Distribution is a relationship business. I’ve heard this said hundreds of times in my dozen-plus years in this industry. And some recently published research suggests that the importance of relationships extends to your digital presence.
In fact, contrary to popular belief, trust may be even more important in an online setting because it typically lacks the one-to-one interaction and the ability to interact with products.
Harvard Business Review recently published some research on how customers decide whether to buy from your website. Academic details aside, the authors’ bottom-line findings were that when consumers make a decision involving risk – such as buying from a website – they rely more on intuition than deliberation, which explains why aesthetics, professionalism and other features matter online.
The authors said that even simple changes such as fonts and layouts may be critical to establishing trust. I would add other components that establish your credibility on first glance: testimonials from other businesses, clear ways to contact you, photos of team members, badges that show you are a secure site to conduct business (if your site includes e-commerce), association or buying group membership, and content such as blogs, video and product information that showcases your expertise.
Making it easy to find all of that is just as important.
Many distributors, in general, have a long way to go to meet customer expectations online. You should continually be evolving your website design and organization to draw prospects in and keep them there. Use website visitor analytics to better understand your customers’ behavior. If new visitors are arriving and leaving in under a minute, it’s a sure sign that they don’t trust that you can meet their needs.
And while your website does need to look like it was built in this decade, this all goes beyond looking pretty. In the end, it’s about making it easy for your prospects to find what they’re looking for because they’ll leave quickly if they don’t. Think customer first. Are you delivering on your promises – building trust – on every channel on which you conduct business, including your website?
Lindsay Konzak is president of 3 Aspens Media. She founded 3 Aspens Media to develop marketing and research-driven content for companies in or serving the distribution and manufacturing industries. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit 3aspensmedia.com.