But without conversion, traffic is pointless.
I say, focus on conversion.
And what leads to conversion?
Here are fourteen things that will help your visitors trust your site and increase your conversion rate, so that the traffic you receive actually signs up, buys your product, tries your service, or whatever you want them to do.
#1: A great looking site
This is harder than it sounds to accomplish, but an elegant site that looks great, without rough edges and typos is a fantastic start to getting trust from visitors and therefore conversion. Everything matters. It has to all look great.
#2: A secure site
A secure site helps. While not all visitors are tech savvy to know what an SSL certificate really is, a padlock at the top of the browser will let even the most clueless visitors know that the site is trustworthy. Conversely, an SSL issue that causes browsers to display warning signs to site visitors will kill your conversion in an instant, so make sure your SSL is set up properly.
#3: A well-known payment processor
Stripe’s processing rate isn’t that great, but basically every other aspect about them as a payment gateway is, because they make the checkout process look nice and they make it easy, and it’s trustworthy. Authorize.net is more old school, but it’s still well known and trustworthy. Whatever you end up using, make sure it’s clear to users who is processing and how their data will be kept safe.
#4: A padlock image during checkout
Besides the SSL padlock in the address bar, a simple image of a padlock during the checkout process has been shown to increase trust in the eyes of the visitor.
#5: Third-party security verification
Getting a third party security certificate on your site can be a little expensive, but will help conversion and trust, especially if it’s from a well known company like McAfee.
#6: Offering full refunds
Giving a full refund to a customer can be painful, but the increase in conversion from having it stated on your site will outweigh any potential losses. You can also use issuing a refund as a way to get feedback on what went wrong and find out how to avoid the issue in the future.
But maybe you’re hesitant to give money back. You shouldn’t be, because offering a refund upfront will make more people order.
Let’s say you sell a $49 information product, and your conversion rate is 2% with 1000 unique visitors a month. That’s $980 gross revenue a month. And let’s say adding a clear refund policy puts enough potential buyers at ease that they end up buying, and your conversion rate goes up to 3% BUT you have 3 customers ask for a refund. So in a month you dish out $147 in refunds but who cares because in this scenario your gross revenue went up to $1470. A good refund policy lets your customers know they have nothing to lose if they want to try your service or product.
#7: A proper support system
Users will think you’re a bigger company and they’ll be able to get help if they see that you have a proper support system to manage support tickets and track their issues.
#8: On-site and off-site reviews
Does your site let customers talk about your product? Does it allow them to post their positive reviews as well as their negative comments? CustomInk does this in an interesting way by streaming customer reviews, both good and bad, across their homepage. Letting customers talk about your products themselves directly on your site makes you look like you have nothing to hide, which increases trust.
#9: Details, images, and clear descriptions
Simply going into detail about you’re selling will help trust as well as conversion, because it leaves fewer questions unanswered and is great for transparency.
#10: High quality photos of your service or product
Professional quality photos of your product or anything related to your service can make a huge difference in the appearance of your site, and what users think of it. Take for example AirBNB, who sends a professional photographer to every listing to take pro shots of the apartments and houses they rent out. Compare those photos to the ones you see on apartment listings on Craigslist and you’ll quickly realize the impact that good product photos can have on your likeliness to order or book.
If you’re just starting out, ask your first clients for testimonials that you can put on your site. Beg if you have to. It’s that important. Including a name a photo make the testimonials a lot more real and believable.
Even if your company is established and no longer new, testimonials can be huge. It’s the original social proof, knowing that others that came before you had a good experience.
Want to take it to the next level? Don’t just put testimonials on your site, but also link to external sites with reviews of your site, like your Yelp page.
#12: A fast loading site
I’ve read that conversion rates degrade 10% for every extra second of load time for a website. I don’t know how accurate that exact number is, but site speed definitely affects conversion rates, and not only that, but also SEO rankings and bounce rates.
#13: Real contact information
One thing that will kill your conversion right away and hurt your trust is looking “shady.” And nothing makes you look shadier more quickly than a visitor not being able to reach you. Publishing your email address, physical location and a phone number can help you look legit and trustworthy, and will therefore help conversion.
#14: Live chat
Live chat boxes on websites are becoming more common, but still help trust because the site visitor is able to see that someone, a real human, is actually there and is available if they need help or have a question.
Remember: Online business is war. Conversion is victory!
BONUS – Here are a few tools to help with the topics we covered in this article:
- Why No Padlock? – Figure out why your SSL certificate isn’t working.
- Letsencrypt.org – Free SSL certificates.
- Signpost – Encourage reviews from your customers. If the review is bad, it asks the customer how you can improve. If the review is good, it encourages them to publish it on the web.
- Line2 – Get an 888 number for just $15 a month, which will look great on your website and help trust because it looks professional.
- LiveAgent – Popular support ticket system.
- FreshDesk – Another popular support ticket system.
- PureChat – Really well-designed live chat support system.
- Pixelarity – CSS templates that look gorgeous right out of the ZIP file, which make building an elegant, trustworthy site easier.
- Pingdom Speed Test – Easy to use tool that helps you figure out what is making your site slow, with actionable tips on how to speed your site up.