Successful businesses know that to develop long-term relationships with their customers, they must find ways to build trust. This is not as easy to do as it sounds. According to the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer study, U.S. consumer trust of companies dropped 8 points from 2010 to 2011.
In fact, this trend seems to be worsening. According to a new University of Melbourne study, online shoppers are 30% less loyal to online businesses than in 2007.
The good news is that businesses can improve their trustworthiness. The University of Melbourne study also found that Internet consumers are 20% more trusting of websites than they were five years ago. According to Dr. Brent Coker, the author of the study, the increase in online consumer trust is largely linked to the visual appeal of websites.
As aesthetically orientated humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. Our offline behaviour and inclinations translate to our online existence. As the internet has become prettier, we are venturing out, and becoming less loyal. With websites becoming increasingly attractive and including more trimmings, this creates a greater feeling of trustworthiness and professionalism in online consumers.
But it’s not enough just to have a pretty website. According to Dr. Coker:
The biggest source of frustration is the inability to find relevant information on a website. The best way to stop defection to other websites, and increase loyalty, is to be interesting. Being pretty, but with nothing to say, is not enough.
Among other things, the University of Melbourne study found that if a website has poor navigation or access to information, or takes more than two seconds to download, prospective customers are more likely to opt against purchasing and navigate to another site.
To help you evaluate your own site, we recommend the following additional resources: Small Business Marketing: Web Design Best Practices and Tips, Startup and Small Business Marketing: Website Optimization Mistakes, and Best Practices and Tips for Restaurant Web Design,
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