Understanding Trust Signals and How To Use Them

Understanding Trust Signals and How To Use Them.

We had a great response on our recent post “Want More Online Sales? Build Trust.” and many of you asked us for more information.

This week we’re going to explore the concept of “Trust Signals”.

What are Trust Signals?

How do they work?

And most importantly, how can you use them to build your business?

Ok, lets set the scene. You’ve got your online store up and running, and your starting to acquire new users to your site through your Facebook and Google ad campaigns (#killingit).

But your brand isn’t a household name (yet), and most of the people that you’ve got visiting your site are first time users who don’t know you too well (again, yet). This moment is one of the most significant challenges that any young, growing business has to face. You know you’ve got the products that your audience want, and the ad campaigns you’ve got running is delivering them to your store in good numbers, but now you have to convert.

This is where the rubber hits the road. Either your new users arrive at your site and go through to purchase, and you make money, or they don’t – and you’re left holding all the costs, and you lose money.

That’s it – the stark reality of doing business in any environment.

Conversion rates can make you or break you.

“Lots of people talk about establishing trust through a user interface by designing things that feel human, sound human, and convey transparency,” he says. “This is good, practical advice. But in real life, we know that trust takes a long time to establish and very little to undermine.”

JD Graffam, User Experience Designer
To address your conversion rate, you’ll have to address the elephant in the room – and that is the subject of trust. For anyone to overcome that natural level of trepidation that we all feel when we visit a new store online, you have to have trust.

The internet is still a relatively new space for society, and also relatively unregulated. All of us have had a bad experience one time or another. No matter how hard you try, there will always be some level of fear that a new website visitor will have when buying from a smaller business.

So how can you build trust?

It’s straightforward.

To develop trust with a user, you need to take a look at the building blocks that they use to build it themselves.

These building blocks, or “Signals”, are sometimes very subtle, but if you understand what they are, you can work hard to make yours better. If you get them right, it is potent because your conversion rate will skyrocket.

The main thing that your new users are all looking for is any information that differentiates a trustworthy business, from a dodgy one.

Brand familiarity and overall perception go a long way to increasing conversions. If a user has never heard of you before, you need to make a real effort to highlight your previous customer reviews (for example, you could use TrustPilot or Feefo). Featuring any security seals or badges that you have from any other official (more trusted) brands can help—and also reducing the risk to the user by offering free returns.

One of the most potent tactics is to make a real effort to show your users that you are human and that you aren’t afraid of disclosing your identity. For example, you could feature your companies physical location on your contact page. Or even adding some pictures of your team to your ‘About Us’ page all helps to provide some extra reassurance and make your business appear more human.

The first thing that any dodgy business tries to be online is faceless. So don’t be afraid to humanise your brand, and show that you live in the real world too (not just online).

Using well-written copy and high-quality images and video also goes a long way to creating subconscious trust signals. Your new website visitors instinctively know that any unscrupulous company is probably not going to invest in good content, and UX design.

Humans are highly social beings, and we actively seek the opinions of others—developing some social proof around your brand is critical.

The term “Social Proof” was first coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book “Influence”, and the concept is also known as “informational social influence”.

Wikipedia describes Social Proof as a “psychological and social phenomenon” where people copy the actions of others in an attempt to validate their behaviour.

Here at Remap, we’re not a big fan of ‘vanity metrics’ per se. However, focussing on them for a young brand is an excellent way to develop social proof. Likes and comments on your social feed, highlighting customer reviews (good and bad) and also publicising any recent media coverage you may have had, will all help to convince your new website visitors of your credibility.

Then there is the subject of transparency. Ultimately, the more transparent your site design is, the more likely any of us is to trust you as a legitimate and experienced trader.

But one of the most powerful (if not the most powerful) thing that you can do to build trust is to use time. I know taking your time isn’t exactly a popular tactic, but it is very, very powerful.

If you want to build a great online business, you need to build trust with your users over the long term. You do that by being consistent.

Consistent in all of your communications. The look and feel of each touchpoint. The style of copy, the colour palette of your social feeds, everything.

Here is an excellent comment from user experience expert JD Graffam.

As a designer, you have to stay focused on each and every touchpoint that your users will have with you over a long period of time. That can add up, and it’s no easy task.

“It’s way easier to screw up than it is to get it right.”

Hard work and time.

Who’d of thought they were the magic ingredients for online success?



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