Expert Author Gihan Perera
When evaluating your product or service, your Web site visitor is influenced by the opinions of people in authority and what they say about you, your business and your products and services. If you can tap into this authority, it helps your site visitor make their decision, and increases the chances of them taking action.
There is a natural human tendency for us to rely on authority figures to help make decisions. We don't have all the information at our fingertips, and sometimes the information is too complex to understand anyway. So we turn to authorities for guidance - for example, doctors for medical advice, political commentators for voting advice, and movie critics for entertainment advice. These external authorities have a lot of influence on our decision making, especially when we don't have enough skill or knowledge to make the decision ourselves.
You can use the same principle on your Web site, especially when promoting a complex product or service that the Web site visitor can't evaluate on their own. Here are three ways to use the power of authority in this way.
1. Direct endorsements
If well-respected authority figures have endorsed you, your business, or your product, take advantage of this by promoting this clearly and prominently on your site. This is the most powerful form of authority endorsement, because the authority has specifically endorsed you. The endorsement could be in the form of a testimonial, a product review, or even a favorable mention in passing.
The "authority" could be a specific person (for example, "Neil Armstrong says... "), but it could also be a group or other organisation (for example, "Forbes magazine says... "). They do need to be somebody recognised and respected by your site visitor, of course.
2. Indirect endorsements
If you don't have testimonials or reviews for your product itself, look for reviews or testimonials that endorse the general product category. For example, if you're selling a brand of low-fat sweeteners, it's useful to quote health experts who recommend low-fat sweeteners in general, even if they aren't specifically recommending your product.
This is not as powerful as the direct endorsement, because you still have to convince your Web site visitor that your product is their best choice. However, it still gives authority to your general category of products.
3. Published research
For some products and services, it helps to quote published research backing the claims you make. Sometimes this can take the form of scientific research - for example, when making claims about medicine, health and fitness. But it doesn't always have to be as formal, as long as it's still seen as credible - for example, surveys conducted by a reputable market research company.


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