The Credibility Challenge: 7 Ways to Boost Your Credibility Online
Quick question: Would you rather buy a sports drink endorsed by Michael Jordon or Oprah? They’re equally famous around the world, but Michael Jordon’s probably the better choice for a sports drink because he was a famous professional athlete. Oprah, on the other hand has endorsed relationship books, diet plans, moisturizing lotion, and women’s health challenges. All appropriate for her specific brand of credibility.
Two important ideas in credibility:
1. Know what your audience is looking for.
2. Find the appropriate indicators for that audience.
Credibility is incredibly powerful in the buying decision. Once your audience has the appropriate information about the features and benefits for your product, they’ll start looking for signs of credibility right before committing to a purchase. It’s one of the last steps before they put their credit card information in the box, but it’s also an essential part of why they’ve stayed on your site as long as they have.
Here are some of the most important credibility indictors online:
1. Professional Looking Site: Professional doesn’t have to look slick or fancy, just clean, well thought out and spelled correctly.
2. Appropriate to the Subject: If you’re site is selling novelty items, but looks like a corporate consulting recruiter, you lose credibility.
3. Testimonials by Real People: Photos and Videos are much more credible than names. Names are better than initials.
4. Endorsements: They don’t need to be celebrities, just other people in your field, who can lend a credible hand.
5. Professional Organizations: They can be professional associations like the American Medical Association, the Better Business Bureau, or a Local Chamber of Commerce.
6. Online Trust Indicators: Like Verisign or TrustGuard
7. Honest Representation of Who You Are: If you lie on your bio, someone on the web will make you very sorry you did.
Think Before You Book Dr. Phil
Before you go out of your way to find endorsements from thought leaders or celebrities, think about what your audience is really looking for. Do they want to be a world-class runner, or just hurt less after 5 miles? Do they want to climb Mount Everest or just go on a hike with their kids? We get caught up in thinking of the perfect way to position our products, when really we need to pay closer attention to our audience.
Create Your Own Credibility
One of the best ways to create credibility is to become your own expert. Write a dozen useful articles about your subject and people will start to recognize your expertise. Write a few dozen and you’re on your way to being a thought leader.
Here are a couple great ways to build your own credibility:
1. Speak for free at a Local University Campus. Now you’re a “guest lecturer at The University of Colorado.”
2. Offer to speak for free at the local HP, IBM, or other big company campus. Use these speeches to build a resume of credibility.
3. Register on Expertclick as an expert in your field. Journalists use this directory to find experts to interview.
4. Guest blog for other sites in your field.
5. Teach through local free university programs or non-profit organizations.
6. Look for organizations to join
7. Find for inexpensive credentialing programs to boost your skills and recognition.
Once you start looking at signs of credibility, you’ll find lots of opportunities to make yourself much more trustworthy and credible.