For me, one of marketing’s most important functions is to reduce the level of perceived risk a potential customer may have about your service or product. Weighing up ‘risk’ is a big part of the consumer’s decision making process, sometimes it can happen in an instant (e.g. low cost or regularly purchased items such as baked beans) or sometimes it can take months or years (e.g. one off high value items such as buying a house), and everything else in between.
There are 6 different types of risk:
• Physical risk (Will it physically hurt them or anyone else?)
• Functional risk (Will it work how they want it to?)
• Social risk (Is it socially acceptable within their circle?)
• Psychological risk (How does the product fit in with their perception of themselves?)
• Financial risk (Can they afford it?)
• Time risk (Is the time it takes to buy the product worth the effort?)
Your aim should be to use your website to provide visitors with the information they need to overcome their perceived risk.
Contact us, find us & about us pages
No one likes to spend money with a faceless company with no clear way of getting in touch if there are any problems. Easy to find ‘contact us’ and if you have offices, ‘find us’ pages show people there is someone on the other side. Equally ‘about us’ pages help to put you and your website in to context along with adding a personal touch, especially if you use photos of yourself.
Money back guarantee
The inability to see a product or touch it is one of the major hurdles people have to get over when purchasing online and a product can look very different in the real world to the image on the website. You can help reduce the financial risk by allowing them to return it and get their money back. This also goes for services.
Demo of product
In a similar vein to the point above, screen shots are not always enough for some visitors. Being able to ‘test drive’ the service before they commit to a purchase is a major plus for many visitors and will increase your conversion rate.
3rd party endorsements
Having your product endorsed by a business or personality well regarded in your field will reduce psychological and social risk by creating a sense of trust through your association with them. This can be as simple as listing your blue chip suppliers (e.g. Microsoft) all the way up to getting a celebrity on board (e.g. a football apparel website hiring a footballer)
Testimonials, case studies & customer comments
Being able to see there are existing (happy) customers is important to potential customers because they don’t want to feel they are alone. You can help to Increase the credibility of any comments and/ or testimonials with the person’s names, links to follow and putting the date of their comment to show how fresh they are.
The knowledge you are dealing with an established and stable brand is important to customers because they associate that with being trustworthy. Few website owners can claim “Since 1908” but because the internet is so new and sites come and go so quickly, a web site as recent as “since 2004” can feel like an old horse!