[Editor Note: Dave Collins, noted UK micro-ISV marketing expert, is sharing his considerable expertise on marketing, SEO, Google AdWords and more on Fridays at MyMicroISV. Thanks Dave!]
By Dave Collins
Founder, Shareware Promotions
When your website is your main place of business, credibility and trust are two vital components. Yes, your software is the main focus of your site, but you can’t expect your customers to be prepared to part with their money unless they get a good feeling about you, too. This is particularly important if you’re a one-man-show or a small business – and it’s often the little, easily overlooked things that matter.

So how do you make people trust you? We’ve put together a list of our top five credibility-musts – ignore them at your own peril.
1) Don’t be a faceless programmer. People prefer to buy from other people – buying from a bland Internet-drone is not going to give them any satisfaction. Tell them your name, show them your picture (even if it’s not great!), tell them a little something about yourself. If it comes down to choosing between Mike who loves kayaking and has a Labrador, and some unknown person whose name appears to be sales@trulycoolsoft.com, most people are going to choose Mike.
Make sure you’re easy to contact, too. Include a phone number, even if you’re not always going to answer it. A fax number is another must, and of course a real physical address. Nobody wants to give their money away to some cyberstranger – so let your customers know you’re a real person with a real location.
2) If you’re an expert, say so. This is something that many sites ignore, and it’s a real shame. They talk about their company, their mission statements and the type of software they create, and forget about the skills and knowledge of people who actually work there. If you are good at something, tell your customers. If you have a degree, if you’ve published a book, if you’ve got 20 years of developing behind you, let your visitors know – anything that shows your customers you’re experienced in your field helps to build trust.
3) Include testimonials, but only if they are real and easy to check. Anyone can write a fake testimonial and sign it “John, Kansas” – but solid, verifiable testimonials are incredibly powerful sales tools. Include full names and locations, and if at all possible links to corresponding websites. People love quotes, but they’re not stupid – they know you can write them yourself.
4) Make your website look professional and up to date. How can you expect anyone to have faith in your software if you’re unwilling to spend time or money on your place of business? If you’re not a designer, employ one, or at the very least buy a nice template. Seriously.
Similarly, do your utmost to avoid typos and spelling mistakes, because they really do make a terrible impression. If your English isn’t up to scratch, get someone to help you. Think about it: would you shop in a store with dirt in the corners, broken light bulbs and peeling paint? No, and neither would your customers.
5) Show restraint with adverts – if at all possible, avoid them completely. Having AdSense plastered all over your site makes it look both ugly and unprofessional. The worst case scenario is that your customers are lured away by the ads and forget to return to your website. The best case scenario is that they can see you’re not making enough money from your software. Neither are great options. Avoid ads.
If you’re selling your software online, you probably look at the web as a fantastic sales, marketing and publicity machine. But many of your customers are all too aware of the risks and dangers of parting with their cash through their web browser. Do everything you can to reassure them.
Be seen, be sold.
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Dave Collins is the CEO of SharewarePromotions http://www.sharewarepromotions.com, a well established UK-based software marketing company. Dave specialises in Google AdWords, Log Analysis, Online Marketing and Delegation.
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