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If you want someone to do business with you, they need to trust you. You would not willingly engage with, or give money to a company that seemed untrustworthy. We’ve all had that feeling in our gut when something seems out of place.

Trust is even harder for an e-commerce business to build than a traditional brick and mortar business, due to limited interactions between customers and merchants. The IBM President states  “[cybercrime is] the greatest threat to every profession, every industry, every company in the world.” With regular reports of cybercrime all over the media, consumers are on higher alert than ever before when shopping online. This increase in concern for security has lead to distrust in online businesses. Consumers are taking much more caution when shopping online. So how do you let your customers know that your store is trustworthy?


What are Trust Signals and Why are They So Important?

A trust signal can be either a conscious or subconscious cue that encourages transactions on your website. Trust signals do this by making customers feel more secure about your business. Think about it this way; trust signals online work in the same way that we pick up different societal and social cues offline. For example, you can almost always tell right away when you are walking in an unsafe neighborhood, or when someone you are talking to is faking their engagement.

A successful trust signal online help customers feel more secure about shopping on your site. Trust signals offer proof of the businesses good conduct and overall trustworthiness. Trust signals make people feel better about doing business with you.

“Trust signals help customers feel more secure about shopping on your site.”

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Even if your company is extremely safe, secure and has never had any instances of hacking, you still need to communicate to your customers that your business is trustworthy. Since there are limited interactions between merchants and consumers when shopping online, this is often the only information your customers have to go on to make a judgment about your business. Without easy to read trust signals consumers will go to a store that they feel safe shopping at, and you will lose out on sales.


Trust Signals to Implement

There is a huge variety of trust signals that you could implement on your site. From a small badge at checkout, to multiple secure payment options, to openly posting your store policies – the possibilities are vast.


1. A Professionally Designed Store

The first impression a customer has when they come to your store is the design. Does your store look professional? Do you have a logo, and a color scheme that creates a cohesive and impactful brand?

Studies show that it only takes 2.6 seconds for online users to make a judgment of your website. For example, if two job applicants walk into an interview, with the same resume and qualifications, but one candidate is wearing a neatly pressed suit, and the other is wearing jeans and a t-shirt – who has a more favorable impression?

Your design needs to be consistent throughout, creating a seamless user experience. Your customers will be more likely to trust a store that has an easy to use navigation, robust search features, detailed product descriptions with photos, and an “About Us” page.


2. Social Accounts & Content

Have you ever heard about a cool new store or product and gone online to look them up, only to find almost no information? How does that make you feel about that company?

For consumers in 2017 trust has to be earned. We are constantly on our social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more. Creating social profiles and filling them with engaging, relevant content is a great way to build trust with your customers. TIME magazine even states that Millennials only trust Twitter, going on to say that they are more likely to be influenced to make a purchase from strangers from reviews on social media sites than any other source. With so many people utilizing social media for news, reviews, and advice it has become necessary to have a social presence.

It’s important to make yourself visible and accessible to your customers in as many ways as possible. Have social buttons on your website and in your email communication so that your customers know how to connect with you easily, and those methods of connection are reinforced during all of their interactions with your business.


3. User Reviews

User reviews are good for just about any business, but even more so for companies that are selling products and services online. User reviews allow for other customers to see genuine opinions of your product or service. It also allows your customers to understand how the product functions and provides benefits from the perspective of another customer. Even negative reviews can be valuable for your business, showing that you are not padding your website with dozens of fake reviews (that the reviews on your site are real) helps to further build trust with your customers.


4. Trust Seals & Association Logos

trust badges

Examples of trust badges

Security emblems, transaction assurance logos, and logos of any associations you belong to can, and should be utilized – particularly on cart and payment pages or strategically on product pages. The presence of these images subconsciously goes a long way to building trust with customers. Studies show that icons like the PayPal logo and VeriTrust sign were some of the highest ranked trust signals among first-time buyers to an e-commerce site. However, be careful not to over do it with this type of trust symbol. Choose 2-4 that fit your business and don’t go overboard.


5. Contact Information & Store Policies – Transparency

Since communication is often limited between merchants and customers during online transactions, one of the best ways to build trust is to be transparent with your store policies and contact information.

A clearly posted FAQ page with information such as: your shipping policies, return policies, where your business is located and how to get in contact with you go a long way to building trust up front. You can also reiterate information like your return policy in your transactional emails.

Contact Information in the Customer Paradigm Footer

Contact information located in the Customer Paradigm footer on every page of our website.

It is also crucial to include ways for your customers to contact you quickly and easily. At Customer Paradigm, we include ways for our clients to contact us by email, phone, as well as our physical address. We have this information clearly marked on every single page of our website. It is easy for customers to forget that someone on the other end of a website is a real person. By providing multiple ways to contact us, we hope to build trust by inviting people to reach out and contact us in whichever manner they are most comfortable with.


6. Payment Options

Customers have varied needs where it comes to making payments. You should choose a secure payment method that is used by the majority of your customers – options like PayPal, Braintree, and Authorize.net are very popular. However it is great to provide other options if you are able – for those that may not want to use one option, it shows them that you have another, secure option for them to use and they are not forced to use an option that they may not like. If people can choose whichever payment method they feel most secure using and that they know has recovery options they are comfortable with in the event of fraud, they will be more likely to complete their purchase.


7. SSL Certification

SSL denoted by lock in URL bar

SSL Certification denoted by padlock in URL bar.

It might be easy to think that people don’t notice the difference between “http://” and “https://” or that the average user wouldn’t know anything about a SSL (Secure Socket Layer). However, today’s internet users are very savvy, and even if they don’t know the ins and outs of SSL workings, they do know when they can see the padlock in their URL bar. Studies show that at least 52% recognize that this padlock means trust. That padlock means that a website has obtained SSL Certification, which means that there is an encrypted link between the user’s browser and the site’s server. This link ensures that all data that passes through the connection is secure and private. With many users stopping transactions mid-process due to feeling insecure, this certification can go a long way with providing users a sense of trust and protecting them from cyber fraud.


Closing Thoughts

Building trust is crucial for any e-commerce business. Building trust online comes down to adopting standard security practices such as utilizing secure payment gateways, SSL certification, and being open and transparent with your customers about how your store is run. Online, just like when dealing with people face-to-face, being an honest, straight shooter is preferable in business. In an era where we can tweet or publish to Facebook in the blink of an eye, what you say and do can stay with you. First impressions can be very difficult to recover from. Take the time to build up your trust signals early and watch your store prosper.

Customer Paradigm specializes in helping merchants reach their goals. If you need help implementing trust signals on your e-commerce website the expert team at Customer Paradigm is here! Let us know how we can help you!

About Kelly Mason

Kelly is a Marketing Assistant at Customer Paradigm. She loves creating engaging and educational content and connecting with the community through social media. Outside of the office, she can be found eating her way through Colorado one brunch at a time and hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.


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