5 ways to build trust with ship owners through your website

Your website’s main job is to attract interested ship owners to your business and then convert them into enquiries. The second of these things is unlikely to happen if the ship owners in question do not trust your business.

Trust is sometimes a problematic concept to handle on your website. Saying up front that ‘you can trust us’, may well have the opposite effect than that which those words intend. Equally the lead generation aspects of your website are likely to be where you spend most of your time (and where you want your prospects to spend most of their time). How then can you communicate trust whilst bearing those two aspects in mind?

Here are five ideas for building trust. Assess these ideas against the features of your current website. How does your website hold up?

Your content needs to be genuine and expert

In a relatively technical and specific industry, it’s possible to spot someone who doesn’t know their ‘stuff’ from a very long distance away. 

This doesn’t just mean your news articles; this means every bit of text on your website. Does it speak the language of the maritime sector or has it been written by a marketer with little exposure to the world your prospects live in? 

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This is obviously particularly true if you are discussing technical specifications. There is no way of ‘muddling through’ the fact that the sulphur oxide (SOx) limit in fuels is 0.1% sulphur by mass in ECAs, when discussing the technicalities of how your scrubber system works, for example. Details like this matter and getting them wrong will undermine trust instantly.

The same is true of more generalist knowledge however. You must make sure the written content on your website completely reflects your position as experts in the sector.

Address their pain points - speak to their needs

You can build trust by showing understanding and empathy.

Your product exists because it fills a need which ship operators have. Why does this need exist? Does the need create monetary issues? Regulatory issues? Service issues? If a ship operator does not have your product, what pain points must they be experiencing?

Settling on this information can also help you to help your prospects during their buyer’s journey. They may not be ready to buy from you right away, but by showing you understand their needs and offering some initial ‘help’ (in the form of content), you can build up their trust to the point where they are ready to purchase from you. 

Case studies are a must

Case studies are the ultimate ‘trust vehicle’, because they show that someone once trusted you and that the outcome was good.

A full case study, with bespoke photography, an explanation of what happened, why someone chose you and how their situation is better now, plus some quotes from the client, is ideal, but not always realistic.

Case studies really are an area where something is better than nothing however, so do whatever you can that comes somewhere close to the above. Even just quotes and ‘social proof’ from satisfied clients is better than an empty or non-existent case study section.

Provide sector-wide help and comment

Whilst you will likely have a specialism where you are highly qualified to provide insight and advice, don’t be afraid to comment on what’s going on across the sector. 

If there is something which is affecting all ship owners - a shortage of this material or a regulation in that country - then you can share your experiences, based on client interactions or your direct knowledge of the situation.

Where appropriate, don’t shy away from taking a strong stance or expressing a unique opinion. Brands that are willing to take that approach typically stand out from the crowd who simply reproduce the news.

Show consistency

A lack of consistency in what you say, how you say it and how you look whilst doing just that can undermine trust subtly, but continually.

If you have stated brand values and a ‘way of doing things’ that people are familiar with, then this needs to continue on your digital channels. If you always use bespoke photography of your team and your products, don’t suddenly switch to stock photography.

Changes such as the above may seem relatively minor, but they are the little aspects that scratch away at the trust you are trying to build with ship operators.