Four tips for increasing consumer trust in your website.

The internet contributes to over $2.2 trillion in annual retail sales, but there’s still so much left in untapped potential.

Generally, in an attempt to boost sales businesses focus mainly on generating traffic or improving conversions; naturally, buzzwords like “inbound” start getting thrown around, and there’s a focus on generating more advertising ROI or tweaking certain on-page elements to boost conversions. While these are important, it is critical to note that perhaps the most important thing that helps your brand thrive when you sell online is its trust factor. Every business is conducted based on trust, and this is much more important online.

Just recently LinkedIn asked its users to reset their password due to a hack that might involve as many as 117 million passwords. Tumblr also wasn’t left behind: Email and passwords for over 65 million Tumblr accounts were recently put up for sale online. And the most recent is a myspace hack purportedly involving 427 million passwords. The internet is rife with hacks and security breaches, and this poses the biggest threats to small businesses—especially when it gets to getting people to use their precious credit card on your website. Unless you can get them to overcome these trust objects, your sales and conversions will suffer a great deal.

There are a lot of ways to increase the trust factor of your website, and—while there are more than just a few—here are the more effective ones:

Enable SSL: If you encourage any time of transaction online, the biggest mistake you can make is not enabling SSL on your website. While it’s been observed that a whopping 85 percent of online shoppers avoid unsecured websites, the sad reality is that 78.9 percent of websites either have no SSL certificate or an invalid SSL certificate.

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There’s a reassuring feeling that comes with seeing that your website uses the secure HTTPS protocol, and users will feel much more confident doing business with you if they see the green padlock in their browser for your website. Interestingly, enabling SSL has been observed to result in a massive boost in conversions. For example, PaperCheck LLC recorded an 87 percent increase in signups; Central Reservation Services noted a 30 percent increase in sales; and Fitness Footwear experienced a 13.3 percent drop in cart abandonment. These results were triggered simply by enabling SSL.

Use Multiple Elements of Social Proof: When people are not sure about what choice to make, they often defer to the choice of others; their decision could be influenced by the choice of the majority, an authoritative recommendation or a seeing someone they can relate to do the same thing they are considering doing. This is social proof in action.

Social proof has long been touted as a conversion-boosting tactic, but exactly why does it work? It creates a sense of trust. Often, when there doesn’t seem to be much to help decide whether a brand could be trusted, users decide to go with the wisdom of the crowd.

There are many elements of social proof you can use. Authority endorsement is one of the most effective ones, and it can yield great dividends if used effectively. Essentially, this involves having a celebrity or an authority figure endorse your brand or product. A notable example of this was when Oprah Winfrey endorsed T-FAL’s ActiFry; the result was an instant boost in sales and share value. Experts put the value of this endorsement at around $150 million.

Highlighting key achievements, awards and media features can also go a long way to boost your credibility. It is also important to include testimonials from other users who have had great experience with your product or service; make sure to resist the temptation to only include positive, all-glowing testimonials and reviews from other users. A study by Reevoo shows that users will only trust your website if there’s a balance between positive and negative reviews; bad reviews have been shown to improve conversions by up to 67 percent. Simply having fanboys and fangirls say all-positive things about you won’t help; no business is perfect, and people are smart enough to realize that.

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Improve Your Site Speed: A 2015 study by Microsoft, titled “Attention Spans” that surveyed 2000 people and monitored brain activity of 112 others, found that the average human attention span has gone from twelve seconds in 2000 to eight seconds now. Naturally, there doesn’t seem to be much implication of this until we analyze some other key statistics:

  • After a slow site speed experience, around 50 percent of shoppers will have a less positive perception of the company involved.
  • 88 percent of shoppers won’t return due to the bad experience
  • More than a third will share their disappointing experience with others

As simplistic as it sounds, simply making your website faster will not only boost your sales, conversions and traffic; it will also significantly boost people’s trust and perception of your brand.

Use Security Seals: High up there with SSL is having security trust seals enabled. In fact, security trust seals are so important that an Econsultancy/Toluna study found that a 48 percent of online shoppers don’t fully trust a website that doesn’t use a trust seal, and that as many as 61 percent haven’t made a purchase on websites due to unavailability of trust seals.

Trust seals create a sense of assurance in the mind of your prospects, because it tells them that your site has been vetted and endorsed by a reliable, third-party security company. This fact is further reinforced by statistic, from the same study, that show that 76 percent of people will not make a purchase if they don’t recognize the trust seal used. So, just as using security trust seals is important, it is important to go with reliable ones. Data from Actual Insights show that the most recognized are Paypal, VeriSign and McAfee.

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