Testing Trust & Credibility Signals for Conversions

December 8, 2010 | Written by Dusty Dean

Well-designed, measurable company websites are the best salesperson you’ll ever hire. They’ll work tirelessly 24/7, allow you to measure everything, and welcome continuous testing for more sales and leads without a grumble.

And just like a real-life salesperson, you’ll want to make certain your website creates a trusting and credible impression of your company’s mission and brand.

There are many trust and credibility signals that your company’s website can use to give your customers the confidence they need to convert on your website.

Once you’ve established trust and credibility signals you can begin testing them to see which ones, or variations of them, lead to more conversions.

Establishing Trust & Credibility Signals

A commonly referenced source of Web credibility suggestions comes from Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab. Their 10 guidelines for building the credibility of a website is a good starter for your company’s website.

The following list is a summary of Web credibility and trust signals along with some brief commentary about each one.

  • Make it easy to locate and verify your company information.
  • It’s important that customers can quickly locate and access an “About Us”, or equivalent, section of your website. A place where they can quickly discover who you are and what you do along with links to credible third-party sources can who can verify your company’s status.

  • Show that there’s a real organization behind your site.
  • Don’t allow your customers to get lost in a lifeless corporate directory, void of a human face or full of stock photography with unrealistic scenarios. Demonstrate to them that humans, like them, do work at and run your company.

  • Highlight the expertise in your organization.
  • Your company is likely full of talented employees, ones who are brilliant with equally compelling resumes. Don’t hide this information from your customers. Create profile pages of your talented employees and executives.

  • Make it easy to contact you.
  • It’s important that customers be able to easily locate your company’s contact form, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and physical mailing address. This information shouldn’t be buried on your website. A common way to display this information is through a dedicated “Contact Us” link at the top and bottom navigation areas of your website.

  • Design your site so it looks professional.
  • You likely want your real-life salesperson to dress in a way that best reflects your company’s brand and overall image. This is no different for your website. Investing in a company website that reflects your company’s brand, colors and culture will pay dividends with customers visiting your website.

  • Make your site easy to use — and useful.
  • Developing a website that is easily navigable, provides the right information at the right times and continuously listens to its customers is an iterative process that will increase your Web marketing ROI. Your customers are not going to purchase from a salesperson or a website that frustrates them.

  • Update your site’s content often.
  • Content that looks outdated and unattended to can be troubling to your customers. A great way to combat this is to keep your website’s content fresh with blog posts, news releases, promotions or even new images.

Trust & Credibility Signals to Test

Credibility and trust signals can, at the very least, give your customers confidence in your company. These signals can also move customers further along in the sales funnel and lead to more conversions.

The following is a list of trust and credibility signals you can test on your website.

  • Testing different verification logos
  • Your company is likely a member of many trade and professional organizations, holds various certifications, and if you’re an e-commerce website you have VeriSign and Hacker Safe, or equivalent, logos to signal trust.

    These visible signals of trust can be tested at various points and places on your website. For example, you could more prominently display your VeriSign or Hacker Safe logos during a check out process, or if you’re collecting lead information, you may consider displaying your company’s certifications or awards near the call-to-action (CTA).

  • Phone number placement
  • Many customers like to see a phone number, whether they use it or not, this is a signal of trust and access that could lead to increased conversions. You can perform a series of tests where you place your company’s phone number in the header, footer or sidebar areas of your website. Measure whether you’re seeing an increase in phone calls, or better yet, create a unique phone number for this test to see if you’re getting conversions from it.

  • Testimonials
  • Testing display positions of customer testimonials is a great way to give your customers the confidence and reassurances they need to complete the conversion. You should try testing testimonials near your CTAs, adjust the size, contrast and font of the testimonials, or even test a variety of testimonials to see which ones better assist the conversions.

  • Adding staff images
  • It’s amazing what a human face can do to increase conversions. If you’re not convinced, then take a look at the Wikimedia Foundation’s recent campaign with photographs of Jimmy Wales.

    You can try testing photos of your staff on your About Us page. Try individual photos, group photos, fun photos and more. This can be part of a larger process if humanizing your website’s images and Web copy so your customers can feel more connected to you.

    This post was meant to be a snapshot of the many trust and credibility signals you can send online. Every company is unique and some of these signals won’t apply to yours. However, if your Web marketing team keeps an open mind and cultivates a continuous testing environment, then your customers will ultimately receive the signals they need to convert on your website.

December 8, 2010 | Written by Dusty Dean

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