Lack of Trust – The Easiest Way to Lose a Sale – “We know there are a million reasons why a customer might not complete their purchase. This article offers lots of valid causes of abandonment from a bunch of really smart ecommerce experts. Some solutions are metrics-driven, some require UX adjustments, and some are as simple as clear expectation management.
But the one cause that I always obsess over is a toughie – it’s a broad and nebulous idea, which makes it harder to identify and therefore more of a challenge to address: LACK OF TRUST.
The struggle is bigger for relatively small or less-well-known sites. A customer shopping on Amazon knows the retailer and has some idea what to expect. They’re skipping the courtship and going straight to meeting the parents, because there is already established comfort and history.
But if a customer stumbled onto your site from a search result or found you from a link or ad, you’ve got an uphill battle ahead of you. Because you’re not as well known as your larger competitors, you need to convince the customer that you can be trusted – and you’re starting from square one. Even if they’ve been on a few dates with you, how can they know it’s safe to trust you?”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Your mission is to prove that…You’re legitimate, reliable, and safe. You will deliver as promised, both in terms of the product’s details and quality, and the delivery of the item itself.
You can be trusted with their personal information (you won’t spam them or otherwise abuse their data). You stand by your product and your promises, and your customer care staff are trained and equipped to make it right if you fall short.
What does this look like on site?
1. Start with the basics! Ensure the website looks clean and current. If it looks frequently maintained and not neglected or out of date, it instills confidence in legitimacy. This has become easier than it used to be. There are now very affordable ecommerce platforms with free themes and upgrades that make it simple to continually adjust to changing consumer expectations.
2. Have a secure website with an up-to-date certificate so the browser will show that it’s secure and won’t pop up warnings (which are a giant off-ramp for customers).
Above: Browsers have some version of these icons next to website URLs. A fully secure site is basically a requirement these days (Google won’t like it otherwise) but especially on pages where personal information is being entered, it really is necessary. This is one small step toward seeming trustworthy to your customers.
3. Demonstrate history to make it clear you’re not a fly-by-night operation. Do this by using blog posts and other content that you add over time. Speak authoritatively about your products and services, and make it clear you’re an expert, not just a storefront.
4. Be very consistent with your brand voice. Just like people, a brand is judged by how consistent and genuine it is. This should cross over into every touch point, from ads to on-site copy, to the call center.
5. Make it easy to get in touch. Whether or not they take you up on it, feeling like there are real people available to help and an actual company behind the website will absolutely build that trust. Want to seem sketchy? Avoid all contact information, offer no support, and cause your customers to wonder whether you’re maybe just a fake website designed to take their money and never deliver. (That was sarcasm. Please don’t do that.)
Above: Link to support and phone number prominently displayed at the top of the website, just above the cart – in the top-right corner, where users’ eyes naturally go.
6. Include guarantees, display them prominently, and follow through on them. You might have a guarantee of quality, of shipping delivery times, or of satisfaction in general. Be clear about how you’ll correct these issues (free returns? Replacements? credit?) and again, deliver as promised.
Above: A brand that uses its real estate to hammer home its commitment to quality is one that consumers will want to trust. It helps when it’s a known brand with a history of providing good value, of course. The website also has a page with details about the guarantee that are easy to understand.
Above: Left side of cart page has links to these policies in a very clean layout. It also shows the shipping options clearly, including the automatically-applied free method.
Make your offers clear and easy to apply. Free shipping over a certain amount? Don’t require a code, and do make sure to put this offer right up front. It breaks down a major barrier to purchase (paying shipping costs) and can increase your average order value as the customer is incentivized to reach the threshold for free shipping (if it’s within reason). Great offers that apply only to a small subset of products and don’t make this very clear up front only create annoyance, which whittles away at trust. Make it painfully clear and extremely easy what the deal is and how to get it if you value your customers’ trust.
Above: Free shipping offer front and center at the top-center of the website, on every page. No gimmick, no catch, no code required – what you see is what you get. The offer is clear and easy to receive.
Above: Note the discount code field. It is not hidden, collapsed, or otherwise hard to find. Your discounts are out there. Don’t deter your customers from using them – they’re much more likely to complete the purchase if they have an offer to use! Extra Credit: publish your own perpetual (or constantly changing!) discounts on sites like RetailMeNot so that customers have something to find and apply if they’re looking.
9. Never bait and switch offers. There’s nothing worse than a giant “80% OFF” when the fine print says “up to” above it and “one item” below it. I’ve even seen scandalous ads like “FREE SHIPPING ON EVERYTHING” and it wasn’t until optionally clicking into the details to find that they meant “EVERYTHING over $200.” People might be drawn in by the over-promise, but the switcheroo doesn’t make them want to stay. It’s the best way to destroy trust and lose a customer in frustration. Even with the best of intentions, a poorly worded, unintentionally misleading, or difficult-to-qualify-for offer is a bad move. It’s all too easy to offend and annoy online shoppers with click bait. Don’t do it.
Because trust is an emotional feeling, it’s impossible to pin down every little thing that might instill it or shake it. This list is a good start, but if you think like a consumer and continually evaluate, you will certainly find more ways to build it.
Spend time browsing your website with your “I’m a first-time customer” glasses on. Look at other sites to see how they make you feel by comparison. Make no assumptions, and think like a nervous shopper. Evaluate that first impression and the ongoing experience and make sure a new browser to your site has every opportunity to feel comfortable enough to become a buyer.”
Your Checkout Funnel is Not Optimized – “The checkout funnel is all the steps from Shopping Cart to the Thank You page after purchase. Many eCommerce sites have several steps for checkout. Usually it goes something like this: Cart > Customer Information > Shipping Method > Payment Info > Purchase
Most eCommerce sites tend to build in these steps by default. This is because there are a lot of fields to be collected in the process of making a purchase and having more than 1 step makes it feel simple and less overwhelming for the visitor. There’s also the advantage of capturing that customer email first so you can re-market to them.
I’ve also seen some clients have just one step/on page to checkout. This can work too, especially if the product is less expensive or something your customer has purchased before.
Regardless of your funnel, there is almost always something you can do to improve and optimize. So, as with everything in digital marketing, you need to test to find out what works best for your customers and product.”
Ideas on How to Solve It – “Why should you optimize your checkout funnel? Think of the checkout as a huge lever in your sales (check out this article). The closer you optimize to the bottom of the funnel, the bigger the impact. For example: If you can decrease your abandonment from the payment page by just 25%, this will bring a 25% increase in sales (on the same ad spend). Think of what this would do to your ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) and ability to scale your marketing!
How to Decide What You Should Test?
If you’ve configured enhanced eCommerce tracking for google analytics, the shopping behavior report can be helpful to see where the drop off is happening so you can hone in on a couple of ideas. Here’s where you can find this report in Google Analytics: Conversions > eCommerce > Shopping Behavior report.
Collect Feedback from Website Visitors:
As a site owner, you are too close to your product to really view it objectively, so it’s a great idea to have some outside eyes help you with optimization. There is software for this, like Hotjar or Crazy Egg. Or you can just ask a few friends to go through your checkout process a few times (don’t forget mobile!) as if they were a customer. Have them take notes during each test on where they had questions or what they found difficult or confusing and how long it took them to make a purchase.
Here are some simple best practices I’d recommend in optimizing your checkout funnel:
- Have clear and concise button text i.e. ‘proceed to checkout’ ‘proceed to payment info’, ‘add shipping info’ ‘place order’
- Add notes of reassurance where necessary, like ‘You will have a chance to review your order first’ or ‘no hidden shipping fees’.
- Show the progress to checkout with labeled steps, highlighting where they are in the process.
- Remove excess: fields, navigation, wordy text, anything that doesn’t NEED to be there can be removed.
- If you have something important you want to note with your customers, don’t invoke fear, just state clearly and concisely. It doesn’t need to be a pop up or big red text.
- Add an exit popup to bring back those trying to abandon with a simple incentive.
- Mobile first! Do what you can to improve the experience and increase mobile conversion.
- Test, Test, Test, don’t assume you know what will work best for your customers, always use data to guide your decisions.