Your website is your 24/7 salesperson and the online face of your business. In many cases, your website is a potential client’s first impression of your business. Therefore, you should be using your website to build this trust and credibility. Once a client trusts you, it leads to loyalty. Not only are they likely to use your service again but will also recommend your pet care services to friends and family. Does your website build trust in your business? Does it reflect the quality of services that you offer?
It doesn’t matter how fast your website is or how compelling your CTAs are, if your website doesn’t seem trustworthy, visitors will bounce to a competitor. Here are some strategies that you can implement on your website to build online trust for your pet business.
Make sure your website is secure.
First off, if your website isn’t secure – this is an immediate red flag. There is no excuse for this is 2020. In some cases, the client may get an alert, warning them that they are about to enter a website that is not secure. Well, there goes your potential new customer. A simple free SSL security certificate will do the trick to give you that lock icon and HTTPS. Also, be sure that all websites you link to are also secure with HTTPS.
In most cases, you will not need to purchase the SSL certificate as they are included in most hosting plans. Most pet businesses are not collecting super-sensitive information on their website. Still, an SSL certificate will ensure that all information that is collected is encrypted so a hacker cannot intercept it, like web forms and credit card payments.
An SSL certificate is one of the easiest ways to show your potential clients that your website is secure and that they can trust you.
Show your face to build credibility on your website.
You are selling pet care services, so you must show your potential clients who you are. It’s not really an option in this industry. You wouldn’t trust your beloved pet with someone you don’t know, right? Not showing your face on your website could be detrimental and make it look like you are hiding something. By letting clients see your face, they will feel more comfortable reaching out and inquiring about your services.
On your about us page, add photos and biographies of the owner(s) and all team members who deal with clients. Bios should include credentials, education, experience, training, etc.. Don’t be modest here! To instill more trust, go above and beyond and use video to introduce yourself to potential clients. Using professional photography through the website showing on-the-job photos will also make you stand out to your competitors.
Using channels like Instagram and Facebook to share photos of employees on the job is a great supporting strategy. Don’t hide behind the camera in the pet industry!
Make communication easy and accessible.
Potential clients often have questions that you must answer promptly. Sometimes they may be messaging several companies at once and will book with the first one that replies. It is easy for potential customers to interact and get answers to their questions fast on your website? If nobody is available to answer questions quickly, your business will begin to lose credibility.
Adding an FAQ/Policies page to your website and continually updating it with new questions that arise is a great way to help clients get answers to their questions without the need to contact. Adding a clickable phone number and email address, as well as a short contact form, are great ways to help clients interact, BUT you must be prompt on the reply. Connecting a Live Chat or Facebook Messenger is one of the best ways to show potential customers that you are accessible. Install the app on your smartphone to be sure you are available to respond to these inquires promptly.
Collect and share reviews and testimonials.
It’s easy to say how great your own business is, but when clients sing your praises, it’s much more valuable. How many times have you booked a service without reading reviews or asking friends for recommendations before booking? Probably rarely. Linking to 3rd party review sources like Facebook Reviews, Google Reviews, Yelp Reviews, etc.. is very valuable. Also, sprinkling these testimonials on different pages throughout your website is a great way to display social proof and keep these positive experiences front and center for potential customers browsing your site.
Testimonial pages are old strategies with 3rd party platforms like Google Reviews. Instead, add those reviews strategically while linking back to these 3rd party sites so clients can read unbiased reviews. I mean, who is going to list bad reviews on their website? Nobody, we all know that! This is why linking to 3rd party sites is an essential strategy.
Social Proof is a great trust builder.
Before we get started here, what is social proof? Social proof is a type of interaction based psychological and social phenomenon where people tend to copy the actions of people they trust. When people see other’s positive interactions with businesses, this helps them create a sense of trust in the company before even interacting with it. Have a high profile customer (like a celebrity) or industry expert (like a veterinarian) willing to write you a review or recommendation? Post it front and center! Are you a dog trainer that solved a major behavioural problem? Show videos of the before and after! Are you a member of an industry organization or hold coveted certifications? Showcase them on your homepage!
While social media shouldn’t be your entire marketing strategy, it should play a significant role in driving traffic to your website. Commonly, social proof will come from your customers and peers, singing your praises on many different mediums like social media, in local groups and testimonials. It is crucial that your website supports this social proof and continues to build on the trust. Even with social proof, a dated website could still damage the credibility of your business.
Display your contact information.
Do not hide your contact information. Displaying phone numbers and email addresses is a way not only to show you are accessible, but it boosts trust since you are allowing potential customers to contact you in multiple ways. You may not want phone calls, but a pet owner may wish to call you. Would you rather they call you or go to a competitor who accepts calls? If you don’t want to answer or are too busy to deal with phone and email inquires, then hire a manager.
By hiding your contact details, it gives the impression that you are hiding something. Now, that’s a red flag, isn’t it?
Focus on solving your client’s problems.
At the end of the day, your potential clients want to know how you can solve their problems and make their lives easier. When writing your website copy, write like you are talking to the reader. Using a term like “you” makes readers feel like you are focused on them and their needs. They will be more responsive to your messaging when they feel like you are talking directly to them. If it’s all about your business, then you would be surprised to know how many visitors will leave. Every piece of content that you post should have your target audience’s emotional interests center stage.
Your homepage should focus on connecting emotionally with your target audience. What problems are you solving? With COVID-19, you should be adjusting your messaging as potential clients have new issues. Is their dog making it hard to work from home? Is the potential client elderly or injured and no longer able to walk the dog? Do they have a lengthy commute or work long hours? Are they travelling? Do they have dogs with bad behaviour that need training? Are they away from home for long periods? Do they live in an apartment and don’t have time?
There are so many problems your services are solving. Look at your customers and discover what their actual problems are that you are solving and showcase these problems/solutions on your website. Likely there are others with the same issues.
Be consistent, and be honest.
Your website is not the place to lie or fluff the truth. Be consistent with your messaging, so your potential clients know what to expect from you. Make sure your brand is consistent on your website with all other marketing channels. This consistency shows your professionalism and builds trust. A consistent brand will attract higher quality clientele and build loyalty.
Honestly is the best policy. Be transparent on your website, and don’t make clients assume. Make it clear on your site the type of client you are a good fit for. Make your service area clear and add your policies so clients can decide if they agree before wasting your time.
Phone calls or virtual meet and greets are a great first step for vetting new clients. Review your policies to make sure they understand, talk about pricing, so there are no surprises, and clearly answer their questions to avoid discrepancies in the future. If they are not a good fit, don’t try and make it work and don’t be afraid to refer them to a competitor. Build trust by helping them find the best fit for their unique situation. They will appreciate your honesty and may come back in their needs change, or they may tell a friend.
Display COVID-19 safety precautions.
Your website is important, even more now with COVID-19. With social distancing protocols in place for businesses around the world, protocols should be listed on every pet business website. There are so many unknown factors surrounding the new virus, but this is an opportunity to show to your customers that they can trust you. Show your customers that you are going above and beyond to protect them, and your employees, during the global pandemic.
There are many COVID-19 related tasks that should be implemented on your website. The most important is a resource page that clearly states your relevant protocols and policies. Give potential clients peace of mind knowing that their health and safety is a top priority and what proactive measures you have in place to protect them. A COVID-19 Resource is a great way to stand out from the competition.
You may not understand just how vital your website is for your business, especially during these pandemic times. It’s your #1 sales agent and with the right strategy can have significant ROI. I wouldn’t trust a pet sitter that doesn’t execute these above strategies. Are you missing out on potential customers because your website is underperforming and not building trust?
Erika Godwin is the President of Barketing Solutions and the Co-Founder and CMO of ProPet Software, an industry-leading kennel management software. Erika has over 8 years of experience with WordPress and graduated from Elmira College in 2009 with a BS, Business Administration- Marketing and Management.