7 ways to increase sales by creating trust

The key to converting 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.

Through the years, we’ve often advised people on how to gain trust, 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 tips to create trust to start with.

1. Use clear and normal language

Vague writing or using jargon is an often overseen issue that can chase off your visitors. Please speak their language. Don’t 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. Focus on providing as many arguments as possible why their quality of life improves after buying that specific product. This will create trust as it comforts your visitor.

2. Testimonials create trust

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. It will allow the visitor to read the testimonial in case they can’t turn on the sound:

video-testimonials-silverpop-768x615

A lot of websites have testimonials these days. That doesn’t mean they’re all leveraging these testimonials the right way. Testimonials are great to create trust. But if they’re only on the testimonial page and nowhere else, odds are not a lot of people will find them. So you need to put them on pages where people will find them. Your landing pages and near call-to-actions, even below your shopping cart would probably be good spots. Please test for yourself and see what works best for your audience!

3. Security seals

Google has made a clear case for secure websites in the past years. Everyone can create a security seal, so don’t let security seals fool you. But when the seals are from well-known companies, they really do add value to a web shop:

Security seal examples

By investing in following the guidelines of the right verification companies, the web shop shows that it has kept the customer in mind when setting up the website.
Usually, the security seal comes with a link to a certificate. That certificate should be on the website of the company that verified the website’s security. Now I guess not many people will click that link, but if you add these seals, please do it right and add that link.

Sites that list these security seals also come with that nice green bar in the address bar of your browser. Most of the times I just check that address bar and don’t bother scrolling down to check the footer for security seals (as that is one of the most common locations for them). That green bar says it all for me. Did you know you can actually click that green bar for more information on the site’s security? It’s pretty similar per browser, but here’s what f.i. Firefox could tell you:

ssl-more-information_1D0069A6-768x443

4. Pictures

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

Sofie: probably one of the most used stockphoto models

Fun fact: this article from 2014 highlights The 5 Most Popular Stock Photo Personalities. I’d avoid these :)

You can do better than that stock photo. Anne Sofie (the model in the image) is probably a very nice woman, but listing actual pictures of yourself and/or your employees creates trust and pushes conversion due to recognition and identification.
If you are using something like live chat on your website, this experience will definitely be enhanced by using an actual employer’s photo at that chat.

5. List your physical address

People want to know there is a place to go to in case of problems (if any). Having an actual store next to your eCommerce shop works even better, especially if you have a lot of local customers.

In the Netherlands, digitalstreet.nl built a successful business on this concept. Even though they’re located in the southeast of the Netherlands (near to where we are), people come from all over the land to their store to pick up purchases. There are more stories like that. Even if you don’t want people visiting your store or storage for that matter, I’d list your address. On checkout pages, this will increase trust a lot.

6. What happens after checkout?

There’s this hesitation in almost all buying decisions: right before you click the Pay Now button. What will happen next? Will I be 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 surprises. This can be done with just a few short lines of text: “This order is 100% guaranteed. There will be no additional charges upon delivery.” Add a message like that right below your checkout button, and it will comfort a lot of your customers. Conscious or unconsciously, it’ll be easier to complete the order for your customer.

7. Show you care about more than making money

The most important thing is that your website has to reflect your belief 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 initiatives like 1% for the Planet.

At Yoast, we emphasize our enthusiasm for Open Source and WordPress by actively engaging in the community and for instance sponsoring WordCamps and WP Meetups. Next to showing that you are involved, things like this create a huge sympathy and trust factor.

On to you

If you sell products or services on your website, you must have thought about this subject. Some things to consider: What did you do on your website to increase trust? And what are you going to do after reading this article? Good luck!

Read more: What is E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)? »

Coming up next!


44 Responses to 7 ways to increase sales by creating trust

  1. Ian Nicholson
    Ian Nicholson  • 9 years ago

    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

  2. Jamie Curran
    Jamie Curran  • 9 years ago

    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

  3. George Super BootCamps
    George Super BootCamps  • 9 years ago

    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

  4. Henry Sim
    Henry Sim  • 9 years ago

    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 :)

  5. John
    John  • 9 years ago

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

    Thanks!

    • Michiel Heijmans

      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.

  6. Bill Ray
    Bill Ray  • 9 years ago

    All very good tips, especially showing your local address

  7. mahender
    mahender  • 9 years ago

    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.

  8. Donna L. Ward
    Donna L. Ward  • 9 years ago

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

  9. Sergio Felix
    Sergio Felix  • 9 years ago

    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

  10. Kenny Dowling
    Kenny Dowling  • 9 years ago

    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.

  11. suraj
    suraj  • 9 years ago

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

  12. david vd berg
    david vd berg  • 9 years ago

    great tips Michiel and really appreciated.

    • Michiel Heijmans

      You’re welcome, David :)

  13. Bisnis ukm
    Bisnis ukm  • 9 years ago

    simple tips but powerful.
    I’ll do that

  14. Fede | Seo
    Fede | Seo  • 9 years ago

    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 :)

  15. Fede | Seo
    Fede | Seo  • 9 years ago

    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?

  16. Andrew Thomson
    Andrew Thomson  • 9 years ago

    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. Marc | Premie.nl
    Marc | Premie.nl  • 9 years ago

    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 Heijmans

      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.

  18. Tight Line Productions
    Tight Line Productions  • 9 years ago

    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!

    • Daniel N. Lang
      Daniel N. Lang  • 9 years ago

      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).

    • Michiel Heijmans

      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?

  19. Robin Jennings
    Robin Jennings  • 9 years ago

    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.

  20. Wasim Ismail
    Wasim Ismail  • 9 years ago

    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.

    • Dave
      Dave  • 9 years ago

      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 ;)

    • Jeroen Rommelaars
      Jeroen Rommelaars  • 9 years ago

      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 Heijmans

        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?

  21. Jeroen Rommelaars
    Jeroen Rommelaars  • 9 years ago

    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!

  22. Janneke Romijn
    Janneke Romijn  • 9 years ago

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

  23. Chris Tipping
    Chris Tipping  • 9 years ago

    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!

  24. Dave
    Dave  • 9 years ago

    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

  25. Eric Christopher
    Eric Christopher  • 9 years ago

    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. Lang
      Daniel N. Lang  • 9 years ago

      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!

  26. Paula Wallem
    Paula Wallem  • 9 years ago

    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 Heijmans

      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 ;)

  27. Erwin van Ginkel | Internetbureau Sowmedia
    Erwin van Ginkel | Internetbureau Sowmedia  • 9 years ago

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

  28. T.Adam
    T.Adam  • 9 years ago

    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.

  29. Sjors Pals
    Sjors Pals  • 9 years ago

    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.

  30. Ahmed Samir
    Ahmed Samir  • 9 years ago

    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 Heijmans

      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?

  31. Jerome
    Jerome  • 9 years ago

    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 Heijmans

      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 ;)