Building trust with your site visitors

July 15, 2020

Marketers spend a lot of time figuring out how to get attention. We pay for it on Google and LinkedIn and Instagram, we think about whether our search results will end up at the top of someone’s screen when they are trying to solve a problem, and we send lots and lots of email with cute titles. We use lots of fun gimmicks – sometimes ones that have nothing to do with the brand or what you offer – just for the attention and the chance to continue the conversation.

It’s competitive, and the competition is exhausting. Attention is zero-sum. There’s a fixed amount, and to get attention for yourself, you need to take it from someone else.

Sometimes looking for attention works, and it’s certainly an important thing to know how to do.

But there’s a big part of the story that marketers often miss – building trust. Trust is needed for any transaction to take place, and the world’s biggest brands are often those that are the most trusted. Trust is:

  • Positive-sum. When you build trust with a customer, it’s easier to build more – versus attention, which you get a limited amount of. And when I build trust with a customer, it doesn’t mean there’s less trust for you. In fact, we can both benefit at the same time.

  • A way of reducing friction. When you build trust, the right customers go from wondering, “how can I avoid buying from this person?” to “I bet this person can solve my problem, and I want to work with them to make that happen.”

  • Key to customer satisfaction, especially for complex products like software. The path to getting value out of them is long and circuitous, and it only begins with the sale.

So how can we focus on building trust?

Make promises, then keep them

The major way to build trust is to make promises, and then keep them. This manifests itself in a lot of ways, including consistency, value, and authenticity. Some examples:

Explain clearly what your product is about on the front page. When companies make really vague pronouncements on the front page, it’s a missed opportunity to make a promise about what you deliver, and how. And it often confuses visitors or turns them off.

Here’s an interesting example. Is the heading clear? Should their subhead be the heading? If you had never heard of this company, would this make you want to buy?


Make it easy to access useful information. This can mean a lot of different things, from having a clear and consistent navigation bar, to having clear topics in your content library that are navigable and correspond with your visitors’ problems.

The content library from Nielsen Norman Group, a UX consultancy.


Be consistent with your brand. This can mean simple stuff like making sure your design is up to date and helps your user navigate, rather than getting in their way. More generally, it means making sure that all your communications and all of your brand personality works together (though that’s a topic for another post.)

Price honestly and fairly. Is it easy to cancel? If a user isn’t getting value from your service, can you charge them less or automatically switch them to a lower tier?

We love this “maintenance plan” for a service we recently canceled (left). It’s not available until you try to cancel – which is super-easy, by the way – but it gives the user an option other than “we’re going to delete all your data.” By way of comparison, does knowing how hard it is to cancel the New York Times (right) make you want to sign up?

Screen Shot 2020-07-16 at 5.28.27 PM.png

Make outbound touches useful and relevant to your prospect. Personalization works in outreach. Why? Because it creates trust that someone’s reaching out to you for a reason, and has done their research.

Is this useful personalization? How could it be improved?



What would happen if you viewed your goal as creating trust rather than getting attention? Slower growth maybe, at first. But ultimately – much more durable, valuable relationships with your customers and prospects.