When first-time users visit your website for the first time, they will quickly make snap-judgments about your site’s credibility.
Andrew Yedlin is a conversion-focused copywriter who helps generate leads for B2B and SaaS clients.
As a guest on Wynter Games, Andrew joined us to explain what steps you can take to enhance online credibility and stand out from the crowd.
A bold claim proves nothing
Picture yourself walking down the street in NYC. You see a basic pizza place and a sign that says “Best Pizza in New York.” What do you think?
Most people don’t react by running in to buy the pizza. In fact, most people assume that the “best pizza” claim is false.
According to Andrew, a bold claim proves nothing. Instead of bold, unsubstantiated claims, you need to be specific.
Why is website credibility important?
Because customers are afraid of getting screwed.
While visiting your website, they are hesitant to complete a demo or even start a free trial. Sure, they are worried about potentially losing out financially. But they also don’t want to end up feeling fooled.
“It's not just about losing time or losing money. It's this really uncomfortable feeling that you were tricked, and what that says about yourself,” said Andrew.
How fear relates to copywriting
When it comes to copywriting this fear plays a big role, because it’s a force that’s always working against you.
“Your prospect's brains are trying to protect them from that potential situation where they take your offer and then are let down because your website wrote a check that the product itself could not cash,” said Andrew.
This is why building credibility is so critical in copywriting. You want your prospects to feel genuinely confident that your solution is the best choice.
How to build credibility
The solution to this skepticism and fear is to make a specific claim that is backed up by evidence.
This doesn’t just apply to copywriting - it’s the foundation of any persuasive argument.
Instead of claiming you have the best pizza, you need to say your restaurant is #1 on Yelp, then add the badge to prove it.
With a website, you may need to make and prove several claims before visitors are convinced to become customers.
3 principles of credibility
When looking to build credibility, there are three main psychological principles at play:
- Social Proof: we are more likely to do something if other people are already doing it
- Authority: we are more likely to believe people who have established relevant authority than those who haven’t
- Specificity: we are more likely to believe specific claims than we are to believe general ones
To establish authority, relevant experience is key.
“If my doctor gives me advice about what to do for my shoulder, I'm probably going to listen to her,” Andrew said.
“But if she tells me, you know, who I should vote for in the next election, she doesn't have that same level of influence.”
Classic website credibility boosters
Many websites rely on classic features to enhance trustworthiness. You are probably accustomed to seeing the following:
- Logo bars
- Reviews, ratings, and badges
These are all useful for improving website credibility, but some do a better job leveraging them than others.
“I don't want you to think of credibility as just a box to check,” Andrew said. “I want you to think about how persuasive your page or your website is. And the way you do that again is by making claims and then supporting them with evidence.”
Next, we’ll walk through how you can make these features as effective as possible.
There’s nothing wrong with including a simple testimonial. But before you slap it on and call it a day, Andrew recommends considering the following.
Place testimonials in context
The first thing you should do is place your testimonials near the claims they support.
Most websites include blocks of text with a little feature label on top, a benefit, and a small amount of body copy expanding on that benefit.
The better strategy is to write a persuasive claim about your product that you hope will convert visitors.
Then, place a testimonial that proves the claim directly under it.
Andrew referenced Intercom's former homepage design as doing a great job at this. One claim they made about improving support was followed by a testimonial claiming a 12% reduction in response time.
Use testimonials to bust objections
You can also use testimonials to convince skeptical customers.
For example, investing in new software is a big decision. Some stakeholders may worry that people won’t use it.
A testimonial speaking to that exact fear can help to eliminate that worry.
This testimonial from Lattice serves to show “Hey, we were worried about completion rates too. But now we have a 100% completion rate now that we are working with Lattice,” said Andrew.
“The idea here is to take an objection that you know your audience already has, and rather than trying to bust it yourself, letting someone else bust it for you.”
Turn your testimonial into a case study
A testimonial can also be turned into a mini-case study with the addition of some simple metrics.
“If you are able to pull specific metric improvements out of the projects you've worked on and the customers that you have, then you want to amplify the power of the testimonial,” said Andrew.
Numbers can make a testimonial even more compelling. You can display the mini case-study on the homepage, and easily link to a full-length case study elsewhere on your site.
Add a headshot
There is evidence that testimonials paired with a headshot improve conversion rates. While Andrew hasn’t tested this firsthand, it makes perfect sense.
A photo of a person makes the testimonial seem more real, and therefore more credible.
“It makes the testimonial more believable again because of the principle of specificity,” Andrew explained.
“If this person did not say this, that is a really bold lie. And again, people do not expect that. Like, I would be shocked if that picture is not the person who it's supposed to be.”
We mentioned that one of the three principles of credibility is authority.
If you are an early company and don’t yet have testimonials to feature on your website, you can leverage the voice of authority in other ways.
“You can also go to people who are authorities in certain areas and try to pull things that they have said to support your claims,” said Andrew.
For instance, you could include a tweet from an authority to help show credibility. While the tweet might not mention your company, it can mention your industry or product category.
Choose the right people
Finally, you want to be intentional and strategic with the testimonials and authority figures you choose to feature on your website.
You may have a great testimonial from someone who simply isn’t a good fit.
“You want to make sure that the people who you put on your page accurately reflect the people who you want to attract,” Andrew said.
“If you're trying to attract CEOs, and the CEO goes on your website and every single person on there is a salesperson, that's a mismatch. They're not going to get the signal that this is something for me.”
Upgraded logo bars
Logo bars are another credibility booster that usually gets loaded onto a website without much thought.
Some sites include a big wall of logos. Other sites might have a small header that says “trusted by the best.”
Even if you’re featuring impressive companies, there is a bit more you can do here. To improve, you should:
- Connect the proof to the claim with your crosshead
- Dial up the specificity of the claim with your crosshead
Connect the proof to the claim
To illustrate this piece of advice, Andrew used another example from Lattice.
One of Lattice’s main claims is that they are going to help drive performance and engagement.
Rather than just saying 2,000 organizations trust Lattice and weaving in dozens of logos, Lattice tied in the proof to the claim itself, which is that they are driving performance and engagement.
Dial up the specificity
You can also use your crosshead to enhance the specificity of your claim.
Instead of just saying that your company is trusted by the best in North America, you can say that you are trusted by 11 of the top 50 teams in North America. This serves to dial up the specificity of your claim and make it more credible.
When you say that you are the best at something, it seems vague and untrustworthy. “It just goes in one ear out the other,” Andrew said. “When you say something specific, it sticks.”
To make your metrics work harder, Andrew suggested applying the “ABC” test.
- Audit your claims: make a list of everything that your website or your landing page is claiming that, um, that doesn't have support.
- Brainstorm proof points: is there a way that you can get some sort of metric that proves the point?
- Collect the data: solicit reviews, run surveys, compile case studies
The ABC formula can also be applied to other areas, not just upgrading metrics.
“Honestly, this works for everything. It's not just metrics,” Andrew said.
“You can still use this idea of auditing your claims and brainstorming proof points and say, okay, for this one, maybe we don't use a metric. Maybe we use a testimonial. Okay, for this one, maybe we use a capterra badge.”
Run user tests
Sometimes you think you have an impressive statistic, but it falls flat with your customers.
User tests can help you to determine if what you’re placing in front of prospective customers is resonating.
“You say, ‘Oh, we've helped a thousand companies do this.’ And maybe they say, ah that's nothing,” Andrew said.
“Or it could be the opposite problem where the truth seems too good to be true. And they discount it for that reason.”
User tests will help you see what your customers see.
Upgraded ratings and badges
The last area Andrew covered was how to upgrade the credibility of your ratings and badges.
The best places to display these items are the following locations:
- Early on the page: to establish credibility with a visual signal that you are a legitimate business.
- Late on the page: to neutralize anxiety near the main call to action
When badges are absent, sites can seem less trustworthy from the user’s first glance.
“Somehow these badges send a signal to my brain that says, okay, other people have clicked this button before and not only live to tell the tale, but came back and left a decent review,” said Andrew.
In closing, we will leave you with an important reminder: Anyone can make a claim, about anything. The hard part is getting users to believe you.
The secret to standing out and converting is to separate yourself from the pack by actually proving those claims.
Watch Andrew talk about the topic here.