The impact of customer trust on sales is tremendous. According to a long list of studies, consumers warn that they would easily reduce or terminate their relationship with a company that failed to earn their trust. In survey after survey, respondents said that the most important feature in determining where to make a purchase is trust. It should be of no surprise, then, that a key way for retailers to increase conversion rates is by building trust and customer loyalty.
According to research from PWC, 86 percent of consumers said they’d be willing to pay more for a great customer experience. In fact, the more expensive the item for purchase, the more they’re willing to pay for better services. Customer loyalty also influences impulse purchases. According to a survey from customer data integration company Segment, 49 percent of buyers made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalized shopping experience. And in a Salesforce.com report, 84 percent of customers said that their buying experiences are just as important as the actual products and services being sold.
The real challenge in maintaining customer loyalty, then, is not just gaining but keeping the customer’s trust, and the rewards of establishing that bond are significant. So how can merchants earn that trust? Here are three proven strategies.
1. Remember the Human Connection
There’s a saying among experts in the field of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO): People don’t buy from web pages. They buy from people. People also don’t always trust web pages, but are much more likely to put their faith in human beings. Relationship-building is crucial in fostering customer loyalty, so merchants would be wise to reveal some personality, both through their online presence and in how they communicate with the buying public.
An “About Us” page is a great place to show customers a more personable side of your business. Customers want to know your story, where you came from, and how your business came about. For example, an early “About” page from ShoeDazzle included a blurb on the company’s history along with a direct message from chief stylist Rachel Zoe, now a shoe designer. The company’s current “Our Story” page refers to their site as a “personalized fashion fix” for millions of women—keeping the emphasis on the personal aspect despite being an online-focused retailer.
“About” pages add humanizing elements. One ecommerce entrepreneur increased online conversions by 300 percent after adding the company’s story to his website. Let people know what your company stands for and what makes it unique. Introduce your team through photos and bio information. And in these days of activism, if your company is aligned with any not-for-profit initiatives, publicize that as well (and kudos).
Be proactive and personable on social media as well as on your website. Social networks provide a terrific outlet to personify your brand by sharing observations, and importantly, responding to comments. Engaging directly with customers helps build relationships and engender trust.
2. Employ a Clean and Professional Design
Every online shopper understands the importance of a professional design. We’ve all seen amateur, low-end websites that are obviously made by a company that doesn’t know what they’re doing. How much trust will buyers put in providing a sub-par, unprofessional looking site with their payment information—no less their ongoing business?
If you aren’t convinced that website quality carries this level of impact, take a look at some more statistics:
- 40 percent of people will abandon a web page that takes more than three seconds to load
- 48 percent of users say that if a business’ mobile site doesn’t work well, they take it as a signal that the business doesn’t care
- 57 percent of customers won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile website, according to Forbes magazine
A study on the trustworthiness of health-related websites found that site design played an even larger role than content in how people regarded their services. High-definition images, quick loading times, user-friendly navigation, and the absence of broken links all contribute to a polished and professional design. First impressions are important in any business, but especially for ecommerce, where most customers decide whether to remain on a website within the first 15 seconds of viewing it.
3. Utilize Trust Signals
Telling people to trust your company is less effective than showing them why they should trust you. “Trust signals” go a long way to show potential customers that you are worthy of their business, allaying any misgivings they may have by providing credible advocacy of your products and services. This might include:
Customer Reviews: This approach capitalizes on the benefits of social proof and is an effective tool for increasing sales. When watchmaker Seiko added customer reviews on its product pages, they saw outcomes of a 58 percent increase in sales.
Third-Party Endorsements: A second common strategy is to utilize third-party authentication on your website, building trust in your services and in the security of your transactional platform. For example, SSL (secure sockets layer) authentication is a security standard used to encrypt sensitive information. Alignment with The Better Business Bureau is another common third-party endorsement which signals your use of ethical business practices.
Contact Information: You can help prove your legitimacy to customers by providing clear and easily-located contact information, which allows purchasers to communicate with your team. Give customers a variety of channels through which to reach out, including email, phone, web chat, and social media.
Trust, loyalty, and personalization are probably even more vital to ecommerce retailers than to the brick-and-mortar sales organizations of the past, since online sales don’t have the benefit of face-to-face interactions. As an online merchant, you’ve got all the more reason to build engaging, trusting relationships with your customers through these strategies.