4 factors that affect your online credibility – and how to use them to your advantage
Here’s something to bear in mind when honing your professional online profiles: trends change, but human behaviour – not so fast. But what does that mean for your business?
In 1999, Jakob Nielsen listed 4 principles that make a website more trustworthy: design quality, upfront disclosure, comprehensive content, and connection. According to a study from 2016, those four factors continue to influence consumers today.
I apply the same 4 principles to building websites and professional online profiles. Having an overall coherent online presence can significantly amplify your business’s authority. Nowadays, it’s the first thing people do before using a service: they Google you. So, in order to merit trust and secure long-term business relationships, invest time into polishing up your profile across all platforms to leave a lasting impression on visitors. That includes your website, your social media pages, and your online professional profiles.
As a translation company, you are expected to look professional, credible and dependable. Your clients want to feel as though their project is in safe hands. It’s not enough if you just tell them that. You need to show them.
Often the documents you handle are confidential or sometimes even people’s lives may depend on them. If you look for any provider and see that their online presence is messy and full of errors, what message does that deliver to potential clients? Would you trust that person with your confidential information?
Here’s how you can implement the 4 main credibility indicators to your online presence and increase your chances of winning long-term clients:
1. Practice great design (Design quality)
Your website and your online profiles are a window into your brand’s soul. Anyone wanting to take a peek wants to see something nice and that’s why design quality matters. Everything from your photography to your colour scheme to your font will shape a potential client’s opinion of you. Think of your target audience at all times. What would give them an immediate good impression when landing on your profile or website? A tidy layout, good organisation, impeccable grammar and spelling, working links – all these factors inspire trust.
When it comes to your own website – this is where you can really make a difference. Whether you’re designing it yourself or with a designer, make sure that the design looks friendly, finished, up-to-date, easy-to-navigate and browse, and gives an overall professional impression. Just a first look at your website can make someone go “yay” and make them want to work with you.
We’re pretty limited with design on most online profile platforms, compared to your own websites, but you can still apply the quality design principle and make it look neat, tidy and professional.
On social profiles like LinkedIn for instance, you have a fair amount of space to fill – so fill it wisely with a compelling summary, all relevant experience, links to your work, your specialisations etc. How you write and present everything is extremely important in earning trust and confidence.
How to improve your design quality?
- Add high quality, professional profile pictures.
- Make sure your company logo is on the website and on your profiles to keep your brand coherent across channels.
- Make sure your logo matches the rest of the design (or the other way around).
- Make sure your design is finished, error-free and works on different devices.
- Use blank space on your website – don’t try to cram everything onto one page.
- Don’t leave much blank space on your profiles – the more fields you fill with relevant information, the better.
- Ensure everything is organised: working links, user-friendly layout, visible contact details.
- Avoid overly cheesy stock photos, but download or purchase more unique ones.
2. Be transparent (Upfront disclosure)
Consumers value transparency. A US study found that 73 percent of consumers consider transparency more significant than price. You know you do too! It always feels more comfortable knowing who you work with, being able to read more about them and seeing they are a real person and who tells you everything you need to know right from the start. Plus, it’s always nice to put a face to the name.
Transparency is also about working with an open heart. Don’t you just love it when a company actually wants to help you with your problem? Maintaining an openness between yourself and your client is an element of business transparency not to be overlooked.
How to increase your transparency?
- Make yourself visible – show your customers who you are!
- Try to be upfront with any information clients may need from you.
- Document what is included in your translation service, state any additional charges that may come, and don’t miss anything out.
- Clarify all working conditions from the start.
- Make yourself easy to contact.
- Listen to your clients’ concerns and respond constructively.
- Try to always find a solution or an alternative for your client requests.
3. Update, revise, rearrange (Comprehensive, correct and current)
Keep your website and profiles active to stay active in clients’ minds. Keep them updated with new information across all platforms and try not to abandon your profiles at any time. Too many profiles? Pick only one or two platforms that are the most beneficial to you and focus on them.
The ghost profiles where someone appeared really active over the course of a few months and then suddenly disappeared from the face of the digital realm may actually harm your image. It may look like you’re not in business anymore if your latest post is dated 2014.
Potential clients want not just to see, but to feel your presence, and that can only happen if you keep your profile current and comprehensive. How?
- Write regular blog posts and link to them from your online profiles and social platforms.
- Share other peoples’ posts, engage, comment, like – especially client posts!
- Inform users of upcoming events, discounts, or general newsworthy stuff that you’d like to share.
- Add new CPD items to your website, new training and qualifications.
- Add recent portfolio items and testimonials.
- Cross-link between profiles and website to allow them to check everything easily.
4. Stay connected
Long gone are the days when a nice but impersonal website was enough to convert a visitor into a customer. Today, many people search high and low to make sure you’re the right person for the job. They’ll often do the omnichannel approach: scanning through your website, social media profiles, professional profiles and basically across all platforms for “proof” that you A) exist and B) are trustworthy.
So, stay connected by cross-linking between your website and profiles. That way, anyone on your site wanting to learn more about you can easily navigate between your website – the main funnel – and your online profiles too.
- Cross-link between your website and online profiles.
- Connect your website to Google Webmaster tools to boost its ranking and credibility.
- Ask for reviews on your Proz profile, Google business page, LinkedIn, Facebook and Trustpilot.
- Showcase your testimonials and recommendations wherever you can.
- Find contacts on the different platforms and connect! Online networking is great and you can do that from the comfort of your home!
Have you been developing your online presence? Do you have any rules you stick by? If so, I’d love to hear your personal tips on what works for you!
Comment below to leave your tips!