Build Customer Trust with a Great First Impression
Design and atmosphere are crucial in retail, right down to the smell of a store. It’s no different online (well, except maybe for the smell). People visiting your site make a judgement about the trustworthiness of your store in a matter of seconds, using a whole fleet of subconscious cues. To build customer trust you’ve got to make sure your site does a few basic things right:
- The site navigation is easy to find and easy to understand
- Your product photos are big, beautiful, and look professional
- The site is laid out in a clear and easy to follow visual hierarchy, like a page out of a high-end design magazine or catalog, and uses a consistent color and typographical scheme
- You use a clear writing style, free of jargon and spelled correctly!
Don’t be afraid to do a little competitive research. Look at the websites of big brands or successful makers that you admire and take note of how their sites are structured, what language they use to describe their products, and how their pages are laid out. What do you like? What gives you the feeling that you’re dealing with a trustworthy brand?
Show some Social Proof
“Social Proof” is just a fancy word for things like Testimonials, Reviews, Awards, and other recognition. The words of a satisfied customer will go a long way in your efforts to build customer trust. Detailed reviews with star ratings are even better, and have been shown to improve search engine rankings as well.
Reviews with star ratings have been shown to improve search engine rankings.
When it comes to Social Proof, the more transparent it is the better. So allowing anybody to post a review (with a filter for spam, of course) is best. But managing open reviews can be a lot of work, and you open yourself up to the possibility that someone with an axe to grind will poison the well.
Another option is to allow people to submit their own testimonials through a form on your site, or to send a link to a short survey to everyone who makes a purchase (this is a good idea anyway to make sure you’re offering the best customer service that you can).
Make a Name for Yourself
A beautiful site full of glowing testimonials and reviews will perform even better if your website visitors have heard of you before. This is actually another form of social proof, external to your site. If the people coming to your site are doing so because they’ve seen your work on social media or featured on another blog, you’re already halfway towards making a sale.
If customers have already seen your work on social media or guest posts you’re halfway towards making a sale.
For this to work you need to have a compelling, clearly articulated brand story that emphasizes what makes you different from other people selling similar products. Once you have your branding established, post regularly on the social networks frequented by your ideal customers.
Send samples for review to high-profile bloggers or people with large social media followings in your niche. Reach out to blogs and podcasts that your customers follow about writing guest posts or being interviewed. Being associated with people that your customers already trust will give you an easy credibility boost.
Encourage Window Shopping
Even if you do everything right to build customer trust, most people aren’t going to hit the “Pay Now” button on their first visit. People like to window shop, to show their friends what they are thinking of buying, or to make wish lists to daydream on.
Adding a Wishlist of Favorites feature to your site will do two things. One, it will satisfy this desire to save and share before purchasing. Two, it will give them a reason to create an account on your site and give you their email address, which you can use to add them to your newsletter/secret deals email/preferred customer club or what-have-you.
Just make sure you are clear that they’ll start getting emails—otherwise that’s sneaky and spammy and undermines all your hard work at establishing trust.
Establish Clear, Customer-Focused Policies
Think about brands like Zappos and Amazon Prime. What are the big carrots that they use to reward their customers? Hassle-free, no-questions-asked returns, and free shipping.Everybody, and I mean everybody, should offer a free shipping option, on all their products. Usually the free option is the cheapest option, like UPS Ground or USPS Parcel Post, and you can either increase your prices to cover it or make up for it in volume.
Every store should have a free shipping option and hassle-free returns.
People love free stuff, especially when it means that the price of their order doesn’t jump by $15 when they enter their shipping address. If you want you can charge extra for 2-day or overnight, or you can go the full Santa Claus and make it all free.
Likewise, being able to return an item for a full refund without jumping through hoops makes people a lot more comfortable with making a purchase, especially on a handmade, one-of-a-kind item. Don’t worry—unless you’ve got some major quality control problems or you totally misrepresent your products, this won’t increase your return rate.
So make shipping free and returns painless, and make sure you shout it from the mountaintop. Make it part of your store’s brand that you don’t nickel-and-dime your customers and that you trust your customers. They’ll return the favor by putting their trust in you.
Invest in Security
Finally, your store needs to keep your customer’s payment information safe. The best way to do that is to not collect it.No, I don’t mean giving everything away for free. What I mean is using payment gateways that either redirect your customers to their own server to enter credit card numbers, or “tokenize” customers’ credit card information as it is entered so it’s already encrypted before they hit the “submit” button.
Both of Woocommerce’s default payment gateways, Stripe and Paypal, can use one or the other of these options which is great because the last thing you want on your web server is credit card numbers.
The padlock in the address bar reinforces trust that you’re handling payment info responsibly.
You do still need an SSL certificate to protect all of your customers’ personal shipping and billing information, but any reputable WordPress + Woocommerce host like Siteground, WPEngine, or Flywheel will set you up with the right type for you without any trouble. When your customers go to check out on your site and they see the padlock in the address bar of their web browser, that will reinforce their trust that you are handling their payment information safely and responsibly.
Build Customer Trust to Build Your Sales
You might have noticed by now that the best practices to build customer trust on your website have a lot in common with the best practices for marketing and building a loyal customer base.
It makes sense—presenting yourself and your store as an active, established voice in the handmade community builds trust as much as it builds brand awareness. So all this work pays back double, and builds on itself to help you create a durable, trusted brand that will keep your business growing and your customers coming back for more.
How well does your website build customer trust? Sign up for an Office Hours Session and we’ll go through your site and online store to pick out easy ways to make customers feel comfortable buying. Sign up today!