Whether you sell products on your business website or simply use it as a lead generation and marketing tool, your business website has to gain prospective customers’ trust in order to work for you. But did you know your website could be doing the opposite of what you intend and causing customers to distrust your business?
A new report from the Ponemon Institute took a look at the top factors that make consumers distrust a business’s website. Here’s what they found and the lessons for your small business:
- Websites that contain errors and inaccuracies raise a red flag for a whopping 91 percent of consumers.
Lesson: Carefully proofread everything on your business website for accuracy, grammar and spelling. Pay special attention to headlines, subheads, dates and prices. You don’t want to have to sell a $799 TV set for $79 because of a typo. If you don’t have anyone on staff who can handle this job, outsource to a freelancer—there are many qualified editors available.
- Almost 9 in 10 (88 percent) of respondents do not trust websites that frequently go down.
Lesson: Choose your Web hosting company carefully, and ask about guaranteed uptime. A good Web host will offer at least 99.5 percent guaranteed uptime. Make sure your Web host offers 24/7 assistance so that if your website does go down, you can quickly get it back up.
- Long load times make 67 percent of consumers suspicious about a website’s trustworthiness.
Lesson: Take steps to ensure your website loads quickly, such as using appropriately sized photos and other graphics. If your website is taking too long to load — especially on mobile devices — talk to your website designer and/or Web host about how to remedy the problem.
- Previous data breaches cause 63 percent of consumers to mistrust your website.
Lesson: If you suffer a security breach, you will need to work hard to regain customers’ trust. This starts by uncovering how the breach occurred, learning from the breach and taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It’s also essential to inform customers honestly about the security breach. Whatever you do, don’t try to hide the information from your customers, or rumors will fly and you’ll lose their trust forever. Since individual customers can sue your business for any losses from a data breach, consider obtaining specialized business insurance to protect you against financial losses incurred by a data breach. This is especially smart if your site collects sensitive data such as credit card numbers or customers’ medical information.
- Websites that lack security safeguards worry 55 percent of consumers.
Lesson: Look for a Web host that takes the necessary steps to secure your business website, including encryption, regular monitoring of your network, and regular backups of your data. In addition, regularly test your e-commerce site for security vulnerabilities. If you accept debit cards, credit cards or other forms of payment online, be sure that your website is PCI compliant. Once you’ve taken the proper security steps, ease consumers’ minds and let them know what you’ve done by posting your site’s SSL certificate prominently on the homepage as well as every page of the checkout process, and/or any page where you ask customers to share personal information.
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Maria Valdez Haubrich
Maria Valdez Haubrich is Chief Liaison Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at SmallBizDaily.com.