To improve your conversion rate, your website needs to convey trust and credibility. This will help instill confidence in the shopper and make them buy. Here are ways you can build consumer confidence:
9. Demonstrate that you are a real business.
Online buyers have lesser trepidation when shopping in big-name websites such as Amazon.com, Overstock.com or Dell.com because these brands are familiar to them. They know that these businesses are legitimate, and they feel safe that the products they purchased will arrive in the quality that they expect.
Smaller websites have lesser marketing budgets and cannot undertake aggressive branding campaigns that the big boys have. You have to take extra steps to convince the buyer that you are real, and not just a fly-by-night operator. Here are some of these steps:
- Include an “About Us” section on your site. Many customers want to know who they are dealing with, and visit this section before making a purchase.
- Put your contact email information and a telephone number where customers can reach you.
- If possible, include your physical address in your Contact Us or About Us pages.
- You may also want to consider putting in photos of your staff (if any) or the head of the business. Putting a human face on a company can help build customers’ confidence in you.
- You can also create a section where all your press mentions are included – e.g. if Washington Post or your local TV station talks about you, then you must be a real business!
10. Consider creating a “first-time visitor” page.
It is important to make a great first impression to your visits. If you lose first time visitors, chances are that it is hard to get them back. Having a first time visitor page accessible from your homepage allows you to tell people more about your site. More importantly, this is a mechanism to help you explain what sets you apart from your competitors.
11. Get a toll free 1-800 number.
A nationwide toll free number for your business conveys a sense of size and importance. For many callers, it will mean that your company is legitimate given the fact that they know they can easily reach the company when they need to talk to a human. Plus, given that the call is free to the customers, they won’t hesitate to call you to inquire about your products and services – and those that do call you are highly interested customers.
Many small e-tailers are saying that adding a 1-800 number have increased their sales by as much as 30 percent, higher even if the products or services are high ticket items. To maximize your 1-800 number, make sure that the number is placed prominently and consistently at the top (above the fold) of your site. However, include a note on the working hours of your toll free number; you don’t want to frustrate customers by giving them a toll free number only to realize that it’s not working.
12. Provide evidence of your product’s success.
Success stories work. That’s why infomercials always use illustrations of the success of their products/services. Depending on what you are selling, always include photos or testimonials from previous customers so your website visitors know that the products you are selling actually works. Convince them that your products or services actually deliver what you promise. Make sure though that you use real customer testimonials with authentic customer photos; do not ever use stock photography
Selling a diet regimen? Include testimonials and pictures of those who have lost weight using your system. If you are selling an e-book on how to make money from Adsense, show a picture of a check you’ve received while using the techniques explained in your e-book. If you are selling gift baskets, include testimonials from your corporate clients on how your gift baskets brought a smile to the recipients. The key here is to create excitement for your products or services.
13. Give customers signals of protection and safety.
One of the lingering fears of customers about online shopping is the safety and security of their personal information – and this fear increases hundredfold with small websites.
To counter the fear and give customers the assurance that their information is safe with your website, use secured socket layer (SSL) encryption. Use services such as Thawte or ScanAlert (Hacker Safe) to reassure users of the security of their information. If you use these technologies, make sure that the customers know about it by prominently displaying the logo of the services you use.
14. Clearly specify your return policies.
One of the most common barriers to buying on the Web is the difficulty in returning items. Big companies such as Gap and Circuit City use their physical store networks to make it easy for their customers to return items that they purchased online. Small merchants do not have this advantage.
To increase your sell-through rates, it is important that your ecommerce store clearly state your return policies. Even on eBay, sellers with clear return policies have a higher selling percentage than those who do not have return policies. Buyers are more comfortable in making a purchase, especially if you are selling a high-end item, that they know they can return if the product is not what they need or expect.
Your return policies should include how the customer can return the item and what they need to know if they are returning the item. Specifically, you need to talk about:
- Whether you will be charging a restocking fee or not; and if you do, how much is it and whether it will be deducted from the purchase price paid by the customer
- Who will pay for return shipping and handling; and if the customer will be paying for shipping and handling fees involved
- What is the condition of the return item that would be acceptable to you; e.g. “unopened box” or “opened box with all original materials” or “merchandise in new condition with original packaging and accessories” or “clothes must have their original tags and unwashed”
One of the essential components of building trust online is treading carefully when it comes to privacy. More and more consumers are demanding that Web businesses specify clearly how their personal information might be used or shared.
If you are asking customers for their email addresses, be sure to indicate why you are asking for their email addresses and how you are planning to use their email addresses. Also reassure them that their privacy is important to you and specify whether you are planning to share or not to share their information with other marketers. Customers are more likely to give their information if they know how the information is going to be used.
Customers also want to know how online businesses will act in the event that their security systems have been compromised and customers’ personal information gets into the wrong hands.
16. Answer email questions from visitors quickly.
Customers who email and ask about your products show a keen interest in your products, and are very likely to convert into sales if handled appropriately.
In your product pages, always have a link that says something like “Ask a question about this product” or “Do you have a question? We’d be happy to help”; or as simple as “Send us your question.” Users should then be led into an emailing screen or contact form (not a link that opens an email client) with the product number in the subject line.
Then respond to these emailed queries fast. Customers appreciate lightning fast turnaround time and personalized responses (as opposed to pro-forma bot responses) for their email queries. It shows to them that this business cares for them and values them as a customer.
17. Explore the possibility of using live person chat on your site.
Live chat can give you the opportunity to engage a customer during the sales process, whether the customer has questions about your products or they need to be clarified with the ordering process. It is a tool that can allow customers to get to know your business and talk with a real live person in your business and feel that you are responsive to their needs. Customers are more likely to pull out their credit cards and spend on websites that they know they can easily talk to.
Live chat has become affordable even to small or home-based businesses starting as low as $40 per month. However, it is important that you have the resources to actually support live chat on your site, meaning that you actually have a real live person who can maintain your live chat system. There’s nothing more annoying to customers than to wait for what seems like forever for a customer service representative to answer their live chat request.
18. Do a spelling check on your site.
Making sure that your site has no spelling errors is an important credibility indicator that can give your visitors confidence in your web site. Spelling and grammatical mistakes give the impression of the site as unpolished and unprofessional. Always review your copy for any mistakes, or hire a professional to improve and edit your copy.
Other Articles in the series “Conversion Rate: How to Sell More Online:“
- Conversion Rate: 30 Tips on How to Sell Online
- Conversion Rate: Get the Right Traffic
- Conversion Rate: Build Customer Confidence
- Conversion Rate: Improve Product Presentation
- Conversion Rate: Maximize After-Sales Opportunities
Recommended Books on Improving Conversion Rate:
- Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion
- Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of Converting Prospects to Customers
- Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions
- Video Strategies To Help Sales: Improve Sales And Increase Revenue By Boosting Your Online Marketing Strategy With Business Videos That Increase Conversion Rates
- Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets
- Conversion Rate: Improve Product Presentation
- 10 Ways to Convert Visitors to Buyers
- Conversion Rate: Get the Right Traffic
- How Internet Retailers are Successfully Improving their Conversion Rates
- 12-Step Template to Write an Effective Sales Letter