International SEO Strategy: Get Trusted Quickly
Google rolled out its Trusted Stores program earlier this month, acknowledging the importance of trust to improving online shopping experiences.
Indeed, in the announcement on their official blog, Google highlighted the conversion optimisation improvements delivered by inclusion in the program: a 2.3% increase in sales for Wayfair, and a whopping 8.6% increase for Beau-coup.
Before looking at the program in more detail, it’s informative to ask why such a massive increase for Beau-coup was achieved and only a modest, but still hugely significant (in terms of bottom line revenue) improvement was achieved for Wayfair with the same change?
Simple: Wayfair is a well known online brand and the 50th highest revenue generating US website online according to Internet Retailer (as noted in Google’s post).
In short: it’s got a lot of trust.
Beau-coup are less well known and have more to gain from associating with another highly trusted brand in Google which, despite often getting (often unjustifiably) bad press from industry insiders, is a brand well respected by the general public, and which recently scored amongst the top three most trusted brands in Australia, and was recently highly rated in the difficult Indian market.
But where is this brand trust coming from? And can it be leveraged for international SEO and Conversion Optimisation performance?
Developing Brand Trust Internationally For Profit
At its core, developing brand trust is not complex: brands develop trust by being seen to make a positive public promise and delivering, consistently, on that promise.
It’s the execution of delivering on their promise that causes so many brands to become tarnished.
In the multinational sphere, that execution is many times more complex than when operating in a single market, so it’s that much more important to focus on core promise delivery. The first step of that is to know and understand what your brand promise actually is.
Amazon has regularly scored top in surveys on brand trust since 2010, and their promise is deceptively simple: offer convenience (one-click shopping), value (free shipping), and comprehensiveness (the largest online inventory) in a personalised package (industry leading recommendation engine).
In reality, delivering on each aspect of that promise is a major challenge and has only been possible by being at the very forefront of web technology since the early days of the Internet.
It’s for this reason that many see Amazon’s brand value as 100% defensible – up there with Coke in their ability to emerge untarnished from even the messiest of brand cock-ups.
So, you may not be able to build Amazon’s level of reputability in this lifetime, but what practical things can you do to build your brand trust?
Quite simply: start making promises and stick to them.
Here’s some starter points for eCommerce sites:
- Do you offer a moneyback guarantee? Say so on your site. Use a seal. Be visible.
- Do you store credit card information? No? Good! Let your shoppers know.
- Do you keep personal account information safely stored? Excellent. Tell me how.
- Am I on a secure server when asked to enter credit card information? Naturally! Point it out & make sure you have an authentic SSL certificate for the domain (and sub-domain!) your eComms system is on.
- Are you registered with any industry watchdogs? No? Get registered and use their logo.
- Do you guarantee delivery? No? If you’re using FedEx or another guaranteed delivery service then you should: their promise is your promise.
- Do you offer a no-quibble returns policy? You absolutely should. It’s a top ten requirement of online shoppers, and a guarantor of their trust in your brand.
- Do you make it simple for shoppers to checkout? Is it quick and easy? Let me know before I start if it is, and don’t then bombard me with interstitial pages offering irrelevant upsells (I hope you’re reading this GoDaddy).
- Do you support trusted payment systems like Google Checkout/Wallet and PayPal? You should: they are a guarantor of trusted payment processing and their use implies your credit card payment system is similarly secure.
- Are you gathering feedback from happy customers? Ask them if you can share it with the world.
- What’s your company USP? Why do you exist in the market and what’s your differentiation from your competitors? Make this clear, simple & to the point and make it obvious on first glance at any page on your site.
- Finally: get involved in Google’s Trusted Store programme, it’s going to be big.
All of these points are basic 101 improvements that will also increase the brand trust associated with your website. The value of developing that trust is profound across every target country.
You’ll generate more repeat visits with a greater number of brand search terms driving traffic to your site via SEO & PPC. Given performing for brand in each of these channels is a cinch, that’s a valuable tool for developing the lifetime value of your existing customers.
Word of mouth is a valuable tool for developing new customers, and is most effective for trusted brands. Strategies like ‘Tell a friend’ functionality on checkout confirmation pages will be much more effective (and can be the single biggest conversion improvement you’ll ever make to an eCommerce brand).
Finally, as you deliver increased revenues and expand your SEO and PPC channels to target generic terms driving high percentage value new-visit traffic, you’ll find that traffic converting at a higher rate as they are presented with your brand promises easily, clearly, and upfront.
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