility. Don’t take our word for it. We’ll show you screenshots of real websites as we go along!
Using these strategies, you can increase your brand’s credibility, build trust and ultimately gather a loyal fellowship. Since WPExplorer is all about WordPress, I’ve taken the liberty to mention a few plugins and themes to help you implement each strategy. You are most welcome to try out your own methods, and if you would like to share them, we’d love to hear about it!
1. Customer Base
Having a powerful clientele is one of the most powerful weapons in your marketing arsenal. Be it a startup or a well-established product, displaying client logos is an excellent measure to build trust. We like to associate ourselves with brands. (If we didn’t, we wouldn’t own a fancy pair of running shoes).
If your clientele is influential, displaying their logos under your “Our Clients” section carries a major impact. When an influential brand uses your product, the latter (your product) establishes significant influence in its own domain or market. You customers now know that your product is:
- Enterprise ready
Case Study #1 – ManageWP
If I’m a potential customer, and I’ve narrowed my choice between two products – ManageWP and XYZ, the fact that tons of leading industry folks use software #1 – I’d most certainly opt for it.
Case Study #2 – New Websites
Of course, it is not always possible to have a powerful customer base for startups. In such a case, try to get featured in popular media outlets – for example, blogs in your product niche would gain you the audience you need for a successful startup launch.
Example: If you’ve created a new WordPress plugin, theme or a (WordPress oriented) service, getting featured in the top 10 WordPress blogs would give you an immense platform to showcase your new product.
To sum it up, having a powerful customer base has profound impact on your product’s influence and plays a significant role in its selection process. It boosts its chances of being selected when compared with a similar product.
Logos Showcase Plugin
A quick and easy way to add an extra layer of credibility to your work is to show prospective clients the other clients you’ve worked with. And if you’re not a developer, a quick and easy way to add this to your site is with the Logos Showcase plugin. The plugin lets you display a number of company logos on your website – clients, sponsors, partners, etc. You can display these logos in either a fixed sized grid, a responsive grid, or a logo carousel. There are a number of effects included for you to choose from, from greyscale, highlight, and a tooltip, which displays when a user hovers on a specific logo.
The plugin is easy to set up, allowing you to upload the logos you want to include, as well as a link to that company’s website, if required. Inserting the logo showcase onto your desired page is as simple as copying and pasting the relevant shortcode into the text editor, or even a widget if you want to include it in the sidebar. Freelance writers, photographers, web designers, as well as anyone in the events industry would really benefit from this plugin.
2. Membership Strength
Membership strength comes in various forms and applies to various products. This can include the number of downloads or sales, number of customers and also branches into your social sharing and followers. Let us take a closer look at them.
2.1 – Number of Downloads
This category of membership strength includes downloadable products like themes, plugins, and product packages. Displaying the number of times your product was downloaded is a sure-fire way to establish its authority. Higher the download count, greater the authority.
Everybody’s using it, so it should be good.
Case Study #3 – VLC Media Player
Let’s take a simple example. You want to download a media player and haven’t heard of either VLC or CCCP. Now, if you were given a choice between the two, the easiest way to decide would be to choose the one with the highest download crowd. This analogy is even more applicable to situations where the user is not technically sound in the subject/area.
Case Study #4 – WPExplorer
This is a screenshot of WPExplorer’s Themeforest portfolio. If you examine the download count of each theme and their overall rating, you’ll see that each of them were downloaded hundreds to thousands of times with good customer feedback. That’s a confidence booster – you’ve subconsciously rated WPExplorer as a “good” or “reputable” WordPress theme maker.
2.2 – Number of Customers
This is direct measure to your product’s credibility. It is applicable to any service or membership oriented product. The greater the number of customers, the higher the credibility of the service or product.
Case Study #5 – Elegant Themes
2.3 – Number of Social Media Subscribers
This applies to media delivery outlets such as social media sites and video hosting sites (like YouTube). Social media outlets include your Facebook fans, Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers – basically the entire social networking bandwagon.
The number of subscribers is a measure of your site’s social strength. The higher your number of fans – the popular your site is. Media delivery outlets is a vital source of traffic, provided your social media marketing is done correctly.
2.4 – Social Media Followers can harm your site!
Having an unusually large number of social media fans and followers can be counterproductive and even harmful at times. For example, there are tons of sites where you can buy Twitter followers and Facebook fans. Most of them are fake – your so called “fans” are nothing but automated accounts (bots) or hacked/compromised accounts of real users. Bottom line is – you don’t get any real traffic from bots. Here’s a golden rule:
Aim for an influential user
A Twitter handle with a small but influential amount of subscribers is way more credible to a human user or a search engine, than an account with 5000 followers having fake and/or compromised accounts. You want real, active subscribers (ideally, ones with influence over their own set of followers).
Search engines are incredibly smart these days and they’re only getting smarter. A few months ago having a mobile site wasn’t as important, until Google formally stated the importance of a mobile responsive website for good SEO scores. It is a well-known fact in the SEO community that Google automatically determines your or your site’s influence in its index. The higher the number of influential subscribers – the higher your SEO scores will be.
When Things Go South:
Here’s where things get interesting – if you haven’t existed in the Internet long enough to gather your unusually large number of followers, Google will hold your site’s credibility under suspicion. If they find that a majority your subscribers are fake accounts – boom! Your SEO scores are plummeted.
If you think you can get back on track with a site suspected of fake subscribers, you’re going to have to work very, very hard. It’s usually better to start a new chapter – same product with a new branding. There have been a lot of failure and success stories in this context – I suggest your roam around a few SEO forums if you’d like to know more.
3. Email Subscribers
A lot of websites display the number of newsletter subscribers in their email opt-in forms. This is a great list-building tactic for blogs and other websites. It associates your product with a large number of followers – similar to social media fans. (Of course, email list building deserves special attention since it’s more potent than social media.)
Word of Caution: When someone subscribes to your site he/she is trusting you with their private information – a way to directly get in touch with them. Consider it a privilege. Here are a few rules (think of them as the 3 commandments of email marketing, if you will)
- Never email your subscribers with fake/suspicious products, only because the publisher promised you a huge chunk of money.
- Only email products you have personally used and tested.
- Never, ever, sell off your email list (they usually fetch a ton of money). That’s highly unethical. If you believe in karma… you get the drift, don’t you?
4. Number of Page Views
Displaying the number of page views is a great way to portray a site’s popularity. Ideally you should display the page views for individual pages in your blog. That means every post will have a separate page view count. Displaying a combined number of page views would do no good, since your audience would not be able to differentiate between the popular posts and the, well, not-so-popular ones!
5. Display Social Media Shares
We talked about social strength (#2.3) under the Membership Strength category. Although the number of social media shares should technically fall under that category, I think it deserves special attention. This is because displaying the social media share count is a bit tricky – it’s more of a double-edged sword, and here’s why:
- Ideally, you should only display your social scores when you’ve reached a significant number of shares. Moreover, this number should be prominently displayed. It will increase the user’s likeliness to share the post once he/she has finished reading it.
- On the flip side, when the number of social shares is low (I’m talking less than 20), don’t display the number. Instead, you could simply display the social sharing icon. Once the shares reach a healthy figure, it’s time to flaunt it!
- Finally, you should display only those social media channels where most of the sharing takes place. Don’t clutter your user’s experience with twenty different sharing buttons.
Experiment with the social channels, see which ones your audience is clicking and work with them. That will fetch you real, targeted traffic. I suggest you use the Monarch Social Sharing plugin from Elegant Themes – it’s seriously easy to use and quite, well, elegant.
Case Study #6 – Sparring Mind
Here’s a writer I always follow – Gregory Ciotti. He’s the man behind HelpScout and a wildly popular psychology blog that been featured in the likes of Inc.com and others.
This is his landing page. Notice how in a few lines he explains his stature and goes on to pitching for the reader’s email address. It’s clean, simple, to the point and not at all spammy, Plus it offers that bonus that you might learn something.
6. Showcase Your Most Successful Products
When was the last time you saw a movie that started its trailer with “from the creators of XYZ comes another blockbuster…”? Not so long ago, right? That’s because it’s an age old marketing technique that just works. Portraying your most successful products automatically elevates your new product’s value in your potential customer’s head.
If the previous line doesn’t make sense, take a look at the latest movies directed by Cristopher Nolan. Almost each of them will contain the tagline “from the creator of the Dark Knight Trilogy…” Why? Because I’m Batman. Just kidding. It’s simply because the Dark Knight Trilogy was one of the most successful trilogies ever fetching a combined total of over $2 Billion worldwide. Therefore I’d be very interested to see Mr. Nolan’s latest work. The same rules apply to online marketing.
Case Study #8 – WPBeginner
Take WPBeginner for example. If you haven’t heard of them before, you would most likely conclude it to be good blog with tons of great tutorials.
When you land on their homepage, you’re not going to (immediately) find a reference to the products they’ve built. They’ve chosen to tuck their showcase into a “Featured WordPress Plugins” section. When you learn that they’ve created a popular product you’ve heard of (or been using), your mind will spontaneously increase their brand value. That’s the beauty of showcasing popular products.
7. List Your Achievements or “Featured In” or “As Seen On” Sections
This method is a time-tested, simple and effective authority booster. When your work gets featured or reviewed in influential blogs and magazines, don’t forget to portray it!
Case Study #9 – CloudMagic
I was looking for a new email app for my Android phone which had an iOS version as well. Given the sheer number of options in the Google Play Store, I started eliminating apps based on (1) design and (2) number of downloads. After 10 minutes of sifting through tons of apps, I was left with three.
I checked out the reviews of the second one (CloudMagic) and learnt that it was featured in TIME Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. I was sold! It’s important to mention that the app’s functionality was flawless. It didn’t give me the errors my last email app was giving. Thus, as I’ve mentioned before, your product should be great. (And that was supposedly the relatively easy part).
This is CloudMagic’s dedicated clientele page. Notice how they portray their reviews.
8. Client Testimonials
Showing your potential customer what your old clients have to say about your product is a sure-fire way of earning trust and increasing credibility. Of course, word of mouth works infinitely better, but client testimonials are the closest we’re going to get in a world with 7 billion people.
Again, like social sharing, you need to find a balance between the tones used in the user reviews. A overwhelmingly positive one might throw-off the skeptical buyer.
Client Testimonials brings us to a topic we discussed above – Customer Base. Remember how an influential client is a hidden weapon? The same rules apply for customer testimonials.
The more influential your client is, the more weight his/her testimonial is going to carry.
Case Study #10 – StudioPress
StudioPress is company that created one of the industry standard WordPress frameworks – Genesis. They have the highest selling WordPress framework of all time and is trusted by professionals everywhere.
All the people mentioned there are influential in their niches. This inevitably increases StudioPress’ stature and (sort of) justifies their slightly higher price tag.
9. Team Bios
Images have a tremendous impact on our “snap judgement” characteristics. They play a significant role in our subconscious mind, which inadvertently affect our decision-making process. There have been numerous reports documenting how a good sales pitch along with a complementing photograph can be a powerful combination in significantly increasing sales.
Let’s extend that analogy to team biographies. When we look at the photographs of the team members, we are inadvertently establishing a basic connection with them. If you were to meet one of them on the street, you might go – “Hey, I’ve seen you before… aren’t you in the team behind product XYZ?”
There are multiple ways to portray your team’s bio. It is usually seen that a combination of the following items make for a good team page:
- A good, clean and preferably personalized photograph of each team member.
- Social media handle – Twitter and LinkedIn are the two most common ones used.
- A message – may be in third person or in first person.
Avoid stock images.
Stock images are something you must try to avoid at all costs. Your team page, to begin with, is an optional page. Its objective is to introduce your customer to your team. Therefore we would encourage you to not use stock images or “portraits” of photogenic models in your team page. (But hey, if your team member happened to entail these characteristics – kudos!)
Crafting a team page requires significant time and energy, even though many business WordPress themes include a staff post type and/or page template. You should only focus on this once the product and the webpage is taken care of.
Case Study #11 – WooThemes
10. “Popular Posts” Widget on Sidebar
Most blogs have a widgetized sidebar containing multiple widgets. The most common ones include the Categories widget, Tag widget, newsletter subscription box and the social media widget.
The Popular Posts widget is a really interesting one as it aggregates the most popular articles (or pages) in your blog – solely based on your visitors. Ideally you should not modify your popular posts and let the plugin automatically generate it based on page-views, shares and other metrics.
Case Study #12 – The New York Times
NYTimes is one of the most influential magazines across the globe, and a personal favourite. I’ve always found its sidebar widget really useful – I frequently used it to email an article to my friends and colleagues. The widget sorts the most popular posts based on 3 different metrics:
- Most Viewed
- Most Emailed
- Recommended for you (which is primarily based on my reading habits)
This data is incredibly useful for analytical purposes, besides improving user experience. Lucky for you many magazine style WordPress themes like Spartan include a tabbed posts widget so adding this feature to you sidebar can be as easy as drag & dropping the widget.
11. Related Posts (Bonus)
Related posts placed at the bottom of your article play a significant role in lowering your site’s bounce rate. After finishing an article, when you’re presented with a fresh bunch on the same topic – you’re more likely to continue your reading and click on any one of them. This significantly reduces your site’s bounce rate, as your visitors spend more time on your site now.
It is important to note that you should have a minimum number of related articles (8-10), with the correct tags and category, in order for this method to work. You can use the JetPack or Related Posts for WordPress plugin to achieve the same.
Word of Caution: You should know that generating related posts requires extended computational resources, and hence puts extra pressure on your hosting server. If you’re on a shared hosting environment like BlueHost, please remember to enable WordPress caching.
Summarizing 10+ Tips to Increase Trust and Credibility of Your WordPress Blog
Here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve learnt in this posts:
- Showcase your influential customer base
- Showcase your membership or download strength (depending on your product)
- Display the number of email subscribers to your newsletter (optional)
- Show your social shares, but be careful at the same time
- Display the number of page views of your articles
- Showcase your most successful products
- List your personal/business achievements (related to the product)
- Showcase your client testimonials (close resemblance to point #1)
- Create a team bios page (once the rest is taken care of)
- Use widgetized sidebars to generate additional traffic and improve user engagement
- Display related posts at the end of each post to improve bounce rate
My apologies if I’ve bored you – some of your might be aware of all the techniques we’ve talked about. But a reminder is always nice right?
So, in a nutshell, here’s what you need for a successful business model:
- Build a good product – something you are proud of.
- Market it. Done right, people will buy your product.
- If both steps were done right, people will continue to pay for your product/service.
That is exactly why you’d gladly pay $999 for an iPhone because Apple is a pinnacle of trust and credibility. Hopefully you’ve learned some helpful tips to grow your business.
If you have any examples or experience to add to these tips, or if you have some tips of your own, we’d love to hear them!