A guest post from Alon Eisenberg at Trusted Shops.
Building trust for your website is essential to building a loyal customer base. Why? Simply put, trust is the inspiration people need to enter their credit card information on your website. Unless you’re Amazon or another really famous brand, there will be some level of hesitation from shoppers when they visit your shop for the first time. Let’s have a look at 5 ways you can build up trust for your online shop and convert those visitors into customers.
The importance of trust
We’ve all learned that trust is earned and not given. Most of us have probably learned this lesson the hard way at one point or another. And because trust is earned, you should think of trust as a verb. What this means is that there are concrete things you can do to affect the trustworthiness of your business.
In our personal lives, trust in action means being a reliable friend and picking your mate up from the airport or helping them move.
In the world of online shopping, it means being a bit creative, but it also means taking some real measures to get that message across to your visitor. And “getting this message across” to your shop’s visitors is very important. After all, you already know that your shop is trustworthy, but does everyone else?
Before we get into the actions you can take, there’s one statistic regarding trust and online shopping that I want to share:
According to Salesforce, 85% of online shoppers do their research before reaching the point of purchase (i.e. checkout). It shouldn’t come as much of a shock to you to learn that shoppers do their research. However, the fact that the number is as high as 85% tells us that the overwhelming majority of online shoppers are trying to make smart, well-informed purchases.
In other words, customers will research and look for information to help them come to a purchase decision. Because there are a lot of options (competitors) out there, you’ll have to rely on differentiators to build trust (e.g. price, discoverability, references). To show you how small adjustments can have big effects, look at these two examples:
Price and trust
Price, of course, is a very important differentiator when it comes to purchase decisions. Depending on the product, users are generally willing to spend a bit more if they feel more secure about the source. The connection between price and trust is clear.
To highlight this point, let’s look at the opposite side of this: think about a time when you saw a product you wanted that had a shockingly low price. Did it make you suspicious of the seller?
Discoverability and trust
Discoverability comes down to being found, right? In the world of online shopping, discoverability is often about search engine rankings and/or online marketing. By either ranking highly or having some super-effective ads, you can get lots of traffic to your shop. Ranking high on Google also brings a certain element of trust to your website.
Consumers know that ranking high in the search engine results pages (SERPs) isn’t easy. If a shop earns its way to the top of the results, they automatically get some respect and are therefore more trustworthy.
All in all, the point is that consumers are shopping smartly these days and even the most tangible shop-differentiators, such as price, still depend on a certain level of trustworthiness to affect shoppers.
With that said, let’s look at how you can make the intangible tangible:
5 ways you can earn the trust of shoppers
Let’s start at the top. If you sell online, making sure that your website is mobile responsive (i.e. looks good on mobile devices) is simply a must. The reality is that you simply have to assume people are looking at your site on their mobile phones, especially if you’re in the B2C field.
Make sure you test your site on different screen sizes and make sure everything looks good and is usable. Some things might be very obvious (e.g. the texts are too big), but others might not be (e.g. the buttons look good, but are too small to click easily).
Take your time and test your site thoroughly. Bugs tend to pop up occasionally, so make sure you go in and have a look around again every couple of weeks.
When it comes to trustworthiness, it’s simply hard to take a shop seriously if they don’t look good on mobile phones.
The right certifications
Before we move on to more “creative solutions”, we’ve got to cover some of the basic technical issues as well. For starters, make sure your website is SSL certified.
There’s arguably no bigger conversion-killer than having this pop up on your website as soon as a visitor comes through:
There’s not much more to say to this. Your website should start with https. Otherwise, your visitors will be greeted with a notification about how unsafe your website is.
On top of that, there are other things you can do to show off the security of your site. Displaying “safety badges” in your footer can often do a great deal for your conversions.
When users see PayPal certifications or Mcafee certifications, they feel digitally secure. Other certifications, such as the Trusted Shops trustmark, can give users an extra sense of security by offering a 30-day money-back guarantee for their purchases.
When it comes to product pages, there is so much you can do that we could dedicate a whole blog article to this topic. However, I can break it down to one main point: give shoppers as much information as possible!
If your product only has three images, you’re hiding something. Of course, that might not be true, but that is something that might cross a shopper’s mind if they notice this.
Make sure you include all those standard images that you see on other product pages. You know what I’m talking about: a white background, multiple angles.
On top of that, you’ll want to include some more images. Show the product in use. This is a good excuse to take some original photos (which Google loves, by the way).
Can your product’s size be misinterpreted? You can show one image of the product with its dimensions displayed.
It doesn’t stop with the images either. Is there a model wearing your clothes in one of the photos? Well, your text can support those images – tell shoppers about the model’s dimensions (e.g. The model is 170cm tall and wears a size 4).
Write product descriptions that fit your audience. If your shop is geared towards motorcycle enthusiasts, your texts should show that you are one, too.
Do you collect reviews? If so, display them prominently on your product pages (more on this later).
When it comes to product pages in general, the more original you are, the better. If you use manufacturer-created product descriptions and images, you can bet some of your competitors are using the same ones. Using original images and texts help you rank better, but can also build trust: shoppers will know you “speak their language” and that you’ve actually used the products you sell.
Creating content is a powerful tool for your business (e.g. videos, blog articles, guides). Not only can you drive traffic to your website by ranking highly in search engines, but you can improve your entire website’s SEO by creating high-quality content. It doesn’t end there though.
Creating high-quality content also tells readers that you are passionate about this topic. You’re telling your readers that you don’t sell comic books to fans because they are a big market and comic-books are “in” right now. You sell comic books because you appreciate the art of Todd McFarlane and because Spiderman could always make you laugh.
In other words, creating content helps you establish yourself as a genuine aficionado, an expert, and an authority in that particular niche. By positioning yourself in the middle of your niche’s community and providing them with value, you make yourself one of them. If you’re one of them, then they can trust you.
If you create enough content, you should consider starting a newsletter. This is also a great way to build loyalty.
Besides creating blog articles and videos, you have to focus on the content of your actual website. We touched on images, texts, and product pages before. Keep in mind that the rest of your site should follow the same “rules” about touching your target audience.
For example, consider creating or expanding your “About Us” page. Creating an “About Us” page is a simple task, but an important one. If your shop is new to your visitor, you might be surprised to know that some people actually visit this page. This gives shoppers insights into who you are.
This is a great place to be creative. Of course, you should be honest, but this is where storytelling comes into play. Why do you sell audio gear? Is it because your dad was a sound engineer? Do you have an appreciation for every music genre? Tell that story. It can be endearing.
At the end of the day, what you’re doing is putting a face to the company and it helps visitors trust your company more.
Even if you find that shop visitors don’t really visit this page much, it can be good practice in building your brand voice, which can carry over into other elements of your business, including your marketing.
Sharing customer reviews
We touched on this topic before. Displaying product reviews on your product pages can definitely build trust. However, reviews go beyond product pages.
To be clear, in the world of ecommerce, most people usually divide customer reviews into two categories: product reviews and shop reviews (some people include local reviews as a third category, but let's focus on the first two categories for now).
Reviews help visitors build trust with your brand. If people can’t get a feeling of trust from your site, they very well might go to Google and search for reviews for your brand. Don’t give them a reason to leave your site (even if it is to search for feedback on your brand). Those reviews should be front and center, accessible directly on your site.
Shop reviews and product reviews help you build trust in ways that you might not have even considered yet. If you run Google Ads (including Google Shopping) or if your product pages rank on Google organically, people’s first impression of you might very well come from those star-ratings that appear in Google SERPs, and that happens before they even click on your ad.
The truth is that we live in an age where consumers are more cynical towards corporations than ever before. They are also more well-informed than ever. Shop owners need to let their past customers give them credibility.
In a survey of 1,000 UK shoppers, three age groups were asked about what makes a website trustworthy:
As you can see, the most ecommerce savvy group (18-29 year-olds) find customer reviews to be the strongest indicator of trustworthiness.
It’s worth mentioning that customer reviews can bring you SEO strength as well. When reviewers leave their feedback, they are in essence, adding keyword-packed content to your website (Google loves fresh content).
One last point on customer reviews: it’s also important that you, as the shop owner, reply to your feedback, particularly the negative feedback. Remember, some shoppers will intentionally search out negative reviews to help them calculate the worst-case scenarios of buying a certain product. Seeing you handle a complaint professionally will only do good things for your reputation.
Bonus tip: transparency
The last tip is going to be considered a bonus tip. Why? Because it is kind of vague. Transparency is more of a concept than an action. In that sense, it is similar to trust. The reason I bring up transparency is because it is the underlying theme behind all of the tips mentioned above (with the exception of mobile responsiveness).
The idea here is that you want to show users that you have nothing to hide. Whether that comes down to photos, texts, and delivery times or if it’s getting to know who your employees are and what your motivations are for starting this business.
This concept of transparency should be kept in your mind at all times. No, you don’t have to give away the secret recipe to your famous salsa, but adding a personal touch to your shop can go a long way in building trust.
At the end of the day, there are many small things you can do to build trust with your site’s visitors. The key is to get a look at your site from an objective point of view (it may have to actually come from someone else) and ask yourself if you would shop there. The smallest details can have an affect on people’s perception of your company. Start with one small thing at a time and you should see an uptick in your conversions in no time!