Trust. Just at face value, I think we all know how important that one factor is to e-commerce sales. Certainly it should be on the minds of both consumers and businesses, given the natural security concerns on the Internet – heightened by events such as the Sony hack (a particularly devastating one, with a price tag of $35 million), Heartbleed bug, and incredible rise of the Internet botnet Mirai in an epic duel with security reporter Brian Krebs.
The question, then, is how can you build trust in this environment? How can you make the customer feel exceedingly confident on your site when everyone knows that there are dangers inherent in using the Internet? After all, you want to get your share of that e-commerce market – which is set to grow to $4.058 trillion by 2020, according to eMarketer. How can you show your customers that you are doing everything you can to protect them and that you generally look out for their best interests?
Trust is based both on perception and on actual evidence. Essentially, you want to be open about the people and personality behind your brand (for the emotional side of trust), and also to give real proof – to show everyone who visits your site that you are legitimate, that the technologies you use are from strong brands, and that third parties back your systems (as with site seals or e-commerce hosted on SSAE 16 audited servers, for instance).
What are specific actions you can take to gain customer trust?
Embed Trust Seals
People really do put quite a bit of faith in trust seals. It makes sense when you think about it. When a third party whose brand the customer might already trust vouches for the website, it will certainly make a user feel more confident when they are deciding whether to make a transaction. Just look at data on the effectiveness of these signals:
- Survey #1 – eConsultancy asked Internet shoppers how they would determine whether to trust a site that they had just encountered (with the ability to give multiple answers). The very first result was trustmarks, with nearly half of respondents (48%) stating it made them feel more comfortable.
- Survey #2 – A whopping 60.96% of respondents, 89 of 146 people, told Matthew of Actual Insights that they had once abandoned a shopping cart or otherwise left a site because they did not see recognizable trust logos.
Since these trust seals are so helpful, it makes sense that one related to your SSL certificate could be particularly effective and easy to implement. An SSL indicator is, assumedly, very effective because it’s based not just on some vague assessment or accreditation but on standardized encryption technology. It is also easy to implement because you simply use the trust seal associated with your SSL certificate, which is typically freely available from the provider. Buying the SSL certificate of a trusted brand will give your site more authority with people who visit.
Install a Credible Payment Gateway
No one wants to feel at-risk when they put their credit card information into a website. For that reason, strictly from the perspective of trust, is it difficult to argue against the heavy hitters. The most obvious example in this category is PayPal; so you might want to include it as an option. However, you may find it makes more sense to use one of the growing number of legitimate and widely recognized PayPal alternatives.
Demonstrate Your Product Being Used
Even if you put all the exact specifications of a product in the description, that sometimes isn’t enough. Shoppers will be likelier to trust that you can deliver what they need if you make it easy for them to see how the product looks in action. That can be achieved with big, high-resolution images that showcase the product from various viewpoints, with the ability to zoom in. In fact, you might want to implement a 360-degree shot of the product so that customers have even more realistic three-dimensional visibility.
Video is another obvious medium that can make sense for certain types of products – if not all of them, given the SEO benefits. Case in point: When marketing agency Koozai published two nearly identical posts (both about Google services), embedding a 25-second introductory video at the top of one but not the other, the one with the video received 126.75% more unique pageviews (1297 vs. 572).
Include Contact Details
Where are you? How can I reach you? During what hours are you available if I have an urgent request? For the shoppers who responded to the eConsultancy poll (“Survey #1” above), the second most important factor in establishing trust is easily accessible contact information.
A good example of a company using the contact page well to enhance comfort is Zappos, notes Sharan Suresh of Visual Website Optimizer. Specifically, they use words such as “help,” we,” and “family.”
A contact page is not just a trust-builder but a lead-generation tool, particularly if you are selling professional services or high-ticket items for which people might want substantive consultation prior to purchase.
When providing contact or “about us” information, it also can be key to provide headshots of the people on your team.
Humanize Your Brand
It’s interesting to really think about what trust is in a social context such as a business interaction. Trust is defined as “anticipated cooperation” by Ronald S. Burt and Marc Knez of the University of Chicago. In other words, when engaging in commerce, a person experiences trust when they believe they will be paying a fair rate for the value they receive from you.
Trust is a way that we are able to give up control and still feel calm. We don’t know absolutely what those around us will do. Businesses are similarly unpredictable until we know more about the company culture and reputation.
The vague sense of unsureness can be alleviated with human features. Humanizing the brand can be powerful in getting more confidence from site visitors.
Sven of Userlike suggests these tactics that accomplish humanization:
- Become more human through a more natural and approachable tone of voice. If you can avoid using excessive industry lingo and bring personality to your tone, you can establish that your brand is built on the efforts of individual people.
- Invest in content marketing. Brand storytelling and educating through blogs, ebooks, and social profiles gives you a meaningful, targeted way to connect with your audience through text and images.
People are likelier to believe customers than they are to believe a business – so let them do the talking. How? With reviews. Include reviews on your product pages.
One study from Moz found that 67% of online shoppers check out reviews for a product before they buy it. Acknowledging that those people are going to read reviews somewhere, it then logically makes sense to keep them on your site to get that information without browsing elsewhere (or at least limiting external activity).
When you integrate reviews into your product pages, make sure that it is easy to navigate them – giving access in a customer-centric, user-friendly way.
Adopt High-Performance E-Commerce Infrastructure
Another key way to build trust among online shoppers is to deliver a site with the high performance that customers experience when they shop major brands. We can help you with that. At Total Server Solutions, our infrastructure is so comprehensive and robust that many other top tier providers rely on our network to keep them up and running. See our e-commerce solutions.