As a brand, you can’t survive online these
days if your customers don’t trust you. Fact. If they don’t trust you, they will never
buy from you, and you will ultimately fail. It’s that simple.

And it’s especially true for brands that
are selling high-ticket items and also when consumers are buying something they
might consider a luxury.

A holiday is a good example; it’s a major purchase for
most of us not just because it is expensive but also because it’s the one purchase
we all look forward to every year!  

So, when I read this week that TripAdvisor has removed the slogan ‘reviews you can trust’ from its website and replaced it with ‘reviews from our community’, I was keen to find out more. 

Why did TripAdvisor do this? Well, the website is currently under review by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for featuring fake reviews.

The ASA’s investigation focuses on the ‘trustworthiness’ of the reviews and alleges that TripAdvisor cannot prove which posts are genuine and which are attempts at astroturfing.

TripAdvisor has already taken measures to reduce the number alleged “fake reviews” by blocking individuals with the same IP address as the hotel they are reviewing.

For a company like TripAdvisor where its entire business model is built on providing recommendation and advice, trust is massively important.

Building trust online is a big factor for success, here are five ways that companies can look to inspire trust online:

Make your site simple and accessible 

The easier your site is to navigate, and the more complete the information offered, the more trust visitors will have in your brand. Unnecessarily complex design elements and poor navigation just confuses and irritates.

It could even make your visitors suspicious: “What is this company really trying to say?” It makes them doubt the process: “Have I missed something here?” It wears people out: “What a waste of time, I give up!”

Use endorsements and testimonials

While TripAdvisor has become unstuck here, third party endorsement (usually from customers) is a great way to build trust. This is especially important if your brand is relatively unknown or if the product or service you are offering is a one-off (like a holiday or hotel).

Open the kimono! 

Often I see companies trying to hide their prices on their website or making visitors complete a form to get a call-back from a salesperson. The more you try to hide, the less trust a visitor will have in your brand and the more likely they will be to go elsewhere.

Add a friendly face

Don’t be afraid of bringing personality to your brand. People buy from people so why not include pictures of your team on your site? At the end of the day, we’re all a little bit nosey and will feel more confident if we can actually see the ‘people behind the brand’.

Engage with your audience

Social media has transformed the way we use the web and increasingly, we all want to be able to engage directly online with the brands we buy from.

So make this easy for your customers both on the site itself and on social networks. If they can get in touch with you directly, they are more likely to trust what you are saying.