Technology and other changes in business have made it easier to buy or sell without being ripped off, but most transactions that we engage in every day are still based on trust.
Trust signals are used by many websites and eCommerce sellers to make customers feel comfortable. But what exactly is a trust signal? What do trust signals look like? Why are they so efficient? What makes them so effective? And, perhaps most importantly, when and how should you use them.
These are the questions we’ll answer in today’s post.
What are Trust Signals?
Trust signals Overeview.io are elements that are displayed at brick-and-mortar points of sale and on websites to make customers feel more confident in making purchases or patronizing a business.
Some trust signals are nothing more than logos. They reassure that a site or retailer is a member of a trade association, while others prove that the business’ conduct and trustworthiness are evident. Although trust signals come in many forms, they all serve the same purpose: to make potential customers feel more comfortable doing business with a company. Trust signals are an important element in optimizing conversion rates.
What are some different types of trust signals?
While some trust signals can be immediately recognizable, others are subtler and more subtle. It all depends on what type of business you are dealing with, which industry it is, and many other factors. There are many types of trust signals.
Guarantee Trust Signals
The guarantee is one of the most popular types of trust signals.
These trust signals are powerful and even expected in certain industries. They offer the consumer peace of mind. These trust signals assure potential customers that their money and investment will be protected in the event of a scammer or website. You can have a unique refund policy or return policy or include the Visa or MasterCard logos on your website.
These trust signals are ubiquitous in the financial market and have a good reason. Because we are so familiar with them, they are among the most recognized and common symbols in the world. They are so common that it is often more confusing or suspicious to not see them.
Social Proof Trust Signals
The meteoric rise of social media brought with it many things, not least of which was the explosive growth in “social proof” as a trust signal.
This trust signal category includes everything, from customer reviews on sites like Yelp to word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers or industry experts.
Social proof trust signals, which are similar to guarantees, can be persuasive. Potential customers will find few things more persuasive than positive feedback, great reviews, and general positivity from “real” people about a product or brand.
Some sites favor industry-insider recommendations, as seen in the example from email marketing firm AWeber above. Some sites also allow customers to share their feedback via social media. This type of trust signal is not recommended. Make sure the identity and name of the individual are easy to verify. Don’t use anonymous reviews that anyone could have written. This type of trust signal is only successful if the individual is authentic.
Trust by Association Trust Signals
This trust signal can be used to help prospects feel more comfortable doing business with you.
As you can see, the client list is the first sign of “trust by association”. Many companies feature the logos of well-known brands on their websites as an implied indicator of their trustworthiness. This trust signal is based on the assumption that a company must be trusted if they are able to land a client with a household name brand.
Media mentions can be used to build trust. WordStream is one example of a company that uses media coverage to signal trust.
This is especially common among startups and young tech companies that are still growing. As a sign of trust, their association with well-known media brands can be used to reassure potential customers that they are making the right choice.
Signs of Membership Trust
This type of trust signal is closely related to the “trust by associations” signals, but they are still worth mentioning.
As a trust signal, memberships to professional associations are often leveraged. This is best illustrated in the United States by the membership to The Better Business Bureau. Its logo is familiar to millions of Americans at thousands of companies across the country.
This trust signal includes memberships in local chambers of commerce, workers’ unions, and artisanal guilds as well as other professional organizations.
What makes trust signals so effective?
The comfort and familiarity many trust signals provide is, understandably, the main focus of most trust signal analyses. Another reason trust signals are powerful is something doesn’t talk about as often. It’s that we want them to be found – and believed.
Trust Signals and Cognitive Biases
We’ve talked about cognitive biases before, but their relationship to our behavior when it comes to transactions and trust is unique.
Any incentive that makes us feel good about our decision to purchase something can be powerful, especially for large-ticket items. This can be illustrated by an effect known as “zero-risk bias,” a cognitive bias that makes people prefer scenarios and situations in which there is the complete elimination of all risk, such as ironclad money-back guarantees and no-obligation free trials, even if other available choices actually offer less risk, such as buying the desired item from another more established, trusted retailer for a slightly higher price.
Trust signals can increase confirmation bias, which is another motivator. Let’s suppose you really want something, such as a new jacket, a console for a videogame, or a vacation package. Potential customers might hesitate before making such an investment.
Now let’s say that, upon visiting a website that sells whatever you’re thinking of buying, you discover a Verified by Visa trust signal on the checkout page (the point at which many online shopping carts are abandoned). The Verified Visa logo indicates that the transaction will be protected against fraud by one of the most trusted financial service providers in the world.
But that’s all. The trust signal is merely a guarantee that you won’t get ripped off when you purchase a high-end item. However, it can still be very attractive to someone who has already decided to spend several hundred dollars on a luxurious item.
Consumer Trust varies widely based on Demographics
Demographics are another important element to be aware of when you ask what makes trust signals so powerful.
According to data from Nielsen, millennial consumers tend to be much more trusting of brands than any other age range. I was surprised to find that trust extends to traditional media like TV and newspapers.
With millennials making up a significant proportion of the workforce, it comes an as little surprise that the most trusting demographic has had a considerable impact on the importance of trust in today’s transactions. This is one of the many reasons “social proof” (and earned media) have been so powerful tools for marketers and brands.
How to use trust signals and when
Now that you know what trust signals are and have seen some examples of them, let’s move on to the meat. How trust signals can increase your conversion rates and when to use them.
Tell your customers they’re safe
We’ve seen that trust signals are important to make potential customers feel confident about making a purchase. This can often translate to customers feeling confident that they will get the goods. Trust signals give prospects the confidence they need to convert.
Depending on the business, there will be a wide range of trust signals that you can use. You might consider joining Verified by Visa if you have an e-commerce website to help protect credit card transactions. You might consider implementing an encryption protocol, such as HTTPS for secure web connections or brand-name antivirus protection if your company sells software downloads.
Where can you use security or guarantee trust signals?
On web pages asking for sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, security emblems, transaction protection symbols, or other trust signals, these symbols can and should be displayed. These trust signals may also be strategically placed on product pages if your company provides software or services that rely upon the integrity or privacy of user data.
A Note on Google Trusted Stores
If you’ve ever bought something online, you’ve probably seen the “Google Trusted Store” trust signal on certain transactional pages or websites, particularly among Google Shopping results.
Google will soon be ending the Google Trusted Store program if you are interested in registering. Google Customer Reviews will replace/merge with Google Trusted Stores. The program’s core features will not change. However, Google Customer Reviews will be replaced/merged with Trusted Stores. NotOffer purchase protection to consumers. Take a look at official Google documentation learns more about these two programs.
Be transparent with customer feedback and user reviews
A website that includes customer reviews and feedback is a great way to build trust.
You can quickly damage your credibility and trust by trying to pull the wool over your prospects’ eyes.
Sooner or later, someone will have a problem with you or your company. They will vent on your site or another site. This is a real problem and there is nothing you can do.
Negative feedback and reviews can be viewed as an opportunity for superior customer service. You need to be honest with yourself. Does the customer who left negative feedback have a valid point? What could you have done differently? Is it your fault? No matter what the circumstance, you must respond quickly, honestly, and transparently. You might respond to a comment made on Facebook, or share your story with a third-party organization such as the Better Business Bureau.
Transparency and openness work in the same way as trust signals. They make people feel more comfortable doing business with them. Falsified reviews, including those that are “sponsored reviews”, should not be purchased. The same goes for semi-anonymous testimonials from Jon S. of Tucson, AZ, and others, which are as trustworthy as a Ponzi scheme.
People won’t trust your site if they don’t trust the reviews.
Where to use customer testimonials and social review trust signals
Customer testimonials and social media recommendations are great because they can be used anywhere on your website, even your homepage. They could be featured on your homepage in a section called “See what customers love about us”, or alongside product specification or feature pages.
Use Trust Signals with Restraint
Conversion rates can be improved by including trust signals. Moderation is the key to success with trust signals, as with everything else in life.
In other words, your website shouldn’t have too many logos that would shame a NASCAR driver.
Select one or two recognizable trust signals that you want to be included on your website. Then, leave it alone. Do not clutter your website with too many logos that might confuse or discourage potential customers from converting.
Oh, and be sure to A/B test your signal placement to ensure that it’s not actually hurting your conversion rates. They say assumptions are dangerous!
A Matter of Trust
Trust signals can be a powerful way for your visitors to feel at ease and increase conversion rates. They are powerful, but they cannot replace good customer service and ethical business practices. You should remember that not everything that works for one business will work for another. Therefore, make sure you test trust signals and see what your visitors actually do.