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IT Management
IT Management

Creating a Small Business Website Your Customers Will Trust

by Greg Shields

SYNOPSIS

You own a small business, perhaps even a micro business.  Maybe you're a plumber, or you sell customized golf balls.  But while you're good at what you do, you're not necessarily a highly-technical person.  You want to expand that business into the online world, but you're not quite sure how to do so in a way that your customers will trust it.  This Essentials Series explains the surprising similarities between offline and online businesses, showing you the seven reasons why your customers do business.  It continues with a look at what's primarily important to every business customer:  The assurance of trust, and how reputation, visibility, and professionalism create that trust.


CHAPTER PREVIEWS

Article 1: Seven Reasons Customers Do Business, Online and Offline

Think about the last time you purchased something.  You may have done so online, or you may have walked into a storefront.  What you might not have realized is that the decisions you as a customer make are the same, no matter if the store exists on your computer or in the real world.  To be successful, your online presence needs to exude the same comfortable atmosphere as any traditional brick-and-mortar storefront if customers are to stick around and shop.  This first article discusses seven reasons customers do business with any store.  It starts with a discussion on the seven things customers look for in a brick-and-mortar store, and relates them to the exact same things they're looking for in an online presence.


Article 2: Creating a Website That Your Customers Will Trust

The seven reasons why your customers do business are a checklist for creating the atmosphere that your customers want.  That atmosphere will obviously be different based on the customers you're intending to attract — those who sell children's toys will have a different atmosphere than those who sell automobile parts.  But very must the same across every storefront is the requirement for trust between the people with the products (you) and the people with the money (your customers).  This article talks about the tactics currently in use in the brick-and-mortar world for establishing that trust, and relates them to online mechanisms that can and will accomplish the same result.


Article 3: Good Websites to Great: Adding Reputation, Visibility, and Professionalism

Trust is only the result of creating a comfortable, dependable storefront.  Yet in both the real world and the online world it is possible to buy trust while you at the same time earn trust.  That trust comes in the form of reputation, perhaps through a trusted third party (such as a licensing bureau or consumer advocacy group).  Visibility begets trust, as customers find themselves repeatedly seeing your business appear when they seek a particular product.  Finally, professionalism absolutely leads to trust; the more effort you put into looking good, the more your customers believe that you intend to be around for the long haul.  These three elements are no different in the online world.  This final article discusses how these three elements in a business' online presence must meet (or in some cases exceed) the effort you put into your brick-and-mortar storefront.