7 ways to Increase Sales by creating Trust

The key to conversing a visitor into a client is the creation of trust. Your product can be the greatest thing on earth or the dullest office supply ever, both can be sold online when your visitor knows you are the best supplier for that product or service.

We often advise on how to gain trust in our website reviews, and I’ve compiled a list of some of the advice we’ve given over time. Of course, trust can be earned in more ways than this, but we’ll give you these seven to start with.

1. Use clear and normal language

This is an often overseen issue that causes a lot of misgrief with your visitors. You should speak their language, not drown them in a sea of technical specs you don’t even understand yourself. Use a clear and direct style of writing. Keep your audience in mind. Do not focus on telling them what you want to tell them, focus on providing as many arguments as possible why their quality of life improves after buying that specific product.

2. Testimonials

Do not brag about your products yourself. If your products or services are really that good, I’m sure you’ll find someone else that can do the bragging for you. Make sure your visitor understand that the testimonial is written by an actual customer, by listing at least name and company and if the customer agrees, even a picture of him. Video seems to be the next big thing in testimonials, by the way. In my opinion, that video testimonial should be accompanied by a written excerpt:

Testimonials as seen on cloversites.com

Testimonials as seen on cloversites.com

3. Verified signs

Everyone can create a verified sign, so don’t let those verified signs fool you. But the majority of your visitors actually believe that you are the ‘Most appreciated hairdresser of Mississippi’ or the ‘Best Plummer 2006′. Man, I hate those signs. But when the signs are from well-known companies, they really do add value to a webshop:

"Verified" signs

“Verified” signs

By investing in the guidelines of the right verification companies  the webshop shows that it has been keeping the customer in mind when setting up the website.

4. Pictures

If you recognize the woman on this picture, please call the following toll-free number…:

Stock photography

You can do better than that stock photo. Listing actual pictures of yourself and/or your employees pushes conversion due to recognition and identification.

5. List your physical address

This one is really simple: people want to know there is a place to go to in case of problems (if any). Having an actual store next to your webshop works even better, especially if a lot of your customers are relatively local.

In the Netherlands digitalstreet.nl made this concept into a huge success, even though they’re located in the south-west of the Netherlands (quite near to where we are), people come from all over the Netherlands because they’d rather buy the product in the store. There are more stories like that, but even if you don’t want to do that, just listing your address on check-out pages increases trust a lot.

6. What happens after check-out?

There’s this hesitation in almost all buying decisions: right before you click the Pay Now button. What’s going to happen next? Am I charged for taxes, import, anything else? Can I select a wrapping paper? Explain what happens after clicking that button. That way the customer is included in your ordering process and there are absolutely no suprises. That can be done with just a few short lines of text:

checkout message on bloomingdales.com

7. Show you care about more than making money

The most important thing is that your website has to reflect your believe in the product or service you provide. Just a list of products is not enough. Also tell your customer about your company, your main values or mission statement. I really love the 1% for the Planet from Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia) and Craig Mathews (Blue Ribbon Flies) http://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org. Next to showing that you are involved, it also creates a huge sympathy and trust factor.

We’d love to hear your tips!

If you are selling products or services on your website, you must have thought about this subject. I’m curious: What have you done on your website to increase trust? What are you going to do?

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44 Responses

  1. JeromeBy Jerome on 26 March, 2012

    Timely Post! Currently busy with a sales landing page for one of my sites.

    Does adding more pictures add more value or should they be kept to a minimum?

    Regards
    J

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 26 March, 2012

      Hi Jerome,

      Pictures should serve a purpose. Just adding pictures doesn’t help, instead as mentioned: with testimonials. What you want to avoid is too many distractions. And if you want to add pictures, when possible replace stock photos with your own (for creating trust, that is).

      And keep this in mind ;)

  2. Ahmed SamirBy Ahmed Samir on 26 March, 2012

    I agree on all of the above. I also would recommend EV SSL for businesses as I believe it to be a clear sign of the validity of the company you are using as it identifies the company to be a legal and established business.

    Love the part about stock photos. They are way, way overused.

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 26 March, 2012

      Thanks. And you are right about the SSL, although I think most visitors of your web shop might not know what that is anyway? What’s your opinion on that?

  3. Sjors PalsBy Sjors Pals on 26 March, 2012

    Very nice post, point 5 is even mandatory by law in the Netherlands. I also like it if shops offer the possibility to cancel a order for some time.

  4. T.AdamBy T.Adam on 26 March, 2012

    Video testimonial really work but it’s little pricey for small online business owner to make a trust worthy video testimonial.

    However, all tricks those mention above are really useful.

  5. Another one.
    Don’t forget to show articles of magazines, newspapers or television items about your company/your person.

  6. Paula WallemBy Paula Wallem on 26 March, 2012

    I like to include the full name, company and location for the testimonials. Every time I go to a website and see “Brian S” or “Monica R” I know that the testimonials are not real…

    I also like to include the customer service hours of operation with the address/location; since we all do business online we can have customers that are awake when we’re not, so it’s a good idea to let them know so they know what to expect a call back or an answer from us…

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 26 March, 2012

      That’s actually a valid point, Paula. Thanks for the service hours addition. Setting up offices in multiple time zones is not realistic for all of us ;)

  7. Eric ChristopherBy Eric Christopher on 26 March, 2012

    There are two other tips that I would recommend: 1. Adding any really important FAQ’s that might need answered. 2. This is a big one– offer a guarantee of satisfaction or performance! Psychologically, you are reducing their inherit risk of buying your product or service. You could even split-test showing it at the final buy page versus the Thank you page to reduce buyer’s remorse.

    • Daniel N. LangBy Daniel N. Lang on 1 April, 2012

      I agree 100% on point number 2. This gives your customer a good feeling and beside that you ensure you’ll have a 100% satisfied customer base. You will get lots of repeat customers and a high ratio of purchase. Additionally you can even get recommendations from unsatisfied customers who you couldn’t serve in the way they expected but who still appreciate your way of doing business and can recommend your business for other services.
      And satisfied customers are a joy to work with!

  8. DaveBy Dave on 26 March, 2012

    Eric got this one right, offering a ‘satisfaction’ guarantee is a real big one. Saw some amazing results by adding that.

    Another one i would add is creating a community, or at least a blog type of thing where interaction and the ability to show your ‘knowledge’ and exposing (a bit of) your personality can have it’s base .

    Maybe a small addition to the review point you’ve made. In my opinion you need 2 types of reviews :

    1. reviews about your site/person/way of doing business
    2. reviews about the stuff you’re selling

    On a productpage for example, people want to see product reviews in the first place while during checkout, the shopping experience of others is more valuable..

    Dave

  9. Chris TippingBy Chris Tipping on 26 March, 2012

    Very good post, the point about the address is a good one. I have had several people query this on my site and I never added it, never thought it was that important. Maybe I should change my thinking – Thanks Michiel!

  10. Janneke RomijnBy Janneke Romijn on 26 March, 2012

    Blogging! By creating great content you can show your website visitors you know your stuff. They can get to know and trust you.

  11. Jeroen RommelaarsBy Jeroen Rommelaars on 26 March, 2012

    Ha, point 3 and 4 crack me up!

    My tip would be: Dont use one of those obvious and over-used sales pages. I guess they work for some topics, but whenever I see one of those long-journey-down scroll adventures with only explosive headlines and bolded words I click away as soon as possible!

  12. Wasim IsmailBy Wasim Ismail on 27 March, 2012

    Great points here, Also I would like to add, having a professional looking website, which when your visitor sees feels welcomes and assured, more importantly they feel safe in handing you over their credit card details.

    • Jeroen RommelaarsBy Jeroen Rommelaars on 27 March, 2012

      Ah, but what defines a professional looking website? Sure, having a custom domain goes a long way…but the esthetics of a ‘professional looking website’ differ from person to person. What would you say defines the professional look?

      • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 27 March, 2012

        You’re totally right, Jeroen. Also, I’ve seen some hideous websites that just offer sufficient trust to create brilliant sales. It’s more than just the look IMHO.

        The professional look is the total package of all of the above perhaps?

    • DaveBy Dave on 27 March, 2012

      A tricky one because what if you have a ‘professional’ looking site with a bad user experience ?

      Craigslist is a fine example, doesn’t look good (or sexy) at all but it does the job ;)

  13. Robin JenningsBy Robin Jennings on 27 March, 2012

    I always find websites that have a telephone number in the top right of the header seem to do well in the trust stakes.

    Even if you don’t call, knowing that you could, must help with people that have just chanced upon your website.

  14. Tight Line ProductionsBy Tight Line Productions on 27 March, 2012

    These are excellent tips. Owning an advertising agency, we have expanded our services to include all these attributes. Personally, I LOVE iStockphoto, we have several images on our website from there.

    I like your emphasis on the “no bragging” excerpt. Many people oversell or (over-advertise) their products, and it ends up backfiring. I’ll keep this in mind when we make our next promotional videos! Thanks Joost!

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 27 March, 2012

      Thanks!

      By the way, your comment on iStockphoto made me look to your website, nice one ;)

      I think the way you are using it – not focussed on pictures of people but on illustrative elements instead, is a whole different ballgame (and fine to me). Don’t you agree?

    • Daniel N. LangBy Daniel N. Lang on 1 April, 2012

      I also looked at your website after Michiel said positive words about it. With Michiel I agree on the illustrative elements.

      I realized that I immediately clicked on the About Us section. That’s one BIG ELEMENT of trust building for me. Getting to see the people I will do business with. Your photos there look pretty distorted though. It’s pretty poorly made (by the webdesigner) – 1. he resizes a bigger image in CSS and then he even changes dimensions!
      Correcting this will give your customers the impression that you look much healthier and energetic, will decrease the pagesize and loading time and give you a better Google Page Speed and YSlow score (which can also increase your ranking on those sites).

  15. Marc | Premie.nlBy Marc | Premie.nl on 28 March, 2012

    Does anyone have some facts & figures about what stockphotos do to the conversion ratio on your website?

    Since they’re used so often, i wonder if there is some hidden positive effect, or are we all to lazy to do some real photography ;)

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 29 March, 2012

      I think it’s mainly because having your picture taken just costs a lot more.

      Also, for illustrative purposes stock photo’s are fine. I think you just should not overdo the use of stock photos with actual people and for sure not pretend those are your employees.

  16. Andrew ThomsonBy Andrew Thomson on 28 March, 2012

    Trust is so important and so often ignored – great post.

    Trust explains why we don’t buy all those “press a button and make a million dollars” programs or take up the offer from the nice gentleman in nigeria offering to send us money – we don’t believe them!

    We need both desire for the product and trust in the person offering it to make sales.

  17. Fede | SeoBy Fede | Seo on 29 March, 2012

    I have a question about testimonials. What do you think about the product reviews or ratings from the customer? If we sell excellent products, good reviews or 5/5 stars ratings, could encourage new customers to buy our products?

  18. Fede | SeoBy Fede | Seo on 29 March, 2012

    Very interesting, also the contact form to say to Google we are early adopter.
    I know the new microdata from schema.org and I’m trying to implement it in my blog :)

  19. Bisnis ukmBy Bisnis ukm on 29 March, 2012

    simple tips but powerful.
    I’ll do that

  20. david vd bergBy david vd berg on 29 March, 2012

    great tips Michiel and really appreciated.

  21. surajBy suraj on 29 March, 2012

    Nice post!!!i completely agree that verified signs and big names help creating trust…i myself would trust someone with verified big names :-)

  22. Kenny DowlingBy Kenny Dowling on 29 March, 2012

    A useful post thank you. But how about “What happens before checkout”? It is very frustrating to go through a few pages of purchasing only to get to the checkout and find Amex is not available. Or you cannot find out delivery charges until you get to the final stage. Occasionally it is even difficult to work out whether the billing is in US$ or A$ for example.
    My response is to abandon the purchase and I then avoid that company.

  23. Sergio FelixBy Sergio Felix on 30 March, 2012

    Awesome stuff guys.

    I was a bit doubtful of putting my own picture on a little local consulting company website and after reading this, now I know I’m on the right path. (I had already added my own picture)

    So thanks for the encouragement words and I’ll check out the conversions with the switch. ;-)

    Sergio

  24. Donna L. WardBy Donna L. Ward on 30 March, 2012

    Thank you – your information is perfect and I do share your posts with my lists!
    Coach Donna – Business Mentor

  25. mahenderBy mahender on 31 March, 2012

    Sometime minimalistic and simple designs also helps with above, Help people more and try to sell less, purchase happens if someone convinced,, over emphasizing with many testimonials and videos reduces the product sell and put a questions on reliability. I personally prefer picture which is not photo shop edited and has taken in some natural location instead of studio. Thanks for great tips.

  26. Bill RayBy Bill Ray on 31 March, 2012

    All very good tips, especially showing your local address

  27. JohnBy John on 1 April, 2012

    Excellent guide. I am wondering if you believe that a video at the top of the page will also be very beneficial?

    Thanks!

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 2 April, 2012

      Hi John,

      Thanks.

      I think the video at the top is OK, as long as it is not set to auto play ;) And it should be accompanied by sufficient introductory text, to indicate what the video is about and why one would have to watch it. In short: it would have to have a valid reason to be there.

      Of course I would not recommend a video as the header of the page.

  28. Henry SimBy Henry Sim on 3 April, 2012

    Testimonials can be make up, and not the section I will look at in buying a product. I prefer researching the reviews via forum, and hear people debating about the pros and cons of a product or service. To me that is a more balance view. Speaking from experience :)

  29. George Super BootCampsBy George Super BootCamps on 6 April, 2012

    Yup, it’s the testimonials im missing right now!

    Thanks for the reminder to ask for them…

    Keep up the good work
    George Super Boot Camps

  30. Jamie CurranBy Jamie Curran on 7 April, 2012

    Excellent article. I love the way your writing is so easy to digest.

    When we were getting up and running we knew customer reviews would be important (we compare local driving instructors here in the UK) but we didn’t understand the real value of these reviews is not the keywords (many we would never have considered) but more the trust they engender in future customers.

    Now we are implementing reviews from users logged in with their Facebook profile and we are taking the review along with their name, area, photo and the date of their post.

    We think this will be a big boost to the credibility of the recommendation and with lots of local reviews people may even recognise the person who left it.

    The tip about putting in some explanatory text about what happens next after the buy now click is so obviously a great idea.

    Thanks as always

  31. Ian NicholsonBy Ian Nicholson on 18 April, 2012

    Great article, trust has to be earned and with displaying a telephone number, is it an opportunity to receive unwanted calls from places like India, who want to sell you their services, or do we take a chance and go for it?
    Just a thought
    Ian Nicholson