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July 26, 2021
There is a certain amount of anxiety associated with every online transaction. Unless you’re Amazon or backed by some other well-known brand, people are naturally going to be wary about spending their money at your store.
Customers don’t deal with this anxiety in a brick-and-mortar store. They can feel and touch items before purchasing, they can talk to someone on site, they get to carry the item out of the store with them, and they can see other satisfied customers. Plus, they can walk right back in to return it if they aren’t happy.
Online, there’s a lot more at stake. Customers have to overcome several questions before they feel comfortable buying:
And it’s not like they drove all the way to your store. If they don’t trust you, every other online store is just as accessible – which might explain why nearly 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned.
This is especially true for smaller ecommerce stores. In one survey, 92% of U.S. consumers said they have concerns about sharing personal information on ecommerce websites they haven’t heard of before.
How do you overcome this innate distrust? By giving your shoppers reasons and information to make comfortable buying decisions. You can do that with trust signals.
In this article, we’re going to explain what trust signals are, how they work, and where to place them on your site.
How do you help customers overcome their distrust? By giving your shoppers reasons and information to make comfortable buying decisions.
Trust signals are elements you place on your ecommerce store to make customers feel secure in their decision to make a purchase. As you can imagine, these are an important part of conversion rate optimization.
The types of trust signals you use can vary widely. It depends on the nature of your business and what your customers value. In some cases, a trust signal is as simple as the logo of your payment processor so they know their transaction is safe.
In other cases, a trust signal could be a customer review or detailed case study that explains how one customer got a lot of value from your product.
Trust signals work because as customers, we want our anxieties squashed. We look for reasons to feel more comfortable about the things we want to do, including making purchases online. Our zero risk bias pressures us to find reasons to eliminate all perceived risk so we can move toward our desire without guilt, shame, or fear.
Don’t get us wrong: Your customers aren’t struggling with an existential crisis every time they make a purchase. If someone is genuinely terrified of buying, they won’t, no matter how many badges or icons you put in their face.
But conversion rate optimization is about making lots of little improvements that add up over time. If the right trust signals boost your sales by 1% or 2%, that could mean serious revenue, especially alongside other conversion improvements.
A trust signal can be anything that instills trust in the customer, but they usually fall into some standard categories.
“Money back guarantee,” “satisfaction guarantee,” “best price guarantee,” and similar phrases give customers peace of mind that they have some recourse if they aren’t happy. You usually see these displayed as a seal or badge.
This is when you leverage the trust of another organization or entity. You might show the logos of your major partners, the faces of well-known customers or endorsers, or a list of magazines or publications that have featured you. However, this only works if your customers already trust the other organization or entity.
For instance, adding the “Shopify Payments” logo to your site makes customers comfortable because they know their transaction is being handled by a reputable company with a long history of successful transactions.
Membership trust signals are similar to trust-by-association signals, but with a slight twist. If you are part of a membership, it means the group has taken steps to investigate and approve you. For instance, if you make and sell candles, it would be smart to join an organization of candle makers. This implies that other professionals approve of your work.
Social proof is a type of trust signal that leverages earned trust by other customers or fans. This category includes customer reviews, testimonials, star ratings, etc. Basically, these are the modern equivalent of word-of-mouth recommendations.
Social proof works because customers view them as unbiased. These signals represent feedback from real customers who have experience with your brand. Social media is a powerful tool here because it creates opportunities for customers to share about their experiences. You can also use those comments as trust signals.
You may have your policies spelled out on shipping, returns, and contact pages, but those pages are typically outside of the usual checkout flow, so customers miss them. It’s useful to add abbreviated versions of this information at some point during the usual flow (which goes collection page > product page > cart > checkout).
Notice how Wal-Mart makes this available on their product pages:
Beyond your product and checkout pages, you can add trust signals anywhere: collection pages, your home page, and even your shipping, returns, and about pages.
When it comes to using trust signals, keep two things in mind: relevance and authenticity.
Ideally, you want to use trust signals wherever your customers experience a related concern, problem, or question. The goal is to quell their anxiety as soon as it pops up.
For instance, a customer probably asks, “Is my payment secure or will someone steal my card information?” when they are on the checkout page. So it makes sense to add a security badge when they are checking out or wherever you expect them to input their sensitive information.
When a customer is exploring a product page, this is where you deliver trust signals that explain why the product is right for them. You might have badges or icons that say “vegan” or “non-GMO” for health-conscious customers, or “sustainable” or “eco-friendly” for customers concerned about environmentalism.
When it comes to trust signals, it’s absolutely critical that you use them honestly. If customers find out that you promote yourself dishonestly, they will refuse to do business with your store and actively trash your reputation online. This means…
Keep in mind, however, that moderation is important. Don’t fill your pages with so many logos that you overwhelm your shoppers. Take this checkout page, for example. There are so many signals that you’re more likely to ignore them all then examine each:
Instead of cluttering your pages, focus on the most impactful trust signals that address your customers’ concerns. You may have to run some tests to figure out which signal is right.
Trust signals are powerful tools to help your customers overcome their anxiety of making a purchase. Ultimately, they will increase your conversion rate. Just make sure to use them honestly and in reasonable places.