Anthony Mcloughlin

Trust is the secret weapon of digital marketing, and building it is the key to higher conversion rates. 73% of consumers feel that shopping online carries a higher risk than shopping at a physical retailer. 70% of purchase cancellations online are made because of a lack of trust in the website, while only 58% of web users believe online information is credible.

People understandably want to see proof before handing over their hard-earned cash. So how can you increase consumer trust in your site, and boost your conversion rate as a result? Here we look at a variety of methods and case studies to show you how.

1. Trust Badges/Seals

Trust badges/seals are logos that people associate with security. They are usually used on checkout pages as a symbol that the company has taken the trouble to make sure their payment process is secure.

One example being the SSL badge which stands for Secure Sockets Layer. This is essentially a way of creating a secure connection to transmit sensitive information such as credit card details. Other trust badges represent well-known brands associated with online security, such as Norton and McAfee.

A survey conducted by Econsultancy/Toluna asked participants to decide what influenced them the most when choosing a website to make a purchase from. Trust seals were the clear winner, with 48% of respondents indicating that they would be more likely to trust a site displaying them.

econsultancy trust seal survey bar chrt

Image credit: econsultancy

This is borne out by a case study undertaken by Blue Fountain Media. They conducted an A/B test comparing the use of a VeriSign badge/seal (now Norton Secured) against privacy policy information.  The use of the VeriSign badge/seal demonstrated a 42% increase in conversions.

blue fountain trust element split test

Image credit: Blue Fountain Media

On the contrary, some users have experienced the opposite. Web designer Bradley Spencer increased his conversions by 400% by removing a trust badge from his website. However, the perceived legitimacy of the trust badge probably influenced peoples trust (lack of) more than the use of an actual trust badge per se.

icoupon a b test

Image credit: Kissmetrics

Various factors have to be taken into account when including trust badges, such as how relevant and trustworthy the brand is, and also whether or not the badge is clickable, as this can take the customer away from your site long enough to distract them from making a purchase. It is important to test trust badges first before implementing them.

2. Client Logos

If you have clients with a name that people recognise, you should be using these to your advantage. One example of this is Cook, an American Express travel representative, offering exclusive deals to first- and business-class customers. 91% of their website traffic was from new visitors, but their conversion rate to phone calls, how most of their bookings were taken, was not high. By including the AMEX brand prominently on their site, they increased phone call conversions by 48.4%.

Planet Amexa-b-test

Image credit: Wider Funnel

This technique also worked well for voice-over agency By incorporating the logos of well-known customers such as NBC, Discovery Channel and Microsoft, in addition to implementing some other changes to their site, they increased conversions by an incredible 400%. challenger

Image credit: Conversion-rate-experts

3. Payment Logos

Payment logos advertise the payment methods your site accepts, such as Visa, Mastercard and PayPal. They help increase conversions by informing consumers that they have a choice of ways to pay.

Their success can be demonstrated by Hungarian beauty product retailer Manna. They wanted to sell to the German market, but the history between the two countries meant that there were trust issues to overcome. By adding payment logos to their checkout page, they achieved an 11.26% conversion rate, compared to 1.48% without.

manna a b test results

Image credit: Manna

4. Testimonials

Many people are surprised at the results testimonials can deliver, but they really do work, particularly if you are launching a new business or product, as people are much more likely to buy into something if they can see evidence that they are not the first to do so.

However, the position of testimonials on your page is vital. Michael Aagard changed the position of the testimonials on his page to see if it would make a difference, positioning two above and two below his CTA instead of all four below it. This increased conversions by 64.5%. (link to case study unavailable due to site under maintenance)

This technique also worked for WikiJob, who boosted their conversion rate by 34% by simply moving their testimonials higher up the page.

wikijob a b test testimonials

Image credit: VWO

Using pictures of faces alongside testimonials has an even greater effect, in some cases doubling conversion rates, as this makes people feel real human beings have used the product or service before.

photo testimonial case study double conversion rateImage credit: Signal V. Noise

Tone tip: Make a real feature of testimonials by turning them into case studies, as we have done here.

5. Reviews

Reviews convince buyers of the authenticity of your site, as real people are sharing their experiences of using your product/service/website. 63% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a site with reviews and ratings of the products.

Express Watches, an authorised Seiko dealer, wanted to optimise their website for maximum conversions. With the watch industry being flooded with replicas, they needed to find a way to increase consumer trust. Their solution was to add reviews on all their product pages, which increased their conversion rate by 58.3%.

express watch a b test reviews

Image credit: VWO

Likewise, FietsPunt, a Dutch online retailer of cycling equipment, wanted to decrease the high bounce rate on their product pages. By adding a TrustPilot widget linking to customer reviews, they grew their conversion rate by 36.73%.

fiastpunt a b test reviews

6. Social Proof

The power of social media is always on the increase, and it is well worth harnessing, as people are inclined to trust the opinions of their peers. 84% of people who shop online have at least one social media profile, so it’s a pretty huge market to tap into.

Betfair, an online betting shop, have a large following on Facebook and wanted to find a way of converting that into registrations. By highlighting their Facebook following on their registration page, they increased their registration rate by 7%. While this may not seem like a lot, for a company with as much traffic as Betfair, this can mean a significant increase in profits.

betfair a b test social proof

Image credit: VWO

However, this technique is only really effective if you have a large number of followers sharing your information. Online hardware retailer actually increased their CTA clicks by 11.9% by removing the social sharing buttons they had under each of their products. As most of these had not even been shared once, the buttons were having a negative effect on consumer trust.

taloon negative social proof split test

Image credit: VWO

7. Real Staff Imagery

People can absorb facts much more quickly from a photograph than they can from text, and are connected to a product or service by images of people. However, we have become adept at ignoring stock images because they are so frequently used in advertising. Illinois-based 160 Driving Academy, who offer truck driving lessons, increased the amount of people taking up their classes by a huge 161% by replacing a stock image on their website with a photograph of a real student.

real imagery a b test vs stock imagery

Image credit: VWO

It is also vital to use an image that conveys the desired result. Dutch online estate agency Makelaarsland found sign-ups increased by 89% when they replaced a photograph of a staff member smiling at the camera with one of a man sticking a “Sold” sticker over a “For Sale” sign, as this represented the desired outcome for those using the site.

makelaarsland real imagery split test

Image credit: VWO

In conclusion, building consumer trust is vital these days if you want to get the most of your traffic. By implementing any of these trust elements, you should start to see the positive effects it can have on your bottom line when people trust you. But remember, always split test first!

Read this next – Who put that there? The dark (and illegal) art of “sneak into basket”


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Anthony Mcloughlin

Posted By Anthony Mcloughlin

Anthony is a key member of the digital team at Tone, helping dig deep into stats to further understand user behaviours. Follow him on Twitter @anthony_mac85 and on Google+