Trust signals aren’t just for show. They can bring in serious dough.
According to a Trustpilot study, The Psychology Behind Trust Signals, 66% of consumers claim the presence of “social proof,” or trust signals, increases the odds of them making a purchase.
Consumers are actively looking for these trust signals when shopping. “Whenever someone interacts with your webpage for the first time, they’re usually looking for cues that can help them trust your business,” says Victor Smushkevich, CEO at Smart Street Media. When they find them, they’re more likely to convert. That’s why Smushkevich recommends adding as many as you can.
Want to follow his advice? Here are the five leading eCommerce trust signals.
An SSL Certificate
Obtaining personal information is a prerequisite for making sales online, writes Anthony Capetola, Marketing Manager at eCommerce marketing platform Sales & Orders. Unfortunately, there’s always a chance that malicious individuals can access that data and steal your customers’ identities.
“The most common reason for this happening is if customers purchase through an unsecure website—but installing an SSL certificate secures the connection between the browser of your customers and your website,” Capetola explains.
Two components make up an SSL, says Katherine Crayon at WP Explorer: a certificate and a badge. The certificate protects customer information and will typically need to be purchased from a third-party provider unless your hosting provider or eCommerce platform offers one for free.
Once you’ve purchased the SSL certificate, visitors will be redirected to a secure version of your website prefixed by HTTPS rather than HTTP. A padlock will also be displayed in the URL bar next to your domain name to confirm that the site is secure.
Most customers will notice this, adds Crayon, but you can take it further by embedding an SSL badge in the footer of your website and on your checkout page. “The more often you display the badge the more likely people are to recognize that their personal information is safe,” she notes.
If you didn’t already think an SSL certificate was essential, you might not have a choice. Not having an SSL could actually be an unsafe signal to savvy consumers, says tech writer Shea Drake. That’s because Google has begun labelling websites that don’t have an SSL certificate as “not secure.”
Trusted Brand Logos
Trust signals don’t have to be complicated. Incorporating them can be as simple as adding a few particular logos to your site.
People have become very cautious about handing out their personal information due to the rise (and publicity) or scams and data breaches, writes Adam Heitzman, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at digital marketing agency HigherVisibility. “Adding security/business verified seals to your website not only drives your traffic, but gives users the assurance needed to stay on your website.”
You should also include the logos of all of the payment methods you accept. This might seem obvious, says eCommerce and digital marketing consultant Matt Thorpe, but they need to be placed where everyone can easily see them.
“In my opinion, the payment logos you accept should be present in your header or footer of your store, on all of your product pages and on your checkout pages,” Thorpe writes. “I’m not saying you need to plaster logos everywhere, but subtle placement can work wonders and add to that confidence factor.”
These kinds of trust signals are much more important for smaller businesses than larger ones, says Emil Kristensen, CMO and Co-Founder of lead generation tool Sleeknote. There is built-in trust when you shop with an established brand like Amazon or Best Buy. That’s not the case when consumers haven’t heard of your brand. When you’re smaller, trust logos can make a big difference.
Company and Contact Information
It’s easy to get caught up in designing the perfect product page and forget about non-revenue-generating business pages like your contact information or about us page. You do so at your peril, however.
Believe it or not, both these pages “…are often some of the most visited on websites,” writes Angelo Sorbello, CEO at business software reviews site Astrogrowth. “They can also be significantly important to give more trust signals,” he says. Sorbello recommends you make the most of these pages by adding as much company contact information as possible, department email addresses and profiles on relevant team members.
Don’t stop at contact pages, though. Go to great lengths to make your availability to customers clear, writes Amanda E. Clark, Founder and CEO at Grammar Chic. If you act like you’re hiding from customers, they’re less likely to trust you.
It doesn’t matter that you’re doing business as a brand; customers want to do business with people, says Ashley Kimler, Founder of digital marketing company CopyNoise. That’s why you need to make your contact information obvious and accessible across your site. “The easier it is for customers to contact you, the better,” she adds.
Shipping and Return Policies
Customers expect to know precisely when they’re going to get their purchase and how much shipping will cost, says Syed Balkhi, Founder and CEO at management company Awesome Motive. That means you need a page devoted to your shipping policy. “If you surprise shoppers with unexpected shipping costs, it can cause them to abandon their shopping cart,” he writes. “Be upfront and let customers know when to expect a delivery.”
Add these costs to your product pages, too, writes digital marketing consultant Shane Barker. Many stores hide these costs until the checkout page, which often ends in a nasty surprise for the consumer.
“Even if I’ve decided to buy something, when I see the additional costs at checkout, I get easily discouraged,” Barker writes. “Especially knowing that Amazon most certainly might give me the same product at zero shipping costs.” Stop customers from abandoning their carts by displaying shipping costs during the shopping process — and highlight if a certain amount qualifies them for free shipping.
Add a returns policy, too. Returns are a fact of life for eCommerce brands, so create a clear returns policy that outlines exactly how customers can return products and when they can expect a refund. Customers will want to know the answers to these questions before making a purchase, writes the team at Trustpilot. If they don’t know the answers, they may not risk making a purchase.
Customer and Independent Reviews
Recommendations by friends and family are one of the best trust signals you can have, says analytics and conversion consultant Jeremy Smith. “Of all the types of testimonials and reviews, social proof is probably the most powerful,” he writes. “One reason for this is because people tend to trust the recommendations of friends and family more than any other so.”
It’s essential to allow customers to leave reviews on your site as a result. In doing so, you build trust in several ways, writes Sally Newman, SEO Specialist and Campaign Delivery Manager at UK search agency Vertical Leap. For one, you show customers that their opinions matter. You also increase trust by incorporating customer identities in the reviews, which proves their legitimacy. Finally, these reviews can result in further trust signals by Google, which will pull customer reviews from your site and display them in your brand’s snippet in Google’s results pages.
Strong reviews are a competitive advantage, but only if you can get customers to see them, says Paul Schmidt, Senior Marketing Strategist at marketing agency SmartBug Media. You don’t have to rely on customers leaving reviews on your site, either. Whatever your industry, there’s going to be a relevant review site. Identify those platforms and show those reviews on your website.
Which trust signals is your site missing? Remember, trust signals make a difference whether you’re a new eCommerce store or an established DTC brand. Don’t drown your customers in logos: Choose one or two signals your site is missing and test whether they have an impact. Keep what works, remove what doesn’t and keep testing trust signals until your conversions skyrocket.