Almost two-thirds of Irish consumers—64 percent—have little to no trust in businesses that use free email addresses like Gmail and Eircom, according to new research by the IE Domain Registry (IEDR), the company responsible for managing and maintaining Ireland’s country code domain name extension, .ie.
In contrast, 77 percent said they trust companies that use professional email addresses, like a .ie address registered to a business name (e.g. [email protected]).
The research, conducted by Ignite, polled 1,000 Irish consumers. It also found that consumers have four times more trust in a company that has a website (65 percent) versus one that does not (17 percent).
Companies that do not have a website but use social media, like a Facebook page or Twitter account, to connect to their customers are still seen as less trustworthy, with 63 percent of consumers saying they had low trust in them.
Commenting on the research, David Curtin, Chief Executive of IEDR, said: “Our research reveals that consumers see professional email addresses and websites as indicators of trust and authenticity. For sole traders and SMEs, this is particularly important. Anecdotal evidence suggests that first-time customers are far more likely to contact the plumber or electrician who has a web presence, rather than the one who just has a phone listing. Investing in a website that lists contact details, services and prices implies openness, accountability and trustworthiness.
“Setting up a website and an email address has never been easier. There are plenty of free and low-cost tools online, like Wix and Samm.ie, which allow even the most technophobic business owners to build a website and even incorporate e-commerce capability in a matter of hours.”
E-commerce—buying and selling goods and services online—is worth billions to the Irish economy and is growing rapidly at home and globally. For SMEs, e-commerce allows them to connect to local and international customers, selling to them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of physical location.
Allister Frost, the award-winning former head of digital marketing at Microsoft and recent speaker at IEDR’s Internet Day, said that while websites are essential to get the most out of e-commerce, social networks can and should be used in conjunction with them to boost customer engagement.
“Every business owner should begin by creating a website to serve as their permanent home on the internet, under their control forever. And once that is established, many may also benefit from developing an active presence on relevant social networks like Facebook to reach a wider audience and ultimately convert them into happy, paying customers.”